Why would I need this?
Two main uses:
- As a webmaster, how fast does your site load?
- As a web user, how fast is your connection, and which web browser works best?
Imagine you're IMing with a friend, and he notices the page loads slowly. Run a trial on WebWait and send your friend the URL, then they can test it too and you can get a summary of the time it takes.
Who uses this?The site has been mentioned in thousands of blog posts, websites, and tweets, with many people posting screenshots of their WebWait results. I gave a few examples in a blog post, WebWait in the Wild. You can also find lots of tasty screenshots with a Google image search.
But it's inaccurate/imprecise/useless
WebWait is one tool you can use to benchmark web performance. There are others. Each has strengths and weaknesses.
How does WebWait compare to other benchmarking techniques?
Compared to other techniques such as browser plugins, command-line tools, and websites that pull the data to themselves, WebWait has the following advantages:
- Accurate timing. You get actual load times in the same client web users are running, not simulated times.
- Runs in multiple browsers. There are plugins that do this, but as well as the installation overhead, they are usually specific to one browser. With WebWait, you can just cut-and-paste the same URL into different browsers.
- Respects your cookies and authentication - If you can access a URL in a web page, you can benchmark it with WebWait. Trying to set up cookies for use with a command-line tool like Curl is hard work. Doing it with a plugin is usually impossible. Doing it with a third-party website is dangerously insecure.
- Access servers running on your machine or behind the firewall in the your LAN, unlike most external services.
In some cases, those other techniques have benefits over WebWait:
- Browser plugins, though they require installation and are less portable, may be more convenient.
In all cases, there is a common issue to be aware of, which is that the timing is dependent on your own internet setup and local setup. For this reason, WebWait reflects the site being tested in the browser address bar - send this to a friend on the other side of the world to see how fast the site loads over there. (Or send it to a friend using a different browser and operating system.)
How should I run a WebWait test?
In general, it's more realistic to be running just one browser window, and ensure any major operating system delays, such as hard drive swapping, aren't going to affect the browser's performance. So ensure there aren't so many programs running that swapping will be impacting on browser performance.
Does This work in all browsers?
It's been tested with all the major browsers - Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Chrome.
Can I test secure sites that require login?
Yes, visit that site first and log in - this will set up your cookies. Then you'll be able to open it up in WebWait.
Why do I get the popup dialog telling me the page can't be loaded?
I have a suggestion/comment/flamePlease mail firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @mahemoff. For Twitter, you can reference WebWait with the short URL http://3.ly/WEB . (http://webwait.com is almost as short anyway!)
CreditsKarma goes to ...
- Icons from Silk icon theme by Mark James under CC Attribution 2.5 License.
- CoolText logo generator
- Browser icons from Google Cache of websitemaken.be.
- Nyromodal library.
- JQuery and Firebug, for making web development 10x faster.
- All the people who have blogged about WebWait and sent me emails with your suggestions.