Chris Wiegman Chris Wiegman

The Performance Benefits of a Minimal WordPress Site

This week I relaunched my site on a very minimal WordPress theme. While the main goals of the project were to have a minimal theme I could be happy with and reduce the overall complexity of the site, I’ve found one other major benefit as well.

The writing experience of the site is noticeably better.

I’ve been sensitive to the performance of WordPress and the block editor for quite some time. When the editor first launched in WordPress 5.0 I found the writing experience was so bad that the Chromebook I had at the time simply couldn’t handle it and my regular laptop didn’t do much better. It was so bad that eventually I moved the site to Hugo and left WordPress altogether.

Today things have gotten better with WordPress core but the performance impact of various plugins can still make a difference. For example, a few weeks ago I took Jetpack off this site. While I did so because I didn’t need the features, the performance difference in the WordPress Dashboard was so noticeable that it almost felt like a different site. Some of the folks from the Jetpack team reached out to me about it and, although we didn’t find numbers to explain the difference I experienced, we could see a performance difference and I felt like I had a whole new site again.

This week’s change has been no less dramatic to my site’s performance. This time I’m not noticing the Dashboard to be all that much faster but the Block Editor absolutely is. From less keyboard hangs to faster transitions and other effects the difference is once again noticeable enough that I’m happy with WordPress once more.

The moral of the story is it does pay to think twice about whether you really need any given feature on your site. A slow WordPress Dashboard is a common complaint of many WordPress users. It might not have anything to do with WordPress itself and everything to do with the theme and plugins you’re using with it.

Take some time to audit your own site and try disabling anything you don’t really need. Not only might it offer a better experience for your users but you may find it just as helpful for yourself as well.