Remember PageSpeed Insights with its single score? Well, things just got way more interesting (and way more real) when it comes to website speed. Let’s dive into how Google Chrome is upping its game to reflect how users actually experience your site’s loading.

From Scores to Stages: Measuring What Matters

Instead of one big number, Chrome now uses multiple metrics to track different stages of a page loading. This lets us see exactly when things render on screen, giving a much clearer picture of user experience.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Time To First Paint: The browser starts spitting out pixels! You see the very first bit of content.
  • Time to First Contentful Paint: Text, an image, anything from the actual webpage shows up.
  • First Meaningful Paint: The hero element (the most important thing above the fold) finally appears. Think of that Youtube video you’re waiting to watch – that’s the hero element!

Want to see these paints in action? Open Chrome DevTools, go to Performance, and then select Tab Profiling. Here you can see snapshots of your site loading at each millisecond, like a super cool flipbook!

Real-World Speed with Performance Observer

Want to see how your site performs for real users, not just in a controlled environment? Here’s where Performance Observer comes in. It’s basically an extension for your regular Google Analytics that tracks those paint timings we mentioned before and stores them as custom metrics. This lets you see how fast your site feels for visitors on different URLs. Imagine you manage an online store. With Performance Observer, you can see which product pages load the fastest, giving you valuable insights into where to optimize for better conversions.

First Input Delay (FID): How Long Does it Take to Respond?

Ever click a button and feel like it takes forever to react? That’s where First Input Delay (FID) comes in. This new metric measures how long it takes for the browser to respond to a user interaction, giving us valuable insight into real-world user experience. Scrolling through a sluggish website or waiting ages for a button to respond can be frustrating. FID helps us identify these bottlenecks and make our sites feel more responsive.

Tracking FID works similarly to paint timings – you just extend your Google Analytics snippet to capture this data.

Optimizing Your Critical Rendering Path (CRP) for Super Speed

All this talk about paint times and FID leads us to the critical rendering path (CRP). This basically means making sure the most important content loads first, giving users a good first impression while the rest catches up.

Here’s how it works: Imagine your webpage is a newspaper. The headline and top story are critical (above the fold), while the stock market report and comics can wait (below the fold).

To optimize your CRP, we need to understand how browsers render webpages. They build a “map” of styles (CSS Object Model) based on your stylesheets, then combine that with the HTML content (Document Object Model) to create a render tree. Only then can they display the page.

The problem? If your stylesheets are separate files, the browser has to wait to download them before building the render tree, slowing things down.

The Solution: Critical CSS

A free tool called Critical on Github can help. It renders your site at different resolutions (think of those top 5 resolutions from your Analytics) and creates two stylesheets:

  • Critical CSS: This includes all the styles needed for the initial view (above the fold) of your site.
  • Non-Critical CSS: This styles everything below the fold, like the comics in our newspaper analogy.

Here’s the cool part: We can inline the critical CSS directly into the markup, making it super fast to load. The non-critical CSS loads asynchronously (in the background) and is applied once the page has finished loading, using a special directive called “rel=preload” to prevent it from blocking the initial render.

This way, you get the best of both worlds: a super-fast initial load and all the styles applied once the user scrolls down. Now that’s website speed optimization at its finest! By combining these new metrics with CRP optimization techniques, you can create a website that feels as fast as it looks!pen_sparktunesharemore_vert

Krishnaprasath Krishnamoorthy

Meet Krishnaprasath Krishnamoorthy, an SEO specialist with a passion for helping businesses improve their online visibility and reach.¬† From Technical, on-page, off-page, and Local SEO optimization to link building and beyond, I have expertise in all areas of SEO and I’m dedicated to providing actionable advice and results-driven strategies to help businesses achieve their goals. WhatsApp or call me on +94 775 696 867