Google recently made a welcomed update to their PageSpeed Insights (PSI) tool so that it includes actual user data about how fast pages load.
I wrote a post about this tool last year (“Discerning the Real Value of Google PageSpeed Insights Test Results”), which provides an alternative way to view webpage load data over typical connection speeds. Now that PSI has been updated to include real user data from the Chrome User Experience report, I wanted to discuss the value of the tool, the new data being presented and how excited we are for this change.
PSI is now presenting 2 meaningful data points as it relates to page speed: First Contentful Paint (FCP) and DOM Content Loaded (DCL). These metrics are important for user satisfaction. To help you understand what these metrics are, here are some definitions:
- First Contentful Paint (FCP) = measures when a user sees a visual response from the page. It’s when any actual content has been loaded on the page. Content can mean text, images, layout, etc. GTmetrix created a good resource for understanding the First Paint & First Contentful Paint metrics.
- DOM Content Loaded (DCL) = measures when the HTML document has been completely loaded, parsed, and ready to use, without waiting for external JS to finish loading. This is when the main page elements (header, navigation, page content, etc.) are all ready for the user to interact with, minus any additional JS content (such as popups, chat tools etc.).
Here is a screenshot of how the tool displays the new data points:
The Speed scores are bucketed into three levels:
- Fast – shows the percentage of loads that have an FCP timing of less than 1.6s
- Medium – shows the percentage of loads that have an FCP timing of less than 3.0s
- Slow – shows the percentage of loads that have an FCP timing of more than 3.0s
- Fast – shows the percentage of loads that have a DCL timing of less than 2.1s
- Medium – shows the percentage of loads that have a DCL timing of less than 4.2s
- Slow – shows the percentage of loads that have a DCL timing of more than 4.2s
Unfortunately, some sites will not see speed data in this tool; it will display “Unavailable” in the Speed section. This is due to the Chrome User Experience data set not having enough data for the page being requested. We do not know what the data threshold is. If your site falls into this category, Google does provide an alternative method to viewing speed data – Lighthouse in Chrome DevTools.
As mentioned above, this is a welcomed change for anyone who uses this tool for insights. Having real user data is much more meaningful than solely using the “Optimization” score.
As you can see in the screenshot above, Google states “Although the page could be more optimized it is probably unnecessary”. While this is an accurate statement, Dealer.com is committed to constantly improving the performance of our websites. We are continuously monitoring and investing in changes that will make real impact to actual users. Look forward to an upcoming post discussing what we’ve done so far and what we’ll be doing in the future to further enhance our platform.
Please comment below with your thoughts or questions.
Pete Bruhn is the product manager – website platform at Dealer.com