Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google on Tuesday released a Chrome extension called Core Web Vitals that gives you a direct measurement for lodging complaints about slow websites. The tool accompanies a new push to get developers to focus on speed by measuring what Google’s Chrome team deems a useful collection of important data.

For more than a decade, Google has pushed for a faster web. Indeed, that was part of the reason for launching its Chrome browser more than a decade ago. Faster websites place better in Google search results, a powerful incentive. But a faster web is also a more vigorous foundation for Google’s search business. 

There are already ways to test website speed, including the WebPagetest tool originally run by AOL. Google’s new Web Vitals effort tries to coalesce a number of potentially confusing statistics into a simpler score that’s useful for web developers trying to set priorities.

“Google has provided a number of tools over the years (Lighthouse, Chrome DevTools, PageSpeed Insights, Search Console’s Speed Report) to measure and report on performance. Some developers are experts at using these tools, while others have found the abundance of both tools and metrics challenging to keep up with,” Google’s Web Vitals site says. “Site owners should not have to be performance gurus in order to understand the quality of experience they are delivering to their users.”

There’s a big gap between producing a web performance score and getting a website to actually speed up. But such efforts can provoke results. Netflix has long used a speed test site to rate internet service providers, and ISPs got cranky about it as net neutrality became a political issue.

Because the Web Vitals extension only works on Chrome running on personal computers, Google recommends developers use its Lighthouse tool when trying to assess performance on mobile devices.

Google hopes its Web Vitals project will get developers to speed up their websites.

Google hopes its Web Vitals project will get developers to speed up their websites.


Google; illustration by Stephen Shankland/CNET

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