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Lighthouse is Not Your User

Be careful not to get too caught up in appeasing performance diagnostic tools.

You might’ve used Google’s Lighthouse (also built into its PageSpeed Insights tool) for auditing page performance. It’s great! Even fun — the “get a perfect Lighthouse score” game is a personal favorite.

Still, it’s good to remember how it relates to the Core Web Vitals.

Lighthouse is a _diagnostic_ tool that help you identify opportunities to potentially improve user experience.

The Core Web Vitals, on the other hand, are metrics derived from actual user data, and are intended to be a better picture of how real users are experiencing your site.

Don’t get caught up in appeasing the former. Just use it as a “lighthouse” 😎 to help know if you’re headed in the right direction, and to identify any big problem areas you need to address.

If you get the purposes of these tools mixed up, you risk Goodhart’s law taking hold. Your Lighthouse scores become the end game, and you begin to neglect the thing those metrics exist to ultimately serve — your users.

Alex MacArthur is a software engineer working for Dave Ramsey in Nashville-ish, TN.
Soli Deo gloria.

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