Web Vitals is an initiative by Google formalizing performance metrics for web page performance. It identifies three key metrices – termed as Core Web Vitals – which Google consideres to be key measure of user experience. While acknowledging that those might evolve, currently following measures have been prioritised as Core Web Vitals:-
- loading measured as Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- interactivty measured as First Input Delay (FID)
- visual stability measured as Cummulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Impact on Search ranking
Web Vitals continues Google’s relentless drive towards improving user experience online, and as noted in the Release Notesthe Core Web Vitals would soon form part of the page experience metrics used for Search rankings.
To enable adoption by web developers and site owners, Google is rolling this out to its related platforms such as Chrome DevTools, Lighthouse, PageSpeed Insights, Search Console and Chrome User Experience Report.
LightHouse Performance Scoring
We make extensive use of Lighthouse for web performance improvements of our clients’ sites. It was heartening to see the Web Vitals metrics being rolled out to Lighthouse v6 release. However it is important to note that Performance Scoring in Lighthouse v6 might not be in complete agreement with the currently identified core metrics. While Web Vitals identfies CLS (Cummulative Layout Shift) as amongst the three top most measures, Lighthouse v6 Performance Scoring wieghs it as 5% and the least amongst 6 measures it aggregates to arrive at a final score.
Is Google AMP-ing down?
Tucked into the Core Web Vitals release notes is mention about removing AMP requirement for Top Stories eligibility. For news & publising sites this is an important change to relook at related web initiatives. This change might portent a shift by Google to general web development best practises over a walled garden of AMP, and CTOs would need to shift their priorities accordingly.
Implications for Web Content Management Systems (Web CMS)
The Core Web Vitals as being measured today also have a significant impact on websites developed with Content Management Systems such as WordPress, Drupal, etc. Most of the websites developed on these open source CMS have been traditionally built with a mix of off-the-shelf themes & plugins, and (with exceptions of WordPress.com & Acquia Cloud) have hosting, themes, & plugins coming from different providers. As it would be commercial difficult for the hosting and extension provides to maintain a code base that has high compatibility with other components, while also being highly performant and distributed to a wider market at appealing price – businesses would need to make a trade-off of cost, flexibilty or user experience on these platforms.