CoolfundasWordpressWordPress Core Web Vitals - All You Need to Know

WordPress Core Web Vitals – All You Need to Know

You may have spent a lot of time and effort creating a jazzy WordPress website. A user-friendly interface in any website is essential to creating a great user experience. And that’s where WordPress Core Web Vitals becomes relevant. Intuitive UIs ensure visitors can easily navigate your website’s different sections. This increases engagement and retention, increasing the chances of meeting your goals, such as buyer conversion. The side benefit is also increased professional branding for your product or service. But there is no objective way to measure the user experience provided by your website.

There are several ways by which you evaluate the user experience and determine whether it meets Google’s UI standards. Here I am touching on three popular tools that web developers employ:

  1. Leverage Google Analytics to track click trails on your website. It helps you understand the navigation paths your users flow through and the most engaging website sections.
  2. A/B testing is a popular method of comparing multiple test versions of your website. By observing user interaction within each version, you can figure out which elements create a good user experience and which need improvement.
  3. Google’s Lighthouse is a tool deployed to measure the performance of your website across various metrics like accessibility, performance, best practices, etc.

This brings us to a point where we need to understand the concept of Web Vitals and their significance.

What are Core Web Vitals?

In May 2020, Google launched a new effort called Web Vitals to help ensure a standardized user experience on the Web by providing unified guidance for crucial indicators of quality. It aims to simplify the landscape and help site owners focus on the metrics that matter most. Simply put, WordPress Core Web Vitals are a selection of elements included in Google’s “page experience” rating for WordPress sites. These scores are taken into consideration when ranking web pages.

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It is important to emphasize that having a fantastic page experience score will not automatically place you in the top position in Google search results. Google emphatically clarified that page experience is only one of many (around 200) variables they use to rank websites in search results.

Within the Web Vitals landscape, WordPress Core Web Vitals are essential for delivering a great user experience on your WordPress site, but there are also other metrics to consider. These Other Web Vitals act as a stand-in or supporting metric for the Core Web Vitals. They give a more comprehensive view and support identifying specific problems.

The Core metrics are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). These metrics help developers identify areas that provide a better user experience and need improvement in their websites. Google also guides on improving each metric, which can help developers optimize their websites for better performance – we will touch upon this aspect later in this article.

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Let’s briefly understand each of these metrics.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

The Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures a website’s performance by timing how long it takes for the most prominent image or text block visible within the viewport to load. A good LCP score is less than 2.5 seconds, ideally under 1.2 seconds. The table below gives the full range of scores, including a Poor one.

First Input Delay (FID)

The First Input Delay (FID) measures how long a user can interact with a website. For example, clicking on a button or link and that being processed by the browser. A good FID score should be under 100 milliseconds, while greater than 300 ms is considered poor.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

The Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures unexpected layout shifts occurring on a page due to images, ads, or other elements loading as the user engages with the content. A good CLS score should be under 0.1 and ideally at 0.

Google recommended metrics

Wordpress Core Web Vitals
WordPress Core Web Vitals Metrics

Now that you have understood the basics of WordPress Core Web Vitals, let’s figure out how to measure them for your website.

How do I check my Core Web Vitals

Web admins can measure the performance of their websites accurately using Google tools such as Chrome UX Report, Page Speed Insights, and Search Console’s Core Web Vitals report.

The Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX) provides user experience metrics on how real-world Chrome users experience popular destinations on the Web. It collects anonymized, actual user measurement data for each Core Web Vital.

Page Speed Insights (PSI) assesses the user experience of a page on desktop and mobile devices plus provides helpful advice on how to enhance that page. In addition, PSI provides both lab and field data about a page.

The Core Web Vitals report shows your pages’ performance based on real-world usage data (sometimes called field data). The Core Web Vitals report shows URL performance grouped by status (Poor, Need improvement, Good), metric type (CLS, FID, LCP), and URL group (groups of similar web pages).

