Can Jetpack Speed Up Your WordPress Site?

If you've heard of Jetpack, you either love it or hate it

In the early days of Jetpack, many of the folks I know thought it could be helpful. Then, it got bigger and bulkier and most folks thought it would slow your site down. Initially I think it did, but then I remember when it didn't. And these days, most folks have made up their minds and not gone back to check it out. I've already given you my take on Jetpack.

But no one has suggested that Jetpack might speed up your website. Until now.

Can Jetpack speed up your WordPress site? Yes. I have seen it happen. Let me tell you about it.

I'm talking about Jetpack Boost

First, let me highlight that I'm talking about a new Jetpack product called Boost.

Second, let me highlight that it's not yet completely launched. On the WordPress directory of plugins, it's marked as pre-release.

So you may not want to install it on your production site just yet.

But Jetpack Boost is 100% focused on site performance. And what they've done is create a focused plugin that doesn't try to do 27 things. It focuses on a few things. But each of them critical to site speed.

Let's look at a sample “Before” scenario

What I did was create a sample site, loaded in some content, added some plugins (like WooCommerce and Bento – a CRM that I'll tell you about later). This way it felt similar to my main site.

Then I went to GTMetrix and checked on the scores. After all, if you are asking if Jetpack Boost can speed up your site, you need to start with a baseline.

What you notice is that the site isn't bad. Everything is green and I get an “A” from GTMetrix. You can see more performance details in their Performance tab.

Again, none of these scores are stressful. But people have to wait a full second before they can engaged (Time to Interactive).

Now we add Jetpack Boost

Can Jetpack speed up your WordPress website? It's time to find out. I install the Boost plugin from the plugin repository.

I had to connect it to my main account with WordPress but it was pretty simple. Then I get their main plugin page.

What you'll notice in the top right is that the score they get for my site is 66. The red highlights that this score maybe isn't as good as I had felt like it was.

How does Jetpack Boost speed things up?

Boost focuses on three things, which each has its own toggle.

First, it tries to determine which CSS it needs to load first, to make the user experience good from the start.

Every request makes your browser pull down CSS – but not all CSS is equal. So this work is figuring out what is essential and the rest they delay so that it isn't render-blocking (which is a technical way of saying it's holding everything up).

Second, it defers non-essential JavaScript. Again, like CSS, more and more themes and plugins are filled with JavaScript. But what if it's related to post comments – and you haven't even loaded a post yet. You're on the home page. Should that JS get in the way? Nope.

Lastly, it defers non-visible images. Imagine I have images at the bottom of the page. It doesn't need to load those in up front before it starts painting the page. So it defers them. It's called lazy loading, and it's all the rage these days.

And now let's look at the “After” situation

You know I wouldn't be writing this post if it made my site slow. You wondered if Jetpack Boost can speed up your site, and now I'll show you that it can.

First let's start by turning on the three toggles and getting a new score.

89 is better than 66, right? So right off the bat, it did some good work. That's clear. But let's go back to GTMetrix to see how things did over there.

You see that Performance went up. And the largest contentful paint went down. Let's look at the performance details.

Time to Interactive went from 1 second to .6 seconds. That's fantastic. And the speed index went from 1.1 to .7 seconds. I sure do love fast sites!

Boost is a free Jetpack product that can certainly speed up your site

Maybe it surprised you. Maybe it didn't. Maybe it makes you rethink some of what you've thought about when you hear the word Jetpack.

Or maybe, like me, you don't care about any of that. You just want speed and you like knowing about any solution that could help your store run faster. If so, you may want to check out Jetpack Boost.