Waterfalls 101: How to use a waterfall chart to diagnose your website’s performance pains

If you’ve been following along with this site (webperformancetoday.com) over the past four years, you may recall this post, which offered an introduction to waterfall charts. Given that the post is now a few years old, I think it merits a refresh.

Who is this post for – If you already live and breathe waterfalls, this post isn’t for you. (But this one might be.) This post is for people who are interested in performance but don’t necessarily have a lot of technical know-how. It’s for people who want to crack the hood and learn:

  • why pages behave the way they do,
  • how to begin to diagnose performance issues before sending out red-flag emails to everyone on your team, and
  • how to talk performance with the experts within your organization who do live and breathe waterfalls.

What is a waterfall chart – A waterfall chart is any diagram that represents data that is generated cumulatively and sequentially across a process. A performance-specific waterfall chart lets you see the series of actions that occur between a user and your server in order for that user to view a specific individual page of your site.

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