232 – ‘L’ is for Loading

A-Z of WordPress’ with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley

Hello, It’s another A-Z of WordPress. The series where we attempt to cover all the major aspects to building and maintaining sites with WP.  Today is for L for Loading (Pages Faster).


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Luckily with Google’s Core Web Vital about to drop in June as SEO no one is talking about speed!!! Not a single person has tested their pages in years. It is perfectly fine for us to talk freely without fear of being fact checked!

No one cares how long WordPress takes to load and what loads!

Core Web Vitals is

We’d all like to pin this down, so here’s some of what it is:

  • One of over 200 ranking factors, but we are taking them seriously.
  • Probably right, as Google are putting their money where their mouth is with Lighthouse.
  • New Experience measures make so much more sense than when we had to look at the whole load (FCP, CLS & FID).
  • What is iffy is the way speed is being used to sell solutions (like GDPR).
  • It brings up the Gutenberg v’s Page Builder issue, which David thinks of as Page Builder v’s Gutenberg Page Builders.
  • At what point does WordPress add a CSS layout system (never?).
  • It can become an obsession chasing after the fabled 100 score!

What WordPress loads

This is what WordPress loads by default:

  • Could it be regarded as bloadted output?
  • Block CSS (can be removed – Jeff Starr’s plugin Disable Gutenberg / not the Classic Editor!! (nearly 60kb and  growing)
  • JQuery (87kb), at the top of the document too.
  • JQuery Migrate (11kb).
  • Emojis JS/CSS (almost 14kb).
  • For context GeneratePress advertise a 10kb load.
  • Little backend resources used (for 500,000 lines of code).
  • Heartbeat (using up CPU).

Tools for looking at the load

Here are a list of some of the tools that we know of to measure page load:

  • Google PageSpeed insights / Chrome inspector
  • GTMetrix (vanity measure with nice tools)
  • Pingdom Tools (next to useless now)
  • Web Page Test.org  (serious pro stuff – Google borrowed from it – speed index)
  • Query Monitor (plugin)
  • Usage DD (plugin)
  • https://blackfire.io

Tools for Speeding up sites

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These are tools that purport to speed up your site for you:

Good plugins and bad plugins

What makes a plugin good or bad? Well here’s come thoughts:

  • Mostly silly as we should know what hosting power we need, but does the average WordPress user suddenly do facing all those plugins and blocks?
  • It seems odd that even today I write this, sessioned developers are asking for the removal of the global loading of scripts and CSS.
  • Comparative theme and builder testing is slightly insane. Asset counting tells us little in the world of experience testing. You would need to be a genius to be able to build like for like across platforms, so tests should measure that ability, not the tools

Other (hosting) Factors

Final thoughts from David

I suspect our focus on what is loading is going to be good for us. I have been obsessed and lost with performance before and see the same inability to rationalise the issue in others and the same misleading marketing is used, but I think there will be no escaping it.

Long term, I do not see this being a massive boost for Gutenberg (it has a TTFB advantage along with being underdeveloped). Everyone can see the Emperor’s New clothes. There is the Halo effect too!

