If your company has a product or service that's available to customers in China you can't afford to have a slow running website, but China presents special challenges that can make achieving a quick loading time difficult for foreign website owners.
Why Do Foreign Websites Load Slowly in China?
Aside from the physical distance between domestic servers and Chinese Internet users, the primary reason why websites load slowly in China is because the data has to pass through the Great Firewall of China. The Great Firewall scans for and blocks websites, resources and content that the Chinese government deems objectionable. If a portion of your website doesn't get through the Great Firewall, it can severely delay your page loading speeds. Some of the common websites and resources that the Great Firewall blocks include:
- Most Google resources including Google APIs and Google Fonts
The fact that the Great Firewall blocks so many resources may mean that you'll need to rethink your website's design and infrastructure if you want to reach Chinese consumers.
These are some common website design elements that can cause issues for page loading speeds in China. If your website uses any of these elements -- as many western websites do -- you may need to make major changes to improve your website's experience for Chinese users.
- Using Google Fonts for your typography
- Embedding content from social media websites such as YouTube, Facebook or Instagram
- Using Google Maps to show business locations and driving directions
- Linking to the Google Play store to encourage downloading of your mobile app
- Using Google APIs for back-end software
- Hosting your website on Google's content delivery network
- Using embedded buttons so people can like and share your content on social media
How to Test Your Page Loading Speed in China
The easiest way to test your site of course is to find a friend or colleague in China and ask them to test your site on their desktop and mobile. Even better, find a few contacts in different parts of China (the main tier one and two cities) and have them test. Internet access and performance is not uniform across China so testing from multiple locations will give you a better sense.
If you don't have ready access to anyone in China, then you can try these website speed testing services. They all have Chinese-based servers that can help you determine your website's loading speed for Chinese users.
Unique Feature: Detailed performance report from locations all over China.
Webkaka is a Chinese website with a name that will generate a smile from NZ users, but it is our favorite tool because it provides the best test we've found of how a website really works in China and we routinely use the results it produces in presentation and demonstrations for clients. The trick for non-Chinese is to use the built in Google Chrome feature to translate the the site. Once you've translated the home page you will quickly find the page speed testing form where you can submit your URL. The results will load in a new page which you can translate as well. The map (as shown above) will give you a color coded view of how your site performs in different regions all around China.
Unique Feature: Many Chinese locations available for testing
To run the Site24x7 speed test from China, enter the URL of your website in the "Website Name" field. Click the drop-down menu under "Locations" and select a Chinese location. At the time of writing, the Chinese locations that Site24x7 offers are Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou City, Qingdao City, Shanghai, Shenzen and Zhangjiakou. Click "Analyze" to see the results. The result screen displays the total time that elapsed before the page loaded on the remote server. It also displays a waterfall view showing how much time the server needed to download individual resources from your website.
Unique Feature: Can test a website's speed from multiple locations simultaneously
To run the Dotcom-Tools speed test from China, enter the URL of your website in the "Website URL" field. Complete the CAPTCHA test if necessary. Check the check boxes next to the locations from which you would like to test your website's speed. At the time of writing, the Chinese locations that Dotcom-Tools offers are Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. You may select multiple testing locations. Click the "Start Test" button. The result page shows your website's download time from each selected location. Click any of the times on the result page to see a waterfall view of that test.
Unique Feature: Can test page speed using virtually any desktop or mobile browser, though only Chrome and Firefox are available in China
To run the WebPageTest speed test from China, enter the URL of your website in the "Enter a Website URL" field. Click the drop-down menu next to "Test Location" and select the Hong Kong, China server. At the time of writing, Hong Kong is the only Chinese testing location available. The Hong Kong server allows you to test your website's speed with several different builds of Chrome and Firefox. Select a browser from the "Browser" drop-down menu and click the "Start Test" button. Complete the CAPTCHA test if necessary. The test runs automatically after you complete the test. You may need to wait a few minutes to see the results; WebPageTest's Chinese server is often very busy. The test loads your website three times and displays a waterfall view of each session.
Want to discuss the performance of your site in China?
Call us on +64 (21) 807 829 to discuss your site, or contact us here and we'll set up a call.