Google May 4th Core Update impact on Discourse forums

It is certainly possible to make this change (all anonymous get HTML view) but it would heavily impact usability for anonymous users. Yes they would see content faster but an enormous amount of features that work for anon would not work plus the site would not “look right” for anonymous.

We could possibly make this some sort of site setting so you could experiment, but stuff like “infinite loading” would stop working for anonymous, there are some very high costs here. We would also need to invest at least some engineering in giving a /login route a bypass so people could actually register or login.

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Would it maybe be possible to serve a HTML view as the FIRST page seen by anonymous users coming in, but then do it with all the features if they continue to browse ? That would seem to be a good solution (I don’t know if it would be acceptable to search engines, though)

That does sound less than ideal. Is there any way to serve up the static copy and then “saturate” it with the dynamic parts? That’s probably a large architecture overhaul, so maybe not in the cards. Principally, we’re looking at 49k LCP errors on our site starting in May and search traffic hit at the same time. Our current LCP score averaging 5.3s. I’m looking for ideas on how to bring that number down.

Maybe adding or removing some plugins? Increasing or reducing the number of categories? Putting static assets on a CDN? We tried to get Cloudflare working last winter without success, but we could try that again. I don’t know the Discourse architecture very well, so I’m looking for leads.

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That’s exactly what we found, we are experimenting with removing every plugin and even ads (now our websites have no ads, optimized images…etc) and we managed to bring down the LCP but barely to the yellow zone now it’s not an error but more of a warning which still affects our website, we did notice a slight increase since then but need more time to confirm this…

tbh I am very tempted to start an open-source Nuxt+Vuejs clone of Discourse or a wrapper on top of it, it seems like the only reasonable choice at the moment!

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Yeah there’s no way to reduce that initial load without some significant engineering, because you’re downloading the entire Discourse app.

Some extra salt on the wound is that JS performance on Android is generally worse than iPhones… and apparently Google only counts Android devices in their “real world” mobile metrics. On Meta iOS accounts for roughly 40% of mobile traffic.

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All I can say here is that we are aware of the slow FCP and LCP and have long term plans to improve them.

Specifically @eviltrout is upgrading us to ember CLI. Once that is done we can start thinking about and possibly experimenting with code splitting and other tricks.

There are no easy tricks here, we use a CDN, we are very deliberate about how we load stuff we spent countless hours optimising here but fundamentally we use JavaScript to render our pages and delivering/parsing/running the JavaScript takes time on the first load.

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