Cloudflare Announces APO Feature – Improving WordPress Page Speeds!

Cloudflare Announces APO Feature – Improving WordPress Page Speeds!

WordPress website owners could be in for faster page load times and a resolution to issues around TTFB (Time To First Bite), with this latest moved from industry leading CDN, Cloudflare.

Cloudflare have announced a new addition to their services, that seemingly will decrease page load times of WordPress driven CMS websites, under many situations. This utilises their  Cloudflare WordPress Plugin.

The Popularity Of WordPress CMS

WordPress is an extremely popular CMS, powering NEARLY 40% of all websites (38.5% according to w3tech). However whilst extremely popular, the CMS (Content Management System) isn’t without it’s issues. One problem is that it’s popularity makes it a valuable target for hackers (more on this in up-coming news), however the 2nd major issue also has roots in the CMS’s popularity, namely the shear number of developers creating themes and plugins for the all-popular CMS.

With so many themes and plugins available, it’s easy for websites to accidentally run into page speed issues and, whilst a CDN with blazing-edge caching systems isn’t the only solution (it is advisable to remove plugin bloat and fix any shoddily-coded themes too!), CDNs like Cloudflare do improve page speed in most situations.

 


Thinkable eCom News Sub-Toptic: What Is a CDN

In case you’re wondering what a CDN is, take 5 to watch this short video by IBM


 

New Solutions – Not So Much, Just Newly Affordable!

The latest move by Cloudflare essentially gives access to technology for $5 per month, that would normally only be available on their much more expensive enterprise plans.

Cloudflare states that this can actually speed up WordPress websites, by a 72% speed increase of  Time to First Byte. In fact, WordPress.com hosting are partnering with the company (CLoudflare) to provide the new service for free to users. However for those NOT hosted on WordPress.com, those who opt to ‘self host’ WordPress (using a hosting provider of their choice) can now get access to this tech from $5 per month.

It’s likely that those hosted on shared hosting environments will see most benefit from the service, which uses APO (Automatic Platform Optimization). As well as having improved Time to First Byte (TTFB) by 72%, the ‘Largest Contentful Paint’ metric can by improved by 23%, it is said.

How Does It Work?

With APO, Cloudflare stores a static copy of the WordPress site and serves this up to visitors, rather than the visitor’s browser being delivered the actual site, from the actual host of the WordPress site. As well as avoiding an over reliance on the often slightly shoddy resources of a shared hosting environment, this also avoids excessive database lookups, which also slows things down.

In Cloudflare’s Words:

“By caching dynamic content, we can serve the entire website from our edge network. Think ‘static site’ but without any of the work of having to build or maintain a static site.

Customers can keep managing and updating content on their website in the same way and leave the hard work for performance to us.

Serving both static and dynamic content from our network results, generally, in no origin requests or origin processing time. This means all the communication occurs between the user’s device and our edge.”

In many situations, Cloudflare will caches the lot… from JavaScript and CSS, to images and even 3rd part fonts. Cloudflare actually bypasses their cache for’ authenticated content’.

Previously, this was a feature that was reserved for their much more expensive enterprise plans.

How Significant A Speed Increase Will Users See?

To ensure the benefits are there for users, Cloudflare actually tested their APO service on over 500 Cloudflare customer’s WordPress websites.

The results were impressive:

Metric
Percentiles
Baseline Cloudflare
APO Enabled
Improvement (%)
Time to First Byte (TTFB)
90th
1252 ms
351 ms
71.96%
10th
254 ms
261 ms
-2.76%
90th
2655 ms
2056 ms
22.55%
10th
894 ms
783 ms
12.46%
90th
6428
5586
13.11%
10th
1301
1242
4.52%

Industry Response

Industry experts are already responding to the news, largely the response has been positive:

However some have pointed out that much of this was already possibly using a 3rd party plugin:

How Much Does Cloudflare APO Cost?

As Mentioned Above, this will be FREE for websites hosted on WordPress.com, and is also available on Cloudflare’s free plans for $5 per month extra.

Official Statement

Introducing Automatic Platform Optimization, starting with WordPress

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