Category Archives: performance

Autoptimize 2.9 final beta, testers wanted!

I just upped Autoptimize 2.9 beta to version 4, which is likely to be the last version before the official 2.9 release (eta end June/ early July).

Main new features;

You can download the beta from Github (do disable 2.8.x before activating 2.9-beta-4) and you can log any issues/ bugs over at https://github.com/futtta/autoptimize/issues

Looking forward to your feedback!

Contact Form 7 alternatives

Contact Form 7: trouble right here in volcano city!Given the major change in Contact Form 7‘s frontend JavaScript and the problems having to optimize the JS or cache the page after the update, the question I get asked frequently is what alternatives there are to CF7.

So here is a very quick rundown of 3 such alternatives:

  1. Gravity Forms: premium-only, visual form builder, very flexible, big ecosystem (lots of 3rd party plugins & integrations)
  2. Formidable Forms: has a free Light version, drag & drop interface for building forms, very flexible (we currently use this on autoptimize.com), lots of integrations but smaller ecosystem.
  3. HTML Forms: free plugin from the team that also develops “Koko Analytics” (which I now use on all my sites) and “Mailchimp for WordPress” with a premium addon for extra features, similar to Contact Form 7, no frills, very light on JS so great for performance.

My advice; try HTML Forms if you have rather standard contactform-like forms and you’re not looking for something fancy (which CF7 is not either), try Formidable if you need drag & drop form building or if you (will) need more flexibility/ integrations.

Santa wrapping up Autoptimize 2.8!

I’m sure you have been good this year so Santa cannot but put a nice ribbon around the next version of Autoptimize, out later this month. These are the most important changes:

  • JavaScript: new option “defer but don’t aggregate” which *might* help with “total blocking time”
  • Images: add field to list images to be excluded from image optimization
  • Critical CSS: major improvements of the job processing mechanism, reducing time spent from up to 1 minute to just a couple of seconds.
  • Critical CSS: under “advanced options” replace “request limit” with “queue processing time limit” (default 30s).
  • Extra | Google Fonts: better parsing of version 2 Google Font URL’s (/css2/).
  • Misc. other minor fixes, see the GitHub commit log

In case you want to give Santa a hand with all that wrapping up, you can always download the Beta version here and take it out for a spin.

Autoptimize with support for AVIF images

You probably have heard about AVIF already, but if not; it is a new image format which is based on the AV1 video format and generally has superior compression than the better-known WebP, JPEG, PNG and GIF formats. Avif is currently supported by Chrome & Opera and can be enabled by setting the image.avif.enabled flag in Firefox.

So now you know what it is you may want to use it on your WordPress site? In that case -and the title kind of gives it away- the freshly released Autoptimize 2.7.8 now has support for AVIF if you have image optimization active. Just as for WebP Autoptimize hooks into the lazyload JavaScript to detect if your visitor’s browser supports AVIF and will switch the requests to the ShortPixel CDN to that format if so. If AVIF is not support but WebP is, the requests will be for WebP images and if those are not supported old-fashioned JPEG’s will be loaded.

So there you have it, AVIF is now available in WordPress!

Want to test AVIF images with Autoptimize’s Image Optimization?

So AVIF is a new(ish) image format that promises even better optimization then WebP and is supported in desktop Chrome & behind a preference in Firefox; go to about:config and set image.avif.enabled to true.

If you are using Autoptimize to optimize your images and you want to test AVIF images, you can use below code snippet to do so;

add_filter('autoptimize_filter_imgopt_webp_js', function(){return '';});

Use the the code snippets plugin to add this (easy and safe) or if you’re adventurous add it to your theme’s functions.php.

Google PageSpeed Insights updated, new metrics and recommendations!

If you tested your blog’s performance on Google PageSpeed Insights yesterday and do so again today, you might be in for a surprise with a lower score even if not one byte (letter) got changed on your site. The reason: Google updated PageSpeed Insights to Lighthouse 6, which changes the KPI’s (the lab data metrics) that are reported, adds new opportunities and recommendations and changes the way the total score is calculated.

So all starts with the changed KPI’s in the lab metrics really; whereas up until yesterday First Contentful Paint, Speed Index, Time to Interactive, First Meaningful Paint, First CPU Idle and First input delay were measured, the last 3 ones are now not shown any more, having been replaced by:

  • Largest Contentful Paint marks the point when the page’s main content has likely loaded, this can generally be improved upon by removing removing render-blocking resources (JS/ CSS), optimizing images, …
  • Total Blocking Time quantifies how non-interactive a page while loading, this is mainly impacted by Javascript (local and 3rd party) blocking the main thread, so improving that generally means ensuring there is less JS to execute
  • Cumulative Layout Shift which measures unexpected layout shifts

The total score is calculated based on all 6 metrics, but the weight of the 3 “old” ones (FCP, SI, TTI) is significantly lowered (from 80 to 45%) and the new LCP & TBT account for a whopping 50% of your score (CLS is only 5%).

Lastly some one very interesting opportunity and two recommendations I noticed;

  • GPSI already listed unused CSS, but now adds unused JS to that list, which will prove to be equally hard to control in WordPress as JS like CSS is added by almost each and every plugin. Obviously if you’re using Autoptimize this will flag the Autoptimized JS, disalbe Autoptimize for the test by adding ?ao_noptimize=1 to the URL to see what original JS is unused.
  • GPSI now warns about using document.write and about the impact of passive listeners on scrolling performance which can lead to Google complaining about … Google :-)

Summary: Google Pagespeed Insights changed a lot and it forces performance-aware users to stay on their toes. Especially sites with lots of (3rd party) JavaScript might want to reconsider some of the tools used.

Autoptimize 2.7; final stretch, testers needed!

Autoptimize 2.7 is in the final stages and the beta version can as of now be downloaded from https://downloads.wordpress.org/plugin/autoptimize.zip

Main new features:

So who want to test? Feedback in the comments please! :-)