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WordPress is by far the most popular CMS out there, with around 60% of the CMS market share. But when it comes to performance, the average WordPress site is far from ideal.

Performance Challenges

In a recent presentation at WordCamp, Google detailed how the “average” WordPress site stacks up against the “average” non-WordPress site, based on information from HTTP Archive. Although WordPress sites tended to do better in overall image optimization (which has dramatically improved over past 2 years), they fell behind in a number of other performance-related metrics, incuding: Visual Speed Index, Time to Interactive, First Meaningful Paint, Page Load signals, Responsive Images, Page Weight (by various resource types), and Total Number of Requests.

Now, these numbers aren’t necessarily due to WordPress itself. One of the benefits of WordPress is its vast ecosystem of plugins and themes that can easily be implemented by non-technical users. But the downside is these plugins may or may not be optimized with performance in mind. With tens of thousands of options out there, it can be difficult to know which ones to choose, and it can be all too easy to use ones that have a negative impact on the performance of a site.

Enter the Tide Project

The good news is that WordPress is actively trying to address this issue. During WordCamp, they announced they were adopting the Tide project. Tide’s goal is to give WordPress users better information about each plugin and theme so they can make informed decisions when it comes time to answer, What plugin should I use for X?. It will perform a series of automated tests against plugins and themes, resulting in scores that that users can then use in determining which ones to use.

The Tide project is still a work in progress, but it’s encouraging to see it moving forward. WordPress is such a popular platform that anything that can be done to help its users optimize their sites is something that will benefit all of us.

As XWP noted in their announcement, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”