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Website Performance & Health Monitoring: Tips & Best Practices

Setting up and running a website or ecommerce project is great – however, your work is far from done once your site is up and running.

Without appropriate health and performance monitoring, your website will suffer the consequences – which can be far greater than simply slow load speed.

Let’s turn our attention to a hypothetical, ideal scenario where all the websites in the world are functioning as they should. Did you know that, aside from skyrocketing user satisfaction, we would also contribute to a better environment?

Poorly performing websites not only impact anyone who creates or uses them, but they also leave a larger carbon footprint.

According to the Website Carbon Calculator, websites have a carbon footprint, and the average website page emits 0.5 grams of carbon dioxide per view. That’s just the median.

When looking at the mean, which also considers high-polluting websites, that number goes up to 0.9 grams.

Aside from issues on a global scale, an unhealthy, inadequately-performing website will cost you time, money, and revenue. Website health is similar to our own: it’s easy to neglect and difficult to improve.

You need to be aware of the main components that make up website health to conduct appropriate monitoring practices to help save processing time.

With the emergence of quick and easy website builders, crafting websites has become accessible to everyone. All you need to do is sign up, choose a domain, pick your template, and voila! You have a website in seconds.

However, many website owners dismiss the fact that website creation is only the first step. Appropriate performance maintenance and health monitoring are also crucial.

And on that note, let’s look at some essential website health and performance indicators: what they are, how to monitor them, and how to make improvements.

Aspects To Monitor For A High Website Health Score

Core Web Vitals

Image from author, October 2022

Google PageSpeed Insights

The first metrics you should consider when conducting performance testing are your Core Web Vitals. These performance indicators show speed, stability, and responsiveness, helping you understand the quality of your website user experience.

Several tools track your Core Web Vitals, but many website owners gravitate towards a simple tool: Google PageSpeed Insights.

After entering your URL into the tool, you will be presented with a report showing whether you passed your Core Web Vitals test and any other aspects you need to keep an eye on. Here are the three key metrics you will see:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

Aim for a score of 2.5 seconds or less.

If your score is over 2.5 seconds, this could indicate the following: your server is lagging, resource load times are not up to par, you have high numbers of render-blocking JavaScript and CSS, or there is slow rendering on the client side.

First Input Delay (FID)

Aim for a score of 100 milliseconds or less.

If your score exceeds that time, you may need to reduce third-party code impact, reduce JavaScript execution time, minimize the main thread work, keep transfer sizes small, and request counts low.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Aim for a score of 0.1 or less.

If your score exceeds this, you can avoid random layout shifts by including size attributes on your visual and video content (or reserve the space with CSS aspect ratio boxes). Avoid overlapping your content, and be mindful when animating your transitions.

Page Speed Blockers

Several factors can affect your website load speed. However, if you’re on a time budget and would like to focus on the main culprits first, pay close attention to the following factors:

  • Unused JavaScript and CSS Code.
  • Render blocking JavaScript and CSS Code.
  • Unminified JavaScript and CSS Code.
  • Large image file sizes (more on that below).
  • Too many redirect chains.

In order to improve the load of JavaScript and CSS files, consider preloading them.

Another option would be enabling early hints, which tells the browser in the HTTP server response which resources it should start downloading by taking advantage of “server think-time,” thus speeding up the page load.

To test your website:

  1. Navigate to https://pagespeed.web.dev/
  2. Enter the URL of the page you want to scan.

I would recommend choosing your homepage first.

Another handy tool is WebPageTest.org, which also shows your Core Web Vitals and other metrics that can help you drastically improve your website performance and health. Also, it’s free!

Simply paste a page URL into the search box shown on the site, and it will conduct a full test from a default location.

You can also register as a user and choose from a list of locations to test your website from different countries, devices and browsers.

WebPageTest will show you exactly where your website is in terms of performance, and what could be slowing it down through a Performance Summary composed of four key sections: Opportunities and Experiments, Observed Metrics, Real User Measurements, and Individual Runs.

Image from author, October 2022

At UCRAFT, we use a combination of tools such as PageSpeed Insights, Chrome Dev Tools, WebPageTest, and several others, to gain a clear understanding of what we need to work on when it comes to our website performance – especially since the SaaS industry is highly competitive already.

Design Elements

Screenshot from author, October 2022

When we think about website performance and health monitoring, we usually leave these to the tech team to deal with.

But what if I told you how you design your website, and the elements you choose can make or break your performance?

That’s right – it’s time to get the design team involved.

Image Optimization

Images are great, but they can slow down your website if they are not sized appropriately. Make sure to resize your images, and avoid uploading giant files when they will not be shown in their entirety.

Likewise, compress your images and try out different file types like WebP, JPEG 2000, and JPEG XR instead of opting for heavier JPEG or PNG files.

Consider implementing native lazy loading to ensure that images are loaded when the user views them, instead of loading them all at once.

Almost all browsers, including Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, support loading=”lazy”  attribute on or