Ballpark benchmarking web page load time and "time to first paint"
It is essential to understand that not all resources are critical to deliver a fast first paint. Techniques such as inlining critical CSS can be used in conjunction with methods such as BigPipe, Isomorphic Rendering and Lazy Loading to improve the initial load time a web page. There is also a W3C proposal from Baidu for defining First Screen Paint In Advance.
To complement these optimisations, the new version of the HTTP protocol (HTTP/2) has significant improvements that can positively influence the time to first paint, such as streaming data over a single TCP connection, asset priorisation and more. Just serving HTTP/2 is no guarantee of better performance, in fact it can even make it worse in some cases.
You'll probably have dependencies to Analytics and other external scripts and resources which might be blocking and served from slow 3rd party servers, rendering the content you've provided quickly rather useless.Changing latencies and bandwidth over public networks make reliable benchmarking impossible.
Ballpark load time numbers are good start
It is still useful to get some ballpark figures on your load times. You can use services like Webpagetest.org, PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom Website Speed Test which give you a wealth of information. But if you simply wish to do quick testing on load times, they might be a bit too cumbersome and slow.
Kazuho Oku, the lead developer of H2O, a HTTP/2 capable webserver and other significant Open Source projects has created a quick way to test the essential metrics of a site. The tool is called wpbench and it is just a single HTML page that you upload to the server and then get rought numbers on unload, first-paint and load.
Your mileage will vary, but the above links load a large number of images with a delay. There are no third party scripts on the site and browser caching is invalidated using random get parameters.
Read more about load time and browser performance:
- Browser Content Load-Time Example
- Public DNS System and Global Traffic Management
- Analyzing Critical Rendering Path Performance
- Velocity and the Bottom Line
- A proxy for first paint and why I love Velocity
- Serving PHP on HTTP/2 with H2O and HHVM