The first tool I want to introduce you to is a tool called Nibbler. It’s run by a company called Silktide, and they’ve also got a premium version of it called Sitebeam. So, Nibbler allows you to test I think it’s up to five or ten page of your website.
Basically, you can just pop in your website address. It gives you a rank out of ten for a number of different features on your website with tips on how you can go in and fix any problems that its found. So, it goes through and it’s testing for all the usual kind of suspects in terms of whether you’ve got social media accounts linked up, if it’s found errors, coding errors on your page, standards compliance issues.
Whether it’s picked up accessibility problems on your site. If there are broken links, if there are images missing, alt tags, lots of different things, which ultimately all have it. If they’re missing or wrong, they have a negative impact on your search engine page rank. So, that’s Nibbler.
I think the website address is nibbler.silktide.com, or you can just google Sitebeam or Nibbler, and you’ll find both of those. So, the second tool, also free, is called Pagescoring.
This really heavily focuses on providing key information about the loading speed. So, when you plug your URL in Pagescoring it gives you something called a Waterfall, so there’s a load of different assets, which load on a webpage, so Java Script fails, style sheets, images, and various other things. So, let’s say you have like 50 different elements to your webpage, which load up, so it puts them in a waterfall and it tells you which ones are taking longer or shorter to load up.
So, what we want is, remember that seven second rule, which I talked about in another article, you want that page to load up as quickly as possible, so if there’s a large image in there, which is taking 20 seconds to load up, that’s gonna slow down your entire site. So, Pagescoring is quite good at giving you a very quick overview of how quickly your site loads.
The third tool I’m gonna mention is actually one of my favourite at the moment: GTmetrix. So, why GTmetrix is so good is it uses both Google’s page speed tool, and also Yahoo’s YSlow tool, and grades your site’s performance in both page speed and YSlow.
So, why’s that important?
So, with Google being the most used search engine out there, and then Yahoo being the second most popular search engine, if your page speed score is low, then it kinda makes sense that actually Google’s not gonna be particularly happy about your site, and the page rank, which it gives you.
So, if we’re making sure that we’re ticking all the boxes of our page speed and YSlow concern, hopefully, that’s not gonna just have a positive impact on the how quickly and how well your website loads, but also how well it performs in the search engines.
And their scoring’s nice and simple, they do it like an A, B, C, D, E, or fail type ranking. So, it’s quick and easy to see if you’re website’s an A or an F, and then it goes into detail about specific things that you can focus on to rectify and increase that bad score.
The fourth tool, which I use is one called Pingdom. So, Pingdom also analyses load speeds, and you can use it learn how to make your website load faster. The other benefit to it as well, which Pagescoring doesn’t do is Pingdom automatically traces your performance history, so every month when you go and test your website, you can see whether the changes you’ve made have increased the performance of that webpage, and the loading speeds for it.
Equally, what you can also do with Pingdom is choose different locations around the world to test your website from. So, if you’re based in the UK, you’re looking at your website from Bristol, it’s hosted in Sheffield, the page load speed are naturally gonna be quicker than if somebody’s looking at your website in Boston, for example, because it’s gotta cover that extra distance.
So, what you can do is make sure that your website, you can test it from Boston’s, make sure that how quickly your site is loading from different site locations all around the world.
Another really good tool is Sortsite. Again, the free version is a bit basic, but it does give you some basic kind of testing tools. You can test up to five pages. It’ll do standard compliance accessibility. It categorises them quite nicely, but it is worthwhile if you want to test your website on regular basis, then sign up to the premium version.
It’s not very much, think it’s about 40, 50 bucks. Its subscription based service, but what you can then do is schedule the testing, so that it’ll ping your email on a monthly basis with a report on any problems that might have… ‘Cause a website isn’t an ever revolving, it’s an organic kind of system, so when you fix something last month, I don’t know, the W3C might change their rules, or a new browser update might come in, and then when you test it this month all of a sudden your site breaks, it doesn’t work on the latest browser or it doesn’t work on the latest Iphone, for example.
So, having those regular monthly reports coming through is a really good way of just again double checking, keeping really on top of any updates, which happen on a month by month basis. The web moves so fast these days. You need tools like this to make sure that you’re just up to date with stuff.
There’s another free tool, which the World Wide Web consorting, the W3C, so they set the standards compliance, the standards of the website code, and they’ve got a free tool. If you just Google the W3C Validation Tool, plug in your website address, and it’ll tell you whether the code for your webpage meets the W3C compliance. So, if there are lots of errors appearing under that W3C Validation Tool, it’s gonna slow down your site, the search engine’s gonna pick up your site’s loading slowly and it’s gonna load your page rank. So, we want your webpages to be error free.
They load quicker, get a better score on Google. It’s all good. The final tool is The Wave Accessibility tool. So, I talked about in a previous video why we’re testing for accessibility, so again this is a really simple tool, which looks at things like colours, font sizes, use of imagery, alt tags, navigation around the site from a accessible perspective, and makes sure that your website isn’t discriminating against people with disabilities.
This is a fact which most people don’t know. It’s no different to not put, if you’ve got a premises, a physical premises, not building a ramp outside the front door of your premises for somebody in a wheelchair to come inside, that is discriminatory, and you could be incriminating yourself in regards to the Disability Discrimination’s Act.
It’s no different to websites, so if you don’t consider, if you don’t make websites accessible, then technically you could be sued because again, under the law, through the DDA. So, it’s a really important
factor if you go to the Wave Accessibility Tool, it’ll tell you, making a website 100% accessible can be a really difficult task, but there are some really simple things that you can do to make you website accessible.
Simple things like when you when you upload an image, put an alternative text tag against it just a descriptive tag, which talks about what the subject matter of the image is, so that somebody who has got a vision impairment can’t see it, at least has an audio description of that image. So, just to summarise those seven tools, which I’ve just mentioned during this article.
So, they are Nibbler, Pagescoring, GTmetrix, Pingdom, Sortsite, the W3C Validation Tool, and then finally the Wave Accessibility Tool.