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Google Analytics reports our site to have an average page load time of about 4.5-6 seconds. Naturally, this sounds as a concern.

However, we never see these page load times when the page is rendering, it feels like it takes around a second.

The reason for the discrepancy here I believe is that GA measures every single request, even those that does not produce screen content. Such requests might be third-party scripts such as the GA-script itself and other resources.

Thinking about web usability I'm really only interested in how the response times feel to the user. Am I right?

Also, is there a standard way to measure the actual time it takes for the page to render? Using Google Speed Tracer I can see that there are 2 DOMContentLoaded events firing but these are at 4.83s and 5.36s respectively.

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Yes, I also think google analyticss measure the time from visitor perspective. So, if a lot of visitors are from are with slow internet connectivity, it should show larger time, I guess. And, what about tracing it from google webmaster tool's crawling time for measurements of boots? –  Rana Jan 11 '13 at 8:55
    
"Google Analytics Site Speed measures page load time as experienced by your visitors", but response time/user experience is a big factor. More info about GA Site Speed: support.google.com/analytics/bin/… –  w3d Jan 11 '13 at 10:39

4 Answers 4

you are absolutely right for being concerned about users experience when they browse to your website. But I think when you see that it's about around one second it's because you are a returning visitor and some of your website's files are in your browser cache, and when google measure load time, they refer to a new visitor.

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I think you may be confused about a few things. First, GA measures exactly the same things for you as well as your visitors (unless the user is receiving different content). Any third party scripts loaded on a page are loaded for your users and you just the same. So there cannot be a discrepancy there.

The load times shown in GA are only for web pages. If you load an image or script direct in the browser GA has no way of knowing (because the script is in your web pages).

Any discrepancies you are seeing will be down to one of these factors:

  • You have a faster connection speed than most of your users.
  • You have a better computer than most of your users.
  • You are closer to your server than most of your users.
  • A handful of users are on really slow connections or a page load had a blocking script that wasn't loading and had to wait until it timed out.

The last one in particular is quite common in my experience. If you look at individual page load times you will see some that have massive outliers. There isn't really anything you can do about that.

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For a general feel on how fast the site is loading from different locations try this service: http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/ It is pretty good.

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This isn't what's being asked for. He's questioning the numbers Google Analytics is giving. Sending him to an entirely different service that potentially uses a different method is going to tell him nothing. –  Su' Jan 11 '13 at 14:13

You can use Real-user Monitoring service. It's the best way for monitoring page load time.

You have: - Google Analytics - Cedexis Radar - Gomez - Keynote - Pingdom

and many others...

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