Have you ever wondered what’s the purpose of creating a site? Every other business wants a high-quality, functional, and perfect website. But why?
A website is ideal for attracting customers, increasing brand awareness and sales. This is possible only if your website provides a good user experience.
User experience is basically how quickly your website loads but most importantly the experience of the user while interacting with your webpage. Suppose a user visits your website, but when they click on the website, it keeps loading.
Just like that, 1-minute passes, and your website is still loading. It’s a big dealbreaker for your audience. So they’ll just click away and, there is a high probability, they will visit your competitor’s site.
But how can you check if you’re losing money for this reason?
No, you don’t need to invest in premium tools or programs. Google Lighthouse is an online tool that will audit your website based on the most important things for UX. In this blog post, I’ll tell you about this tool, its working process, and many other things you need to know. Sounds interesting?
Let’s get started.
What is Google Lighthouse?
Google Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool designed by Google to audit web pages and provides actionable insights into their performance, accessibility, best practices, SEO, and progressive web app (PWA) capabilities.
Think of it as a comprehensive health check for your website.
It gives you a clear picture of how well your website is performing and offers actionable recommendations for improvement. In this, you optimize your webpage for interaction readiness.
Source: Chrome Google
What’s Relation Between Google Lighthouse And Web Core Vitals
On May 5, 2020, the people behind the Chromium project revealed a trio of metrics. These were the metrics that the open-source browser, supported by Google, would use to measure how well it performs.
Do you know what these metrics are called?
They are known as Web Vitals. The major purpose of these metrics is to measure the website’s performance, not based on search engines or SEO. But measure it with a user-centric approach. In simple words, how fast it is for real users.
But something happened within two weeks.
A Lighthouse v6 update rolled out with a modified version of Web Core Vitals. In July 2020, Google took a step forward by using Lighthouse v6’s combined metrics in various Google products, coinciding with the launch of Chrome 84.
One fascinating thing you should know is that the Chrome DevTools Audits panel name was also changed. It was renamed from:
Chrome DevTools Audits panel = Lighthouse
Interestingly, these same metrics have also caught the attention of Pagespeed Insights and Google Search Console. This adds more value to these systems.
Core Web Vitals are specific metrics within Google Lighthouse that focus on key user experience elements:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This metric measures the loading performance. It assesses how quickly the largest content element (such as an image or text block) becomes visible to users.
- First Input Delay (FID): FID measures interactivity. It checks the time it takes for a user’s first interaction (like clicking a button) to be responded to by the webpage.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This metric evaluates visual stability. It quantifies the unexpected layout shifts that can occur during page load, ensuring that content doesn’t unexpectedly move around.
Unlike Google Lighthouse, which provides a broader range of metrics, Core Web Vitals specifically focus on critical aspects of user experience. These metrics are important because they are now part of Google’s ranking signals.
How Does Google Lighthouse Work?
Many people think they can manually check the speed of their websites by simply putting the URL in the search bar. Start the timer and see how long it takes for your website to load.
But that’s wrong. Why?
Because people might be using different browsers, load time may vary depending on that. How you search your website and how your target audience searches will vary greatly. Moreover, a high number of traffic on Google comes from mobile devices.
Most people don’t even have access to 4G or 5G. That’s why this tool tests your page by checking it through a slow-loading device with a 3G connection. But is it really necessary?
It’ll probably run smoothly if you’re checking a website with a super fast 5G internet connection. But the surfing experience is entirely different for people with less internet access. Remember, Google wants to provide the best experience to every user regardless of their device type or internet connection.
That’s why it ranks sites with quick load speed.
Firstly it’ll do auditing of your site, just like how I mentioned. It runs various performance tests on the page and analyzes the site thus giving you a performance report.
Now it’s time to score your website. After the audit, Lighthouse will give your page an audit score. It ranges from 0 to 100. Lighthouse assesses the first four categories on a 0-to-100 scale.
- 0 to 49 (triangle) = Poor
- 50 to 89 (square) = Average
- 90 to 100 (circle) = Best
If you get a low score, don’t get disheartened because you’ll get a detailed Lighthouse report on improving your score. This report is a goldmine of information for developers and website owners.
Benefits Of Google Lighthouse
It differs from other tools because it provides a more realistic analysis report and measures to improve your score. Here are some of the major benefits of these tools that you should know:
- The tool generates detailed reports with actionable recommendations, making it easier for developers and website owners to implement improvements effectively.
- It allows you to simulate how your website performs on various devices and network conditions, helping you cater to a diverse user base.
- Developers can use Lighthouse as a learning tool, understand best practices, and gain insights into web performance optimization.
- Lighthouse can contribute to faster page loads and reduced bounce rates by analyzing and suggesting loading times and responsiveness optimizations.
- It can be used to monitor and maintain your website’s performance over time, helping you stay on top of potential issues.
Google Lighthouse Metrics You Should Know
After getting a report, you’ll likely see some of the most important metrics. I will share five major metrics this tool tracks that you should know. Because these will most likely change the way you view the report. You need to go the extra mile to resolve errors that arise during this audit and look for opportunities for improvement.
It is one of the most important features of the Lighthouse. In this, you get a complete performance assessment of your page, which means a speed test.
It’s a test of your website. How quickly does a webpage load?
Is it taking more than 10 seconds, 1 minute or more?
At first, you may consider that your webpage will easily clear this test. But there are two key factors that you should know.
Firstly, not all visitors have the same internet connection, and secondly, not all surf on the same device. So ensure that your website is optimized for all these people.
