Google’s Web Vitals and the case for good user experience

by Kim Casper
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In today’s consumer-driven economy, it is noteworthy to share that the average cart abandonment rate stands at 69.57%. With nearly seven out of ten consumers not checking out their purchases, businesses with e-commerce capabilities stand to lose US$18 billion in sales revenue annually due to cart abandonment.

According to Baymard Institute, four out of the top five reasons why online buyers do not follow through with their purchases are due to poor user experience (UX). Some of the UX-related reasons cited in the report are lengthy / complicated checkout processes, website errors / crashes, and inability to discern final order cost up-front.

Leading UX consulting firm – Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) – summarises that UX “encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”. As countries adopt digitalisation practices in light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, UX becomes increasingly important as companies would need to empathize with user needs and experiences in order to stay ahead of the game.

Recognizing the importance of UX in website usability, Google has unveiled a new program called Web Vitals. The metric-based tool would help site owners, marketers, and developers to not only quantitatively assess how optimized their websites are, but also highlight areas of improvement.

Although Web Vitals is a new addition to Google’s wide array of developer tools for website optimization, an article posted in Google’s Web.dev blog explains that the “initiative provides unified guidance about quality signals that are essential for all sites to deliver a great user experience on the web.”.

In launching Web Vitals, Google believes that site owners should be accorded the opportunity to appreciate the performance of their websites in delivering pleasant UX without being shortchanged by lack of technical expertise. As such, Web Vitals aims to make plain the key metrics with a commitment to expand these indicators over time. At the moment, 2020 would see Web Vitals prioritizing three aspects of UX measures – loading, interactivity, and visual stability – and introducing them as Core Web Vitals.

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Google has also announced that its Google Search function will be updated to incorporate Core Web Vitals in how they rank websites. In light of the global health crisis, Google acknowledges that businesses are now focusing on curtailing the effects of the COVID19 situation. In response, they have clarified that the updates will not happen until 2021 and reassures that site owners will be given a minimum of six months notice prior to activation.

With Southeast Asia leading the world in e-commerce adoption rates and Google having to pre-empt the updates to their search function, companies looking to adopt or enhance their e-commerce capabilities should highly consider investing in UX to stay ahead of the curve.

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