December 3, 2021

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WordPress Takes Steps to Achieve Performance Lead via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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The new WordPress Performance Team, which includes contributors from Google and Yoast, is meeting to plan the next steps for coordinating efforts for improving WordPress performance. A kickoff meeting is happening on Tuesday, November 2, 2021.

What is underway is an energized approach toward solving performance bottlenecks in all areas of WordPress, including plugins and themes.

Virtually everything is on the table, with currently 19 categories of focus-areas to improve.

The initial meeting is in the WordPress slack group. Those without access are encouraged to participate in the announcement comment area.

Initial plans for the performance team meeting:

  • “lead the working groups formation
  • coordinate the initial administrative tasks (slack channel, weekly meetings, schedule working groups representative nominations, etc.)
  • create a mission statement for the team
  • coordinate the areas to tackle
  • outline the scope and the roadmap”

The Performance Team Meeting Agenda

The meeting agenda lists three items, a welcome, an open floor (where people can speak freely) and a time for defining areas of focus.

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Defining areas of focus is an important part of the agenda because it may help set the outlines for a road map of continuing the efforts to improve WordPress performance.

That said, there is already a spreadsheet with 19 categories of areas to improve.

The Performance Team describes keeping the focus of the meeting limited to begin with:

“…we will initially aim to keep the scope limited by defining the most impactful area of focus and create working groups if need be.

Defined focus areas will be the main points of discussion during weekly chats.

An agenda item for the first meetings will be to define the initial focus areas for the team.”

19 Categories for Improvement

There is a spreadsheet called, WP Performance Team: Focus Areas and Working Groups that lists 19 areas of focus.

Among the categories are these targets for improvement:

  • Images
    Serving images in good quality but as small as possible
  • JavaScript
    Optimizing JavaScript orchestration – Script prioritization, async/defer loading, use of module(s), loading scripts in footer, conditional loading…
  • CSS
    Reducing CSS overhead – Critical CSS inlining, CSS tree shaking, CSS minification, …
  • Web fonts
    Reducing web fonts overhead – Web fonts orchestration, fonts CSS inlining, avoiding multiple requests, …
  • Themes/Plugin requirements
    Encouraging plugins to provide better performance: Automatic performance tests in CI, flagging problematic plugins, …

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This is the full list of 19 categories, which can be reviewed in the official Performance Team spreadsheet:

  1. Images
  2. JavaScript
  3. CSS
  4. Web fonts
  5. Asset caching
  6. Page caching
  7. Object caching
  8. Bootstrap
  9. Embeds
  10. Facades
  11. SQL
  12. Redirects
  13. CDN support
  14. Themes/Plugin requirements
  15. Host configuration
  16. Site Health
  17. Localization
  18. Measurement
  19. Hints

Helping Plugin Developers/Not Policing Them

A forward-looking approach taken by the Performance Team is to focus on how they can help plugin developers better performing software that didn’t slow down a website.

Performance Team members left comments on the right hand side that align with the 19 categories of focus that are listed on the left hand side of the spreadsheet.

Screenshot of a WordPress Performance Team Comment

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One commenter on the performance projects spreadsheet discussed creating a handbook while another (Googler Thierry Mueller) suggested adding performance signals to help publishers better understand where their plugins stood in terms of performance.

One of the Performance Team members commented about helping plugin developers:

There is a huge work to be done to educate plugin and theme developers to better understand how to enqueue assets correctly/when needed.
I’m available to write a handbook section about this and to put together some enqueues best practices/lessons as I already have started this QA job in my company.

In the same comment stream Thierry Mueller of Google commented about how to help plugin developers:

“Top of mind is introducing some performance signals to the plugins and themes review. That could already stop some of the bleeding for new plugins/themes and we could think of helping plugins/themes on update as well which would very quickly circle around all active plugins.”

Active Performance Projects

WordPress tracks various development projects and some of them are related to performance, as listed in this official WordPress page.

One of the projects is fixing a bug in the media uploader that causes the WordPress site to create a new version of the image that is three to four times bigger than the original image.

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Another project currently in progress is omitting the lazy load attribute from images that are above the fold in order to improve performance.

WordPress is Fighting Back

WordPress is taking a coordinated approach toward improving performance. The next steps will be discussed Tuesday November 2, 2021.

The focus is already toward achieving the most “impactful” wins on the WordPress core itself and thinking of ways to help plugin and theme developers create software that doesn’t slow websites down.

Among the project participants are contributors from Google and Yoast. While this is just a beginning, looking at the projects already underway WordPress may begin building success upon success very soon.

Drupal, Wix , and Duda have surged well ahead of WordPress in terms of performance. The new performance team may help WordPress gain the top spot.

Citations

Read the Details of the Performance Team Kick Off Meeting

WordPress Performance Team Kick Off

Review the WordPress Spreadsheet with List of Future Improvements

WP Performance Team: Focus areas and working groups

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