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Opinionated guide to performance budgets, Chrome 88 changes & Beyoncé

Feb 1, 2021

Hi there,

Where I live, in the northern hemisphere, we're at that point in winter when I start to come out of hibernation and look around to see what's new. It turns out, there's a lot of news in the performance world, which I'm excited to share in this letter. 

I hope things are well with you, and that you have just the right amount of newness in your world. :)

Until next time,

Welcome Elena – our newest SpeedCurver!

We're super excited to welcome Elena Kay (@lebobonog) – developer, UX champion, and international adventurer – to the SpeedCurve team. Our code and ops have come a long way in the last eight years. It's good to know it's in even better hands going forward!

An Opinionated Guide to Performance Budgets

My favourite part of my job is that I get to talk to a LOT of people – at orgs of all sizes – about web performance and user experience. People always want to talk about performance budgets, and they always ask these two questions:

  • Which metrics should I track?
  • What should my budgets be?

Here's what I tell them.

Well, Chrome 88 happened…

The official release date for Chrome 88 was January 19, 2021. Since that release, we’ve had many people asking about changes to their Web Vitals – and for good reason. Some of the Chrome updates had a significant impact for select customers. The changes were mostly noticeable in people's Largest Contentful Paint and Cumulative Layout Shift metrics.

For LUX users: You can see if this change affected you around those dates by filtering a dashboard to that date range and comparing to the previous period, like this:

For synthetic-only users: You will not have seen this change yet, as we have not yet updated our test agents. However, we expect to update our agents in early March, so you may want to prepare for some baseline shifts across some of your metrics.

Introduction to performance monitoring with SpeedCurve

This is a fantastic post from Conor Malone at Gumtree. (We pride ourselves on maintaining a pretty great Support Centre, but we love it when our customers write how-to articles that are even better than ours!) 

In his post, Conor covers things like:

  • Synthetic vs real-user monitoring
  • Google Lighthouse and Core Web Vitals
  • How to set and monitor performance budgets

How does your site rank against your competitors?

I was chatting recently with some folks at a well-known media company, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they use our Industry Page Speed Benchmarks as an important competitive benchmarking tool within their organization. So I thought it might be a good idea to give a short primer/reminder here.

You don't need a SpeedCurve account to use this dashboard. It's an interactive (and, dare I say, fun!) tool that lets you explore and compare web performance data for leading websites across several industries – from retail to media.

With Industry Page Speed Benchmarks, you can do things like:

  • See what the different metrics actually mean in terms of user-perceived performance
  • Compare how the same page renders on fast vs slow devices and connections
  • Understand what makes fast sites fast (and slow sites slow)
  • Get insights into how third parties can perform on different sites
  • Identify sites you can use for your own competitive benchmarking

More good reads from the #webperf community...

  • Every year, Vitaly Friedman publishes an amazing front-end performance checklist on Smashing Magazine. If you haven't checked out the 2021 edition – a must-read, in my opinion – here it is
  • Shubham Gupta shares how Yelp reduced First Contentful Paint by 45% and Yelp Page Complete by 25% and saw a 15% improvement in their conversion rate.
  • Alena Wells explains how bridesmaid dress retailer Revelry relaunched on an updated version of its ecommerce platform and with smaller images. The site now loads 43% faster, bounce rates have decreased 8% and conversion rate is up 30%.
  • Doug Sillars walks through the steps to optimize the video on your website for size and quality.
  • Oh my goodness... there aren't enough words for how much I love this Beyoncé-themed Core Web Vitals explainer thread by Crystal Carter. Drop the mic!