Blog / How to Test your Website's Speed and Measure Web Performance in China

How to Test your Website's Speed and Measure Web Performance in China

In this guide, we will explore the significance of website speed and performance and delve into notable tools designed for testing in China’s unique environment and provide insights on how to effectively use these tools.

The Significance of Website Speed and Performance in China

China's vast online landscape, characterized by a massive user base and evolving mobile-centric digital behaviors, places a premium on website speed.

According to Mlytics, Chinese site visitors expect a website to load in less than 2 seconds, but 90% of non-Chinese websites take five seconds or longer to load in China.

Image data from Kissmetrics

Further emphasizing this point, research by Kissmetrics shares the now frequently quoted metric that a mere 1-second delay in page loading time can result in a significant 7% reduction in conversion rates.

Unlike the rest of the world where people are gradually adjusting to faster loading times, China's rapid 5G deployment has led to a paradigm shift in user expectations.

With download speeds reaching seamless levels, Chinese consumers have grown accustomed to seamless and ultra-fast connectivity, influencing their digital behaviors and raising the bar for user experience.

That said, while the demand for fast, performative websites exists - many global, non-China websites fail to serve this demand from China visitors. This is because global websites face unique challenges in China, stemming from code-based incompatibility issues and the absence of infrastructure tailored to the unique Chinese internet ecosystem.

More about “Why global websites don’t work in China

Tools for Testing Website Speed and Performance in China

The first step towards ensuring optimal website performance in China is finding the right set of tools to provide localized insights.

Not all website testing tools provide visibility into China, so we’ve narrowed down some options for you.

1. WebPageTest

WebPageTest by Catchpoint stands out as a widely utilized tool for testing load times. It provides the flexibility to assess load times from Shanghai, Beijing, Ningxia, Hong Kong and more offering compatibility with browsers such as IE, Chrome, Safari, Brave, and Firefox.

2. Lighthouse Metrics China

Lighthouse Metrics China, an innovative tool, delivers real-time Lighthouse performance data. Tailored for the Chinese environment, it stands out as a groundbreaking metrics tool, providing meticulously customized output optimized for Chrome PageSpeed.

3. Chinafy Tools

Chinafy offers a variety of website testing tools to test your website speed and performance in China.

Global Speed Test: Evaluate your website's speed and deliverability from 18 global server locations, including Beijing and Shanghai.

Code Test: Spot high-impact code incompatibilities such as YouTube videos, Google Fonts, and Facebook assets in China.

Resource Test: Assess the speed and resource compatibility of a webpage delivered from the US versus China.

Visual Speed Test: See how fast (or slow) your website loads in China, literally. Compare your real-time results for US, Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

China SEO Basic Test: Analyze how well your website is indexed across leading global search engines, including those in China. Compare and optimize your pages for maximum visibility.

How to Use Website Speed Test Tools Effectively

While the tools mentioned above provide valuable insights, understanding how to interpret and act upon the data they generate is crucial for effective website speed optimization.

Interpreting Speed and Performance Metrics

Load Time: Focus on the overall load time of your website. Identify elements that contribute significantly to this metric, such as large images or slow server response times.

TTFB, or Time to First Byte, is used to describe the time between when a browser requests a page to the moment it receives the first byte of information from the server.

First Contentful Paint (FCP) occurs when the browser renders the initial content from the Document Object Model (DOM), signifying the point at which the user first perceives that "something is loading."

Time to Interact represents the duration before visitors can initiate actions such as scrolling, clicking on links, and interacting with the website.

DOMContentLoaded is the event signaling that the initial HTML document has been completely loaded and parsed. It is commonly used to define when a page has fully loaded. Trailing resources, such as analytics scripts (e.g., Google Analytics), load towards the end of the page loading process. In cases of slow or incompatible resource loading, these trailing resources may be negatively impacted as the site struggles to render them promptly.

Page Complete is when the page load event is fired, and there are fewer than two resources loading. This marks the cutoff for page load time assessment, indicating a point of relative completion in the loading process.

Resource Breakdown

Examine the breakdown of resources (CSS, JavaScript, images, etc.). This helps pinpoint specific areas that might require optimization.

Using Chinafy Visual Speed Test as an example, it’s helpful to reference the metric “Number of Requests” to compare the total requests successfully delivered in China versus the rest of the world.

# of resources as seen on Chinafy Visual Speed Test

All the mentioned tools grant access to a resource waterfall—a visual representation of how website resources download and parse over time. This timeline reveals the sequence and dependencies, aiding in pinpointing key loading events. It offers a clear view of your website's performance, highlighting factors contributing to speed or slowdowns.

Resource waterfall as seen on Chinafy Visual Speed Test

Website Speed Test Recommendations

Pay close attention to the recommendations provided by the testing tools. These suggestions often highlight specific actions you can take to enhance website speed and performance.

Implementing Changes

Go for the quick wins!

Many of these tools will illustrate some areas that you can quickly tackle for some quick wins on your website.

Prioritize Critical Issues

Start by addressing critical issues identified by the testing tools. This could include optimizing large images, minifying CSS and JavaScript, or reviewing the slow or missing resources in China.

Mobile Optimization

Given the prevalence of mobile internet usage in China, prioritize mobile optimization. Ensure that your website is responsive and performs well on various mobile devices.

Iterative Testing

Website optimization is an ongoing process. After implementing changes, conduct iterative testing to gauge the impact of optimizations and identify any new issues that may arise.

Below is a table summary of the features and metrics available in the tools we’ve introduced:

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