It is also possible to track Core Web Vitals through JavaScript with the help of conventional web APIs. For example, web developers can take advantage of the web-vitals JavaScript library, which offers an effortless way to measure each metric by calling a single function. You can find more information on the process in this Github documentation.

These Website monitoring tools allow developers to accurately measure the performance of their websites in real-time. As a result, they can optimize their sites to ensure users have the best possible experience.

How do I fix Core Web Vitals issues?

Web Vitals Optimize
Optimizing Web Vital Metrics

Now that you’ve figured out how to monitor and measure these metrics, it’s time to understand how to fix Core Web Vitals metrics to optimize performance and speed up your WordPress site. Below are the three high-priority actions you could consider while optimizing each WordPress Core Web Vitals.

Optimize Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

  • Upgrade your web host: good quality hosting closer to the region of your end users means faster load times (and better LCP).
  • Remove heavy page elements and set up lazy loading: Google PageSpeed Insights indicates elements in your page that slow down your LCP. Lazy loading sets up your screen, so images only load when the reader scrolls down your page.
  • Remove unnecessary third-party scripts & Minify your CSS: A bulky CSS can significantly delay LCP times, while third-party scripts, which don’t add value, add to the processing time (and hence higher LCP).

Optimize First Input Delay (FID)

  • Leverage browser cache: Page loading speeds dramatically increase when you use browser cache since it reduces server trips.
  • Minimize (or defer) JavaScript: Users cannot interact with a page while JS continues to load in the browser. You will need to effectively handle this aspect to improve FID.
  • Remove used third-party scripts: Third-party scripts that take time may interrupt user interactions and impact the FID score.

Optimize Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

  • Add UI elements below the fold: As the page loads on the user, content stays where it is and doesn’t get pushed down.
  • Ad spaces should be predetermined: As pages load in the user’s browser, content may shift down or side where the ads suddenly appear. This doesn’t help the CLS score.
  • Use set size attribute dimensions for all media (like video and images): It helps if the browser knows exactly how much space each media element will need. Otherwise, like ads appearing in an ad-hoc manner could push away the content, media also can contribute to poor CLS scores.

You may go through these comprehensive guides that provide specific advice for optimizing your pages for each of the Core Web Vitals.

Optimize LCP  |  Optimize FID  |  Optimize CLS

While some experts suggest that the best plugin for core web vitals performance is WP Rocket, you may also consider other plugins like WP-Optimize, Hummingbird.

Additional Web Vitals

Although the WordPress Core Web Vitals are essential for providing a great user experience and are considered critical across Google’s tools, other web vitals must also be considered. The Other Web Vitals depend on the type of web page and the elements within it. They often serve as a proxy or supplemental metric to the Core Web Vitals and help measure a more significant part of the user experience.

Examples of Additional Web Vitals

First Contentful Paint, Speed Index, Time to Interactive, Total Blocking Time, and Page Performance Scores. These are, however, not part of the Core Web Vitals bucket because they cannot be measured on the field (Lab only). In addition, the other Web Vitals may be more specific to a particular situation or web elements and more exploratory compared to the Core Web Vitals.

Conclusion

The WordPress Core Web Vitals are essential for providing a great user experience and are considered critical across Google’s tools. They measure a page’s loading, interactivity, and visual stability and provide insight into how users perceive the experience of interacting with a website. To maintain good WordPress Core Web Vitals scores, web admins should ensure that their pages load quickly, are interactive, and have no unexpected layout shifts. Additionally, web admins should consider Other Web Vitals to gain further insights into the user experience.

The Core Web Vitals apply to all websites and can be seen across various Google tools. Modifications to these metrics will have extensive implications; consequently, developers can consider the outlines and thresholds of the Core Web Vitals to be firm and updates to have prior warning.

Do share your comments on how you improved user experience using Web Vitals.

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Prashant Shetty
Prashant Shetty
Prashant is a Technology Industry Veteran with 20+ years of experience in the field. He loves reading, music, and blogging about technology in the context of Life. He craves for a cup of sugarless black masala tea and is a religious runner.

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