3 Killer Services to Test Your Website’s Loading Times – The A2 Posting

A pink car speeding along a highway.



You can build the perfect website, with awesome content and a gorgeous design. However, none of that will matter if it takes forever for your pages to load. In the end, visitors will probably end up leaving for another website just so they don’t have to sit around waiting for yours to be ready.

That’s where speed testing tools come in. Instead of trying to measure your website’s load time on your own, these services provide you with accurate times down to the millisecond. What’s more, a lot of them go one step further and tell you how to go about improving your score.

In this article, we’re going to talk about why performance is so important. Then we’ll introduce you to three top services you can use to measure your loading times and how you can optimize them. Time is money, so let’s get started!

Why It’s Important For Your Website to Load Quickly

No one likes to sit around waiting for a website to load. In fact, long loading times can have a more significant impact than simply annoying your visitors. For example, low performance usually leads to abnormally high bounce rates, as well as lower conversions. In other words, failing to optimize your website could be costing you money (at least if your site is monetized).

In general terms, you should be okay if your website takes fewer than two seconds to load. However, even if you’re below that threshold, it’s smart to try and lower your number even further. To do that, let’s talk about how to measure your load times in the first place.

3 Top Services to Test Your Website’s Loading Times

The services below fulfill the same function in general terms – you give them a page, and they tell you how long that page takes to load from their end. However, some of them also offer additional tips on how to improve your website’s performance. For the best possible results, you’ll want to run your tests multiple times, and use more than one of the following tools to ensure that your numbers are accurate.

1. Pingdom Tools

The Pingdom Tools homepage.

Pingdom Tools scores your website in numerous ways. Along with telling you how fast it is, it also compares that time with other results on its database. Then, it provides you with an overall performance score. To get started, just type the URL of the website you want to test on the service’s homepage and choose a server. Pingdom will do its thing, and your results should appear shortly:

Your Pingdom Tools results.

Keep in mind that Pingdom runs three servers located in different regions around the world. You’ll want to use the one that’s closest to your website’s data center for the best possible results. If you’re not sure where that is, check out your web host’s homepage for more information. In most cases, you should be fine using test servers located in the United States, however.

Aside from your results, Pingdom also displays a list of ‘insights’ on your website’s performance:

Multiple examples of Pingdom Tools' insights.

Clicking on any of them will provide you with more information about what they are and how to improve them. If your insights are mostly green, though, you’re already doing great.

2. GTmetrix

The GTMetrix homepage.

GTmetrix is very similar to Pingdom Tools when it comes to functionality. In most cases, our tests have seen similar results on both platforms. However, GTmetrix goes the extra mile by explaining what each of its insights mean. To check out an example, let’s test the Google home page again and see what results we get:

An example of GTMetrix results.

In most cases, GTmetrix defaults to a Canadian server, which should provide reliable results for websites hosted on American datacenters.

If you scroll down below the results, you’ll see a list of insights – clicking on any of them will display the elements you need to fix. Plus, there’s a What’s this mean? button you can mouse over, to learn about what you need to do in order to fix each issue:

Multiple examples of GTMetrix's insights.

GTmetrix also offers a premium service that provides more in-depth results and enables you to schedule tests. Those are nice features, but the insights on its free service are more than enough to steer most websites on the right path.

3. WebPagetest

The WebPagetest homepage.

WebPagetest looks like an outdated website at first glance. However, it provides incredibly in-depth results for its speed tests, so you shouldn’t discount it based on appearance.

When you load the service, it defaults to Advanced Testing mode, which is fine for our purposes. On this screen, you can choose the location of your test server and which browser you want the service to use:

Testing a website using WebPagetest.

Between those two settings, you have dozens of options available. Once your results are in, you’ll see a simple scorecard that gives you an overview of your website’s performance:

Your performance scorecard.

Below that, you’ll find more detailed results. These include how long the website took to load overall (load time), the time it took for the server to respond to your request (first byte), and even how long it took for the website to start loading (start render):

An example of WebPagetest's results.

Combining this information provides you with a far more in-depth picture than many other services. The only area where WebPagetest is lacking is that it doesn’t provide you with in-depth insights like the other services we’ve talked about. However, if you jump over to the Performance Review tab, you’ll find a few suggestions for making improvements to your performance:

WebPagetest's Performance Review tab.

If you’re not sure what each term means, you can scroll down to the bottom of the Performance Review tab to find a glossary that explains what they are. Once you’ve identified your website’s weak spots, it’s just a matter of tackling them one by one.


It’s difficult to overstate how important speed is for every website. Even if your web hosting provider takes pains to optimize for performance, you should still monitor your loading times periodically. That way, you’ll know if your website starts to slow down, and be able to take care of it right away.

If you’re not sure how to go about measuring your website’s loading times, all you have to do is use the following sites:

  1. Pingdom Tools: This user-friendly tool provides you with loading time information in seconds, as well as detailed insights.
  2. GTmetrix: Along with loading time information, this service breaks down what you need to do to improve your website’s performance.
  3. WebPagetest: As far as speed testing tools go, this one provides you with the most detailed information concerning loading times.

What tool do you use to measure your website’s loading times? Share your pick and tell us why in the comments section below!

Image credit: Pixabay.

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How to Set Up Your Own Self-Hosted Wiki – The A2 Posting

A social media icon.

The more information your website has, the harder it can be to navigate. Complex topics can span dozens of articles and pages, which can, in turn, confuse visitors and make it difficult for them to find what they need.

Wikis are an excellent way to present visitors with a broad range of information without intimidating them. People expect wikis to be thorough and to cover every aspect of any given topic. That means using one gives you license to dig in as deep as you want.

