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Core Web Vitals: What they mean for your site and its users

Core Web Vitals: What they mean for your site and its users

In an effort to further improve how users experience websites, Google is rolling out new standards called Core Web Vitals soon. Like most things Google, it can get pretty complicated. But the easiest way to think of it is a set of metrics that measure how a site behaves in terms of its quality as related to user experience. Members of our dev team, UX team, and digital marketing team have been hard at work learning more about the change and have put together this brief explainer. 

 

What do Core Web Vitals Measure?

Get ready for alphabet soup of initialisms (fun fact: an initialism is different from an acronym).

  1. LCP - Largest Contentful Paint  

Measures LOADING PERFORMANCE

According to Search Engine Land, LCP is the render time of the largest image or text block visible within the viewport, relative to when the page first started loading.

Size = what is visible within viewport

Display size, NOT intrinsic size.

Target: 2.5 seconds or less, across 75 percent of all page loads.

 

  1. FID - First Input Delay

Measures INTERACTIVITY

FID measures the time from when a user first interacts with a page (click a link, tap a button, use a Javascript control, etc.) to the time when the browser is actually able to begin processing event handlers in response to that interaction.

Why does delay happen? The browser’s main thread is busy doing something else, commonly parsing and executing a large Javascript file.

FID only measures the delay in processing, not the processing itself.

Target: 100 milliseconds or less, across 75 percent of all page loads.

 

  1. CLS - Cumulative Layout Shift  

Measures Visual Stability

CLS measures the sum total of all individual layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the lifespan of the page. 

Example: You try to tap a button, but before your finger hits the screen the button shifts position because of another element loading, causing you to miss the button or tap a different one entirely. 

 

What about Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager (GTM)?

Core Web Vitals and GTM are measuring different things. CWV measures how your site behaves, while GTM measures whether you’re accomplishing the things you want your site to do (for example: get forms filled out).

 

Is this another thing I’ve got to stay on top of to “beat the algorithm”?

Not exactly. Like any metric, Core Web Vitals standards will likely change over time. Google’s algorithms may rank a close competitor’s site over yours if their CWV score is better, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ll see a dramatic decrease in traffic. Think of CWV more in terms of a guide to creating a good user experience rather than a surefire way to boost your search rankings.

 

How is CID approaching Core Web Vitals?

CID has historically worked very collaboratively on web design projects between strategy, user experience, development and QA. Core Web Vitals will take this practice to another level. We have always referred to ourselves as an “audience-first” agency — meaning we make understanding audiences and their needs the first priority when we begin any project. Through CWV, this becomes an even greater focus. Now, your user’s experience doesn’t just matter for the user. It matters for Google, too.

One thing to remember as you explore website tweaks with CWV in mind, is that even with expertly executed best practices in place we can’t guarantee a site will pass. The ways of Google are always a bit mysterious. But, we’ve got our eyes on the prize and will be considering CWV metrics not only for full site redesigns and brand new builds, but also we’ll watch for ways we can incrementally improve existing sites.



Find out how Core Web Vitals impact your site’s user experience and ranking. Get in touch with us at hello@cidesigninc.com to get started on a site audit.

The CI Trends Team

The CI Trends Team

CI Design is an award-winning agency located in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward. Driven by curiosity and passion, we are a creative marketing engine dedicated to shaping stories that get results.

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