Welcome Google PageSpeed Insights Update or, Bye Bye 100/100 Score!

Shocking developments in Speed Optimization land last week! Google published an update PageSpeed Insights and integrated Lighthouse 6.0 into our beloved tool.

Although (basically) everyone’s scores plummeted into the ground (except mine), I’m pretty happy with the changes.

First, the boring part.

PageSpeed Insights Update: What Changed in Lighthouse 6.0?

Google is continuously testing, tuning and refining how Lighthouse measures the (expected) user experience. That’s why the major version bump from 5.0 to 6.0 packs some impressive changes.

New metric changes in Lighthouse 6.0 and Google Pagespeed Insights.
Lighthouse 6.0 introduces big changes in measuring user experience (UX)

FCP lost weight

FCP measures how long it takes before the browser renders the first pieces of visible content: text, images, basically anything not inside an <iframe>.

Although FCP was basically useless in 5.0, because it didn’t really measure anything useful, I was delighted to see that in Lighthouse 6.0 it only counts towards the average for 15%. This used to be a whopping 23% in 5.0 and was going to be lowered to 20%. I was delighted to see they decided to lower its weight further.

First Meaningful Paint (FMP) dropped. Introducing Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and Unused JavaScript.

FMP was supposed to be a useful metric (combined with FCP) in 5.0. Because it was difficult to measure and therefore prone to fluctuation, its share of the average was only 7%.

Now it’s deprecated and FCP is partnered with LCP, which reports the render time of the largest element visible in the viewport.

Sort of in line with these new metrics is the new audit: Unused JavaScript which gives you hell for each byte of unused JavaScript you load on your pages.

I love this, because it really separates the pro’s from the wannabe’s in webdevelopment land.

Pro tip: from now on, be careful with JavaScript heavy visuals above-the-fold (e.g. sliders, galleries, etc.) because LCP is considered a Core Web Vital.

First CPU Idle is replaced by Total Blocking Time

I never really understood FCI, because it was basically the same as Time To Interactive (TTI).

Now, the go to metric is Total Blocking Time, which measures the total amount of time between FCP and TTI and brings more nuance to quantifying main thread activity that blocks a user’s ability to interact with your page.

The consequences of the PageSpeed Update for your Website

Here’s what Google has to say about it:

~20% of sites see noticeably higher scores, ~30% have hardly any change, and ~50% see a decrease of at least five points.

Luckily, my PageSpeed Insights score didn’t go down that much. It used to be 100, though. :’-(

My site’s in the 30%, because it’s light weight. But practically all Ecommerce sites with big sliders, lots of special FX and sites built with Page Builders — i.e. JavaScript/CSS heavy sites — will be in the 50% and see a (huge) decrease.

To summarize, basically everyone’s score took a dive. So why do I like the new changes?

On to the fun part.

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  • The Internet is not an Action Movie

    Just like Hollywood, websites (especially WordPress themes) have become a display of excessiveness.

    Giant sliders, lightbox galleries, everything’s bouncing in, bouncing out, fading in, fading out.

    Basically every bad movie script can become a somewhat decent movie, when you just throw a bunch of special FX in the mix.

    Apparently 90% of webdesigners/-developers have the same work ethic.

    I enjoy anything with Jason Statham, but as much as I’m allergic to Fast & Furious, I’m allergic to ‘flashy’ websites.

    It only tells me that the webdesigner/-developer in question was incapable of making a solid design.

    This Update for PageSpeed will keep us on our Toes

    With the Google PageSpeed Insights update to Lighthouse 6.0, theme developers are now being pushed more than ever to go easy on the excessive JavaScript libraries and page builders.

    And you, as the potential customer, have become much more important in this process. WordPress Pagespeed Optimization isn’t just an after the fact thing anymore. From now on it starts with a clean, efficient theme and daring to make sacrifices.

    Before purchasing a theme, take its demo and its prettiest page and run it through Google PageSpeed Insights.

    Holding back the tears, because your Google PageSpeed Insights score plummeted last week? Ask me about my WordPress Speed Optimization services. Together we’ll save your SEO!

    Daan van den Bergh

    Daan van den Bergh is a carefully seasoned web developer. His methods consist of thinly slicing your website’s beef and serve you with a platter of the best performance carpaccio on a bed of rocket — the only thing he’s more passionate about is food. Hire him at ffwp.dev.

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