Lighthouse Testing 101: Everything You Need to Know About Google’s Web Page Testing Tool

Everything you need to know about Google’s automated tool for improving web page quality.

What is Lighthouse testing?

Lighthouse is an open source, automated tool created by Google used to test the quality of web pages, specifically (but not strictly) for Progressive Web Apps. Lighthouse tests have audits built into them that grade web pages against performance, accessibility, best practices, search engine optimization, and Progressive Web Apps.

How do I run Lighthouse tests?

Developers are able to run Lighthouse tests directly inside of Chrome DevTools, from the command line, as a node module, or from https://web.dev/measure. Lighthouse will conduct an audit on the URL supplied and then generate a report for the page. Reports will include a score for each of the categories (performance, accessibility, best practices, search engine optimization, and progressive web apps), along with explanations on why the page may have failed a particular audit and recommendations for how to address it.

What are the latest Lighthouse features?

Recently at Google I/O, the Google team announced v5 of Lighthouse. With v5 comes a UI update, along with a few new key features as well: Lighthouse Stackpack, Lighthouse Wallets and Lighthouse Plugins.

Lighthouse Stackpack is a new Lighthouse feature that is currently under development and acts as an extension to Lighthouse tests. With Stackpacks, Lighthouse will provide specific recommendations for your web page based on the tech stack that the browser detects you’re using. These recommendations specific to your tech stack will be much more useful than generic recommendations. Google’s starting with support for WordPress (live now), and plans to expand the list to other popular CMS and JavaScript frameworks.

Lighthouse Wallets allows developers to introduce performance budgets into their Lighthouse tests. Doing so will enable their teams to evaluate how well the site is performing against the goals which have been set.

Lighthouse plugins are a way to extend the functionality of Lighthouse and easily share this extra functionality with other Lighthouse users. At its core, a Lighthouse plugin is a node module that implements a set of checks that are run by Lighthouse and added to the report as a new category. This will allow developers globally to create their own plugins to enhance their Lighthouse tests, while also enabling them to share their plugins with the developer community.

How do I maintain high Lighthouse scores?

Creating a high-quality PWA isn’t a set it and forget it process, so continuous testing is critical to maintain high scores. The first step is being aware of what particular actions could raise or drop your Lighthouse scores, and the second is making Lighthouse a core part of your continuous testing process to ensure scores don’t diminish over time. Get a step by step overview of everything you need to know to maintain high scores here.

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