May 18, 2024

Struggling with First Contentful Paint (FCP) times on your site?

Whether you’re not even sure what First Contentful Paint is or you’re looking for some specific tips on how to speed up First Contentful Paint times on your site, this post is for you.

We’ll start by explaining what First Contentful Paint is and how you can measure it on your site.

Then, we’ll share a bunch of tactics that you can use to speed up FCP times on your site. And to make this post as accessible as possible, we’ll try to showcase non-technical tools and WordPress plugins to help you implement everything.

Let’s dig in!

What is First Contentful Paint (FCP)?

First Contentful Paint, often shortened to FCP, is a user experience-focused performance metric that measures how long it takes for the first part of the page to be visible on the user’s screen.

FCP is an important metric because it affects perceived performance. When a visitor first visits your site, their browser will display a blank screen, which isn’t a good experience for visitors.

Once content starts loading, the visitor will at least feel like “something” is happening, and the full content of the page will load soon. As such, having a fast FCP time can make the user feel like your website is fast, even if it still takes a little longer for the rest of the content to load.

In contrast, having a slow FCP time is frustrating for users, as it really drives home the point that the page is taking a long time to load. There’s nothing worse than having visitors sit there staring at their blank screens and wondering if your website is even working.

First Contentful Paint vs Largest Contentful Paint

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is another popular user experience-focused metric that operates similarly to First Contentful Paint.

Because the metrics are so similar, it can be difficult to understand the differences between First Contentful Paint vs Largest Contentful Paint.

Here’s the basic difference between them:

  • FCP — measures how long it takes the first object to appear. It could be anything — as long as some type of content appears on the page.
  • LCP — measures how long it takes the page’s main content to appear.

Because of this difference, your page’s FCP time should always be at least a little bit faster than your page’s LCP time. By the definition of the metrics, it’s impossible for your LCP time to be faster than your FCP time. Though they could technically be equal if the “first” element to load is the same as the “main” element, this won’t happen on most pages.

To illustrate this, here’s a visual filmstrip timeline of a WebPageTest analysis that we ran on the Kinsta homepage.

  • FCP occurs in the 1.0-second filmstrip (.924 seconds, to be exact). This is the first time that it goes from a blank white page to having some visual content.
  • LCP occurs in the 1.3-second filmstrip (1.217 seconds to be exact). This is when the “main” content of the page is visible.
The difference between FCP and LCP times.

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