Select Page

Today, WordPress powers more than 40% of the web. That’s a massive reach—one that comes with a similarly large responsibility. With so many people using the CMS, the WordPress community should always consider strategies for improving the visitor experience. This is where website performance plays a crucial role.

How fast a web page loads, how quickly a page reacts when you click a button, or how smoothly it scrolls can all significantly impact the end-user experience. A more performant site can lead to higher reader engagement and more conversions. Thankfully, over the past few years, the WordPress project has made major performance improvements across the board for the core platform, plugins, and themes.

Many enhancements are available out of the box, with no configuration required. They improve the website frontend’s performance—the part visitors see—and various parts of the administrative experience, such as the editor.

Here’s a partial list of performance upgrades from the past year:

WordPress 6.3 brought several enhancements to image loading. This resulted in an improvement of up to 21% in loading time for any WordPress page with a hero image.

WordPress 6.5 launched with a more efficient translation engine. In benchmark testing, it improved WordPress response time by 23% for all localized WordPress sites. More than 55% of all WordPress sites worldwide use a language other than US English and would benefit from this enhancement.

WordPress 6.5 also included several performance optimizations for the Block Editor, leading to 5x faster typing processing and 2x faster load times when creating or editing content in the site and post editors.

In addition to the Core enhancements listed above, the WordPress project continues to work on several efforts that indirectly benefit the ecosystem’s performance.

For instance, WordPress Core leverages automated tooling for continuously monitoring its performance, covering every product update. This helps measure new features’ performance improvements and enables contributors to detect potential performance problems during the development of a new feature or release so any issues can be proactively addressed long before end users are affected. A project is currently underway to make the same tooling used by WordPress Core developers available to plugin and theme authors as well.

Additionally, the new WordPress plugin checker allows checking any plugin for performance best practices, among other requirements and recommendations. The plugin checker should lead to more performance awareness in plugin authors and, eventually, faster plugins. If you develop plugins, consider integrating this tool into your development and testing workflow.

Last but not least, WordPress 6.5 introduced the Interactivity API, which is a technical foundation that facilitates more performant user interactions. This new infrastructure drastically simplifies the implementation of interactive website features and can even centrally control certain aspects of performance, keeping multiple independent plugins operating efficiently.

These performance updates result from a collaborative effort from all corners of the community, including the WordPress Performance Team. This team, founded in 2021, underscores the WordPress project’s commitment to performance. And the results are substantial: Compared to a year ago, 8% more WordPress sites deliver good load time performance at scale—significantly better than the overall web’s 5.5% load time improvement. The web is getting more performant, and WordPress is leading the way.

WordPress contributors are determined to continue this trend by working on further performance iterations. Whether you’re a WordPress end user, administrator, site builder, or developer, you can contribute to this effort. Anyone can test the performance features before being released in Core through individual feature plugins. Each feature can be tested via the Performance Lab plugin, so please try them! Testing features early helps the team assess their impact and collect valuable feedback.

Are you eager for more WordPress performance news and updates? Then check out the 2024 performance roadmap. Thanks to the entire community for your hard work. Not only does it ensure WordPress’ continued improvement and growth, but it benefits the entire open web.

Thank you to @annezazu @clarkeemily @tweetythierry @swissspidy @westonruter @adamsilverstein @joemcgill for content review and @provenself @dansoschin for editorial review.