Waterfall Chart: Improve Website Performance With Data Visualization

Nov 2018

Posted by: Category:Web Design & Development

If you are not that tech savvy but you are running a website and you are interested in knowing how it’s performing, this one’s for you. A waterfall chart could help you with that. It’s a diagram that represents the data generated sequentially across a process.

Waterfall Chart Improve Website Performance with Data Visualization

You can see a series of actions which occur between the user and the server to view and understand how a user views your site or its pages.

Each page of your website is represented in a line on the charts. You will see a waterfall that presents the moment when each resource is called from the server to the moment the resource has been downloaded or rendered in the browser.

In simpler words, the waterfall chart helps you determine how long does it take for each action to load between the server and the user whenever the user assesses your website. This data can be really helpful for web administrators to understand how each element of a site is impacting its performance. This information can also be helpful for improving website performance and website optimization.

The waterfall chart will give you a visual representation of how all the assets on your site load. You will see images, plugins, third-party content, HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. A great thing about these charts is that you don’t have to be an expert to understand or read them.

You can also see where the elements of your web pages are stuck. For instance, if images on your website are not loading properly, simply to go the image element and you will learn more about the issue. To diagnose the problem further, you can expand the element.

Here is the breakdown of some of the important pieces of the waterfall chart. The names might vary depending on the tool you are using:

  • Initial Connection
    It refers to the total time required for creating a TCP connection. It is used for creating a connection between the local client and the server. The TCP connection must be fast as it reduces the network latency time.

  • TTFB
    TTFB i.e. time to first byte refers to the amount of time required when a client makes an HTTP request for receiving the first byte of data from the web server. On average, a TTFB must be under 100ms.

  • Content Download
    It refers to the time required to download the content. It’s obvious larger files will take a longer time to download. Content download time can be reduced by compressing images or using JavaScript and CSS.

  • HTTP Requests
    With each action, you will see the total number of HTTP requests generated on your site. The more HTTP requests are made on your web pages, the more time they will take to load. You can reduce these requests by using less code, combining the JS and CSS files, reducing assets, and lining the JavaScript.

There is a lot more you can see on the waterfall chart for improving your website. Generally, if the chart has fewer rows and shorter bars, that means your website is performing well. If not, then you will have to work on its SEO, website design, and website performance.

One thought on “Waterfall Chart: Improve Website Performance With Data Visualization

  1. Sarah

    A slow-loading website is an absolute no-no for both the company and for the audience – they’ll simply abandon any website which fails to load in a fraction of a second. In terms of SEO, a site can rank very badly if it’s got heavy graphics and unnecessary design which bog it down. Thank goodness for ‘white space’, a trend which prioritises white space and values how easy it is for a user to navigate a website. By incorporating this trend into a site, you’ll benefit on multiple levels. Of course, it doesn’t just have to be white (make it peach space, or ochre if you must), but the cleanness of design will help your website to shine above your competitors who still think that a product can be sold through a barrage of persuasive words. It can’t. Products are sold on tone, feeling and story nowadays. Keep that in mind when designing your website.

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