In this article, we’re going to talk about when you should consider using a wiki platform for your website. Then we’ll teach you how to set up one from scratch using one of the platforms we’ve previously discussed. Let’s get to it!

When You Should Use a Wiki Platform

A screenshot of Wikipedia.
Wiki pages make for excellent online encyclopedias.

Wiki websites have been around since the 90s, long before Wikipedia came around. Since Wikipedia’s rise, wikis have become an incredibly popular platform for disseminating all kinds of information. For example, chances are you can find wikis dedicated solely to your favorite book series or TV show, and pretty much anything you can think of.

It’s important to note when we talk about wikis, we’re referring to a particular style of website that resembles an online encyclopedia. Wiki platforms, on the other hand, are the software that powers those sites and there are plenty to choose from.

Before we talk about your options, let’s discuss some of the situations where using a wiki instead of a regular website makes sense:

  • For documentation websites. If you’re offering an online service or product that requires a knowledgebase, a wiki can be an excellent option.
  • Online encyclopedias. Wikis and encyclopedia websites are a match made in heaven.
  • For community-run sites. If you want people to collaborate on your website’s articles, wikis are the perfect model to make it happen.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about what your options are when it comes to wiki platforms.

How to Choose the Right Wiki Platform

A screenshot of the MediaWiki homepage.
MediaWiki offers an excellent mix of ease of use and powerful features.

Most wiki platforms are somewhat similar when it comes to functionality. They enable you to create and share articles, manage who can edit them, and more. However, as you can imagine, some platforms offer a few more advantages than others. Here’s what you should keep an eye out for while choosing yours:

  • Advanced editing capabilities. Ideally, you want an editor that’s easy to use and not lacking in features.
  • Simple collaboration options. You want to keep track of who makes changes to each page and manage permissions.
  • Customization options. Some wiki platforms enable you to customize them using themes and extensions, which add more functionality to your website.

As far as we’re concerned, there are three platforms we’d recommend in most cases. Those are Tiki, MediaWiki, and DokuWiki. The first one is unmatched regarding customization options, whereas MediaWiki is the ideal choice for large websites. In fact, that’s the same platform Wikipedia uses to run its operations. However, as far as ease of use goes, MediaWiki is your best bet. It’s the perfect platform for beginners, and it provides you with a lot of options thanks to its template and plugin systems.

How to Set Up Your Self-Hosted Wiki (In 3 Steps)

Throughout this tutorial, we’re going to use A2 Hosting to illustrate how to set up a wiki website. Don’t worry, though – the steps should remain the same as long as your web host uses cPanel for its clients, which is one of the most popular control panels around.

1. Sign Up for a Hosting Plan and Access Its Control Panel

Signing up for a hosting plan is easy regardless of which provider you’re using. All you have to do is pick the right plan for your needs, fill out a few forms, and pay for at least a month of hosting in advance:

Our shared hosting plans.

In most cases, the only difference during this process will be what payment types your web host accepts or the types of plans they offer. Either way, once you sign up, you can access your web hosting control panel from your provider’s homepage. Inside, you’ll find a breakdown of all the services you’ve signed up for. If you click on the Login button under cPanel Quick Login, you’ll gain access to your control panel:

Accessing your cPanel.

Now that you’re in, it’s time for step number two.

Step #2: Install DokuWiki Using Your cPanel

Your cPanel enables you to do everything from installing new platforms on your website to setting up FTP accounts, manage your domains, and more. For now, let’s focus on installing DokuWiki. To do that, click on the Wikis button under SOFTACULOUS APP INSTALLER > Categories:

The Wikis button.

Inside, there should be a DokuWiki button amidst other choices. Click on it and then hit the Install Now button:

Installing DokuWiki.

In the next screen, you can choose which domain you want to associate with your wiki and in which directory it should go. We recommend leaving the In Directory setting empty if you want to use your root folder:

Configuring where your wiki will be installed.

Next, you can name your wiki and configure its default collaboration settings. In an open wiki, anyone can read and edit articles, whereas only registered users can edit and read posts on public ones. Private wikis, on the other hand, require everyone to register to get access to their features:

Configuring your wiki's settings.

Finally, you get to choose your admin username, password, and email:

Configuring your DokuWiki admin account.

When you’re done, set a language for your wiki and click on the Install button.

Step #3: Configure Your Wiki

After installing your wiki, you’ll see a screen indicating its primary address and its administrative URL:

Your wiki's URLs.

When you visit your main wiki page, you’ll see a login button on the top right edge of your screen so you can access your dashboard when you want to. After logging in, you’ll be able to customize your wiki by adding templates, extensions, and changing its main settings:

Your DokuWiki dashboard.

If you’ve ever used a CMS then interacting with this dashboard shouldn’t be complicated. Either way, we recommend you take a quick look at DokuWiki’s user manual for instructions on how to use – and customize – your new wiki. When you’re ready, you can create your first wiki page by returning to your homepage and clicking on the Create this Page button to the right:

Creating a new wiki page.

Now, all that’s left is to dig down and populate your wiki with as many pages as it takes until it’s a veritable online encyclopedia.


Wiki websites are perfect if you want to tackle a subject in as much depth as possible. Think about movie databases and encyclopedias, as great examples of how to use them. These are all perfect matches for wikis, and the best part is, there are plenty of platforms you can use to set up yours easily.

As far as wiki platforms go, we’re partial to Tiki, MediaWiki, and DokuWiki. However, we suggest you use the latter if this is your first wiki website since it combines ease of use with advanced functionality. Here’s how to get started with it:

  1. Sign up for a hosting plan and access its control panel.
  2. Install DokuWiki using your cPanel.
  3. Configure your wiki for use.

Do you have any questions about how to start your own wiki? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!

Image credit: Pixabay.

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