With broadband internet connections so prevalent around the world, it’s easy for web designers and developers to get a little bit lazy when it comes to optimizing the pages they create or that their applications generate.

After all, a broadband connection is usually pretty forgiving and can even render certain best practices and good habits entirely unnecessary.

But that doesn’t mean that pages shouldn’t be optimized. Not everybody has broadband, and some bad habits can cause poor performance on the client end, even on the most modern of machines.

Yesterday, Google released Page Speed, a Firefox add-on that works in tandem with the already-popular Firebug Firefox add-on. Page Speed, quite simply, is the ultimate tool for measuring how well optimized your pages are and where there’s room for improvement.

To use Page Speed, you’ll need to be using Firefox with the Firebug add-on installed. After that, downloading and installing Page Speed is quick and easy.

Once installed, Page Speed adds a couple of tabs to the Firebug console.

The first tab, Page Speed, allows you to run a performance analysis. The subsequent summary tells you the good, the bad and the ugly and provides you with some suggestions on what you could improve on in an easy-to-analyze fashion. Even better: it provides specific advice, as you can see below.

The second tab, Page Speed Activity, lets you monitor in real time page activities. A visual timeline of events, such as DNS requests and cache hits, is then displayed. Although this is a little bit hard to read at first, it can provide some valuable data that lets you profile your pages.

For those who are interested in the details, Google offers a Web Performance Best Practices guide that explains how and why Page Speed makes certain recommendations and there’s Page Speed documentation handy as well.

All in all, Page Speed looks like a very useful little tool that should have a place in the toolkit of every designer and developer.