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your host, David Waunsley, Nathan wrigley.
Hello there and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. Once again, this is episode number 232 entitled L is for loading. It was published on Thursday, the 3rd of June, 2021, my name's Nathan Wrigley, and a couple of bits and pieces just before we begin the main content with my friend, David Wamsley. Firstly.
Head over to WP Builds.com. That is a website where you'll find everything that we produce each week. You're listening to the Thursday podcast. This comes out every Thursday at 2:00 PM UK time, but we also have a live show called this week in WordPress. I do that with my good friend, Paul Lacey, every Monday, 2:00 PM.
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So that's WP Builds.com forward slash deals. And finally for the housekeeping, if you're into advertising in front of a WordPress specific audience, WP Builds might be good. If you've got a product or service in the WordPress space, go and check WP Builds dot com forward slash advertise, and we may be able to help you.
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Buttons, images, headers, rows, anything. And the best part is that it works with element or beaver builder and the WordPress block editor. And so you can check out and get a free [email protected]. Okie dokie today. I am talking to David Waunsley, our subject, as I said at the top of the show is L for loading.
And we really get stuck into the weeds of what is possible in WordPress. There's a whole load of stuff in here. In all honesty, we could have gone on for hours, but we're really talking about things like core web vitals. What's involved in that. What WordPress loads in a default installation, are there any tools that you might be able to choose to look at how your page is being loaded?
Which assets can you defer? Which things should you be checking and how to improve those scores? Also, are there any tools which you might be able to deploy into your website to make it speed things up perhaps as a WordPress plugin that we've heard of that maybe you so there's loads and loads of, so this what we call web vitals being just around the corner. So check it out. I hope that you enjoy the podcast
David Waumsley: [00:04:11] today. Hello, it's another eight. Is that a WordPress, a series where we attempt to cover all the major aspects of building and maintaining sites with WordPress today is L four. Wait for it.
Wait for it loading.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:04:27] Oh, very clever.
Liking it. Actually it'sDavid Waumsley: [00:04:32] loading pages faster. We're going to have to call this. No, one's gonna want to listen to an episode called loading Lily.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:04:39] Nobody's going to want to listen to an episode, whatever we call it, David, but don't
David Waumsley: [00:04:44] delude yourself. So we're really talking about, because we couldn't.
Fit in speed and performance elsewhere because we'd used up those letters. Yeah, that's what we're talking about really, except for Cashin, which we've already talked about. So yeah, we're talking about it's, it's the topic of the day, isn't it? It really
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:05] is. It's almost like we've all become.
Absolutely obsessed with this for good reason, because change is a foot and it's being forced upon us. When we, prior to recording, I should say we had a little bit of a discussion and I was querying whether or not. The fact that this, these guidelines, if you like, were emanating from the mighty Google, whether that was a good thing or a bad thing, but I think we both came down on the side that actually the things that they're requiring us to do are all for the good, rarely, yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:05:37] This, we are. W this is really inspired by Google core web vitals, which is due out in June as an SEO factor, at least on mobile speeds. And yeah, it's caught everyone's attention for the last year, since they first announced it. And yeah, we've become a little bit obsessed. I've become obsessed years back.
I I had to. Talk to myself about measuring performance on WordPress, because it just got out of hand. And I feel like I've gone back there again, but come out the other end because I like the new measures this focus on experience. I also
Nathan Wrigley: [00:06:19] think you enjoy the process of trying to figure all this stuff out.
It may be your, a bit of a minority, in the, I think most people are happy to build their websites and just, it is what it is. And if it's fast and Google, like it that's one thing. And if it's not, and it's a little bit slow, but it's within tolerable limits that's probably fine for most people, but you really enjoy.
Digging into the weeds on this, and you've created lots of video content and you've really enjoyed exploring IL.
David Waumsley: [00:06:47] Yeah, I have. And I guess our background with page builders and also, conversations that going on at the same time with Gutenberg. Obviously being in core, be naturally faster, whether it's usable as a page builder now is another argument.
But all of that stuff means like I can't ignore it anyway, but I think what excites me about it is it's one of these things where it's a bit of an illusion, but I like to think that I'm trying to deliver a professional service to clients and that I'm going to learn. The fundamentals of the web and build insights and do my best there.
And I think, core web vitals really gets to that. It teaches you perhaps best practice about how you might build your sites. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:07:34] You know, if we just remove the idea that Google is behind this and that potentially that's a sort of conflict of interest. And what I mean by that is Google, already we're competing to get to the top of the search engine rankings.
And now that Google is telling us explicitly what it is that we need to do, it kind of feels on the one hand as if that's Google designing the web for us, which we don't really want to be told how to build the web. But on the other hand the bits and pieces in the guidelines do make a great deal of sense.
They're all the kinds of things that you would wish to see yourself when you're browsing around the internet. All about making things happen quickly and in a way, which doesn't annoy the user and making the experience as pleasant as possible. So on the one hand bad on the other hand, Good.
David Waumsley: [00:08:25] Very good. Yeah. I felt when it comes to page loads before and trying to measure it, we're always trying to look at the whole page and we'd get lost with all sorts of other things, as we wanted to add in lots of extra scripts and do more with our pages. And I think why I like this is that it's given us a set of tools.
Google's provided those as a way of just focusing on measuring the experience, how quickly it loads for. The user not trying to bite off everything. And I just think it's really helpful. And I always felt before it was too easy just to get lost in all the aspects of performance. And that really didn't matter.
So I like it. And plus the facts as well, I think because it's only. One of over 200 ranking factors and we'll never know how much importance Google are going to place on this. It's up to us. Isn't it. It's just new tools. It's new ways of being able to approach this part of the web. And I think it's been missing.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:09:29] It's interesting because from a, from the perspective of a WordPress. Website builder. It feels like over the 200 ranking factors. The fact that this has been talked about so much, it would be slightly disappointing if it came in at 198 or something he's whatsoever, I'm really hopeful for a lot of people.
