can Jetpack kill all optimization plugins?

One of the emerging markets in the world of WordPress plugins is optimization, caching and other WPO-related utilities.

Especially since the release of Google’s Core Web Vitals, more and more plugins are offering different strategies to optimize the loading of websites created with WordPress, usually mainly by…

  • Delivering static content through caching systems.
  • Minimization of all types of code (CSS, JS).
  • Lazy loading of images and videos.
  • Defer loading of JavaScript.
  • Creation of the critical CSS for the first painting of the page (LCP of the Core Web Vitals).

In addition, some additional strategies are…

  • Use of new generation image formats (WebP).
  • Serving content from a CDN.

Most WordPress optimization plugins, such as SG Optimizer or WP-Rocket, attack all or most of these strategies, and even WordPress has recently incorporated deferred loading of images and iframes but Jetpack, until now, only offered deferred loading of images among its features, and their own CDN, not recommended.

But things look set to change, or so it seems, if the development of the Jetpack Boost plugin, currently in alpha phase, is successful.

Jetpack Boost

Jetpack Boost is, initially, a plugin that incorporates 3 of the most important optimizations for WordPress:

  • Critical CSS generation.
  • Defer JavaScript loading.
  • Deferred loading of images.

The plugin, although not recommended for live sites, can be installed, activated and tested from your WordPress plugin installer.

Jetpack boost plugin

Once active it encourages you to start its configuration.

Jet pack boost setup

Something you can also launch from the new Jetpack Boost settings page.

Jetpack boost first steps

If you start the process, the first thing you will be asked to do is to log in with a WordPress.com account, as with any Automattic product.

After which the actual process begins, the first step of which is to calculate your site’s score, both on mobile and desktop, presumably with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Jetpack boost calculating web scores

Process after which it shows you a result, which in none of my tests has ever matched the PageSpeed Insights score, but hey, at least it’s a reference.

Jetpack boost calculated scores

After seeing the “before” results, it is quite obvious that you have 3 boxes of elements to optimize, you simply select them and they are activated instantly, except for the critical CSS, which has to be generated for all your pages, and it will take more or less time depending on the amount of content you have.

Jetpack boost optimizations

At the end of the process, it makes sense to reload the score to check for improvements.

But the difference is not going to be very big, as there is still a lot of challenge ahead to optimize, which the Jetpack Boost plugin does not offer, at least for the time being.

Moreover, if you check the results directly in Google PageSpeed Insights, the results do not improve much or as much as with other plugins, sometimes they even get worse.

Here is the before…

And here is the after Jetpack Boost…

In fact, Jetpack Boost’s deferred loading is less efficient than native WordPress, and critical CSS is not generated correctly.

Will it be integrated with Jetpack?

While it makes sense that in future versions of Jetpack we will see Jetpack Boost tools included in Jetpack’s performance settings, it doesn’t yet.

By activating Jetpack while Boost is active, the only thing that is integrated is the connected WordPress.com account, which doesn’t ask for the connection again, but they work as two separate plugins (yet).

What’s more, you can activate the features of both deferred loading, and curiously the tool for this optimization included in Jetpack does work correctly, PageSpeed Insights recognizes the optimization and so reflects it in its results, but neither improves the default WordPress optimization, not even activating Jetpack’s CDN.

Are the current optimization plugins still worthwhile compared to Jetpack Boost?

The question is clear: Is Jetpack Boost an interesting, useful plugin? Possibly in the future. Is it competition of the current existing optimization plugins? No, at least not at the moment.

Jetpack Boost has to improve a lot to be able to compete with any current optimization plugin like WP Rocket, Autoptimize or others.

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