But it would be wrong to say these are the only two things that count in the webpage speed. There’s much more than what shows up on the surface only.
That’s why there are various updates and changes in the latest version of Google Lighthouse. I’ll tell you basically how your score is determined so you can get the highest marks. There are six key speed metrics.
Firstly it checks the loading time on mobile devices, which you know by now.
Next is Contentful Paint. What is it?
It’s the time visuals such as images and videos take to appear on the screen. Textual information is also included in this test.
Next is Time to Interactive. It’s the time until a page starts working properly. How long does it take to load fully and show a response to user input? Total Blocking Time is the time period between the above two performance metrics, i.e., Contentful Paint and Time to Interactive. You can view the page during this time but can’t interact properly.
Speed Index is when your site’s visual elements, widgets, and content load. The largest Contentful Paint is the time in which the largest image, element, or text renders fully.
Lastly, Cumulative Layout Shift. It is the number of unexpected shifts in layout. But what’s an unexpected shift? It’s when you visit a website and an element unexpectedly moves from one place to another, or the text is not in the proper place.
It can cause issues if a user clicks on the page at that time.
In the report, Lighthouse lists many ways to improve it. These include eliminating render-blocking or unused code, doing image compression, lazy load offscreen images, and having an efficient cache policy.
The next rating you’ll get is on your webpage accessibility. You might be surprised, but many people with physical and cognitive disabilities use Google daily.
To ensure they get the best experience, Google highly prioritizes this factor. Because every person deserves to access the information, it looks at organized code, HTML tags, alt text, and special words that help screen readers understand images.
It also makes sure your webpage says what language it’s in. It will improve your website accessibility audit and increase your Lighthouse score.
3. Best Practices
Are you implementing best coding practices to give visitors a safe experience? Don’t worry. Google will not let your efforts go in vain. So remember to implement the best web development standards and adhere to coding best practices.
A lot of these checks are about keeping your website safe. Lighthouse looks for things like using secure connections (HTTPS), ensuring links are safe, and properly using the latest technology.
It also shows if you’re following other good practices, such as using the right code at the start of your webpage and showing all image elements clearly.
SEO refers to search engine optimization, which plays a great role in ranking websites in SERPs. Enhance your website’s search engine visibility by optimizing meta tags, using descriptive headings, and creating relevant content.
But is that all?
No. You must implement the best SEO techniques, including on-page and off-page SEO. If you use proper headings, descriptions, and keywords, it’ll be much easier to get a higher score on this test because it checks the crawling of your webpage.
Your SEO score can improve if you implement these strategies.
5. Progressive Web App
Now let’s do the final check, which is PWA.
It assesses whether your website meets the requirements to be considered a Progressive Web Application. A website that can be easily assessed and surfed from anywhere, anytime, and on any device. Enhance user engagement by building a progressive web app experience with offline access and push notifications features.
But here’s something you should know about Progressive Web Application.
You’ll not get a score; you either pass or fail.
It’ll check the responsiveness of your web page and other measures to see how good the user experience is.
What Is The Difference Between Google Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights?
You might have used another tool to measure all these metrics by now. This tool is known as PageSpeed Insights. But are these tools the same?
No, not at all. There’s a huge difference between them. Here’s what you need to know about it.
|The comprehensive website audit tool
|Speed analysis and optimization suggestions
|Performance, Accessibility, Best Practices, SEO, PWA, etc.
|Page loading speed and optimization opportunities
|Overall website health check
|Quick performance assessment and suggestions
|A broader range of metrics
|Primarily focused on page loading speed
|User Experience Impact
|It improves various aspects of user experience and gives valuable insights
|Enhances page loading speed
How To Use Google Lighthouse?
Now that you have enough knowledge about this tool, it’s time to use it. With its usage, you can make your website user-friendly. I’ll tell you how you can access it from different platforms.
On Google Chrome (Desktop):
First, launch the Chrome browser on your computer. Go to the webpage you want to analyze. Press F12 on your keyboard or right-click on the page and select “Inspect.”
In the open DevTools panel, you’ll see several tabs at the top. Click on the “Lighthouse” tab. In the Lighthouse tab, you can audit specific metrics (Performance, Accessibility, etc.) or create a custom audit.
Once you’ve chosen your metrics, click the “Generate report” button, and you’ll receive a detailed report with scores and recommendations for each metric.
On Google Chrome (Mobile):
Yes, you can open it on your mobile as well. Open the Chrome app on your mobile device. Go to the webpage you want to evaluate.
Tap the three dots at the top right corner of the Chrome app. Scroll down, tap “More tools,” and then select “Developer tools.”
Tap the icon like a mobile screen at the top left corner to activate the device toolbar. Tap the three dots again and choose “Audits.” Now you can select your desired metrics and run the audit.
After the audit is completed, you can see scores and recommendations.
On Google Search Console:
Go to the Google Search Console website and log in to your account. Choose the property (website) you want to analyze. Click “Core Web Vitals” in the left-hand menu under “Enhancements.”
You’ll see a report with data about your website’s performance on Core Web Vitals metrics.
Lighthouse is like a cheat sheet that you can use to get better insights about how Google will check your website. It’s not only important for ranking your site but also crucial to check UX. It shares data about how users see your website, what’s their experience and where they spend most of their time on your website.
Since page experience is becoming a critical factor in increasing ranking, it won’t be wise to ignore it. As a website owner, you want to attract sales, and that’s the primary goal for most people. If you’re one of them, don’t miss this important feature.
This powerful tool can do wonders for your website. The best part is that you’re getting a comprehensive report for free. So make sure to utilize this free resource properly.
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