Who've spent a lot of time building this stuff, making content, explaining it all and thinking about it, that it's going to be a significant factor because it's something. That we've actually got control over. Yeah. And the other thing is this sort of coming at it from a set up fairly selfish point of view, if you're an agency owner or you're a developer of WordPress websites, or what have you, there is a good opportunity here for you too.
To generate some income to make your business more buoyant, because there is a chance a bit like there was with cookies back in the day and GDPR, there was a moment where you really felt entitled to pick up the phone and explain to your clients, look, there is something you need to take notice of this because you're number one ranking in the Google search.
It does look like it's about to evaporate. And it feels like a couple of years since we've been able to speak to our clients and tell them about something new. So perhaps an opportunity to generate some more revenue and also almost like a career. There is a career path in this, in the same way that there's a career path for building pages.
And there's a career path for being an SEO expert. There could well be a career in the future. I think dedicated simply, to having, having the ability to figure out how all of this stuff works and explain to people and obviously fiddle in the background and make the site pass all of these different tests and help the ranking.
So it's not kind of SEO from the on-page side of things. It's SEO from this more technical side
David Waumsley: [00:11:18] of things. Yeah. I think you mentioned GDPR and I felt maybe this is why it gets so much attention that as GDPR did, I don't think it was mainly. From the legislators that we'd got so much attention from the people who could sell products off the basis of this new change.
And I think that's also, what's happened with COVID vitals. There's so much more conversations, particularly about Gutenberg versus page builders. And there's lots more about different products that you can buy plugins as well, that will help you with speeding up your WordPress sites and stuff. So I think, a lot of it gets generated by.
That commercial side of things as GDPR was, I think, most of the articles you could find on that were written by. The ones that were ranking well were actually commercial entities rather than a government. So I think an element of that's there, but also with the ranking. I think the one thing we can't lose track on it is just another SEO measure.
So it's always been the same deal. Isn't it? You just need to do better than your competitors. When it comes to rankings. So if your competitors have all got busy stuff going on at the heads of their home pages or something, which is going to slow down the experience for users, if all of them are doing it, you're gonna, you need to build a little bit better than them.
You don't necessarily have to pass core with vitals. Do you.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:12:42] That's a good point. Yeah. I guess you just got to be competitive. We are we're in this period at the minute where everybody seems to be obsessed about the magic number 100, and everybody's trying to get the things to turn green. The circles will be complete the number 100 to be written in the middle.
And there's a lot of content trying to drag you from 98 to 100 at all costs. And I'm not quite sure that's the direction we want to be going in, but just going back to your. Yeah. Thing about products in the WordPress space. Do you feel that there's a, how to describe this? Do you feel that there are people products, et cetera, who are perhaps taking advantage of this and like snake oil plugins, if you like, who are offering a one click solution?
Just a bit of an uptick in products coming around that maybe are trying to suggest look. We've got your core web vitals under control, just tick this button and everything will be
fine. Yeah. We've got David Waumsley: [00:13:35] a whole bunch of products haven't we, which have you know, too many tick boxes, so you'd need to understand stuff to be able to use them.
And then we've got these kind of, we'll do it for you products. Nitro, Pranccer a famous one that does that. And I don't know. You know, It's what people want. I do think chasing after the 100 is foolish. If your thinking about core web vitals and that being a key thing, because it doesn't, there's not a waiting presently as we're recording this, I think Google will change things, but 100 you can still get 99 on your mobile schools and still be failing core web vitals.
And you can get a 90 and still be passing Colbert vitals. And. Everything else, all the other measures that, that Google offer with their insights. So it's tricky and you can be very comfortably going down to something. I think that at least 80 before you would not be passing core vitals. So this chasing after this 100, maybe getting away from what you're trying to achieve in terms of the SEO ranking factor, and also the experience that your visitors will have.
Visiting those pages. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:14:51] Can we get onto what core web vitals actually is in a minute? Can I just ask you a question? I don't know if you've got any thoughts on this and we certainly didn't discuss it before we started recording, but I'm curious. Do you think there's. Any situation where just shocking all of this in the bin and taking no regard for it at all is merited.
And I'm thinking of print layouts here. So I'm thinking of magazine layouts, where the entire purpose is to look amazing and to really shine on the aesthetics. And I can imagine that there must be certain scenarios where. Just having the unnecessary animations and having the videos that preload and the, all of the CSS transitions that we don't really need.
Yeah. Unnecessary. I just think there must be a, there must be a scenario where you can still go to your clients and say, look that in this situation, just
David Waumsley: [00:15:49] put it on. Yeah. Yeah. I know. I think there are plenty of circumstances and I think all the time when we're building pages, we are making certain compromises.
If you want the fastest load insights, then just get it down to text, build it. We don't need a content management system for half of the things. WordPress itself, what is it's 500,000 lines of code in order to deliver often. What is just a straightforward HTML page is way over the top.
So we make these kinds of compromises for different reasons. And I think we can never, we're not going to hit all of Google's ranking factors. No, one's going to be able to do it. So you pick which ones are going to be relevant to your business. Hm. I think that's a
Nathan Wrigley: [00:16:35] good answer. Yeah. I was so curious about what those 200 ranking factors are and where all of this whole mess that we've been thrown into really does fit it.
It almost feels like we're staring at a cliff at the minute, and we just need to somehow scramble a little way up the cliff. Try this out for a few months. Let's see where it all settles and no doubt the sky won't
David Waumsley: [00:16:58] fall apart. Yeah. I just think it's new. I think it's great new information that we're getting.
For measuring the web that we didn't have before. So whatever Google's motives are for it it doesn't matter. I think it's quite interesting stuff, but also confusing as well that the terminology that's used for corporate vitals is confusing. If even
Nathan Wrigley: [00:17:23] yeah. Yes. Yeah. I've got to say the terminology in this air, in this space is bonkers.
Ridiculous. Yeah. Some of the things that we're being asked to throw around, not only do they there's loads of acronyms for a start, which is fine. If you learn the acronym, that's fine. But when you pass the acronym and say the real thing, sometimes it's what is that? Even a word?
