We’ve written quite a bit on the WP Ninjas blog about website performance and optimization, and for good reason. It’s a key factor in your website’s SEO, the amount of business traffic your site is going to receive, and as a result your bottom line. Monitoring and improving your site’s get-up-and-go is important for you, so it’s important to us too! That’s why when Dareboost, the folks that makes the Dareboost website speed test and analysis tool, reached out to us with a free premium demo of their service, we had to jump on the opportunity to explore it.
Join us now as we take a tour of the Dareboost website speed test and analysis tool. See what they have to offer and how you can use that information to improve your website!
The Dareboost service offers you 5 unique features:
Keep in mind that what we are reviewing here is a premium demo of Dareboost’s service, however, each of these features except Monitoring are available in their starter package and beyond to varying degrees. You can find the difference between paid service plan tiers here. One-off page analysis and accompanying report are free. Let’s get started!
We’ll start here even though it’s not technically the first feature you may see when you begin. With Dareboost, the dashboard is a convenient access node for the rest of the service’s features. From here you get the latest Dareboost event updates, monitoring status of your site(s) if monitoring is enabled, alerts for monitored sites, and the most recent test results and comparison testing.
This is the heart of the service: your website analysis. Right away we see a lot of versatility, before the test even begins. Check it out:
Enter the site you want to test. In this case I’m picking on our Junior Dev Kenny’s blog, kennyinthewild.com. Before I run the test, there are a host of variables I can define. Each of the these can be set to define a hypothetical user visiting your site.
Want to know how your site will respond for someone connecting from an HTC One mobile device? Samsung Galaxy? Nexus 5? You can do that. Desktop running Chrome at 1920X1080 with AdBlock enabled on a 10mb down connection? You can do that too. Pretty neat. The variables you can define are:
- Geographic location of user
- Screen resolution
- Adblocker enabled?
- Bandwidth of user
You can even test a page protected by basic authentication, simulate a user landing on a page after form validation, add HTTP headers to the requests Dareboost sends to your site, and block/allow queries based on specific strings.
The most valuable aspect of any performance test is the quality of the results you receive. Are the results actionable, so that you can take concrete steps to improve? Do they come with adequate detail to understand the issues the test found and educate you on how to make those improvements? The Dareboost website speed test shines in this area.
First, there’s a wealth of information at a glance:
- Overview of issues, areas that need improvement, and areas you do well in.
- Average request and response time, expandable into a waterfall view for a breakdown of every element on your page
- Statistics on time to first byte received, rendered, visual completion, and full page load
- Expandable details show a breakdown of time to prepare, execute, and process requests
There’s even a slow motion video of your site loading with performance benchmarks as it happens!
Beyond the overview, there is a fully comprehensive, exquisitely detailed list of each improvement priority for your site so that you know exactly what to target and how for better performance. The list is even sortable by category, so if I want to know exactly what issues to address to improve my SEO, security, accessibility, etc, I can do that.
Each issue is expandable with information and examples of what you’re doing, why it’s problematic, and what you can do about it.
The Compare feature presents you with three options as you can see in the screenshot below:
Competitive Comparison and Advanced Comparison let you pit your website vs a competitor’s website (any website, really) and see how they stack up. The results using either tool are presented as a very nicely done visual report that compares like data side-by-side for each site. Factors like load time, speed index, weight and requests by resource type are available, along with video and even frame-by-frame analysis.
While the general result categories of both tools are the same, Advanced Comparison differs in that you can use the full customizability of the ‘hypothetical user’ described in Test Settings above when running a test.
Mobile vs Desktop Versionis a huge plus for the service. Mobile responsiveness and design is an essential practise on the modern web as more and more users access websites from their mobile devices and tablets more and more frequently. This tool gives you a nice breakdown of performance between the two formats.
The only thing I’m left wanting after playing with this feature is the constructive feedback that Dareboost does so well with the Analyze tool. It’s not completely lacking as I can always just go to Analyze and set the test up so that it tests as mobile, but that data displayed on this page would be intuitive and very useful for the user.
Monitoring is the only Dareboost tool/feature that is locked behind the premium plan tier. You may choose specific pages to monitor around the clock for variances, or create groups of pages. Grouping is a particularly handy feature for monitoring the same page with multiple configurations, and opens a whole new window for potential AB testing.
When you set up a page for monitoring, that page will be tested daily for quality and performance, and you will be alerted by email (and in your Dashboard) if a problem is detected. You can configure each test with the full range of analysis settings described in Test Settings above, set the frequency and timing of tests, and configure how you are alerted if a problem is detected. You can even receive a weekly digest from the Dareboost website speed test and analysis tool that outlines performance, key data, and trends.
The Reports tool holds a record of each Dareboost Website speed test and analysis that you run, both individual and comparative. You can access each of them here, and they’re stored for a period of time that’s determined by your plan tier (3-12+ months). You can either display them from this page, or download them as a pdf. The default pdf has Dareboost branding, and if you need a white label pdf they are available at the Standard plan tier and above.
Added Bonus- Dareboost API
In the profile of each user, you can generate an API token that allows you to make a variety of different POST requests to the Dareboost API. These requests can provide you with much of the data the website interface gives you, including PDF reports. It’s a neat added feature that works off of a credit system with paid plans of its own. It’s certainly not for everyone, but it does add an extra level of depth and versatility to the service worth mentioning.
That’s it for our tour of the Dareboost website speed test and analysis tool! We hope it’s been an informative walkthrough and gives you a benchmark for what a high quality website testing service should offer.
You have a variety of options if Dareboost doesn’t meet your needs, but from my experiences here they are certainly a very solid option for testing, delivering the actionable data you need to turn your WordPress website into a digital muscle car. In addition to delivering on the mechanical side of things, their site is easy to use and understand and all-around offers a very pleasant user experience. Please feel free to fire away with questions or comments below, and happy testing!