Google embraces WordPress, now with Web Stories?

Google Web Stories Beta

Background

Before Web Stories waaaay back in 2003 Google purchased a blogging platform named “Blogger” from Pyra Labs. As the announcements were coming out in February of 2003 another blogging platform was being developed by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little called WordPress. Fast-forward 17 years and WordPress is estimated to be 20% of the worlds self-hosted websites. (455,000,000) Including the one you are reading this on!

We find ourselves in a political time, with the United States fiercely divided. In the last few weeks major advertisers have pulled funding from Facebook Platforms like Instagram and Facebook. I bring this up because this feature is a direct competitor to the Stories functionality on Instagram and Facebook. Although initially stories functionality was made popular by Snap, Inc. *just* widely replicated on Zuckerberg’s platforms. Now Google has brought the same feel with Web Stories to Bloggers in WordPress as so many are abandoning the Facebook ship.

Google Development and Support of WordPress

Google maintains plugins for the WordPress platform, including Site Kit which enables the following Google Features and Functionality:

  • Search Console: Understand how Google Search discovers and displays your pages in Google Search. Track how many people saw your site in Search results, and what query they used to search for your site.
  • Analytics: Explore how users navigate your site and track goals you’ve set up for your users to complete.
  • AdSense: Keep track of how much your site is earning you.
  • PageSpeed Insights: See how your pages perform compared to other real-world sites. Improve performance with actionable tips from PageSpeed Insights.
  • Tag Manager: Use Site Kit to easily set up Tag Manager- no code editing required. Then, manage your tags in Tag Manager.
  • Optimize: Use Site Kit to easily set up Optimize- no code editing required. Then, set up A/B tests in Optimize.

And now they have released Web Stories for WordPress Community Beta to github

What is Web Stories for WordPress?

Here is what Google says:

With Stories for WordPress, we’re bringing first-class Web Stories support to WordPress

Google

The beta features a full WYSIWYG editor in WordPress. In my testing it seems to work quite well even on a WordPress beta test site, like this (5.4.3) 🙂

You can expect it to be a little rough around the edges, for example a trailing slash in URL breaks the UI, but seems to be ready for testing for sure.

Download the beta plugin here: https://bit.ly/3ivovCw

A Sample Web Story here from a recent trip to Catalina with Friends:

Click here for the full screen Web Stories experience: https://qstra.com/quiet/strategy/stories/catalina/

Enjoy it!

User Experience is prioritized in Lighthouse v6

Lighthouse is an open source tool developed by Google. Lighthouse measures 4 pillars of the user experience. Do you know what else has 4 pillars? The conjoined triangle of success, but I digress ;).

The 4 Pillars of Lighthouse reports:

  • Performance
  • Accessibility
  • Best Practices
  • Search Engine Optimization

It is easy to use providing a scorecard along with detailed technical suggestions to improve a page user’s experience.

The current version of Lighthouse (v6) uses Core Web Vitals and is in very good company. Google is powering some of its most popular tools with Web Vitals. All of these tools help a developer improve the user experience of a page or progressive web app.

Google continues to shift to ranking sites higher when the data reflects a great user experience. Lighthouse helps to further pull back the curtain demystifying Google’s priorities when delivering user’s search results (SERP).

Lighthouse  Chrome DevTools Search Console web.dev’s measure tool  PageSpeed Insights Web Vitals Chrome extension  Chrome UX Report  Tools now focused on User Experience

How is Lighthouse different?

Tools like YSlow have existed for years. While initially designed around Yahoo’s (outdated) guidelines, YSlow was a great tool. These classic tools do not consider usability, feel, or accessibility. As an example Lighthouse identifies elements that can be difficult for the visually impaired. Classic tools also lack support for newer web standards and technologies. So in turn remediation recommendations may not help a developer choose the right path to optimization. While objective of these tools is the same, to help owners and developers get real data to improve the quality of web pages for its target users and to improve its marketability to search engines.

Lighthouse is part of the next generation of user experience tools.

Eric Perkins

It evaluates user experience unlike classic tools that measure raw load times. It is not just if your site is fast or slow. Rather more importantly, does your page ‘feel’ fast or slow? How quickly is the page ready for input as it loads? After the page starts loading how long do users wait before meaningful content is displayed? Lighthouse parses a target page over average connection speeds on emulated mid-market device so it can simulate what a typical user might experience.

A good mobile user experience is critical

Sites today take a mobile first strategy, because mobile browsers are the lowest common denominator in responsive design (CPU, Screen Size/Resolution, Bandwidth etc.). While modern desktop browsers are really good at masking issues while mobile browsers amplify them. Lighthouse can be run against a single page or a progressive web app. It can be run in mobile or desktop mode.

By measuring user experience rather than technically when a page completes loading, Google simulates a more accurate picture of your users experience on your site. Google ranks higher quality sites appropriately, so you should care.


User Experience – Resources:

Yoast Blog – by Edwin Toonen – Edwin is a strategic content specialist. Before joining Yoast, he spent years honing his skill at The Netherlands’ leading web design magazine.

Run your own Lighthouse Audit, easily on Google’s web.dev site. Try it!: https://web.dev/measure/

For help implementing Lighthouse’s technical suggestions or monitoring, Reach out to us!


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