Yeah. Contentful. Is that a word? Yeah. So what, what T tell us, cause I know that you've done way more research on this than I have for various reasons. What do you, what is the whole. Co web vitals. Think to just try and describe
it. Yeah. It's one partDavid Waumsley: [00:18:02] actually of page experience, cause that often gets skipped over.
So it's the one that is looking at page load and the experience. So first Contentful paint is one of the core vitals and that. Effectively is just the time it takes to load the largest element in the viewport. And at the moment is a ranking for mobile. So we're looking at that and we've got the cumulative layout shift, which is how much stuff moves around while it's loading.
So you can't, you could try and press on a button and it moves because, an image is loaded above simple to fix use. It's just about setting widths on things. And then we have a measure which you can't see in lab data. So running tests, you can't see this, but it is gathered by real world user information that is collected from Chrome users called fed, which is first input delay.
And that's just when you can first interact with the site itself. So that needs to feel like it's a media and there are three measures. And really of these, the only one that's really important is the. The, the hardest one to pass is the first Contentful paint, because we need that content that shows that the top hand in the viewport of our pages to load quickly enough on mobiles.
Yeah. Yeah. It's pretty easy stuff. Really. It sounds really complicated, but in a way it's so much easier than ever had before. Because when we talked about loading, we were often only measuring the whole load of the page and that had nothing to do with the experience of the user. The expense of the user was what appears in their viewport and that's why we've moved to.
So I think it's a good thing.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:19:42] Yeah. From the end user's point of view, it does make sense only to have that as the metric, because that is literally what and increasingly what is a very small thing. It's like the size of a playing card or something that the screen size on your mobile phone is it's not very big.
And so there's, there's quite a lot of opportunities to get this right. And knowing that if you just get that bit the rest of it might fall into place much more easily. That is really
David Waumsley: [00:20:08] helpful. Yeah. And I think it also changes the. The way that we look at the web. So previously, if we were thinking about WordPress themes that we'd want to pick up, if we've got a little bit of experience, we start to look out for things that aren't bloated.
And we start to say, oh, that's loading this and that script, or has got so many assets on it and we want to avoid that one. Actually it. It doesn't matter so much these days, because you can have a big magazine site, which is got endless loading going on very, very long pages. As long as that first Contentful paint, that first thing in the viewport loads quickly, then the rest of the page can load slowly so we can have, I don't know, 500 requests go in on a particular page.
And it won't impact on the experience where perhaps you only make. Nine requests, the default ones that are in WordPress itself. And it's still loading slowly because you stuck with this massive image in the top. You know, I think it gets us focused on the right things with the core web vitals. In
Nathan Wrigley: [00:21:10] your experimentation with this in order to try and achieve the perfect 100, which again, we've emphasized is not to the point, but there you go.
What have you found to be the quickest wins? The things that really very quickly made the scores different with I'm not saying minimal effort. Yeah. Which ones gained you the most for perhaps the least amount of effort?
David Waumsley: [00:21:33] Probably just optimizing images in the report because particularly relevant to the device, that's viewing them.
So if it's common, isn't it to have a hero section where you might have a big background image, which is going to be HD size for the desktops. The thing is a great game by just making sure that you are, and I think most page builders can do that. Swapping that out for your mobile view to a smaller image.
And that's the biggest, the quickest gain. I think. Yeah,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:22:04] nothing too flashy going on and no sort of letterbox, enormous 2000 pixel wide image or something narrow. And, and simple which loads or just or just strip all of that altogether and just go for a black
David Waumsley: [00:22:19] background. Yeah, absolutely. It makes you think whether you need it on a mobile, does anybody even see that image in the background on a mobile?
Is it can, it's a good point. That
Nathan Wrigley: [00:22:29] actually, because mostly the hero. Yeah. Contains a piece of, I don't know, some sort of call to action text or something like that. And unusually that's the only thing you're always going to train on. Yeah. I can see, the window dressing around that text on a desktop really can lend a great deal of, certain sort of shall we say, but but on, on the.
The mobile device, all you really want to see is the text,
David Waumsley: [00:22:56] right? Yeah. You can just, you know, set simple CSS to remove the background. When it goes to mobile will save you a lot straight away, cause nothing needs to load. And if it's not needed, why are quite like all to this conversation?
With this, it gets us focused on the thing that I'm always talking to with clients. I so much want them to get their simple message. And I said this to you earlier, about how newspapers sell through the headlines. And it's the same with our websites. I want them to get that headline very clear. And that to load quickly.
So they've got reason to look at the rest of the site and I think they help us to make the argument to clients that actually it's not in your interest to, have too much busy stuff going on in the head. Let's keep it simple. The rest of the page can load in its own time and it won't affect the experience.
And you can do what you like there.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:23:44] Yeah, I think that's a really genius yeah. Analogy. Actually the newspaper one, because certainly in the UK, the way that newspapers are sold is that the headline is facing up and essentially that's all you can see. You might be able to see you and you see the name of the newspaper.
You can see the headline, but beyond that's it? Yeah. So that's the only, that's the moment you've got to try and get somebody to lift the paper up. And as soon as it's in their hand, they can start to. If you like scroll and see the other content. And so that just works perfectly for me. And I think you're right as well.
You've also got something to go back to the clients. We didn't have a conversation about, no longer is it, you just shooting in the dark, talking about the entire page. Now it's very much about, look, can we just get this bit right. You'll trust me, it'll work out best if you just do this bit.
David Waumsley: [00:24:33] And then there is other things to think about. Of course. Things that are loading before your header image may be a lot of different scripts. And I think maybe we should just talk a little bit about what WordPress does itself. Is it bloated because the ramen on the birth scripts that are outputted particularly, and oddly in a way is jQuery, which is probably one of the biggest ones.
