Minification is an easy way to reduce the size of HTML, CSS and JS code. You can do it manually or use the WordPress minify plugins.
In June 2021, Google ranked Core Web Vitals as important performance metrics.
Fast Velocity Minify (FVM) is a free minify plugin that does the job as required. Test results show the significance of minification on page load times and web vitals.
To test the efficiency of the Fast Velocity Minify plugin, we did a small case study. Speed Metrics and Core Web Vitals were our important parameters. We took a small test page and used 3-page speed testing tools.
Table of Contents
What is the Fast Velocity Minify plugin?
It is a simple wordpress minification plugin that reduces the size of code. A web page contains HTML, CSS and JS mainly. But there are a lot of blank spaces, unnecessary characters, symbols.
What are Minification and Benefits
It is a small optimization strategy of removing all the unnecessary characters from the code. WordPress posts contain HTML, CSS, JS and many other files. WordPress code is in a readable manner based upon core files and script codes.
It adds white space, line breaks and redundant items. WordPress Minify plugins remove worthless items and make the posts code less in size. The original content of the site will be the same.
It is mainly useful for stylesheets, scripts, blank space and other website elements. The benefits are –
- Reduction in Page Load Times – Since the code is clubbed together, removing the unnecessary elements, the page tends to load a little faster. But the optimization is very small. The load times reduce a bit, but not too much.
- Make the code Unreadable – The minified code is joined together as one big line. It makes reading the source code more difficult. Though there are different tools to decipher, it obscures the code from the average user.
Core Web Vitals
It relates to user experience and page speed performance. These are a set of specific parameters that Google thinks will help the page be user-friendly. Based on field data Google and other third-party tools provide these metrics to measure Core Web Vitals.
At present, the largest contentful paint (LCP), first input delay (FID), cumulative layout shift (CLS) are considered the core web vitals. If these are within limits, then it indicates a good user experience score.
In 2021, Search Console also displays this data if the site is large enough. Otherwise, you can use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to find this data.
The site had 446 posts. It was using the GeneratePress theme and premium plugin. There were 27 active plugins. It included plugins like Ad Inserter Pro, AMP, Imagify, Inline Related Posts, Redirection, Stop Spammers, Ultimate Blocks, Yoast SEO and many others.
We needed them for additional functionality. Some of the plugins took more server resources, and others were less intensive.
It was hosted on Dreamhost’s DreamPress plan. As part of the plan, Varnish cache was enabled. We installed Cloudflare free plan.
Enabled no minification settings in Cloudflare. We enabled only Rocket Loader and Brotli compression.
The server location was in the US.
Mobile redirection done to AMP pages. They were active on this site.
The database size was around 90MB. It bloated the wp_options table at 38MB. The autoload data was around 950KB. It was a medium site without any special optimization done.
Also Read – GeneratePress Review – Improve Load Time by 385%
We enabled Adsense ads through the Ad Inserter Pro plugin. Each post had around 5 display ads. Video ads were also active.
Page Speed Tools Used
A sample post from the site was tested using the following tools.
- PageSpeed Insights
The scores and page load times are dependent on different factors. Some people consider A grades and 100% scores as perfect ranking signals. But even low score sites can rank well in Google and Bing.
In 2021, the main emphasis is on user experience. Core Web Vitals are only one indication of this.
FVM – Effect of WordPress Minify on Core Web Vitals – GTMetrix Test
The web vitals given by this tool are LCP, TBT (total blocking time) and CLS. After 2 to 3 iterations with the above set up for the post and site, the following are the results for the desktop (non-amp) page.
The test server location was San Antonio, TX, USA and Chrome browser. We used Lighthouse 7.4.0 in the test.
Desktop Page – Core Web Vitals
LCP is 8.6s, TBT is 344ms and CLS is 0.32. The total load time was 26.6s. The time to first byte (TTFB) is 179 ms. There were 257 requests, and the page size was 3.8MB. The more important resources that took the major share of page load time were Adsense and Video ads.
Minification of CSS was quick enough in the range of 25ms to 40ms. JS minify also took less time between 70ms to 100ms. The majority of the CSS, JS resources that took time were from ads.
