How to Improve Web Application Performance

How to Improve Web Application Performance

Web application performance describes how efficiently and effectively a web application functions, including its speed, responsiveness, and user experience. Factors that impact web application performance include network latency (delay in data transmission), web server response time, code efficiency, caching, and content delivery.

Key metrics to measure web application performance

One of the first steps for improving web app performance is to monitor a few key web application metrics.

  • Page load times: Page load time is the time required to load an entire web page, including all its resources, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images, and other assets.

  • Speed index: Speed index measures how quickly visible content loads “above the fold” (i.e., the portion of the page immediately visible in the user’s browser window).

  • Time to first byte (TTFB): TTFB measures how long, in milliseconds, it takes for a user’s browser to receive the first byte from the web server after making a request. 

  • Time to first paint (TTFP): TTFP measures the time it takes for the browser to render the first visible content on the screen. It’s measured in milliseconds. 

  • Error rate: Error rate is the percentage of requests made to a web application that result in errors or failures. 

  • Network latency: Network latency measures the time it takes for data to travel between the user’s device and the web application server, providing insights into network performance.

  • Peak response time: Peak response time represents the maximum time it takes the web application to respond to a user request during a specific period, typically during peak usage or a high-traffic scenario.


Tools for measuring web application performance

You can obtain web application metrics using multiple tools.

  • Web performance monitoring tools: User friendly software designed to evaluate web performance metrics include Google PageSpeed Insights, WebPage Test, and Pingdom.

  • Browser developer tools: Browsers contain built-in toolsets for developers. They’re accessible in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari by right-clicking an item on the page and selecting “Inspect.” 

  • Performance APIs: You can install tools like Navigation Timing API or User Timing API in a website’s back end, allowing developers to fine-tune performance at a granular level. 

  • Third-party analytics services: Services like New Relic, Dynatrace, and Datadog are paid, external software suites that monitor web performance as well as server performance, application code, and infrastructure metrics.

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