There’s A Right Way to Measure Page Speed

3 Min Read
Sam Bickford

There’s a Right Way to Measure Page Speed

One of the most important aspects of a website is performance. We’ve all had an experience where our curiosity about a product or service takes us to a website, only to have curiosity thwarted by terrible performance: images won’t load, pages shift or jump around, and the experience is generally subpar.

Corra is dedicated to building high-performing websites for our clients. High-performing websites not only look and feel good, but they also raise your organic rankings and by extension your organic traffic.

We’re committed to a process that delivers high-level website performance from a methodology centered around client success, achievable goals, and real-life business use cases. 

Core Web Vitals

One key way to measure a website’s performance is by referencing Core Web Vitals. These metrics can provide key insights into a website’s user experience. CrUX(Chrome UX Report) data is collected via Chrome browser to provide real-world feedback relating to these core web vitals. The Core Web Vitals are established by Google and are the best measure of performance currently. They include Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, Cumulative Layout Shift, and Time to First Byte.

Other performance measuring tools tend to benchmark the entire breadth of performance, and center around development and backend optimizations that do not always address these user experience metrics, or how to solve for them. Instead, they measure metrics that center around development and do not explicitly impact user experience.

One such development focused tool, Lighthouse, tends to be unrealistic for measuring real-world performance.  Programs like Lighthouse are based on lab results where variables are made static, and test settings are tightly controlled, meaning the Lighthouse performance metrics will provide data designed to show performance in a vacuum. The tool does not use real-world settings where users have access to different types of devices and internet speeds that are more relevant to their true experience. 

As a diagnostic tool, Lighthouse gives an amalgamated score of 0-100. It calculates this score by averaging over 40 metrics together. While this is a robust way to measure performance from an engineering standpoint, it is designed to measure overall website performance using synthetic constraints in order to problem solve and diagnose critical issues, but it does not provide real user insights. 

As mentioned above, Google has set out the Core Web Vitals that will most impact UX. Let’s break them down a little more in-depth—

Largest Contentful Paint: largest element above the fold to load (measures loading performance of said elements)

First Input Delay: When a user can first interact with a page (measures interactivity)

Cumulative Layout Shift: the amount of shifting of content elements seen during load time (measures visual stability)

Time to First Byte (TTFB): time between browser requesting a page and receiving first byte of page information from the server. 

Although there may be more in the future, these four metrics are the most insightful way to measure a user’s general experience of a website. Low scores indicate a subpar experience, while higher scores indicate a seamless browsing experience. The better a website scores, the higher it will rank within Google’s search results, leading to more search impressions. The greater the impressions, the more visitors it could receive, and the increase in visitors means more traffic that’s able to  convert to sales.

It is important to know that Core Web Vitals cannot be assessed immediately. It takes time and repeated measurement before aberrant results regulate, and the sample size is large enough to have a true picture of performance. While Corra recommends Core Web Vitals as a fantastic way to measure website performance, it is not a panacea, and in certain cases, other metrics and measurement tools may be needed. 

Contact Corra Today

Corra has a process and program to measure clients’ website performance, and to combat confusion around what performance means. The process includes periodic benchmarking to make sure website performance meets or exceeds expectations at every step. 

The only way to have a successful commerce solution is to have a well-performing website. Speed equals revenue. Contact Corra today to receive your performance benchmark, and begin learning about steps available to increase your website’s performance.

Sam Bickford

Corra is a global agency that builds the world’s fastest and most flexible digital storefronts for growing brands. We’re leaders in headless and composable commerce development, backed by gold-standard post-launch support. Through technical expertise, creative vision, and collaborative strategy, we help clients digitally transform to meet the evolving needs of their customers, adding value from day one. With headquarters in New York and hubs in 12 cities across three continents, Corra is uniquely positioned to support clients around the world and around the clock.

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