How To Use Fast Or Slow: Google PageSpeed Alternative

Authored By: James LePage
Published On: June 8, 2020

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Fast Or Slow is a new website speed audit tool created by the same team behind WordFence. It's brand new, and offers different data than Google lighthouse which powers many PageSpeed audit tools, like Google PageSpeed, Web.Dev & Chrome Dev Tools.

In this blog post, we wanted to discuss Fast Or Slow, the features and functionalities it offers, how it augments data from Google pagespeed, and how you can use it too properly diagnose and address website performance and PageSpeed issues.

What is Fast Or Slow?

The fast or slow tool is a website performance optimization and diagnostics web application that allows you to measure the speed of your websites from individual geographic locations. The tool generates reports extremely quickly, and is super helpful in speed diagnostics.

What Sets Fast Or Slow Apart?

Fast Or Slow generates a performance score just like Google PageSpeed, except it creates this score a bit differently.  The score is derived from First Contentful Paint, First Meaningful Paint, Total Blocking Time, Speed Index, Time to Interactive and First CPU Idle Scores.

When compared to Google lighthouse, which is the engine behind Google PageSpeed, Fast Or Slow does things a little bit differently.

“…we’re using Google’s Lighthouse to do the actual benchmarking by launching a headless Chrome instance at all 13 locations around the world when we benchmark your site.

However, Lighthouse produces scores that use 2018 industry data from HTTPArchive.

We prefer to use current site performance data to produce comparative speed scoring. So we queried the 2020 data that HTTPArchive provides, and we used that to produce the scores that Fast or Slow gives you from each location for your site.”

What this means is that the data that your website is being compared to is more up-to-date, which means that the score that this tool generates can be considered to be more accurate than the score that Lighthouse is generating. Additionally, the lighthouse tool simulates environments, while this tool displays data from real geographical locations. This means that Fast Or Slow is using real world data, while the Lighthouse tool is using simulated data.

Additional Aspects Of Fast Or Slow

This tool provides data from 18 global locations, compared to other tools which provide data from one individual location. Having this geographical specific data allows you to see how your website performs in the real world, which can be very helpful in multiple ways.

Here, you can see your general performance metrics, and then also compare them visually via graph. As you can see, in this example the Hong Kong location is the slowest time to interactive, while the England and Germany locations have the quickest time to interactive. This is because Hong Kong (and Aisa) is the furthest location from where our website is being served from which is both Europe and The United States.

If you know that your website gets a lot of visitors from Hong Kong, this may be an issue. Say that half of your visitors are coming from Hong Kong, while the other half are coming from England. The Hong Kong visitors are getting a website that is almost three times slower to load when compared to the England visitors, yet they make up half of your readership.

This tool would allow you to identify this issue, and now that you know that this is a problem, you can go ahead and invest in a content delivery network that would serve content from a server in Hong Kong which would resolve the issue. You can use this tool to see if the implementation of a content delivery network worked.

Like Google PageSpeed, fast or slow runs several performance audits for your website. Your website will pass or fail these individual audits.

Each audit is run in each global location, so you can see if your website is failing an audit in one location, while passing an audit in another location period from this geographic specific data, you can then diagnose what is causing the audit to pass in one location and what's causing the failure in another location.

The fast or slow tool will allow you to see network roundtrip times for all 18 locations. As you can see, the South Africa location in the Bahrain location experience somewhat slow network roundtrip times when compared to other locations. Servers closer to those individual locations could improve the performance, and if the majority of our visitors were coming from South Africa or Bahrain, we would definitely want to invest in servers that are closer to that location.

As you can see, this tool provides great location based context to your website's performance. The tool is extremely well designed, and offers a lot of visual representations of data that you can use to understand how your website loads in individual locations. For example comma there's a very Cool feature that shows how your website is served to visitors around the world.

As you can see, this website is hosted from the United States, and all of the data is served from that single geography. You can view how the data flows from the United States to the individual test locations.

For each individual location, this report will generate metrics. You can view the metrics In summary, or in detail for each geography.

This interface shows the general statistics for each individual location, while clicking on view detail toggles a individual page that shows all the statistics in detail for that specific location. For example, if we click on the view detail button for South Africa, it will show us all of the performance scores and audits for the South Africa location.

As you can see, the tool will generate an individual report that is similar to PageSpeed for each location. In keeping with our South Africa report, let's take a look at some of the individual sections of the location specific report. Keep in mind that this doesn't just apply to this individual location, it applies to all 18 locations. For example, if you want to see the report specific to Japan, you can navigate to that countries individual report.

You can view a waterfall chart for that specific location and diagnose any slow loading assets that fall outside the average loading speed for your website across all 18 locations.

You can also see how assets are served from your servers to that location.

As you can see, for this example website assets are served from 2 individual locations when a user visits our website in South Africa.

Clicking on the icons will display the assets that are served from the individual locations. For example, if we click on the icon that is hovering over Europe, we will see the assets that are served from that geography.

In this example, we are using a content delivery network from Shortpixel to serve our images. This tool allows us to verify that Shortpixel is actually serving the images from the best geographic location in relation to the user.

In essence, the Fast Or Slow tool is a great way for you too identify if your CDN is working as advertised.

Another great feature of this tool is the fact that you can track the progress and change of your website performance overtime period each individual report is allowed to be stored for up to 92 days, and you can visually track the change in your website speed performance via graphs. You don't even need an account for this feature.

This can be super helpful if you want to track the before and after statistics when it comes to a performance optimization for your website. However, if you do want to subscribe to the service (which is free), you can get a report sent to your inbox every week which allows you to effectively track the speed of your website.

Conclusion

The Fast Or Slow Tool is a website performance optimization an auditing masterpiece. It allows you to visualize data and offers you great geographical context on the performance of your website. Basically, it's a Google PageSpeed report on steroids.

because it calculates his performance scores in a different way than lighthouse and offers the geographical context, it can augment additional performance reports with valuable geographic data. We definitely recommend you take a look at the tool, especially because it is 100% free in all aspects. https://www.fastorslow.com/

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[…] is GTMetrix which offers waterfall charts and more in depth metrics. The third testing platform is FastOrSlow, which gives us geographical context into loading […]

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[…] Fast Or Slow is a website speed testing tool developed by the people behind WordFence. It tests your website in real-time from 18 different geographical locations, and provides location specific data. The metrics discussed in this article are the averages of the 18 locations. […]

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[…] are other tools out there like GT metrics, Pingdom, a new tool called Fast Or Slow. And all these are linked in the description of this video. But the reason we use PageSpeed is […]

James LePage is the founder of Isotropic Design, a digital agency that builds WordPress websites. I read, write and design constantly!

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