Core Web Vitals are three metrics that score a user’s experience when loading a webpage. These metrics are focused on how quickly page content loads, how quickly a browser loading the webpage can respond to user input and how stable content is as it loads. These metrics are scored and bundled alongside Mobile Friendliness, Safe Browsing, HTTPS and Intrusive Interstitials into something Google calls “Page Experience Signal.”
In essence, Core Web Vitals play a major role in determining where a webpage will rank in search engine results pages – and web builder tools that fail to improve on these vitals may become obsolete.
Tools measuring Core Web Vitals fall into two main categories: field tools and lab tools. Field tools provide real-world data and this measurement is typically called Real User Monitoring. On the other hand, lab tools provide data on how users may experience a website. These tools are essentially debugging tools used by developers.
Lab Testing Tools: Lighthouse
Lighthouse is a feature available in Chrome DevTool and helps to identify problems that affect website performance, accessibility and user experience. With Lighthouse speed and visual stability can be measured through Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) and Largest Contentful Paint (LCP).
Lighthouse can run in Chrome DevTools, from the command line, or as a Node module. The user only needs to provide an audit URL to Lighthouse. It performs a sequence of audits on the provided website and then generates a report based on page performance. An intuitive color-coding system helps to communicate the meaning of the report score: green being good, while orange and red are problem areas.
Essentially the tool allows users to audit and assess websites in four areas: performance, accessibility, best practices, and SEO. Lighthouse measures various lab user experience metrics and will give specific recommendations for improvements.
With a similar color scheme to Lighthouse, DevTools performance analysis shows all the Core Web Vitals clearly. Additional details of measurements can be viewed by clicking on it, and TBT (total blocking time) is displayed in the bottom left corner. It is worth noting that these lab testing tools may not be 100% accurate since there are no real users involved.
Opening DevTools simply requires a click of the right mouse button while Chrome is open. A tab will open, upon which the user chooses the “Inspect” option. Alternatively the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+i) can be used. The Chrome DevTools Performance panels allow users to analyze some of the Core Web Vitals metrics.
Field Testing Tools: PageSpeed Insights (PSI)
As a leading field-testing tool PageSpeed Insights can generate reports for both web and mobile device usage as well as providing suggestions to improve areas of concern. Running PageSpeed Insights on a webpage is straightforward and only requires that users enter the webpage URL they wish to analyze. Results are available within a few seconds.
PSI includes a score which sums up the page’s performance. A score of 90 or above is recommended to pass the performance assessment. This tool is useful as it will indicate whether your website passes the Core Web Vitals assessment and indicates whether a page meets the threshold for excellent user experience. To pass the Web Vitals assessment a score of 75 and above is required for all 3 Core Web Vitals.
PageSpeed Compare is another useful tool that makes use of PSI, but it allows users to compare the performance metrics of pages against each other, including the competition.
Web Vitals Extension
The Chrome Web Vitals extension for desktop is another useful tool to measure Core Web Vitals metrics in real time. This tool is useful for finding problems slightly earlier in your development cycle. for desktop is another tool to measure the Core Web Vitals metrics in real-time. This is useful for finding problems slightly earlier in your development cycle and as a diagnostic tool to analyze Core Web Vitals’ performance while browsing the web. A download is required, but thereafter users have to navigate to the required page to measure Core Web Vitals by clicking on the extension. This is a lab and field tool, but it is worth nothing that the extension will only annotate the data on Largest Contentful Paint and Cumulative Layout Shift.
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