The main recommendations of the tool were –
- Use a content delivery network (CDN).
- Serve static assets with an efficient caching policy.
The core web vitals after using the AMP plugin were very good. LCP was 884ms, TBT was 75ms, and CLS was 0. The total page size was 937KB. The number of page requests was only 66.
TTFB was only 185ms. The total load time was only 3.65s. One of the main reasons for such good scores was that the video ad code was not loading much JS. The script code of video ads was different for AMP pages.
Special JS tags needed to be added to the header tag. Even for the Adsense plugin, another meta tag was required. But still, the core web vitals performed well.
FVM did not have much say in the AMP test results. It is because most of the caching were done by AMP. Only font files appeared as CSS scripts. Most of the JS code was related to AMP.
FVM – PageSpeed Insights Test Results
Google’s tool web vitals are different from third-party tools. The main core web vitals of FID, LCP and CLS can be seen in this test. It automatically gives the results for AMP and non-AMP pages.
Mobile Pages (AMP)
FID was 25ms, LCP was 3.1s, and CLS was 0. Based on the server location, browser used, and bandwidth, the results vary. That is the reason why all the 3 testing tools differ in test results.
Opportunities were –
- Reduce initial server response time – 0.52s
Lab data shows LCP as 10.5s and CLS as 0.238. Both the web vitals were in the red score. The main reason is display and video ads. As we have seen in the waterfall model, the ads were causing many JS resources, which took much time.
Desktop pages (non-AMP)
The core web vitals: FID was 3ms, LCP was 3.7s, and CLS was 0.14. This test indicates a 28 day collection period of aggregate experience of all the pages served from a particular origin.
The lab data for this page was LCP = 0.8s, CLS = 0.339. LCP was within limits, but CLS out of proportion.
As we can see, the desktop pages had better core web vitals compared to AMP pages. The scores were also better on the desktop page.
FVM – WebPageTest Results – Core Web Vitals
We tested the desktop version of the post. The test server was in Virginia, USA, and the test browser was Chrome. This test outputs different metrics like – security score, first-byte time, keep-alive enabled, compress transfer, compress images, static cache content, effective use of CDN.
The WebPageTest tool has changed a lot in 2021. There is a separate tab of Web Vitals. The Summary tab shows the web vitals score as follows.
Largest Contentful Paint = 10.375s
Cumulative Layout Shift = 0.309
Total Blocking Time = 1.223 s
The performance metrics were all green with A scores. Only security and cache static content did not fulfil the conditions as per the test. The fully loaded time was 18.237s.
Not much attention is needed to the page load time test. As the video ad player continues to play, JS related to those ads are also calculated under the waterfall view. It shows a wrong picture of the actual loading time.
The first byte was 0.330s, which was quick enough to load. Since the video image was the largest element, the LCP score was very high. I also disabled the ad-blocker, which results in high results.
FVM was successfully able to minify much of CSS style sheets and JS. They loaded quickly within the 2s range. It shows that the FVM plugin does its job of minification.
WebPageTest – AMP Test Results with FVM
In this test also, the web vitals were good on AMP pages. The LCP was 1.062s, CLS was 0.003, and TBT was 0.125s. All the indicators were green.
Most of the WebPageTest metrics were green. The cache static content also improved from red to yellow. (F to C). There were 52 requests. It was related to mostly AMP script codes. The number of requests was mainly image, font and AMP CDN files.
In this test also, the video ads were not taking much time or resources. It may be because of cdn.ampproject.org caching.
Most of the content was JS, fonts and html. Though the video ad code was 314KB size, the user experience was good.
FVM does what it says. It is one of the best WordPress Minify plugins for desktop and mobile pages. But if you are using AMP pages, the test results show that it has no influence.
It is because of a reason. Minification and Caching are two different things. FVM does the job of removing the blank space and futile characters like breaks, empty spaces. It involves the optimization of existing code.
But caching plugins save the whole resources in their network and serve the client when needed. Since the Google network caches AMP pages, they give better Core Web Vitals scores.