What is First Contentful Paint (FCP) and How to Improve It?

Team TypeStack
Team TypeStack ...
Dec 12, 2022  . 8 min read
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How to improve first contentful paint - TypeStack
How to improve first contentful paint - TypeStack
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First Contentful Paint is one of the most important metrics in Core Web Vitals. Therefore, it is important to learn how to improve first contentful paint to get the desired results.

Your web page loading time affects user experience. If it is taking more than a minute, the user will furiously leave the page and may never come back. But if your web page loads in seconds and is easy to navigate, it will definitely end up getting a good user experience.

However, it is also important to measure a web page’s loading time from the perspective of a user. That’s where the First Contentful Paint comes to the rescue. It is a crucial metric for judging the page speed for loading as it helps in identifying the point where visitors can see that something is happening on a particular web page. A user needs to be assured about it or else he/she will leave your web page.

Let’s deep dive into the details by starting with the meaning of the First Contentful Paint.

What is the First Contentful Paint?

The First Contentful Paint is a part of Google’s Core Web Vitals that measures the time when the page starts loading to the point when the browser renders the page’s content. These elements can either be text or an image.

So, what is the first contentful paint — It is an important metric helping your web page to render the first bit of content and lets the user perceive that your web page is loading quickly.

However, if you want to know how to improve the first contentful paint, know that brands often confuse FCP with the first meaningful paint. Let us clear the difference once and for all.

How is the First Contentful Paint Different From the First Meaningful Paint?

The First Contentful Paint is when the first content piece like text or image is painted from the DOM. Whereas, the first meaningful paint is when the browser paints the content that the visitors are interested in. In simple words, it happens when a website’s contents are completely loaded and ready for users to read.

It is an important metric because it makes a small difference to page load and tells you whether the first paint was useful or not. While it does make a difference, make sure you don’t mix its meaning with the first contentful paint.

Now let’s understand how to measure FCP.

How to Measure FCP?

If you plan to leverage Core Web Vitals’ important metric, First Contentful Paint, it is also important to learn to measure it. And here’s how you can do it easily.

It is a quantifiable metric that can help in easy measuring and grading. You can use these two methods to measure the First Contentful Paint — Lab, and Field.

While in the former, search engines like Google use different tools to stimulate a website page load in a very controlled environment. And the latter use tools to test on real users or visitors who are actually loading or interacting with your web page.

You can use the following tools for different methods:

  • For the Lab method, you can use PageSpeed Insights, Chrome User Experience Report, Search Console, and JavaScript Library.
  • For the Field method, you can use Lighthouse, ChromeDevTools, and PageSpeed Insights.

Rightly measuring the first contentful paint is a step closer to understanding how to improve the first contentful paint.

What is a Good FCP Score?

After you start measuring the first contentful paint, it is also important to understand and analyze the FCP score. Getting a good FCP score is important because it helps in creating a positive user experience for website visitors.

Like the Largest Contentful Paint, the First Contentful Paint Score is also divided into three categories, which are green, orange, and red.

The green color indicates a good score. The orange color indicates that there is a need for improvements. And red indicates that the user experience is really poor and it requires some urgent work.

So, what is a good FCP score? Following are the average seconds for every score:

  • Green Colour (Good) – 0 to 1.8 seconds
  • Orange Colour (Needs Improvement) – 1.8 to 3 seconds
  • Red Colour (Poor) – more than 3 seconds

Again, as we mentioned before, you can use different methods like Lab and Field methods to track the load time effectively using the related tools and get a detailed report on your FCP score.

But apart from that, you can also use tools like GTMetrix and Pingdom to get a deeper insight into your FCP score. It will help you better optimize your first contentful paint and end up making it even faster.

Keep reading further to know how to improve your FCP score and leverage tips to optimize it to load your web page quickly.

How to Optimize for Good FCP?

After you get a detailed report on your FCP score, it’s important to take measures, especially if your score is poor or needs improvement. So, let’s understand how to optimize for good FCP quickly.

Eliminate Render Blocking Services

These are the resources that prevent your website content from being rendered for your users. In case the content is not rendered quickly, it can decrease your total FCP score.

A lower FCP score will lead to a poor user experience and take your users away from your website. You can use tools like Page Speed Insights to get a list of render-blocking resources and eliminate the ones that are blocking your first contentful paint. Because these resources often halt the entire loading process.

Removing render-blocking services can help in processing the first contentful paint and make sure to defer the loading process of these resources.

Use a Fast Server

The server you use also affects your first contentful paint. It is because using a good hosting service reduces the Time to First Byte (TTFB). Also, make sure you find and compare these hosting services considering cost, time, and quality.

Because if you keep changing your hosting services, it will lead to an increase in cost and become time-consuming.

Use Different Image Formats

When we deep dive into how to improve first contentful paint, compressing and using the right image formats also matters. Dimensions and size will directly affect the loading speed of your website.

If the image size and format are rightly used, your web pages will start loading faster, leading to less data consumption. Make sure you use image formats like JPEG, PNG, and WebP for better results.

You can easily convert the website images into these formats using several WordPress plugins like Smush and EWWW Image Optimizer.

Lessen the DOM Size

One of the factors that can negatively affect your first contentful paint is the larger size of the DOM. You need to ensure that your FCP time is less. And for this, the DOM size needs to be much smaller.

For example, to lessen the DOM size, you can use fewer elements on your website. This will help in loading your website quickly and improve your user experience effectively.

Reduce the Use of Multiple Page Redirects

Often when a browser requests a particular resource that has been directed, the loading speed of your web page usually slows down a little and leads to a bad user experience.

Redirection indicates that the browser requesting the resource is unfortunately stuck in an infinite redirection loop. Therefore, it is advised to avoid multiple-page redirects as a particular network may delay the loading of resources even by seconds.

Use different WordPress plugins for redirection management like Redirection or 301 Redirects – Easy Redirect Manager.

Now let’s dissect how do images impact FCP.

How do Images Impact FCP?

Images are one of the important website elements (including text and other additional elements) that impact the first contentful paint. One has to be clever and mindful of adding images to a website.

It’s because these images directly impact the first contentful paint, your web page’s load time, and the overall user experience. Therefore, the file size and display dimensions matter a lot while choosing and compressing pictures for a particular website.

Using formats like JPG, PNG, .gif, and more can help in improving your overall FCP score and result in an effective first paint.

Conclusion

Now whenever someone asks you how to improve your first contentful paint, you already have a detailed answer to explain. Leveraging the first contentful paint is important for your business or website as it helps in improving your website’s overall performance by positively affecting the user experience.

An FCP score will guide you to improve your website’s speed so that it loads quickly whenever a user opens your web page.

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