- What it is
- Why it matters
- How it works
- How to use it
What is Google Lighthouse?
Google Lighthouse is a free tool that measures site performance in a simulated “laboratory” environment. Variables such as network speed and processing power are controlled, giving you consistent results. Google Lighthouse measures five important categories: Performance, Accessibility, SEO, Best Practices, and Progressive Web App.
Each category is given a score out of 100 points. Anything above a score of 90 is considered good 🙌. If there is an issue affecting your score, Google Lighthouse will tell you what it is and give recommendations on how to fix it!
Why Use It
Core Web Vitals, which measures website performance, is becoming increasingly important for SEO. Besides performance, making your website SEO friendly and accessible should be your priority if you want to be found on the web. Finally, best practices will check your website for common issues, errors, and security lapses. Using Google Lighthouse as part of your development process is critical to the success of your website.
How We Use It
We use Google Lighthouse extensively to find and correct issues that affect our score in four of the categories (since we don’t make Progressive Web Apps). Without it, it’s hard to know where you should be making improvements to your website. In our development process, we run Google Lighthouse multiple times, correcting issues as they arise. Our goal is to reach 100 points on every metric!
How to Use It
The easiest way to use Lighthouse is by using the online tool. Serious developers may use the command-line tool or Lighthouse built into Google Chrome dev tools. We tend to favor using Chrome dev tools, since it’s always open in our browser while we’re working on a website.
To get started with the online tool, simply navigate to web.dev/measure/ in your browser. Enter the URL of the website you want to test, and click RUN AUDIT. After a few moments, your results will appear, along with a list of recommendations. Click on View Report to see your full results. Easy!
When using Lighthouse, it’s important to test as many pages as possible to ensure that your entire site is performing well (not just the home page). The online tool and Chrome dev tool only test one page at a time. This is OK for quick, one-page tests or smaller sites, but if you have a large site, the command-line tool can test multiple URLs at once. This makes testing for large sites much more efficient.
There can be some variability from test to test, depending on numerous factors. Because of this, we test each page at least three times and take the highest score. Once we’ve established a base-line score, we address each of the recommendations, and then test again. Testing, making the appropriate changes, and then testing again ensures that each change is resulting in an improvement, not regression, in performance (we don’t want to take one step forwards and two steps back!). Thus, Google Lighthouse is an integral part of the development process, which you can learn more about here..
We check out other sites from time to time to see how we compare. Spoiler alert: Most websites don’t even come close. 😱 Really, though, only 1% of websites score 99 or higher in Google Lighthouse Performance. If you’re looking for a custom website to take your business to the next level, check out our Web Design services.