Google Core Web Vitals – Designing for Optimized User Experience

A big part of Google’s ranking algorithm is user experience. It is not a new development. In fact, it has been part of its mission since the beginning – to provide the best user experience for those using its search engine. This is demonstrated in every new update to their algorithm. In recent years, with all else being similar, priority was given to websites that were built with responsive design, and then https was added to keep users safe. 

What is user experience (UX)? It is how your website appeals to a user’s emotions and attitudes about your product, system, or service. The experience needs to be easy, efficient, relevant, and pleasant at every stage of engagement. 

“No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.”
— Don Norman, inventor of the term “User Experience”

User-centric design is paramount with Google and has been since its beginning.  Their fundamental principles of search were always focused on the user and to offer relevant and high-quality information as quickly as possible. 

What defines good user experience as measured by Google metrics?

  • Mobile-Friendly – the page is optimized for mobile viewing using responsive designs.  
  • Safe-browsing – there is no malicious (malware) or misleading content (phishing) on the site.
  • Https – securely served pages.
  • No intrusive interstitials – no popups that obstruct the main content.

New Core Web Vitals due in 2021

  • Fast Loading – The first frame of content should load within 2.5 seconds.
  • Interactivity – response to an interaction takes less than 100ms to trigger the next action.
  • Stability – eliminate unexpected page layout changes.  

Why is it important?

The user experience tries to fulfill the user’s needs by providing a positive experience with your brand which ultimately builds loyalty and allows them to become your advocate to their networks.

There is no single definition of “good user experience.” It really depends on the end user’s needs in the context where they use the service or product. The Interaction Design Foundation describes the seven factors that affect UX. The design must be:

  • Valuable – deliver value to the business and to the customer.
  • Useful – provides a purpose for its target customers.
  • Accessible – provide a UX that can be accessed by users of a full range of abilities.
  • Desirable – conveyed through branding, image, identity, aesthetics, and emotional design.
  • Credible – the ability to trust in the product.
  • Findable – ensure the product and its contents are easy to find.
  • Usable – enables users to achieve their end objective effectively and efficiently.

Design Considerations

Design encompasses the entire buyers’ journey that guides you through the why what and how of the design. 

Why considers the motivations of the user to adopt a product.  Is it because they relate it to the task at hand or is it associated with values and views that users associate with the ownership and use of the product? What can people do with the product? What is its function? How do you create the experience with accessible and aesthetically pleasing design? 

As Simon Sinek proclaims, you start with why then move into what and end with how. 

Content still rules.  Relevant and high-quality content will always bring better ranking than page experience. But if similar pages come up in a search result, the one that includes a better user experience in its design could be a differentiating factor after the Core Web Vitals are brought into the mix.  

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