How To Do the Website Improvement Thing
In this day and age, you don’t have to be in the web development industry to know having a website that loads quickly is key to capturing users.
But we’ve found one of the main stumbling blocks people come across when trying to improve their site is where to begin…
The one we use most frequently to test our site and client sites is Google PageSpeed, which is widely used and fairly straightforward to understand, even for website novices.
PageSpeed What and Why
Website speed is a measure of how quickly your site loads for users. Essentially, a combined rating of measurements (which will be described later). But for now, it’s important to know page speed scores like this are basically an easier way for optimizers to gauge improvements without getting too deep into the metrics.
These days, visitors are often turned off by even the slightest delay. Research shows someone is likely to click away if page loading is delayed more than 400 milliseconds.
To demonstrate what we mean, we’ll show you a Google PageSpeed test we’ve run on our own site and break it down step by step to show you how to test your own site and provide a baseline explanation for the data/metrics provided by the test.
The PageSpeed Process
Go to https://pagespeed.web.dev/.
Enter your website’s URL in the search box and click the Analyze button.
The test may take a few moments to complete.
It’s important to note that you can test different pages on your site to see how they perform, though, for this example, we’ve chosen to analyze the homepage.
The results will pop up with your website’s page speed ‘score’. There are scores for both the Mobile and Desktop performance of your site. Be sure to look at both as they will likely be different!
Keep in mind these scores may fluctuate due to a variety of factors, such as the connection between the PageSpeed service and the website.
And while it’s good to keep tabs on your website’s health, we recommend testing your site monthly (with various tools and metrics) or as needed, like when significant changes are made to your site.
The data and recommendations provided by the test are more important than the score itself, as they can serve as a guide to improve your site’s user experience.
In fact, just because a site has a good score doesn’t necessarily mean it will pass Core Web Vitals or be at its fastest.
Mobile Score Breakdown:
Desktop Score Breakdown:
As you can see, 6 metrics are measured in this test. We’ll explain them below.
What Do They Mean?
You may or may not be familiar with what these metrics mean, so we’ve provided brief explanations for each one.
- First Contentful Paint (FCP): First Contentful Paint marks when a user is first able to see a visual response from the webpage.
- Speed Index: Speed Index measures how quickly content is visually displayed during the page load.
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Largest Contentful Paint marks the time the largest text or image appears on the screen.
- Time to Interactive: Time to Interactive is the amount of time it takes for the page to become fully interactive (all elements on the page are clickable, videos are playable, etc.).
- Total Blocking Time (TBT): TBT measures the total amount of time until a page can respond to user input (mouse clicks, screen taps, or keyboard presses).
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS measures the movement of the largest visual layout shifts a page makes when loading.
Beyond (below) The Metrics
Below the section of metrics, there are recommendations from Google that should help make your site faster. While we won’t be going into those right now, we will show a couple of examples from our PageSpeed results.
These recommendations explain what the suggestion means and a few resources on how to implement the changes.
Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to do this alone. Whether you are super busy, overwhelmed, a website team of one, or you just don’t want to do it yourself, we’d be more than happy to help you out with this, plus many other things like website re-designs, SEO audits, or website errors.
Have a specific question or suggestion regarding website PageSpeed testing? Drop us a line in the comments—we like sharing our expertise and learning new ways of doing things!