Master's thesis (2020)

Evaluating and improving web performance using free-to-use tools. "Web performance" in this case means loading and rendering speed.

This was the final hurdle to finish my Information Processing Science studies at University of Oulu.

TL;DR (based on the abstract):

Fast website loading speeds can increase conversion rates and search engine rankings as well as encourage users to explore the site further, among other positive things.

The purpose of the study was to find and compare free-to-use tools that can both evaluate the performance (loading and rendering speed) of a website and give suggestions how the performance could be improved.

In addition, three tools were used to evaluate the performance of an existing WordPress site. Some of the performance improvement suggestions given by the tools were then acted upon, and the performance of the website was re-evaluated using the same tools.

Eight free-to-use web performance evaluation tools were compared focusing on:

  • what performance metrics they evaluate
  • what performance improvement suggestions they can give
  • six other features that can be useful to know in practice.

In alphabetical order, the tools were:

  • GTmetrix
  • Lighthouse
  • PageSpeed Insights
  • Pingdom Tools
  • Test My Site
  • WebPageTest
  • Website Speed Test (by Dotcom-Tools)
  • Website Speed Test (by Uptrends).

The performance of the case website was evaluated using GTmetrix, PageSpeed Insights and WebPageTest. The results of the performance re-evaluation were mixed, highlighting the importance of carefully considering each performance improvement suggestion.

The main takeaways of the study for practitioners:

  • Use multiple tools to get a wide variety of performance metrics and suggestions.
  • Regard the suggestions and relative performance scores given by the tools only as guidelines and aim to improve the time-based performance metrics instead.

My thesis was graded 4/5 which means that it must be good. Right?!

Read my Master's thesis