The WordPress team has officially launched the beta version of a new performance plugin that can help speed up your website. And for those of us struggling to get perfect Core Web Vitals scores, this could be really good news.

They’ve called it the Performance Lab plugin, and it’s been developed by a group called the WordPress Performance Team. Essentially, this plugin gives WordPress website users a chance to test and use these new performance upgrades before they get integrated into the core of WordPress. The plugin is there so users can give feedback to the developers. So when these performance improvements get included in a future version of WordPress core, they will have been reviewed and tested by users first.

Who Are The WordPress Performance Team?

They’re a group of WordPress developers, with the addition of some Google and Yoast developers as well. The team was set up in late 2021 to help with doing exactly what their team name says – helping improve the WordPress core performance.

As Google adapts its ranking algorithm I’m sure we’ll see more plugins and performance improvements from these guys, but from their initial meetings, they decided to focus on improving the speed of WordPress sites.

A Bit More About The Performance Lab Plugin

As we mentioned earlier, the Performance Lab Plugin gives you the ability to diagnose speed issues with your website and access to performance improvements that may help you resolve them.

The modular set-up of the plugin lets you pick and choose which performance enhancements you want to use, so you can easily see which areas make the biggest performance difference by toggling modules on and off.

By releasing these features as a plugin, there will be plenty of real-world testing by users and any bugs or issues will hopefully be caught and resolved before these improvements to performance make it into a future release of WordPress core.

What Are The Different Performance Lab Plugin Modules?

The Performance Lab Plugin has been split into 4 different modules, which are:

  • WebP Uploads
    This will convert any new JPEG uploads into the WebP format, which we know to be faster. You’ll need a server that supports the WebP format for this to work.
  • WebP Support
    As the name suggests, this module will show you if your server supports WebP, and a warning will trigger if that’s not the case.
  • Persistent Object Cache Health Check
    If there is an opportunity on your website, this module may suggest that you make use of object caching. That will reduce the time taken for the site to respond, as well as for the database to load, which overall improves the user experience by reducing load time.
  • Audit Enqueued Assets (currently experimental)
    This plugin module will have a look at the JavaScript and CSS files enqueued on the home page of your website and flag any unnecessary ones that could be slowing down your site.

Is The Plugin Worth Getting?

WordPress says the plugin has been tested and should be safe to use on a live website, as per the plugin download page.

Three of the four plugin modules aren’t experimental, so they’re considered safe by the developers and probably won’t cause any issues with your site. But remember, the main reason this plugin was created was to gather feedback from users before it is integrated into WordPress core.

It would be better to test it first on a staging version of your website, as well as save a backup of the site before installing it. Better to be safe than sorry.

That said, the Performance Lab Plugin shows clear benefits when it comes to speeding up your website. If you’re interested in helping the community and want to leave feedback, you can in the Performance Lab plugin support forum as well as on the plugin’s GitHub repository.


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