TTFB explained: what is it?
TTFB is the number of milliseconds it takes for a browser to receive the first byte of the response from your web server. However, not only your hosting is responsible for an optimal TTFB for your website or webshop. Also the platform you are using and for example if server side caching is being used, can make a difference to your TTFB.
Time to First Byte is a measure of backend and network performance. It's also a great way to quantify the performance of hosting providers!https://twitter.com/ChromeUXReport
A disclaimer: other metrics like First Meaningful Paint (FMP) are as important as the TTFB metric for optimal perceived performance and conversion.
Formula 1 and sitespeed
If you're Dutch or not, the last Formula 1 race was exciting to watch, as a lot happened during the race. But, when it comes to our own website or webshop, we rather have a steady and consistent race. It al starts with an optimal Time to First Byte (TTFB).
Verstappen and his Red Bull Racing team gained the fastest pitstop with only 1.88 seconds. As steady as Hamilton was before during this Formula 1 season, a very slow pitstop didn't deliver him another win.
TTFB of CMS solutions, the good and the bad
As of june 2019, we can find TTFB metric results in the CrUX datasets, to be explored by yourself or just read along on HTTP Archive. Maybe these results will be published in a PageSpeed Insights report too.
Everything below 200 milliseconds is considered a good Time to First Byte:
- <200 ms “fast” TTFB is based on server responsiveness best practice recommendation
- >1000 ms “slow” TTFB is due to requirement for fast FCP threshold of <1s. A server response that exceeds 1000ms cannot, by definition, meet the fast FCP goal and is thus considered slow.
With this in mind, the results are as following:
With these results being available, one can make the right choice when building a new website. To summarize, the results are as following:
CMS with consistently fast TTFB
Business Catalyst looks like having the best TTFB being less than 200 milliseconds, while Wix has the worst TTFB. At the same time, Wix is giving you least flexibility to optimize any further.
Consistently slowest CMS
Again with Business Catalyst, the chances of a slow TTFB (more than 1000 milliseconds) are the least, as well as Tilda. The chances of a slow TTFB are the greatest with Concrete5 (42,34%) and Wordpress (44.27%). Best practice when using Wordpress, using less plugins is the best trick to reduce the TTFB.
Best scoring (managed) hosting partner
As hosting partners are sometimes known too, we can also get a list of hosting partner and their TTFB scores. Seravo seems like scoring the best, while Siteground has the worst average when it comes to TTFB. Pantheon is claiming using managed hosting is better than doing it yourself.
Rather see results in tabular format? Check HTTP Archive.
TTFB conclusions based on CrUX data
The conclusion is using Business Catalyst is giving you the best odds on a good TTFB. More importantly however, is having this TTFB metric available on large scale, giving us the chance to make right decisions, choosing Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes (even having a bad day sometimes) instead of Williams or Renault.