WordPress launches a new performance plugin

WordPress announced the release of a plugin called the Performance Lab plugin. It was developed by the WordPress Performance Team which is designed to help WordPress sites speed up. The plugin gives publishers the ability to use new enhancements now before they are included in the core of WordPress itself.

The WordPress Performance Team, comprised of core WordPress developers, developed the plugin to receive feedback on new features being developed for inclusion in a future WordPress core release.

WordPress Performance Team

The WordPress Performance Team was created in November 2021 to coordinate performance improvements within the WordPress core. The team is made up of WordPress developers, with some of the team member developers from Google and Yoast.

From their first meetings, they made a list of performance projects to work on and this plugin, called Performance Lab Plugin, is one of the results of the performance team.

Performance Lab Plugin

The Performance Lab plugin provides access to WordPress enhancements designed to help publishers speed up their websites and also diagnose issues that may be slowing down their websites.

The plugin itself is modularly designed so editors can choose which enhancements they want to use.

The new features of the plugin are intended to eventually make it a future version of WordPress.

WordPress hopes that by releasing these new features early via a plugin, they can receive feedback on any potential issues.

New features are normally released as separate plugins.

WordPress has decided to consolidate all new performance features into one plugin which will allow publishers to choose which new features to activate from a central location, in a single plugin.

Performance Lab Plugin Modules

The new Performance Lab plugin has four modules.

The four plug-in modules are:

  • WebP Downloads
    Converts newly downloaded JPEG files to faster WebP format. Functionality depends on server support for WebP.
  • WebP support
    This is a site health module that checks if the server supports WebP and displays a warning if WebP is not supported.
  • Checking the state of the persistent object cache
    A site health check module that may suggest the use of object caching. Object caching is a way to speed up site response time, helps reduce database load, and makes the website faster for site visitors.
  • Audit queued assets (experimental)
    Provides an audit of CSS and JavaScript files enqueued on the home page. This helps identify unnecessary CSS and JavaScrip files that could be slowing down a website.

Is the Queue Assets module experimental?

The Audit Queue Assets module is tagged as experimental. The developers chose to call it experimental because the mod itself will be improved.

The developers discussed this, with one developer noting a discussion on the official Github page:

“To clarify, it’s not that there’s a problem with the mod, it’s more that it doesn’t feel as polished yet, so marked as ‘experimental’ for this first release – as it sees more of refinement over time, we could then mark it as non-experimental.

He then continued with this reason why it is labeled as experimental:

“Indeed, this wouldn’t break anyone’s site, but IMO the main point in marking this as experimental is that it’s still at an earlier stage of development compared to the other modules.

…for example, we haven’t fully defined what the thresholds should be, and the asset collection approach is not yet reliable for some environments.

An example of the type of improvement needed for this module is to make it more useful by identifying plugins or themes that bloat the website with unnecessary CSS and JavaScript files.

Should you download the plugin?

The plugin download page states that the plugin has been tested and should be suitable for use on a live production site.

While at least three of the modules are not labeled experimental and all of them are considered stable and probably won’t break a site, the main purpose of the plugin is to provide editors with the ability to provide feedback on modules. before they are integrated directly. in WordPress core.

In terms of stability, the plugin’s official page notes:

“…unless a module is explicitly marked as ‘experimental’, it has been tested and established to such a degree that it should be suitable for use in production.”

In terms of safeguards, it also says:

“However, as with every plugin, you do so at your own risk.”

A good practice for WordPress websites is to add new plugins on a staging site first and test them before updating the main website.

Another best practice is to save a backup of the website before installing the plugin. The backup will make it easier to restore the website to its original version in the event of an unexpected conflict between the plugin and another plugin or theme.

The plugin offers obvious benefits that can help speed up your website. But it’s provided by the WordPress Performance Team as a way to get feedback on brand new improvements that will eventually make it into the core of WordPress.

WordPress provides a Performance Lab plugin support forum and a GitHub repository where feedback can be given to WordPress.


Read the official WordPress announcement

Performance Lab plugin released

Visit the Performance Lab Plugin Download Page

Performance lab

Visit the official Performance Lab GitHub page

Performance Lab 1.0.0-beta.1

Add Comment