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What Does My Website Look Like From China? Test and Monitor Performance from China

China website

In this current age of the Internet, it’s a common practice to build a website to run your online business. With the networks all around the world, theoretically, you can do business boundlessly. However, like each country has its boundary, the world of Internet is not a world without any control. In fact, every country has its own laws and rules toward this virtual world. And the case is especially different, when China’s Internet environment is involved. If you plan to do business online with China, its Internet infrastructure and the Great Firewall might greatly impact your website performance.  To investigate this topic, let’s first check how important your website performance is to your online business.

 

Why Should You Monitor Your Website Performance?

As we’ve noticed, website performance, especially its speed and availability, are essential to the success of your business. Availability, with no doubt, is the basic requirement. If your website is not up online, people can’t access it, nothing will happen. High speed, on the other hand, improves your customers’ user experience, and results in an increased conversion rate and income.

There have been countless studies that have shown the impact of how a slow loading website affects user behavior.  For example, here are some of the more critical findings:

  • 79 percent of customers dissatisfied with website performance are less likely to purchase on the same site again
  • 47 percent of customers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less
  • One second delay in page load time means 11 percent loss of page views
  • One second improvement in page load time increases 7 percent conversion rate.

 

Website performance is finally reflected in your sales data, and that makes it a CSF (Critical Success Factor) of your online business.

 

Why Should You Monitor Your Website Performance from China?

It’s important to monitor and optimize your website performance, but how different is it in China? The performance of a same website can be very different, when it’s accessed from China and from the other areas around the world.

There are only three landing stations of submarine cables to provide network services to nearly 1 billion Internet users in China. The entry/exit communication traffic can be overwhelmed by limited international bandwidth and huge user number. During peak hours, early in the morning 8:00-10:00 and after dinner 17:00-22:00 UTC+8, Internet speed tends to get slower, and sometimes even out of service. Meanwhile, the Chinese government deploys the Great Firewall to block access to certain foreign websites and services, as well as to take control of data and information exchanged via it. Obviously, it also slows down your website speed, and might even block your online services in China if rules are not properly followed.

To ensure your website acts as normal as possible when accessed from China, it’s a good practice to pay special attention to your website performance in China.

 

How Does Your Website Look from Users in China?

The good news is there are website monitoring tools specially designed to solve this problem. You may start your diagnosis from our free speed test tool, and no sign up is required.  For this article, we ran a speed test for the TED website as the target website. The test period is morning peak hours during 08:00 – 10:00 in Shanghai (UTC+8), and night peak hours during 20:00 – 22:00 in New York (UTC-4).  Below is a summary of the performance, along with waterfall charts, of the TED site from Shanghai and New York.

Shanghai

Items

1st Test

08:30

2nd Test

09:00

3rd Test

09:40

Comments
First Visit 10.9 Sec 38.1 Sec 8.1 Sec Avg 19.0 Sec
Repeat Visit 4.1 Sec 4.9 Sec 6.4 Sec Avg 5.1 Sec
Number of Hosts Connected 46 48 47 Different problems happened in different hosts each time.
Main Performance Issues DNS Time

SSL Time

First Byte Time

Response Time

DNS Time

SSL Time

First Byte Time

Response Time

SSL Time

First Byte Time

Response Time

DNS Time: waiting for data from DNS.

SSL Time: SSL/TLS negotiation issue.

First Byte Time: waiting to get content.

Response Time: response to download is slow.

Errors 2 2 2 Images (.gif) were unavailable for legal reasons.

 

Shanghai speed test - TED

 

It normally took more than 10 seconds to fully load the page. That’s the major drawback when accessing overseas websites from China. Luckily, the time was shortened to within five seconds when accessing in a cached mode.  As a website that hosts a ton of videos, it’s impressive that TED provides its service with nearly 50 servers. However, since the complex Internet structure in China, each host’s performance was unstable.  The waterfall chart showed four main performance issues.

Generally speaking, the DNS issue might be caused by the transfer speed of the web server being too slow or resource size being too large. It could be solved by the use of CDN. The SSL issue means the need to optimize TLS performance. The first byte issue suggested moving the static content to a CDN. The response time might be caused by the large resource, and reducing the file size may help to solve the problem. For a deep dive into waterfall charts, read our blog.  The same two images were constantly blocked for legal reasons. Their content should be rechecked to pass the network audit in China.

 

ted.com image error

 

New York

Items 1st Test

20:30

2nd Test

21:00

3rd Test

21:40

Comments
First Visit 4.9 Sec 5.7 Sec 8.1 Sec Avg 6.2 Sec
Repeat Visit 3.5 Sec 3.9 Sec 2.8 Sec Avg 3.4 Sec
Number of Hosts Connected 52 56 55 Repetitive problems happened in the same hosts.
Main Performance Issues Response Time Response Time

First Byte Time

Response Time

DNS Time

Response Time: response to download is slow.

First Byte Time: waiting to get content.

DNS Time: waiting for data from DNS.

Errors 0 0 0 No element was blocked.

 

 

New York speed test TED

 

The first time to fully load the home page was in a relatively acceptable range, from five to eight seconds, but it still has room to optimize.  Over 50 host servers were available in United States. The servers provided stable services. Only servers with repetitive problems should be optimized.  There were fewer performance issues, with no errors occurring and no element was blocked like in the Shanghai test.

As you may see, the same website performed much better in United States than in China at peak hours. With Dotcom-Monitor advanced monitoring solutions, you could further check each element performance, and watch the loading video of actual web pages. This will help you to quickly monitor and locate problems.

 

Performance Insights

Also included along with the waterfall chart is the Performance Insights section.  This section summarizes the page load data and provides performance insights for desktop and mobile versions of the page, detailing specific opportunities where performance is being affected and suggestions on how to fix those issues.  There are five categories:

 

Page Speed Insights

 

Performance. The Performance category includes various metrics on first contentful paint, speed index, largest contentful paint, total blocking time, and cumulative layout shift. Additionally, this section includes suggestions and diagnostics information, such as removing unused JavaScript, using a different format for images, minifying CSS/JavaScript, minimizing third-party code, plus much more.  These suggestions can help the page load faster and make your applications perform better.

Accessibility.  This section includes information about how to improve the accessibility and layout of your page or application. Suggestions can include putting names on buttons or contrasting background and foreground colors, so that users that may have physical limitations, such as blindness/deafness, are able to access your pages and applications.

Best Practices.  The Best Practices section includes information about ensuring the links you use are safe and don’t include any known vulnerabilities, and puts them in order from highest to lowest.

SEO.  This sections includes explanations about the checks that are made to ensure your page is optimized for search engine rankings.

Progressive Web App (PWA).  Lastly, if you’re building a your website within the progressive web application guidelines, this section checks and provides information to ensure you page loads fast enough or responds within appropriate guidelines, ensuring your website is PWA optimized.

 

Conclusion:  Test and Monitor Performance from China

Visitors in China have to tolerate unreasonable slow speed, missed page elements, and sometimes unavailability. It’s caused by the different Internet environments and physical distance in China. Due to these unreliable conditions, continuous monitoring is important and vital if you’re doing business in China. Websites hosted outside of China should be specially optimized to cater to the Chinese market.  We dedicate ourselves to assisting you to run a successful global online business.

Check out our free tools and advanced monitoring platform. Find opportunities in improving your site performance and increasing your sales.

Try the full Dotcom-Monitor platform free for 30 days.

 

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