If your business operates primarily online—like any eCommerce website—visibility is a priority. And the page experience update will affect that visibility. Plus, the user experience (UX) factors it includes, like the time it takes for your page to load and how smooth it is to navigate, play a crucial role in the customer journey. If the buying experience is seamless, people are more likely to complete their purchase, and even come back for more. This is Google’s primary focus with the last big update in May 2021. Our Calgary Web Design team has broken down and summarized in layman terms, some of the main changes and how this affects our web designs going forward.
Prioritizing above the fold content (Largest Contentful Paint (LCP))
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is a measurement of the time taken for the main element of a page to fully load. LCP is one of the metrics used to evaluate perceived website responsiveness and is an important component in determining first meaningful paint, which takes into account the time taken to download all of the critical resources required to render above the fold content. Ideally, this should load under 2.5 seconds.
Image optimization into webp
The newest update to Google’s Page Experience Update, has a big focus on speed and UX. One big change is the image optimization into webp images. This is an important aspect of website optimization in general because page speed plays a major role in SEO rankings. Google’s latest announcement is all about making pages faster by reducing the length of time it takes for a page to load and how easy it is for users to navigate through your site. This includes things like removing ads that are not relevant for each user’s device and creating a smoother transition from one page to another.
Prioritizing speed when choosing a web host
One of the biggest changes with this update is prioritizing speed. Webmasters should always prioritize speed when choosing a web host, but now it’s more important than ever. Sites that load quickly are ranked higher by Google and will have an increased chance of winning over their prospective customers.
Reducing animations, transitions and video
Great transitions and animations can serve many purposes. When used appropriately, they can help users understand what’s changing and why, improve the look and feel of your design, and make navigation more intuitive. But when in doubt, speed comes first and may override the desire for creating trendy, modern looks. Our apprach to animations and video is to only use them if they serve an evident purpose, otherwise images will always load faster. Even when using video, we recommend hosting offsite to reduce storage use.
Implementing lazy loading
Lazy loading is a new way to improve the UX on your site. Instead of loading all the content, like images and videos, at once, it loads them as you scroll down. This means that people don’t have to wait for content to load when they’re scrolling through your website if there are a lot of images and text. Lazy loading decreases page load time by up to 50%, so it’s important for SEO.
Reduce any unexpected page movements (Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS))
Google considers any unexpected scrolling or movement through your site as a change in layout. This can result in pages not loading, which can be frustrating for the user and make it harder to understand where they are on your site. In order to reduce CLS, keep the top of your page free of links, buttons and other elements that may cause unexpected changes in page layouts. Be sure to have an easily accessible navigation bar that you know will not introduce any of these problems.
Near perfect mobile and tablet responsiveness
A key update to the page experience is that pages need to be more responsive on mobile devices, and Google will rank higher pages with great UX. Google anticipates traffic coming from mobile devices, so it’s important that your website is a seamless user experience when viewed on any screen. To achieve this, Google recommends designing websites with a responsive web design. To get a sense of what this looks like, imagine if you had an app for your website—all content should flow easily and take up the entire screen. Web layouts that are not responsive will be penalized by Google.