And it's actually the top of the document. So J query is uncompressed is about 87 kilobytes. It goes down to roughly about 30. If you're, if you're or something. So it's not so bad, but on all WordPress by default sites, it's loading up usually before your content. So it is getting in the way of first Contentful paint.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:25:24] Yup. Good point. And uh, what's your what have you found to be the best way out of that?
David Waumsley: [00:25:30] The reason they do it sensible, because what happens is people build stuff that have dependencies built on jQuery, which yes. So that needs to load before they come in. So there's probably not a way around it.
You can defer it. Of course you can. Yeah. Do all of that, what a lot of people are doing. But most of the time, I think we're most page builders. They will probably have some modules or elements, which we'll refer to jQuery. So you'll have to keep it up there. There's new stuff coming in. Of course, if you're not using blocks at all, if you're not using the block editor, then you do need to remove the blocks CSS as well, which also goes in the head, which serves no purpose.
If you're not using Gutenberg.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:26:13] How much you've I think you've written down here. What about 60? Oh and growing you've written?
David Waumsley: [00:26:18] I have, I'm exaggerating a little bit with, I think the last time I looked at the Gutenberg plugin, which of course has the newest stuff and I think it was reaching almost 60 kilobytes, but of course it I've noticed it's grown all the time.
So this is probably the hardest thing. Isn't it at the moment for where does good to go? Because it's an alternative. Two page builders. Should you have something that makes sense for the kind of layout work that page builders do, put things in columns and rows and organized. The elements and Guttenberg at the moment is blocks with some very minimal CSS helping you to do layout.
And I think that's the thing is that it's the block CSS, which is permanently there for all of your pages. Is that just going to keep growing as. Gothenburg becomes more like a page builder or will it just stop there? Yeah,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:27:10] it it was quite interesting. I was talking to Paul Lacey on the show that we do on Monday the other day.
And we were actually talking about tool sets. And they've got a suite of blocks. I think they're just called tool set blocks. In fact, and they've taken this approach basically, they're going to have the CSS and. I think we were just talking about CSS, just we'll stick with that. Then they've taken the approach that in the future, they're going to simply load the CSS for the exact blocks that you've got in use on the page which for them was quite a nice development.
David Waumsley: [00:27:44] Yes. It's tricky with WordPress. What should be there? I'm in J query. It's agreed. We've got more of J query than we had before. And now we've got this block CSS on all our pages by default. WordPress allows us to remove it, but it's just typically if you're using a page builder and not using Gutenberg, you've got this extra code that you need to get rid of.
You can't get rid of the block CSS by swapping out. The classic editor for Jeff Star's disabled Gutenberg's cause it's it removes it there. But yeah, there's other things. One thing that I've always wondered about WordPress, if we're talking about a needed blow is the emojis that's loading some JavaScript and you really think surely that should have been an opt-in thing.
Do you ever
Nathan Wrigley: [00:28:31] use emojis ever? I'm not talking about in Facebook posts. Do you use them on websites, but maybe you and I are just not normal, but I never,
David Waumsley: [00:28:42] Ever use them. No, no. I've not had the circumstance. I don't have many sites that are. Blogging for people to, put comments in the news emojis, I guess in those circumstances, you've got very active blog and people want to express themselves, particularly younger people with emojis.
Then of course you're going to live on, but I've been thought that we'll be in the minority of WordPress users. So I wonder why it's there, but it's, it's a simple script to just remove it. So it's, what is it? 14 K you've written here. I think that's the total amount that I'm not sure I've wrote that down, but from okay.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:29:18] Take that with a pinch of salt. Maybe it's a makeup,
but it is, it's a bitDavid Waumsley: [00:29:24] of extra bloat and there's other things of course that I guess are going to impact on load. If you're not using Cashin plugins, which we can't really get into. Cause we've talked about that before. There is all sorts of stuff using up CPU now, of course.
Using react does we've got heartbeat which came in recently, which is what does heartbeat do actually, I don't know how to best explain it. No, it's
Nathan Wrigley: [00:29:48] not
David Waumsley: [00:29:49] something I'm going to check. I'll leave it, look it up, but it's there. Yeah. You know, you can slow it down, but it's regularly using CPS, you to do various checks, which are not necessary in your installs.
So there are a few things with WordPress. I think, you WordPress has been talked about a little bit. Yeah. With Google, about allowing time for people to prepare for Google core web vitals. So it's, expected things like loading jQuery and jQuery migrate as well as being loaded as well while the change is going on for all the themes.
So there's a fair bit of bloat that comes out of WordPress diff by default, I say that, but I should just measure my words a bit there because I think it's only bloat if it's not needed and obviously. The folks who are contributing to WordPress think they are needed. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:30:43] Yeah. Okay. So next thing on your list, I think is tools.
David Waumsley: [00:30:49] Yeah. Tools, what tools for measuring our load. Yeah. Yeah. We've got Google page speed insights, which is probably. King isn't it. And is that your go-to now? I I think so, because it's going to give me more information, particularly when we've got our really, we only pass COVID vitals when we get the field data in, and that's the only place where that's going to be provided.
So in a way that is. The only one that matters, but we've funded up data testing for doing our own testing while we're developing. Then I guess any of the other tools can be just as useful. And most of them have adopted what is there because Google page speed insights is just a hosted cut down version of their open source software called lighthouse, which does indeed other things such as.
Best practice and SEO and measure flat. So it's only measuring the performance on the insights there, and you can find that tool also in the Chrome inspector as well. So you can run. Yeah. I think
Nathan Wrigley: [00:31:53] it's in any derivative of Chrome. Yes. Sure. It's in Brave and whatever else has been built off Chrome.
So perhaps in edge,
David Waumsley: [00:32:01] I'm not sure. Yeah. Yes. Yes. I think all the same stuff is in there. Uh, we've got GT metrics is a popular one. I think that's, I don't know if it's, it feels to me like it's always popular with people in the U S or maybe because it defaults to Vancouver as the testing area. It doesn't it?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:32:18] hadn't really thought about that, but you're right. Maybe it's Canadian.
David Waumsley: [00:32:22] I always used to avoid it because when you're not that interested and you just want to take a look at your site to see that it seems to be performing well, maybe just to show the client that, okay, look what I've done. I used to go to Pingdom cause it was easy for me to slip.
