Today, most business owners spend a lot of energy and resources developing their website — especially if they’re running a consumer-facing business. This is only logical, considering the omnipresent nature of the Internet in this day and age. If you want to reach your target audience on a daily basis, there’s no tool more effective than a well-developed website.
By 2022, the worth of the global e-commerce market has jumped up to more than $25 trillion. And the reason for that is simple: people like buying things online because it’s convenient. Plus, even when someone decides to buy something in a physical store, you can be sure they’ll google for online product reviews or better deals in other stores.
The bottom line is — no matter what kind of business you’re running, you want to do everything in your power to make sure your website is running at top performance.
You’ll find that ensuring the optimal performance of your website is easier said than done, seeing as it depends on a wide number of factors. With that in mind, it’s important to keep an eye on the major website performance metrics. You’ll find that these provide incredible insights into what kind of adjustments need to be made on your website for a better visitor experience.
Considering that, we’re going to give you an in-depth look at the most important website metrics for any website. Below, we’ll talk about the stuff you should know about these metrics and what they can tell you about your website’s performance.
Page Loading Speed
Have you ever wondered how fast your website should load? Page loading speeds represent one of the most critical website performance metrics. The speed of your website will determine a lot of things, from the visitor bounce rates to your Google SEO ranking.
While considering the importance of page speed, you need to realize one simple fact — people hate waiting around. And that’s as true in the real world as it is on the Internet; perhaps even more so in the latter case.
In today’s age of short attention spans, it’s enough for people to wait a few seconds longer than usual and they’ll become annoyed enough to switch to another website. If you want to retain the biggest number of website visitors that click on your link to begin with, you need to optimize your page speed. Google knows this as well, which is why page speed is an important ranking factor for their website ranking algorithm.
But what is page speed from a technical perspective? Strictly speaking, it’s the time necessary for an individual page to load. In your case, the most important page whose speed you need to optimize is your landing page — the page your website visitors see first.
However, it’s worth noting that “page speed” consists of three separate metrics:
- TTFB — “time to first byte”, or the server response time that’s more to do with your hosting than your page optimization;
- Transfer time — the time needed for an HTML page to be downloaded;
- The time it takes for a user’s browser to render your web page.
These three metrics describe the page speed over its entire “time span” — from the moment a computer sends an HTTP request to your host server to the final moment when the complete web page has been displayed in the user’s browser.
Start Render Time
This metric refers to the time that passes between someone making a request to access your website and the moment your content actually starts loading. Note — it’s not the time necessary for the page to load fully, as that would be the third page speed metric; instead, it shows how long it takes for the render to actually begin.
While this may seem like an obscure metric, it’s actually quite important. In most browsers, people start seeing some content even before it’s fully loaded. And seeing as website visitors are more likely to remain on a page and wait for the loading to complete if they see any kind of content appearing, start render time is crucial for your retention rates.
In other words, while your visitor’s patience may still run out if your pages take too long to load completely — a short start render time may be enough to keep them on board long enough for the rest of the content to load.
Time to Title
Another speed-related metric — the time to title refers to the time necessary for your website’s title to become visible in a browser tab after a user makes a request. This doesn’t really affect retention times directly — but the longer your website title takes to appear, the less legitimate your website will seem to first-time visitors.
This does seem like an insignificant detail that’s too small to think about — but most website metrics don’t seem that important when examined individually; they only make a coherent whole once you consider them as a whole. A short time to title helps dissuade any potential concerns about the reputability of your website — so it should be optimized for brand value.
DNS Lookup Speed
When you start researching the most important website metrics online, you’re likely to come across “DNS lookup speed” pretty quickly — but if you’re not tech-savvy, you may not immediately understand what this metric represents.
It refers to the time necessary for your DNS (Domain Name System) provider to translate your website’s domain name into a technical IP address. Choosing the right DNS provider is the most important actionable step here, because a slower provider can severely reduce your DNS lookup speed — slowing down your overall website loading speed in the process.
Luckily, there are plenty of reputable and free DNS servers out there. In fact, Google hosts DNS servers themselves, and their public DNS servers are your best option until you figure out which premium DNS provider fits you the most.
Time to Interact
As you can see, most of the website metrics showcased here are designed to reduce the amount of waiting a user has to go through to reach their desired content. You want to test your users’ patience as little as possible — which is why “time to interact” is another vital metric to consider.
Once your website loads, people will start interacting with it — scrolling down pages, filling in text fields, clicking on internal links, etc — and you want that process to be as smooth as possible. That’s why the time to interact metric shows how much time passes from the moment a user loads your web page to the moment they can interact with it. The shorter this timespan is, the less likely your users are to leave the page.
For instance, imagine a user adding a product to your e-store cart and then wanting to go to checkout right away. The time it would take for your checkout link or button to appear and become functional is this situation’s time to interact.
We’ve already mentioned bounce rates while describing other metrics — and it’s no wonder, considering it’s the most important user-related metric. It’s basically what it sounds like: when visitors “bounce away” from your website right away, without spending time on it or interacting with it, your bounce rates go up.
High bounce rates often point to problems with your website’s page speeds and overall load times — people tend to leave websites immediately when they’re frustrated with slow loading.
As you may have noticed, bounce rates don’t describe a technical aspect of your website — they describe whether your users are dissatisfied with it. A high bounce rate points to other, more specific, technical issues.
Requests Per Second
This metric is also frequently called “Average Load” and “Throughput”. It basically describes the number of user requests received by your website’s server every second. Requests Per Second is an extremely basic technical metric used to showcase the state of your server from the context of your website — for instance, a large-scale website may reach more than 3000 requests each second. This metric allows you to see the pressure under which your web application is operating, pointing to any potential adjustments that have to be made.
There’s no discussing website metrics without touching on conversion rates. For business websites whose purpose is to sell something to customers, conversion rates show how many individual visitors “convert” into paying customers. There are plenty of different factors that impact conversion rates, and it’s practically impossible to precisely pinpoint every single thing that plays a role in the process of conversion.
Of course, some variables are more important than others — like achieving acceptable page speeds on your website, getting traffic from a well-targeted audience, and the overall UX (user experience) on the website. It’s also important to note that conversions don’t necessarily refer to a website visitor purchasing something — it all depends on the purpose of the website or an individual page.
For instance, if the purpose of the website is to collect email information for an email marketing campaign, then the conversion rate would refer to the number of people that have agreed to provide their emails.
No matter how well you design your website, one thing is certain — at some point, some errors are inevitable. And the error rate is there to measure how many errors happen in a specific timeframe. This gives you an idea of the average error rate of your website — also letting you know when something is amiss and the number of errors is higher than usual.
Of course, the error rate also depends on the number of users that are visiting the website and potentially experiencing errors. With that in mind, expect the error rate to increase when you’ve got an abnormally large number of simultaneous users — most likely during specific events like special promotions.
Knowing when and how often these errors happen can be helpful in preventing larger problems down the line.
As you can see, there are plenty of different website metrics to measure if you want to know how well your website is running at any given time. If you intend on working to improve your website, it’s vital that you track these metrics regularly and follow design best practices as you make your improvements.
This, more than anything else, will allow you to gauge what needs to be done to boost online sales and maximize all kinds of conversions. And though it may seem like a huge undertaking, it’s basically something every web development team worth its salt can do. Also, remember that there are other, more in-depth and more technical metrics to track; these are just the most important ones.