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FCP or First Contentful Paint is a key user-centric metric used to measure perceived load speed since it indicates the first point on the page loading timeline at which users are able to see anything on their screen. If the FCP is fast, users can be reassured that something is taking place.
Essentially, the First Contentful Paint metric is designed to measure the length of time taken from the moment the page begins to load to the moment when any element of the content of the page is rendered on the visitor’s screen. In terms of this metric, the word “content” is used to refer to images (including any background images), text, or elements.
It’s important to be aware that FCP is not the same as LCP (or Largest Contentful Paint). This term is used to refer to the metric that measures when the primary contents of the page have finished loading as opposed to when the first element of the page’s content becomes visible to the viewer.
In order for users to enjoy a good experience when visiting your website you should aim for your FCP to be 1.8 seconds or under. You can ensure that you’re hitting that target for the majority of users by measuring the page loads’ 75th percentile, segmented across both desktop and mobile devices.
Since having a speedy FCP time is essential for your website visitors’ user experience, you need to be aware of how FCP time can be improved. Here are a few suggestions to point you in the right direction:
TTFB (Time to First Byte) or server response time is the length of time a browser takes to receive its initial byte of your webpage content. Although FCP is reliant on more than solely TTFB, reducing your server response time is a good first step to take.
So as FCP is extremely dependant on TTFB you need to optimise it in order to improve your FCP.
The simplest ways of doing this are to:
This means that when users request a webpage, HTML content is received rapidly by the browser but there is still a wait for other resources to load before the page can be rendered. These are known as render-blocking resources and it considerably reduces FCP. Eliminating these resources therefore couldn’t be more important. It can be achieved by:
If all above-the-fold images are inlined, the visitor’s browser won’t need to make additional HTTP requests in order to download them, thus improving FCP. Images which can be inlined above-the-fold include:
When visiting URLs that have been redirected to a different URL, an HTTP 301 redirect status code response is returned by the server. As a result, the browser must make a different HTTP request to the URL’s new location and this can delay the page’s loading. If there are several redirects, FCP can be slowed down considerably. Make sure that any resource that is part of your webpage’s Critical Rendering Path has no redirects at all originating from it.
It’s absolutely essential to improve your FCP since it can ensure an optimal user experience which will improve your site’s PageSpeed score. If you follow the advice provided here, you should find that your website runs more swiftly and smoothly so your visitors can enjoy a better experience each and every time they visit.