First Input Delay - What Is It?

November 20, 2021 in SEO, WEB DESIGN| 7 min

Importance of First Input Delay

A successful web design is the one that combines a beautiful interface with a well thought user experience strategy. By successfully implementing these two strategies, you can ensure that your visitors convert into customers and your website can help your business by providing you with a strong online presence.

However, many websites do not have the proper implementations and understanding of the website analytics and Google’s Core Web Vitals. One of the metrics that is important for your website’s success is the First Input Delaty (FID).

First Input Delay is a performance metric that tracks down the time when the browser first interacts with your web page after they enter it. FID is a unique performance metric that focuses on users and how they interact with your website. It specifically measures the time between the user’s first interaction with the website and how long it takes for browser to pick up this interaction. Lower FID is a better performance metric, with a low FID it means that your website is more usable and ranks higher in Google.

A lower FID score means a better user experience for the browsers and it boosts website’s overall search engine optimization score as well.

First Input Delay is a critical factor of a website’s overall user experience performance which Google thinks as an important ranking for its search engine. FID is a part of Google’s Core Web Vitals and can be measured by using tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

So we arrive at a simple yet critical question that needs to be asked. What is the first input? How do web designers, developers and various analytics tools consider what is an input? 

Unlike a regular browsing experience which consists of zooming and scrolling, input tasks can be defines as actions taken by the users. These include clicking, keyboard usage and tapping on mobile devices. Unlike the regular ongoing tasks such as scrolling up or down, these distinctive tasks have more latency and browsers respond at a slower pace than usual.

Pretty much every existing website has a delay no matter how small when it’s loading. As a website loads, it makes several server requests and load up the code so it can display itself as intended.

Think of a regular browser visiting your website and clicking on a CTA button before the website even finishes loading. For the user input to go through, the browser needs to finish loading your website and the time between these two actions is exactly what the First Input Delay metric measures.

The single most important factor that a FID brings to the website performance is that it increases the user experience. And increasing user experience with a fast loading website combined with a well-thought UX design strategy is becoming more important each day. Google with its recent update, will start ranking websites by measuring how the users are interacting with the website and FID scores are getting more relevant and important with each day like the rest of Core Web Vitals. Having the lowest FID score possible, considering your website dynamics and technicality will take you a step further than the rest of the competition, will help you offer a better user experience and Google will reward you with a higher ranking. 

Effect of FID on Users' First Impression

First impressions are viable and crucial for any business. For a website, it is truly important due to user’s first impression can make or break the website. If a user is dissatisfied with your website’s design, functionality or performance, chances are that they will go to your competitors and increase their business revenue instead. Professionally designed websites that are alluring and user-friendly can create a great first impression on its users and can convert them into customers.

The interactivity and responsiveness of your website are the most important factors in creating a good first impression on your target audience. A longer First Input Delay score will cause your users to bounce from your website, causing high bounce rates which result in lower SERP rankings.

This makes FID a crucial factor in users’ first impression and their chances of becoming customers for your brand. A low First Input Delay score means that your website’s credibility and usability is in a good place. To improve your chances of creating a customer base that effectively use your website to buy your products or to contact you, you need to improve your FID score.

User Experience

Other than the design elements and their align, another issue that web browsers suffer is the website’s interactivity while the web page is loading. This effectively means that by improving your website’s user interactions, you also improve its user experience and usability. By improving the interactivity, you will see a boost in website’s overall performance, SEO ranking and user activity.

Every user has a different first input when they first land on a website. Some of them do not even contribute to FID because all they do is scroll down then leave. Some of the users will provide you with a low FID because they will wait for the browsers to load the web page in its entirety, and some of the users will have high FID because they will interact with the website while the main thread is still loading.

Because of this various FID scores and user behavior effects, calculating and analyzing FID score is quite different than the rest of Core Web Vitals. There are couple of ways recommended by Google to fix the long FID score. One of the most effective methods is to use less third party applications that use JavaScript upfront and splitting your code. Additionally, Google provides metrics as to what cause the website delays so that the website developers can effectively see what is causing the issue and fix them.

Ways to Optimize First Input Delay (FID)

By using tools like PageSpeed Insights, you can easily see your website’s FID metrics. So after analyzing the numbers and content, how do you optimize it?

There are couple of ways to optimize First Input Delay. These solutions mainly include cleaning up your web page’s code but there are also various effective WordPress plugins that help with the process. 

1. Lazy Load Images

Many websites in existence boosts beautiful images on their design and interface. These images usually are large images that takes time to load. Images that are shown on the first section of a web page that a user sees when they land the first page has to load but what about the rest of the images below what is shown?

These images can wait while the main thread is loading to improve performance. This is a process what we call; lazy loading images. Lazy loading images allow your website to improve its overall performance and increase its speed, which reduce the FID. The images below what the user sees will load in real time when the user scrolls down to that section where the image is placed. There are plugins that can help with lazy loading the images. Additionally, the newly WordPress update also offers lazy loading to images.

2. Tidy Up Javascript

Cleaning up your Javascript will lower your FID score which ultimately improves your overall website performance and its functionality. By splitting the long tasks and removing them from the main thread of your website will do the trick. Doing these will reduce the workload that on your website and make it more responsive and interactive for its users. If you check your Core Web Vitals score sheet, you can see that most websites require some extent of cleaning up of Javascript.

Various plugins that have bloated code, social widgets and third-party applications slow down your website by increasing its workload. They tend to consume the website’s resources and increase First Input Delay times. 

Using a few to none third party applications is recommended in this case. You can also post-pone non critical tasks on your website to ensure its performance is not being held back. Additionally, a good rule of thumb is to remove any unused JAvascript and minifying and compressing Javascript files to get a nice boost in your FID metric. There are also plugins that can effectively help you with the aforementioned tasks so that you do not have to code it yourself.

2. Browser Caching

Website caching is the process of storing data for the purpose of reusing it. When a user visits your website for the first time, the browser will save a copy of website’s data so that the next time they visit your website, the browser does not have to access to website’s server and use its downloaded data to load the page quickly.

This process reduces the workload of a website and make it much faster for revisiting users. It’s a crucial task for any WordPress optimization process.

There are more than few reasons why your want your website fast which offers high interactivity. Improving your First Input Delay score will not only provide you with more customers but it will also increase your search engine rankings.

Feel free to contact us to let us help you design a website that aligns with your goals.