The UK where I'd have to log in with GT metrics to be able to select the UK. So I tended to avoid it, but it's a really handy tool because it's so lovely to see. It's so easy to read the assets that are on your page. It's so easy. It really is. Yeah. The waterfall is fabulous. You can hover over and see stuff.
So it's beautiful to work with. And it does a lot more. I think if you go on a pro version, you can do. Far more than I've ever done with it, but yeah, we got Pingdom, which I think maybe is on the move out. I don't know if you've noticed. I really haven't
Nathan Wrigley: [00:33:10] looked at that for. Yeah. A long time. Not even loaded up the page.
David Waumsley: [00:33:15] used to like it, cause it used to give me nice kind scores. It used to be good. Yeah. Go to the one, which
Nathan Wrigley: [00:33:23] yeah, I'm going to set up a website, which gives everybody
David Waumsley: [00:33:26] a hot, no, you'd make a fault. Yeah, just do it with advertising and give everybody a hug,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:33:36] make everybody
feel good. Pingdom, IDavid Waumsley: [00:33:38] think something's happening with that.
Cause it used to have a beautiful waterfall on that. And it seems to certainly for my views over the last week or two, it was disappeared gone, and it's not lighthouse. Maybe they're going to make some changes there. Maybe that's why there's no waterfall, but where GT metrics does use at least the.
Desktop summary of lighthouse. So you are getting some of your core metrics be measured, a Pingdom doesn't, it's just, it's the total load of your page there, but still interesting just to compare with GT metrics and the, I think the big one that everybody really goes for is the web page test. If you're pro at doing this kind of performance work, that's where you go.
I think. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:22] So if you're an agency and you've got serious clients who want serious proof, that serious things have happened, yeah. Go there. Webpage test. Is it,
David Waumsley: [00:34:30] is it.org dot good that I go there and say, it's one of my favorites because it makes me sound clever. But you too can
Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:41] sound clever if you also visit
David Waumsley: [00:34:43] that URL.
But also I think the stuff that they do there was inspired. I, I. Believe something like speed index, which is one of the measures that's in page speed insights as come directly from the work that's been done in webpage. test.org could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's. So it is one of the more serious tools and the professionals use it.
It confuses me, but you could do a lot more. What's nice about it is that you can set it to emulate. Different types of devices, different browsers, different, yeah. Mobile phones, if you like where they don't allow you to do that. So they're the big ones. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:35:21] It just demonstrates that it doesn't in the attempt to make things easier for us to understand.
We now have a whole plethora of tools, which make it more difficult because they don't give us the, they don't give us the exact same information back. So I guess the rule is pick the one, which favors. So like most and use that
David Waumsley: [00:35:44] it's a bit of work. You can't escape though. Page page speed insights, I think for that's the only place you'd go.
Yeah. It's the only place you're going to get your live of field data on your site for core web vitals. There is
that's right. If in doubtNathan Wrigley: [00:36:01] go there will
David Waumsley: [00:36:01] page speed insights. There is another tool which it's more for serious folks. Now I do know one of the developers in BeaverBuilder. Shed something.
When I was asking for them to make a performance improvement and they shared this black fire.io, which is really, really safe. I've never
Nathan Wrigley: [00:36:19] even heard of this one. You're going to have to explain it. Black fire.io.
David Waumsley: [00:36:23] No, don't make me explain it. Cause like it exists. Because that's all we need exist. And I seen that.
Yeah. It's really clever stuff on that. I've not used it myself. I've just seen the results of somebody else's work using it. So that's all I can tell you, but, okay. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:36:37] We'll put that one in the show notes, just because if you are serious about this and you want to be blown away, you go there.
Neither of us know what it does
David Waumsley: [00:36:47] it's for. Yeah. It's for measuring your applications. Yeah, it's serious of talking to measuring applications. In terms of. The backend of your site, which we tend to not look into, which can of course have an impact to your time to first bite. You know, the stuff, the plugins you load in the backend, obviously you're using up some resources.
There isn't much out there is the for measuring that and it gets more complex. Now was as we move into the era of JavaScript, Applications, we as well as PHP one, so it's not easy, but I do use a query monitor to get a kind of overview. When I turn on the plugin, at least whether the load impact in the backend has changed, whether it's more database queries, and there's another much simpler one called usage DD, which just gives you basic metrics about the kind of load on the backend, the database queries. It's a struggle to understand those because you can misread them as I have done. There's a plugin called short pixel. No, I'm not sure. It's not short pixel. Let's show pixels
Nathan Wrigley: [00:37:56] for the images
David Waumsley: [00:37:57] isn't it is optimization.
And another one that I use stensul which outputs whole ton, if you was to measure that of database queries, and then I have to write to them and they say, yeah, but actually it doesn't go up to the front end and only affects you as somebody with that. And the account. So it's not a performance problem.
Yeah. It's really difficult. I think to measure, if anybody knows of any tools it can put me on to that will help you measure the resources in the backend of WordPress. I would love to know.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:38:28] So your query monitor that you're using at the moment, do you have that switched on permanently during development?
Or do you just switch that on prior to let's say, I don't know, installing a new plugin, take some data, switch it off again, or did you just have it always?
David Waumsley: [00:38:43] Yeah. It's really early on in development, it's the only time when I. When I would introduce a new plugin into the system. So I, I think I might turn it on again.
And to be honest, I'm running with usage DD, because I tell you what that does is when you're in the page builder, you can actually see that where you can't be query monitor. So it's nice when you're building out your pages to see how many extra queries that page is building up over the time.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:39:10] Right, oh, that's yeah, that is nice usage, DD. Yeah. So what it
David Waumsley: [00:39:14] hovers in. Yeah. It just hovers on your photo with these sort of false metrics and that's all it does. And again, it can be a little bit misleading, but it's quite nice because where query monitor only works on your admin pages, you can go to your page builder with usage, DD and see the same measures.
So I tend to stick that one on and it's easier for me to understand. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:39:36] Wow. So many tools and that's just the that's just the stuff looking at load. What about the the tools for
David Waumsley: [00:39:44] speeding up? Sorry. I've been on a bit of, I don't know if you've tried any of these. I did a really about last week is the first time I maybe a couple of weeks.
I've now been trying a few of these and I've got just
