New adventures in page speed

I’ll confess that my metric as I’ve been head down and developing PeakZebra blocks has been to look at a page being served from a non-local WordPress site and either say “OK, that seems pretty fast,” or else usually it meant the page didn’t load at all.

I’m not sure this is really the best metric for speed.

The whole conversation around web performance has been dominated by Google and their Core Web Vitals initiative for going on four years now, so it seems reasonable as a place to look for benchmarks. To give credit where credit is due, Google has obviously given enormous thought to the whole process, developed a pile of fantastic tools for diagnosing performance issues (or just understanding what the heck is going on).

With WordPress, great benchmark scores are entirely possible, but it’s pretty easy to thoroughly torpedo your PageSpeed scores. I found it easy to do by adding just one block…

Lorem full-site attribute inclusion element. Interactivity ad reductem block.json javascript webpack…

The problem, in a nutshell, is that the block I added loads runs a script on the front end. And the script loads some React components. So now there are several javascript files that are loaded on this page before the “First Contentful Paint” takes place.

Here’s an image that doesn’t really speak to the matter we’ve been discussing.

The pertinent question in the real world is how little render-blocking junk you can let creep into your pages while still getting done whatever work it is that the broader vision you have for this page requires.

With WordPress, as we’ll see, you may also have to pay some attention to whether things are loading on every page that you only need on a special few pages. It’s easy to let this happen in some instances–definitely something you want to avoid.

I asked Matt Mullenweg about this, and here are just thirty seconds that speak to this:

I’m the bald guy just to the right of the aisle and a few rows from the front. Baldness is humbling.

And so on, to a rocking, insightful conclusion.


There’s a long post like this every week on Thursday, but watch for interim posts as interesting bits and pieces surface in the WP++ world.