Google has released a new tool called Mobile Website Speed Testing Tool; on the surface, next to competing tools such as webpagetest.org, it looks visually attractive and given the name I assumed that it would be providing the same level if not better reporting. Plus its by Google and it would be nice to have a tool that provided official insight into how they view web content.
Eagerly I entered the address for PhotoGabble into the large, sleek input field and clicked the inviting test now button – moments later I was presented with the above response, three grades out of 100 telling me little more than a pat on the head.
As I attempted to scroll down the page (annoying scroll-jacking!) I was then presented with the same statistics one by one along side screenshots of how PhotoGabble looks on mobile and desktop; having scrolled from the top to the bottom of the page and still being none-the-wiser beyond having done a good job, I decided to click the view the details link.
I had hoped that there would be a little more detail in the report than a few "traffic light" icons, after searching the page for one iota of a statistic beyond the normalised out of one hundred score I caved in a clicked the big – obviously what they want you to do – get my free report button.
Clicking this button asks for your email address, you also have to opt in to the following:
Google may send me recommendations for certain Google products and service and contact me with further help and tips based on my TestMySite results.
With the only alternative being:
No thanks, I don't want to get my detailed results.
By now it should have become apparent that web developers are not the target audience for this tool; we would like the report, but not get drawn into unnecessary future marketing emails. I used the popular disposable email service guerrillamail.com in order to receive the report.
Assuming that this tool has been developed for non-technically-minded people, with suggestions throughout to share the information with your webmaster. It's not unfair to assume that the juicy statistics developers crave would be contained within the emailed report, however as with most assumptions this one left me disappointed for the emailed report contains exactly the same information, except with links alongside the should fix and consider fixing items pointing you to pages within Google's developer documentation.
As web developers, its often useful to be able to test the websites that we build to ensure that they are optimised for delivering content to as wide an audience as possible; because of this need there are numerous tools that have been built and even integrated into different browsers.
Being able to see a list of what is wrong with a website and having some form of statistic to target is useful because you can then investigate best methods for achieving that goal. Tools such as webpagetest.org provide excellent in-depth reportage, allowing you to identify problem areas and work to fix them.
I was hoping that the Mobile Website Speed Testing Tool by Google would be a similar tool, however it quite simply falls short of being useful with obscure page-rank-like scores and little helpful documentation unless you agree to be added to a marketing list.
It would be unfair to say that the Google mobile website speed test tool is entirely useless to a web developer, while we are not its target audience; as a tool for pointing you to relevant parts of the Google developer documentation for page speed optimisation it works admirably.
As a final note, because of the slightly dodgy email subscription process, I did have to double check that this was a legitimate built by Google tool. It feels nice and glossy, but at the end of the day this has been developed primarily to funnel conversions to a email list and not to provide any useful statistics which to me feels wrong.
Had the tool provided a comparable level of detail to webpagetest.org even if it was hidden away in some emailed report, this would have been far more useful and felt a lot less dodgy.