Using Google Lighthouse for User Experience Optimization
Just in case you don’t love Google enough already, everyone’s favorite search engine recently released a free, open source and automated site-monitoring tool called Lighthouse. The tool aims to help website owners improve the quality of their web pages by auditing them for responsive web design performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, best practices and basic SEO. Together, these metrics provide a well rounded view of the quality and performance of your site as you work toward user experience optimization.
What does this mean for your website?
Our SEO partners have advised that this new tool will be the benchmark for how Google measures site performance. This impacts your site in a couple ways:
- Your Google ranking is very likely to be positively or negatively affected by your site’s Lighthouse score.
- This tool is so powerful that it can give you valuable insights to user experience on your site and if utilized correctly, can help to decrease your site’s bounce rate and increase conversion rates (which can mean greater brand awareness and more sales!)
How does it work?
When you use Lighthouse to audit a page, the tool attempts to simulate a real-world user experience. So rather than loading your website under optimal conditions, it imitates what it’s like to view your page over a questionable Internet connection on an older, outdated and underpowered device. The tool actually loads the page several times and then gathers information about site structure, tags and performance. Once the test is complete, the tool presents you with a full report that includes individual category and overall scores, as well as a detailed list of suggested changes.
Each Lighthouse audit provides you with feedback on the following:
- Performance. This relates to how quickly your site loads, as well as how quickly a key page element becomes available to users who are viewing your site – with an emphasis on mobile viewing.
- Accessibility. How accessible is your page to users who are impaired in some way, whether their disabilities are visual, auditory, physical or otherwise?
- Progressive Web Apps. According to Google, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are user experiences that have the reach of the web and are reliable, fast and engaging.
- Best Practices. This measures how compliant your website is with the use of the most up-to-date web development best practices.
- SEO. Ten individual SEO basics are measured, including meta descriptions, legible font sizes, successful HTTP status code and more.
Based on these factors, your overall Lighthouse score will fall somewhere between 0 and 100, with 0 being the lowest possible score and 100 being the highest. An overall score of 59 or higher is required to be considered in good standing with Google, and a score above 90 typically represents the top five percent of top-performing pages.
Lighthouse is proving to be an invaluable resource for developers and website owners. It helps you identify issues with your site by providing you with a detailed list of problems based on the most common optimization issues seen around the web, and then it suggests what you should to do fix them. In the end, Google is providing you with some pretty incredible resources to help you achieve user experience optimization.
There are multiple ways to implement and use Lighthouse:
- In Google Chrome’s DevTools
- From the command line of your web browser
- As a node module
You can also utilize a site like WebPageTest, which allows you to copy and paste in any existing URL. However you choose to access the Lighthouse, simply feed it a URL and it will generate your customized report.
Reading and understanding the metrics included in your report can be the more challenging part of all of this, but try not to get overwhelmed. To start, make page-loading times your priority and focus on those numbers. The rest will follow.
For help analyzing your Google Lighthouse results or improving your user experience optimization numbers, contact Paradigm Marketing & Design today to schedule a consultation.