Web performance: the situation in 2022

With respect to web performance, there’s nothing new to report on the browser side: Chrome is still the undisputed leader for desktop usages, along with Edge, which has (finally) replaced Internet Explorer, and Firefox, which is still in the running. As for mobile environments, we are still seeing the two main browsers for the two OS, with Chrome at the top of the Android world, and Safari heading the realm of iOS.

Published on 13.07.2022

What’s happening with web performance in 2022?

ChromeOS outstrips MacOS

With its 10% market share, ChromeOS has taken the lead over MacOS (8%) for the first time in 10 years. Still, let’s not be misled: this market share is massively represented by the United States, which uses Chromebook portable computers in schools.

This means that it is not essential to make the move to ChromeOS unless your application or website is intended for an audience of American schoolchildren.

Progressive Web Apps are running strong

Right now the trend favors Progressive Web Apps (web applications). The market is evolving, and PWAs aim to bring together the best of both worlds: native apps & web apps.

Concretely, what is this ‘revolution’ promised by Progressive Web Apps? From a web page, you can now launch an application that can carry out technical actions which could not be done before on a web page in a way similar to a Windows application.

Furthermore, you can open an application on a web page without being connected to the network. Tthe actions that are carried out offline are automatically updated when the internet connection is reestablished.

A future for Progressive Web Apps?

PWAs entered the scene in 2015, starting out rather timidly… Now it is apparent that over the past years, PWAs have made enormous strides forward. By 2021, 20% of total requests were issued by PWAs – this is an impressive score.

Still, Apple fights on. The brand does not support PWAs, which has put a damper on their development despite the fact that the technology is growing rapidly. For this reason, it is still necessary to resort to Chrome.

HTTP/3: What’s new over HTTP/2?

By merging HTTP/2 with the QUIC protocol (from Google), HTTP/3 allows for more secure integration with TLS (Transport Layer Security) and better management of data bottlenecks for low bandwidth networks.

This integration also provides for better migration on the fly between networks – roaming, in other words. This breakthrough can be useful for rail passengers, for instance, but still offers very few advantages if you are connected to a wi-fi network at the office.

What can you do with HTTP/3?

The development potential of HTTP/3 is colossal. There’s a real future with amazing evolutions in store, but all this isn’t ready for rollout just yet.

Benefits of HTTP/3  

  • More straightforward to implement with fewer settings, meaning fewer chances of configuration errors (especially with a simpler implementation)
  • Future benefits with the improvements planned for HTTP/3, with better management of multimedia streams (WebRTC, Dash)
  • A gain in performance, but only in low-bandwidth areas (the 1% of users with the slowest service stand to benefit the most). Therefore, there is less of an advantage to migrating to HTTP/3 for audiences in densely populated areas.

How will this affect web performance measurement?

The question, with all of these new developments, is what best practices developers of web or mobile applications should adopt.

Google admits that Google Core Web Vitals do not take optimized SPAs into account. What this means is that the best performance practices for a single-page app may result in a lower Google Web Vitals score.

For the moment, the strategy for obtaining the best web performance score is still to optimize Google Web Vitals, especially the LCP (Largest Contentful Paint) – the time it takes to display the element that takes up the largest surface of the screen display.

Using Priority Hints can be another good solution for optimizing apps. Nevertheless, this technique should be used sparingly, as the browser is still independent with respect to its page content display priorities.

To avoid browser fingerprinting, it will be advisable to use Client Hints instead of the classic User-Agent. The margin of error introduced by varying the information in the HTTP header prevents 100% recognition and therefore hampers fingerprinting.

What to expect from web performance measurement tools: things to keep an eye on…

Business software is showing a trend toward SPAs and PWAs. Robot-based tools will have to be able to deal with mixed technologies (web & desktop) to manipulate business apps because it is now possible to download them, install them, and even run them in offline mode.

The gradual phasing out of User-Agent will lead to a loss of fineness in RUM (Real User Monitoring) tools because of the inhibited possibilities for qualifying the user context. These tools, therefore, will have to evolve in pace with software vendors to retrieve what information can be had wherever it is available.

Data location

Demands for better accountability concerning data location means that solutions for measuring web performance, and digital experience monitoring (DEM) in general, must be deployable in accordance with the customer’s data location requirements.

Ideally, the DEM solution should be available for deployment:

  • in a local cloud​
  • in a private cloud​
  • in a high-security cloud​
  • or even in a data center​

Our analysis makes it reasonable to assume that sovereignty issues in the future may bring on-premise solutions to the forefront.

What’s the right DEM too! for measuring web performance?

Obviously we recommend the Ekara solution.

Ekara Web is the perfect blend of RUM and Robot monitoring:

  • Choice of browser (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge)​ ​
  • Most recent Google Chrome version​
  • Multiple-criteria, multi-technology action and control functions ​(DOM, graphics, OCR)​
  • A RUM tag which functions with ​Single Page App technologies (Angular, React, Vue)​
  • Advanced features: tabs, peripheral emulation, etc.​

If you want to know more about measuring web performance and would like to see a more detailed demo of the Ekara solution, all you have to do is ask!