Nathan Wrigley: [00:39:57] one. When you say trying it, what's your setup? What are you
David Waumsley: [00:40:00] doing? Okay, so on my test site, so I've been interested in space. So these just want to try out is something called WP acid cleanup, and that's a free one on the repository. And it's a whole bunch of us.
Most of these are whole bunch of tick box things that you can just turn certain things off. And it's so easy to get overwhelmed with it. If you know what you're doing, maybe you want to look at that because you can turn off various assets that load on your page, including bonds with WordPress. So things that are included there, maybe things that are not directly related to load as such as.
Uh, the version of your WordPress install, you might turn that off. Perhaps, because you're thinking it's performance, because you're thinking that people who might want to attack your site,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:40:52] I was going to say, it seems like almost like a security feature that
David Waumsley: [00:40:55] doesn't it does, but yeah, I guess it gives, saves a line.
Yeah. It com yeah, it shows a line in your code that would make. Almost no difference, but maybe so it's full of all that stuff. No. I mean, you'd have to be a lot of documentation and talk to people in the community to have any clue about what you should turn on and off. Uh, performance matters is a very similar type of thing.
It's just it's I feel it's, there's only a pro version of that and it's nicely laid out and I did try out. Flying press, which is another one of these, which are on the sea. I cannot remember too well, but it's in a similar vein. Okay. They're all yeah, there's just lots of little options to turn on and off stuff and include in deferring or turning off CSS or JavaScript on your individual pages.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:41:43] So it's not fascinating that there's a, there's an industry growing up, or somebody can have a premium plugin and. Presumably you do rather well because of the fact that we now need to be mindful of what, what, what's loading and where it's just absolutely fascinating. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:42:04] The thing I ha this is just my experience with this.
I tried all of these and I thought, oh, this is great. And I'm a real pro here, but so much of what you could do with those. Is something that you would only want to consider once you've got the basics in place, right? They, the less, I guess you're using their platform, which is really output in so much more stuff than you need it to, which may be, there's a problem with your tools.
You probably don't need any of these things because. If you just optimize for the largest Contentful paint in a logical way, you're going to get to the results that you want without all of this. So I think it's very easy to get lost and it's very easy. I think even with the caching plugins that are out there, things like WP, rocket, which I use, there's a few options on it.
You take them on because you think, oh yeah, I'll defer all my JavaScript or whatever, but without having the skills to look up, whether you've created a console ever. Through doing that because, and that can do so much more damage in terms of your load, then, all the work you've done, trying to like I said earlier, there really is an industry in this people who are expert in this, there's a few people that come to mind right away who now are working in this arena, but made a job for themselves out of being able to go to somebody's website and optimize it in exactly the ways that we've been talking about you.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:43:35] And I both know a few people. Yeah. Sabrina
David Waumsley: [00:43:37] Xie, Dan, who you talked to a lot. She's she's been quite an inspiration on a few things. Bits of content she's done, just to get your head straight on what the priorities in terms of page loads, uh, she's got me on the right foot, I think by concentrating on this largest Contentful paint and not so much other stuff, there is a, in a different vein.
Now we have things like nitro pack, which I'm. I'm where we are, because this is a whole, the system, which kind of wraps all of your content for you with a single click into kind of JavaScript and then does some clever pre-loading stuff and defer enough stuff. And instantly it's turn it on and you get great results, but you know, there's so much room for that messing around with your sites.
And I just don't know how. People like Google will respond to this in the longer term.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:44:34] Is it just that it's too much of a black box for you at the moment? It's, it's asking you to do one simple thing. You don't really understand what it's doing. And yeah, that's, it'd be where
David Waumsley: [00:44:44] basically it can have an impact in this, another repository plugin, which I was only introduced to the other day, which is WP Meteo.
And that looks really interesting. Using some of these same methods, but they are very clear on there. On their listing about how this can damage stuff of, be absolutely cautious if you've got something like WooCommerce on with your cart pages. So they know that the techniques that they're doing with JavaScript to speed things up could have an impact on your sites.
Yeah, so these ones are ones that I personally wouldn't touch at all. They are doing very clever stuff. Some will argue that is trying to cheat Google. I'm not sure if that's actually correct, but it's still stuff that I would personally stay away from.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:45:36] Yep. Yep. Okay. Yeah. There's plenty in there that wasn't there.
Lots and lots of different tools. What did you list about six or seven? Just for, yeah, just for that. And on the, the next thing on our list anyway, that is you've written good plugins and bad. I don't know if this is an area we should strain.
David Waumsley: [00:45:53] No, I'm already getting a bit red. Talk quite a lot of articles, a lot of, there's a lot of comparison testing going on because everybody's talking about performance and everyone knows that this is a good thing to have, and we should focus our attention on it. And it does feel like we've had this golden era of the page builders coming out and we can have anything we like at a click of a button.
We can have all sorts of animations. And now suddenly it's we've sobered up. Google's give us a big slap and said, oh, performance. Come on now and now scrambling to produce content which is obviously to sell products in some form or another, by looking at what's good and bad for performance and stuff like that.
So I just think a lot of it is really silly. That's all I was. Wanted to talk about, and this is that a lot of these comparative themes and build the testings are slightly insane because you can't really use the numbers from these various tools. We've talked about to give you a clue about whether a particular theme or build a skill it's really, it's about how you're going to use it for your sites.
If, if your theme loads a load of stuff that you we're likely to need, then what's the problem with it. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:47:09] And there's nothing more than marketers, like than a deadline, a line in the sand where things potentially are going to be bad for you, because it really does give them a bright shining light to, to create content.
And yeah. I think you've got to be a little bit mindful of what you're consuming and where you're consuming it and exactly,
David Waumsley: [00:47:31] how much of that people build in, similar pages across different platforms and then doing running tests on them. The problem is you'd have to be. A genius to be able to build like for like across all the multiple platforms with their different settings and quirks about them.
