Conducting WordPress performance research in the field

Over the past few years, several Make CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. posts, for example the 2023 performance retrospective, have referenced field data based on how real users experience millions of real WordPress sites. Such field data can help gather metrics of many different kinds, such as adoption of a feature or even its performance impact. As such, they can be instrumental in demonstrating the success of or potential concerns about a feature or enhancementenhancement Enhancements are simple improvements to WordPress, such as the addition of a hook, a new feature, or an improvement to an existing feature..

Gathering this data can be accomplished using public datasets like those from HTTP Archive and the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX). However, as it requires writing BigQuery queries, getting the data may not be trivial as it is a separate technology not relevant for WordPress core development or pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party and theme development.

To provide a better starting point for those new to BigQuery, HTTPHTTP HTTP is an acronym for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. HTTP is the underlying protocol used by the World Wide Web and this protocol defines how messages are formatted and transmitted, and what actions Web servers and browsers should take in response to various commands. Archive, and CrUX, members of the WordPress Performance Team and HTTP Archive have collaborated on a tutorial and reference Colab.

Whether you are new to those technologies or whether you have already written a few BigQuery queries, the Colab provides an introduction and can help build more familiarity. It only assumes some familiarity with SQL in general, such as from writing custom database queries in WordPress. The Colab comes with several queries, alongside their results, which can be used as a reference, and covers use-cases relevant to WordPress core development as well as plugin and theme development. It can be considered a “living resource”, i.e. expect for it to be updated and expanded in the future.

Other than this post, you can also find the Colab linked from a new Make Performance Handbook article on gathering WordPress performance data in the field.

If you are interested in field research around WordPress sites, you may want to take a look and work through the Colab. As it contains a lot of content, please feel free to work through it in multiple sessions.

#analysis, #core, #core-web-vitals, #performance, #plugin, #theme