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Google's New Core Web Vitals: First Input Delay (FID)

StaffMarch 2021

We are nearing Google’s May 2021 deployment of their Page Experience Update, which will see Core Web Vitals becoming ranking signals for search results. It serves to prepare for the update as improving the various metrics is bound to positively impact your site's ranking and other aspects of your web performance. Websites must have a positive impact on users from their initial interactions with the site, otherwise, the desired outcome of these interactions may not occur. When building web presence and experiences, first impressions are paramount. An unresponsive or slow-to-load web page can lead to a potential loss of sales, ad revenue, and leads. That is why it is important to constantly track and improve metrics such as First Input Delay (FID). 

What is First Input Delay? 

First Input Delay is the metric that measures the delay in response time for a distinct user action (clicking a link/button) that is performed for the first time on a website. 

According to Google: 

"First Input Delay (FID) is an important, user-centric metric for measuring load responsiveness because it quantifies the experience users feel when trying to interact with unresponsive pages—a low FID helps ensure that the page is usable." 

FID is different from other performance metrics such as Time to Interactive (TTI) because it can measure user input that occurs before a page is fully interactive. 

What is a good FID score? 

FID is measured in milliseconds (ms) and is a great way to measure a site's interactivity and responsiveness. To provide a good user experience, Google recommends that sites strive for a First Input Delay of 100 milliseconds or less. It is also worth noting that this score must be met by at least 75% of page loads, segmented across desktop and mobile devices. 

Image Source: web/dev

Why does it matter? 

First Input Delay is all about first impressions. This is usually the decisive moment for visitors to either become loyal users or never coming back to your site. It should come as no surprise that 88% of visitors to a site are less likely to return after a bad user experience. Given the competitive, yet all-too-similar nature of online experiences, focusing on the user experience can be a major competitive differentiator. 

It is common knowledge that first impressions are crucial on the web. Chances are that you get only one shot at a first-time visitor. Try to avoid frustrating them with a slow, unresponsive page on their very first visit. First Input Delay tracking and optimization are essential to making your site responsive and to improve the overall user experience. With the coming of Google's Page Experience Update, geared towards improving the user experience, FID will also influence your website's rankings. Now is a good time as any to start looking at and optimizing your site’s Core Web Vitals. 

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