Yeah, so it's something that I feel to watch out for. And this is the same, there's a lot of popular content. That's very popular at the moment. I've seen a few of those where they literally talk perhaps from a hostess perspective of, which ones they fear was heavy plugins to have. But again, often the context gets lost.
And anyway, so yeah. Okay. Stop me rant.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:48:15] No, it's good. What's really nice about this one is that you've actually done a boatload of research. I don't know if it was, did you, you weren't doing that. Were you doing that just because of the deadline coming up or are you doing it out of curiosity or are you doing it because a client has pushed you into doing
David Waumsley: [00:48:30] it?
Just curiosity. It's just coming up. There's been an interest in it anyway. But because the contents are out there and because I'm slightly cynical of other people's content or I'd rather go, is that true? Then I start to end up doing the research myself, just to find out, so everybody's talking about, and it's just led me into do my own work on it.
There's a career in this view, David and M and B. I get a bit lost when we get to the really scientific stuff. When you, when people we'll start that there's not a career in this. Exactly. When people start talking about DNS, Prefetching and stuff like that. It's I, yeah, I start switching. There's
Nathan Wrigley: [00:49:09] only so high.
The ceiling can go. Yeah, I'm right there. I'm basically prostrate on the floor. At least your sort of standing up in the ceiling is insight. Is there any, anything
David Waumsley: [00:49:19] else that we missed? Should we just start the few of the factors? Are they worth throwing in just because they are relevant, loaded? We've, we're moving pretty much all of us now to HTTP two.
Yep. And that makes a big difference. I think too, a huge
Nathan Wrigley: [00:49:35] difference. A lot of the old stuff that we thought was
David Waumsley: [00:49:37] true. Isn't true. Yeah, exactly. You know, the thing that I grew up was that you, you put together your CSS and your JavaScript and bundle it up and you get plugins to do that because there's the limits of the connections that could be made on the HTTP.
One list no longer exists with two. So having your. CSS in lots of different files, perhaps loading throughout the page may turn out to be a good thing, I think. Yeah. Yeah. It may
Nathan Wrigley: [00:50:00] even be quicker or
David Waumsley: [00:50:02] more performance, shall we say? Yeah. I think that's going to change a lot of things over time as that becomes the standard and you can easily go and check whether your server is running that and if it's not, you're really missing out, um, and there's obviously an important thing to make sure that everyone's got really is Jesus in some form of compression because. That makes a huge difference to all the files, particularly for the core web vitals and loaded. Those are essential ones in the header area. Yeah, that's about it.
PSP probably. Doesn't it. Speed increase. I guess almost everybody now is on version seven. Aren't they. Seven something.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:50:40] I, the last time I looked at that graph, it was looking favorable. I can't remember what it was, but 5.6 was going away. Yeah. And everybody seemed to be on seven point something. And now of course, we've got eight points.
Something on the horizon as well. They'll host that sort of stung to tout to that as there as they had their latest and greatest
David Waumsley: [00:50:59] thing. Yes. Now, Nathan, you're probably gonna have to talk for some time because I've just lost my notes due to a power call for goodness sake. I've literally gone into darkness now.
Oh, whoa. What's happening to the power is just going off. Oh,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:51:14] but you're able to keep going into that. Can you can manage without
power. Yeah. I'm used toDavid Waumsley: [00:51:18] it. I've backed up. I have looked backup for my internet connection, so yeah.
Very clever. I'll tell Nathan Wrigley: [00:51:25] you what, rather than me just bore everybody to death.
I think I'm right in saying that we were probably more or less at the end. There was very little, you had a few yes. Thoughts, which you were going to throw in, but I think you've covered most of that. Probably the only thing to mention is that. Because we do these every couple of weeks.
And we're on the letter L at the moment, a, B, C, D L is followed by M yes. And M is for you remember menu. Oh, you can remember, even though you've not got any notes yet. M is for menus. Whether they be mega dropdown, splits, whatever. Yeah. We're going to talk about menu. We could
David Waumsley: [00:52:00] talk a little bit about a full site editing because yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:52:04] Ooh. Yeah, that's a good point. Even though we've done AF that's still allowed
David Waumsley: [00:52:09] yeah. F is for
Nathan Wrigley: [00:52:10] forms and posthumously full site editing work
David Waumsley: [00:52:13] when it comes to that. Yeah, we can. We can now do our menus in a different way. Can't we with full site edit in so we can touch into that D
but yeah. So in thatNathan Wrigley: [00:52:22] case, the homework for everybody is to go and make loads of menus and then check full site editing and see what you can do with the navigation lock and so on.
All right. Thank
David Waumsley: [00:52:32] you. That was a lovely chat. Yeah. Thanks boy.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:52:35] I certainly hope that you enjoyed that episode. L is for loading. There is genuinely so much to talk about in here and we probably just scratch the surface. If we miss something out or you think we got something wrong as always head over to the WP, builds.com website and leave a comment there or head over to WP Builds.com forward slash Facebook.
That's a link to our Facebook group and leave us a comment. Find the thread search for episode number two. 232, and you can leave your comments down there. There really is a lot of relevance to this with core web vitals going on at the moment, the WP Builds podcast was brought to you today. By Termageddon, when you build your contact forms for client websites, you may be forcing that client to comply with multiple privacy laws, rather than avoiding discussing the importance of privacy policies with your client. Try out Termageddon, the auto updating privacy policy generator. The best part is that Termageddon, gives web agencies a free set of their policies forever in the hope that you like their product and use their reseller or referral programs to help your clients get protected too. Your client gets protected and you make more recurring revenue. Go to Termageddon.com and click the agency partner page to receive your free license today.
And by A B split test. Do you want to set up your maybe split tests in record time, then you AB split test plugin for WordPress. We'll have you up and running in a couple of minutes. Use your existing pages and test anything against anything else.
Buttons, images, how does rose anything? And the best part is that it works with elemental, but you have a builder and the WordPress block editor, you can check it out and get a free demo day AB split test.com. Okay. I will be back next Monday, 2:00 PM. UK time. WP Builds.com forward slash live for this week in WordPress with David Wamsley, failing that we'll be back here next Thursday for a podcast episode.
So as always stay safe, I hope you have a nice week. I'm going to feed in some dreadful, cheesy music.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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