User Experience Design and Core Web Vitals

October 29th, 2020 by Bob Ottaway

Quick Read

Google recently announced that its next update will include new ranking factors: Core Web Vitals. These include:

  • Site Speed
  • Site Responsiveness
  • Site Visual Stability

When designing a website to meet the new Google ranking factors, consider the following:

  • Minimizing Number of Elements
  • Size of Files Used on a Web Page
  • Minification

Google is the most popular search engine in the world. It is known for its ever-evolving updates to its algorithm and ranking factors. Search engine optimizers understand the necessity of never getting too comfortable with SEO strategies.

While Google tends to keep its plans on the down-low, the company announced in May 2020 that it would begin using new additional ranking factors for websites in the near future: Core Web Vitals.

Great! We have a sneak peek into the future of Google’s next update, but what are Core Web Vitals, and what do we do with this information?

How to Measure Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals take into consideration the design of a website. More specifically, they measure the user experience. As people’s online behaviors shift, and technology constantly shifts to meet the intentions of users, search engines create and adjust protocols that determine which sites are found on page one.

Google’s Core Web Vitals are made up of the following: Largest Contentful Paint: measures the load speed of a webpage. First Input Delay: measures responsiveness and user experience of first-page interaction. Cumulative Layout Shift: the visual stability of the page (how much the page shifts as it loads).

These Core Web Vitals can be measured in Google’s Webmaster tool. Separate reports on these metrics can be found for both mobile and desktop sites.

We understand that Google is going to care more about website design for user experience — but how does that affect website design? Keep reading.

How to Design for Core Web Vitals

According to Google, a webpage’s largest image or block of text should load in 2.5 seconds or less to be valued as a “good” LCP score. Some of the items considered for LCP include images, videos, background images and block-level elements (HTML, CSS).

First Input Delay is related to the reactivity of a webpage after a user clicks a button or link. How quickly does the site react as the user is navigating through it?

And, have you ever clicked a button or link on a webpage only to have the page shift at the same time, directing you somewhere you didn’t want to go? Yeah, Google doesn’t like that either, which is why it will be cracking down on this Cumulative Layout Shift measurement.

Overall, the new Google update with Core Web Vitals revolves around user experience, which comes down to the feelings and actions of a user while on the site.

Is the user frustrated trying to navigate your site? If so, they will likely leave. Is the user enjoying your site? Then they will most likely stay. You would, of course, prefer people to stay on your site long enough to purchase a product or fill out a lead-generation form.

  • Some factors related to the user experience include:
  • Page speed
  • Visual design
  • Alt text (especially for people who are visually impaired)
  • Easy-to-use navigation

In this post, we will provide tips for user-centered web design to help your site rank higher with the new Core Web Vitals update.

Practice Minimalism

Not only is minimalism a hot trend, but minimalistic design also lessens the “weight” of a website and helps create a more efficient user experience.

When it comes to cleaning up your website, examine the following:

  • Comments
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • White space
  • Design Elements
  • Unnecessary Plugins
  • Redirects

Decreasing the size and amount of items on your site improves load speed. Refrain from adding unnecessary information or elements. When choosing photos, images or other items to include on a webpage, ask the following questions:

What does this element add to the webpage? Does it serve an essential purpose? What is the size of this file? Can I compress it for my needs? As a new website user, could I benefit from this element, or is it better to move to a less-weighty page?

One of the best actions to take when designing a website for speed is to use a plug-in or tool to “minify” your files. Minification is simply the process of compressing code. Some tools you can use to accomplish this include:

  • JavaScript Minifier
  • Minify
  • Autoptimize
  • Fast Velocity

The Bottom Line

The new Core Web Vitals ranking factors favor web design and user experience more than ever. While optimizing a piece of content for your site with target keywords and authoritativeness is still a leading strategy in SEO, this new update shows that Google is placing a high value on website design, too. Does this mean that design will become increasingly important for ranking in the next few years? Stay tuned.

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