It's happening. Wordpress is finally going to focus on performance. But why now, and will it succeed?
Did Wordpress wake up to finally improve Core Web Vitals?
Although we should normally end articles with a positive note, I'm going to do it the other way around:
It's very positive that Wordpress started with a performance team to improve Wordpress' performance and reputation.
But that's the only positive thing here, I'm afraid. For the simple reason that their incentive is wrong. They started building a performance team because compared to other platforms (e.g., Wix, Shopify, Squarespace), WordPress is falling behind. We can see this by looking at public Core Web Vitals data of real user experiences across different platforms.
The above depicts a Technology Report chart of relative amount of sites per platform that are passing the Core Web Vitals assessment. This data is a combination of HTTP Archive and Core Web Vitals data.
It's quite clear to see that Wix and Duda really started to improve since Core Web Vitals became part of Google's Page Experience ranking update. The ones lacking behind in terms of relative improvements are sharing its fundaments: Wordpress (blue line) and WooCommerce (light blue line).
You could say Wordpress core contributors woke up and knew they needed to act. A proposal for a performance team was the result, which is now happening.
Other platforms are on average faster – and becoming increasingly faster – than WordPress websites.make.wordpress.org
Wordpress falling behind are their own words by the way, including the quote above.
SaaS versus on-premise
The difficult part of Wordpress might be its type of solution. While Wix, Weebly and Squarespace are Software-as-a-Solution website providers, Wordpress can also be installed and hosted yourself.
This means we should also want those Wordpress core improvements to become part of all those installed Wordpress websites in order to speed up the web as a whole. Although Wordpress will try to take this into account, it could easily lead to upgrading conflicts and plugins breaking, leaving a big group behind.
Nevertheless, as other platforms are evolving and improving technical UX, I'm excited to see where Wordpress and their performance efforts will end up.