RebelMouse Q1 2021 Platform Updates

Speed, performance, and Core Web Vitals enhancements

At RebelMouse, we pour our souls into making sure that our platform is always the most modern, high-performance CMS on the market. In fact, we invested over $100,000 worth of hours into our platform in Q1 2021 alone. This has resulted in updates and performance enhancements that publishers would have to pay for on their own to make happen on any other platform, such as WordPress. We're proud to be at a level of scale where we can invest this way into our platform, and we will continue to invest at this rate every quarter moving forward just as we have in the past.

Here are the major updates that we've added to the platform in Q1.


Google Chrome Web Vitals and Google Analytics Tracking Installed

We've installed and configured an ultra-lightweight open source project from Google that allows you to track Core Web Vitals data directly in Google Analytics. This is so important because the only other place this data is tracked is only available on a monthly summary level. Now we can analyze changes to the platform and any property in Google Analytics and get daily reports.

You can now run your own reports if you have access to the Google Analytics account connected to your property.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) Visualization and Debugging Feature

CLS is very tricky to understand because the data Google collects goes way beyond the first page load. This creates a lot of confusion in the industry because Google's PageSpeed Insights tool only tracks the first page load experience and misreports the CLS penalties that will be collected by Core Web Vitals through the Chrome browsing experience.

Understanding these penalties is vital to fixing them and going all green on Core Web Vitals. So we've implemented a way to expose this on any RebelMouse-powered site by adding the following query parameter to any URL:

    ?debug=cls (e.g., site.com/slug?debug=cls)

By using our debugger, you can see your CLS penalties in real time, and the code highlights the offending element(s) so that it becomes immediately obvious what needs to be fixed to get a green score on CLS.

Faster Loading of Third-Party JavaScript Calls

We've figured out a new way to load critical third-party calls, such as ads, much faster, and without resulting in any penalties on performance scores. There is a new option in the JavaScript element in Layout & Design Tool that's called "Post LCP," and we highly recommend using it for any JavaScript that you need on your page.

CLS Improvements

With the knowledge that Google is rolling out new algorithm changes in 2021 that will place much higher value on metrics such as CLS, we've made several updates in anticipation of the changes.

  • Sticky Element With Zero CLS Penalty
    • We have a Sticky element in Layout & Design Tool that lets you do smart sticky footers, headers, or sidebars as users scroll. These were previously causing some CLS penalties, so we pushed out a platform-wide update that included smart CSS transitions. This has resulted in zero CLS penalties.
  • Upgrade for Read More/Keep Reading Feature
    • We've figured out a way to have zero CLS penalties when a user clicks the "Keep Reading" button on a post.
  • Upgrade for Sticky Leaderboard/Header Ad Units
    • Many sites use logic that loads the leaderboard ad sticky for 3–6 seconds before letting users scroll past it. This is excellent for revenue and for page speed, but it was causing CLS penalties. We figured out a platform-wide fix that results in zero CLS penalties for these units. We also met with Google's performance team on this, and the latest version of Chrome Canary has shown that our solution is working.
  • Ads Refresh Feature With Zero CLS Penalties
    • For most media sites, refreshing a sticky ad unit every 30 seconds is a vital part of revenue. We discovered this behavior was creating CLS penalties, so we figured out a way to fix it so that the feature can work without resulting in any CLS penalties.
  • Upgrade to Fonts Element for Zero CLS and LCP Penalties With Custom Fonts
    • Lazy-loading fonts is vital for Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) scores and page speed. But we found that this frequently results in a CLS penalty since the page will shift a bit when the right font is loaded in. We upgraded to multiple weight options in the Font element of Layout & Design Tool so that you can lazy load a font and have zero LCP and zero CLS penalties. This will take some work to implement per site in order to take full advantage of the zero penalty opportunity.

      Please contact your account manager or support@rebelmouse.com if you'd like us to help implement this feature.
  • Slideshow Upgrade for Zero CLS Penalties as You Flip Through Slides
    • We found that slideshows created in Entry Editor using Particle Assembler were creating CLS penalties. So we found a way to fix this so that you can use slideshows and have zero CLS penalties.

Redis Upgrade

We've upgraded Redis to the latest version, which has significantly improved back-end performance, as well as helped us stay compliant with the highest standards of security.

Platform Team Updates

DevOps

  • This group focuses on developing platform infrastructure.
  • We've added two senior hires to this team to focus on building out new features, as well as improve all of the platform functionality that RebelMouse users already enjoy today.

QA

  • This group focuses on testing platform infrastructure.
  • We've added four experienced hires to this team to help scale QA and find things that need improvement in development, build, and staging environments before they ever hit production.

We hope that you're as excited about these upgrades as we are, and we can't wait to show you all of the things that we plan to accomplish in Q2 2021!

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