We all can agree on the importance of having an optimal website speed. It is the easiest way to help your visitors have a decent experience when they come on your website.
Websites across every vertical are trying to counter the decline in attention spans. People online no longer have the patience to wait more than five seconds for a website to load.
Instant response to a query has become a must. This puts the onus on websites to do everything to improve their speed and performance.
You can probably find a lot of literature online discussing ways to improve website speed.
There are many options you can leverage to optimize your website speed. However, it is wise to check the impact of the measures you take by studying essential website performance metrics.
Metrics are a crucial part of every activity. For instance, we measure website user experience with metrics like bounce rate, average session duration, and user retention.
In the same way, we have a whole bunch of metrics you can use to measure your website performance. This article discusses some of them in detail.
#1: Page loading time
The first and most obvious way to check your website speed is the loading time.
Your loading time directly signals the overall speed of your website. A high loading time generally means that your website is too slow. A low loading time is thus desirable.
By definition, page loading time refers to the time it takes for a web page to completely load from the moment a user requests it.
Google generally recommends that your page loading time should be under two seconds.
Even a second of delay in page loading time can cost you real money. According to a study, an online store earning $50,000 every day stands to lose $1 million over the course of a year for an overall one-second delay in page loading time .
Be safe and take the measures necessary to bring your page loading time down to under two seconds.
Here is a visual guide on five performance metrics you can use to measure your website speed
#2: First contentful paint
How often do you close a loading tab on your browser when it shows a blank screen for a long time?
Generally, a web page doesn’t load all its content instantly. It partially loads a few resources at first instead of waiting for the server to send all the content.
This is partly done to capture the momentary attention of a visitor.
First contentful paint (FCP) refers to the time it takes for a web page to load the first content of a webpage.
The first content can be anything, from the header menu to some text in the body.
FCP is naturally lower than the overall page loading time of a webpage.
Generally, an FCP below 2 is considered top notch. Websites in the ninety-nine percentile of general performance tend to have FCP around 1.5 seconds.
By keeping your FCP under 2 seconds, you move into the top 75 percentile of websites in terms of performance.
FCP and first paint
FCP as a metric was first introduced by Chrome 62. Many developers and designers tend to confuse FCP with First Paint, another metric to evaluate website performance.
There is one foundation difference between the two metrics. First paint (FP) refers to the time it takes for any element of a webpage to load. This could even include something insubstantial like a change in background color.
FCP however measures the time it takes for the first piece of meaningful content to appear. Meaningful content here refers to a substantial change that a normal visitor can notice.
FCP is a more accurate metric to measure website speed because it is more meaningful from a user experience standpoint.
#3: First meaningful paint (FMP)
First meaningful paint refers to the time it takes for the primary content of a webpage to appear.
The primary content generally refers to the content body that appears in the middle of a webpage. The definition can change however based on the type of web design strategy you choose.
A simple way to define meaningful paint is the type of content that makes people feel they are on the right website.
For instance, the FMP of the Google search page would be the moment when the Google logo and search bar appears. In general, any content that above the fold in the primary body can be classified as meaningful paint.
FMP and FCP are usually the same as they calculate the time it takes for content above the fold to load on a webpage.
However, FMP can sometimes be more in case a webpage loads content from another source. While FCP doesn’t account for the loading time of these external elements, FMP does.
The standard of FMP is also the same as FCP . In other words, your FMP should ideally be under two seconds. This places you squarely amongst the top 75 percentile of all websites based on performance alone.
#4: Page weight
Page weight refers to the amount of bytes a server sends to your visitor when a web page is requested.
Web pages have grown heavier in general as images, video, and new formats like GIFs are now very common.
An increase in page weight has naturally made it difficult to optimize website speed. The only real way to see a wholesale change in website traffic is selecting a good website host.
Page weight is calculated by the overall byte size of a webpage.
If you are using artwork on your webpage, it is a good idea to use efficient image formats like SVG and WEBP files.
A lower page weight will naturally decrease the load on your website server. You should especially try to optimize the page weight of your main landing and money pages.
#5: Peak response time
There are often one or two elements on a webpage that slow down the entire loading speed.
Peak response time measures the longest loading cycle on a webpage. It is time the slowest resource on a webpage takes to load.
The slowest resource of a webpage is typically an interactive media element from a third party or any other dynamic script.
The whole point of measuring the peak response time is figuring out the areas that cause the most issues in loading speed.
You can specifically isolate the resources of a webpage causing slow loading speeds and optimize them accordingly. It is thus a very useful performance metric when you are auditing your website speed.
#6: Time to interact
Time to interact simply refers to the period of time users have to wait until they can perform an action on a webpage.
This is a very important metric from a user experience standpoint as well. Any visitor coming to your website should not have to wait for a long time to perform an action.
We all have come across sluggish websites that respond to a simple click with 3-4 second delay. A high time to interact is not tenable for any business.
You must therefore study your time to interact whenever you take any measure to optimize speed. An optimized time to interact will have a direct impact on your website engagement and user experience.
#7: Cumulative layout shift (CLS)
Let’s paint a scenario and assume you arrive on a webpage. You are reading the content on a page when suddenly the content shifts down.
In such a case, you lose your reading trail. These shifts in the content layout generally happen when other content on the webpage loads dynamically.
This process is known as cumulative layout shift (CLS). It disrupts user experience and turns off visitors who arrive on your website.
The numerical value of CLS is the distance your webpage moves due to an unexpected shift. CLS score below 0.1 is considered good, while anything over 0.25 is not good for your website.
#8: DOM content loaded time
When your visitors arrive on your website, the server sends bits of code to their browser. The browser then parses through the code and loads your content.
HTML generally loads faster because it is extremely lightweight.
A website with a decent performance infrastructure generally has a low DOM content loaded time. This ensures your visitors can start engaging with your website while other CSS, JS, images, and other interactive elements take time to load.
WP Engine: The fastest route to solve your website speed problems
WP Engine is a managed WordPress hosting solution that can help you supercharge your website speed and performance.
If you are struggling with website problems, you are not alone. Website speed optimization is too technical at times for an average professional without any experience in coding.
The best way to enhance your website speed in this case is selecting the right web host. WP Engine is a great choice because of a number of reasons. It is already trusted by over 90K clients across 140 countries. Furthermore, it has an NPS score of 86, again highlighting the trust it retains from its customers.
Here are a few things you can expect if you select WP Engine as your hosting partner:
- Expedite your development timeline with premium on-click dev tools and streamlined workflows.
- Focus on growing your website and let WP Engine manage different aspects of your website such as performance and security.
- Receive decisive insights on your front-end performance and content popularity.
- Get complete guidance from the moment on onboarding to troubleshooting new features and managing your website.
- Every WP Engine hosting plan comes with a free CDN, SSL certificate, and automatic WordPress updates.
- Secure your website with two-factor authentication, vulnerability scanning, DdOS mitigation, automatic threat detection and blocking.
If you use AppMySite to create an app for your website, you can instead choose the WordPress web hosting add-on.
The add-on will essentially migrate your website to WP Engine. Click here to know more about the add-on.
If you are a serious WordPress blogger trying to grow your base of visitors, you are probably investing a lot of time in optimizing your website speed.
Website speed metrics can help you see the barebones of your web performance. This piece brings to light some of the primary metrics you should look out for while optimizing your website speed.
It is thus wise to make note of the metrics discussed here and make serious changes to improve your website speed.