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How to Avoid Large Layout Shifts: Enhancing User Experience

Imagine you're reading a webpage, and suddenly the text or images move or change their place. This can be quite annoying, right? That's exactly what large layout shifts are – they are sudden changes in a webpage's appearance that can confuse and frustrate users.

Here, we delve into strategies to avoid large layout shifts, focusing on how to improve your WordPress site and address issues that are identified.

Understanding Why You Should Avoid Large Layout Shifts

Webpage layout shifts can be disruptive, causing users to lose their place or click on the wrong element. These sudden changes can lead to frustration and negatively impact user experience.

Large layout shifts usually happen because of a few reasons:

  • Images or videos without dimensions: If a webpage doesn't tell the browser how big an image or video is going to be before it loads, the browser might have to move things around to fit it in once it does load.
  • Dynamically injected content: Sometimes, new content (like an ad or a pop-up message) is added to a webpage after you've already started viewing it. This can push the content you were looking at down or to the side.
  • Web Fonts causing FOIT/FOUT: FOIT (Flash of Invisible Text) and FOUT (Flash of Unstyled Text) happen when the fonts a webpage uses take a while to load. Until they do, you might see a blank space or text in a different font, which then shifts when the correct fonts load in.
  • Actions waiting for a network response before updating DOM: The DOM (Document Object Model) is like the blueprint of a webpage. If a webpage waits for some information from the internet before deciding how to build or change this blueprint, it can cause parts of the webpage to move around unexpectedly.

In simple terms, large layout shifts are when parts of a webpage move around suddenly and unexpectedly, making it harder and less enjoyable for people to use the webpage.

Importance of Avoiding Large Layout Shifts for Businesses

Large layout shifts occur when visible elements on your webpage move suddenly and unexpectedly. This can be jarring for users and lead to various issues:

  • User Experience: These shifts can disrupt the browsing experience, causing frustration and potentially leading users to abandon your site.
  • Conversion Rates: If users struggle with unexpected shifts, they might not complete intended actions like filling out forms or making purchases, negatively impacting your conversion rates.
  • SEO Rankings: Google considers page stability as a key factor in its rankings. High Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) scores can harm your SEO, making your site less discoverable.
  • Brand Perception: A stable, professional-looking website reflects positively on your brand. On the other hand, a site with many layout shifts may give the impression of poor quality or lack of attention to detail.

How to Detect Large Layout Shifts

Lighthouse, a popular website performance tool, includes a metric for "Cumulative Layout Shift" (CLS) to help identify these shifts. A lower CLS score indicates a more stable site. Aim for a CLS score of less than 0.1 to ensure a smooth user experience.

Alternatively, you can speak to our team and we can use our advanced systems to detect and fix layout shifts of all sizes to enhance the user experience of your website.

Simple Strategies to Prevent Annoying Webpage Shifts

As a business owner, you want your website to provide the best possible experience for your customers. Unpredictable changes in your web page's layout can be frustrating for users and cost you business.

Here's how we can help you prevent these shifts:

  • Set Picture and Video Sizes: Think of this as telling your website exactly how much space to set aside for pictures and videos before they load. This prevents the website from having to rearrange things later, causing those annoying shifts.
  • Create Space for Ads: If your website shows ads or other embedded content, it's important to reserve their space in advance. That way, when they load, they won't push other content around.
  • Avoid Adding New Content Above Existing One: Unless it's a direct response to something the user did (like opening a dropdown menu), it's best not to add new content above what's already on the page. This can disorient users and disrupt their experience.
  • Control How Fonts Load: Sometimes, the fonts a website uses can cause shifts as they load. By using certain commands in your website's CSS (the code that styles your site), you can control how fonts load to avoid these shifts.

These strategies might seem complex, but don't worry – our team of experts can take care of all these details for you, ensuring your website provides a smooth, enjoyable experience for your customers.  

Tips to Avoid Layout Shift in WordPress

If you're using WordPress, here are some additional tips to avoid large layout shifts:

  • Optimize Theme: Choose a theme designed with stability in mind. Some themes are better coded to avoid shifts.
  • Use Stable Plugins: Be selective with your plugins. Poorly coded plugins can cause shifts.
  • Image Optimization: Use WordPress's built-in feature to specify the dimensions of an image.

Boost Your Website Performance Today

Running a business is challenging enough without having to worry about the technical details of your website. At Fix My Site Speed, we're experts in resolving large layout shifts, ensuring your website offers a seamless user experience free from unexpected disruptions.

But we don't stop there. We also specialize in website speed optimization. A slow-loading website can frustrate users and lower your search engine rankings. We can help you speed up your site, keeping both your customers and search engines happy.

We're well-versed in Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics Google uses to measure user experience on your site. By optimizing these, we can help boost your site's performance and SEO rankings. If you're using Shopify, we're experienced in Shopify speed optimization too. We can help your online store load faster, offering a better shopping experience for your customers.

In short, whatever your website needs to offer the best possible user experience and performance, our team is here to help. Don't let technical issues hold your business back – contact us today.

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