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Lighthouse Scores – What are they and why are they important for online businesses?

Introduction to Lighthouse Scores

What are Lighthouse Scores? And how did it come about?

Lighthouse Scores are a set of metrics developed by Google to evaluate a website’s quality and performance. It was created with the aim of helping web developers test critical aspects of the sites they were creating and maintaining. 

The scores are categorized into five areas:

The 5 metric areas of Lighthouse Scores

Performance: Measures how quickly a website loads and how quickly users can interact with it.

Accessibility: Measures how easy it is to navigate the website, especially for those with disabilities.

Best Practices: Measures whether the website adheres to modern standards of web development, through the analysis of code health.

SEO: Measures whether the website is optimized for search engine rankings.

PWA: Measures whether your website uses modern web capabilities to provide an optimal user experience.

Each category is given a score between 0 – 100, with 100 being the best score possible. So, how do these scores translate into the bottomline for online businesses? Let’s find out below.

Why are Lighthouse Scores important for ecommerce?

Lighthouse scores are important for online businesses for several reasons. Let’s take a look at Performance as an example. Page speed and Web Vitals are the most commonly sought after information among ecommerce store owners when it comes to assessing a site’s ability to retain users and convert them into buyers. However, performance is only one part of the equation.

The other four Lighthouse categories play an equal role in optimizing the user experience and sales conversions: 

  • A high Accessibility score means that your online store has taken the steps to be visually, audibly, and motor-functionally accessible ️, offer alternative methods of payment , as well as provide clear and detailed product information ️. The point is, you don’t want to block off any of your users from being unable to consume your content. The more users who can access your site, the more potential business you could receive.
  • A high SEO score positively impacts your ranking in search engine results. A low score means a poor ranking, low visibility, and ultimately less conversions.
  • A high Best Practices score means that your website adheres to established best practices for web development, including using secure connections (HTTPS) that helps you avoid security vulnerabilities.
  • A high PWA score means that your ecommerce is judged to be optimized for the mobile user experience. After all, we all know how important mobile commerce is right now. A 2023 research of the ecommerce industry in Spain shows that the preferential use of mobile devices for online purchases has increased significantly year-on-year to 46.26% of all online users.
2023 research of the e-commerce industry in Spain - mobile commerce purchases
Which devices do online Spanish consumers prefer to purchase from? Source: Flat 101

How can you find out your Lighthouse scores?

There are a number of ways for you to obtain your Lighthouse scores. Lighthouse itself is an open-sourced, automated tool, which you can run through the Google Chrome browser by hitting F12 on your keyboard. All you have to do next is select the Lighthouse option, choose your desired settings, and click on Analyze to execute the audit on the webpage that you are navigating on.

Generating a Lighthouse audit via the Google Chrome browser
Generating a Lighthouse audit via the Google Chrome browser

When a Lighthouse audit is performed, metrics about the website structure, tags, and performance is collected. This audit gives you your score for each metric, details of strengths/weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement.

The Lighthouse audit tool is also available as a Chrome browser extension. However, the audit results can be complex and hence difficult to understand for non-technical users. After all, it is difficult to fix something if you don’t understand what exactly needs fixing.

Testing and monitoring solutions such as Valido Web Score can condense the technical information into easy-to-understand insights. Particularly for ecommerce businesses, dashboard and visualization tools are not only crucial to measure one’s performance, but also to translate the data into actionable insights. This is also important for team collaboration, where different teams can get to the root of issues and take immediate action to improve their ecommerce.

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How can you improve your Lighthouse Scores?

There are already a number of simple steps that you can take that can significantly improve your scores for each of the five Lighthouse categories:

Performance: Optimize images (make sure that they are compressed and responsive) and reduce code bloat.

Accessibility: Use semantic HTML, add alt attributes to images, and provide proper label tags.

Best Practices: Use HTTPS, remove unused JavaScript and CSS files, and avoid deprecated APIs (often, optimizing this area improves performance scores as well)

SEO: Use relevant and descriptive title tags, add meta descriptions, and use header tags properly.

PWA: Use a responsive design and implement service workers for offline loading capabilities.

These are just some initial steps and examples to improve your scores. However, if you are interested in learning more ways to optimize your ecommerce, you can discover more through Valido’s Enterprise Audit service.

Practical examples of how improving Lighthouse Scores can benefit businesses

Performance

Improving performance metrics like page loading speed time and Time to Interactive can help businesses by reducing bounce rates. 

A study by Google found that websites with load times longer than 3 seconds have a 53% higher bounce rate compared to those with load times of 1 second. By improving performance metrics, ecommerce businesses can ensure that users stay on their website longer and engage more with their content.

Accessibility

Improving accessibility metrics like colour contrast and keyboard navigation can help businesses by making their website more user-friendly for people with disabilities. The benefit is multi-fold: ecommerce companies can demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity , improve their brand reputation, as well as expand their customer base.

In addition, a high Accessibility score can also help you avoid potential legal issues. In the case of American companies, this could mean avoiding fines for non-compliance with accessibility laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Best Practices

As we mentioned previously, having a secure connection through HTTPS can help businesses make their website more secure and up-to-date. The added security benefits your customers as well, instilling trust and leading to more purchases. Also, the practical benefits of using proper image and video formats directly contributes to page load time and the user experience.

SEO

Improving SEO metrics like meta descriptions and alt tags can help businesses by improving their visibility in search engines. A common example is the issue of broken images and links, which harms SEO rankings by sending signals that a site is outdated. By optimizing your website for search engines, you can increase your online store traffic and attract more potential customers.

PWA

Improving PWA metrics like offline support and native app-like features can help businesses by making their website more accessible and user-friendly for mobile users. By providing an optimized mobile experience on their website, businesses can improve user engagement and increase conversions.

Wrapping things up

Based on the above, it is with little doubt that Lighthouse Scores are a critical measure of an ecommerce’s user experience and ability to convert.

However, it is also important for online businesses to view their Lighthouse score as a guide rather than a pass/fail grade. It should be used as a roadmap to identify issues and opportunities for improvement.

By knowing your Lighthouse Scores, you can start taking that next step towards the success of your ecommerce. And if you need help in measuring, understanding the impact, and acting on your Lighthouse audit results, Valido Web Score can help.