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Will my website be faster on Craft 3?

If your site is running Craft CMS you may have seen within the news section of your dashboard (if visible) upon logging in that an article called Craft 3 RC has been sat there since 5th December 2017. If you follow this link you can read that the Craft 3 GA will be on 4th April 2018. So what does this all mean for you?

You are likely to be running a Craft 2 site currently and whilst this is fine for the foreseeable future, the team behind Craft have been busy creating a new version which has some exciting new features. To explain the opening paragraph, an RC is a release candidate, which means that it's not quite ready yet but it's available for developers like us to have a play with. A few bugs will inevitably exist but most of these shall be fixed between now and 4th April when Craft 3 is officially released, this is otherwise known as the GA.

Craft 3 Speed Improvements

Craft 3 Speed Improvements

If your website is running a CMS that isn’t Craft, then we would recommend looking at it and weighing up the value in making the switch. We realise though that it's not always the best approach to change your content management system, so if you would like to contact us for more information then please get in touch. We are development partners of Craft and have come from an ExpressionEngine background where we were also part of their pro network, so it's fair to say that we know the two quite well by now.

You may be wondering, what is changing in Craft 3 and is it worth upgrading? A lot of the changes are focussed around the framework that Craft is built on top of, so you are unlikely to notice any major differences to the backend when the upgrade has been performed. However, due to these framework changes we have seen big improvements in loading times across our site. You can see on the website for Craft 3 that under the “Faster in every way” heading (also see image above) that they have reduced the TTFB, Query Speed, and Memory by a substantial amount.

You may have seen that we have been talking about speed a lot recently in our articles (pagespeed optimisation, lazy loading, the impact of google tag manager, image optimisation) and Craft 3 is the latest tool we can use in our optimisations. After the results we've seen, we feel that it's definitely an upgrade that you should be considering.

COOK increased conversion rate by 7% after cutting average page load time by 0.85 seconds. Bounce rate also fell by 7% and pages per session increased by 10%.

WPO Stats

We've set up a testing environment on the same server and our sites homepage has seen the TTFB (Time To First Byte) decrease from 828ms on Craft 2, down to 159ms on Craft 3. This means that we have cut the TTFB by 0.66 seconds just from upgrading our CMS without making any other changes. This is more impressive to those that are aware that TTFB is just a small part of the overall pagespeed as it's often an area that we don’t have much control over. The time to first byte is largely dependent upon the servers php version and other third party frameworks we are using e.g. Craft CMS.

We know that to some readers, 0.66 seconds might not seem like a large amount, but consider the impact pagespeed has on a sites conversion rates, bounce rates, and pages per session. These can be seen in the quotes included in this article, and they all show that a reduction of this size can actually result in a huge boost to your website.

The Trainline reduced latency by 0.3 seconds across their funnel and customers spent an extra £8 million (~$11.5 million) a year.

WPO Stats

When taking into account the quotes which we've included, our decrease of 0.66 seconds suddenly carries more weight to its importance. Our reduction is double the saving that The Trainline achieved and just short of the amount that COOK cut from their average page load times.

The best part of this though is that our savings are completely done during our pages initial TTFB. This means that we are reducing the time between the start of the page load and when the first byte is received by the browser. We still have the rest of the loading to do after this point which can be further optimised.

Each individual request has a TTFB when the connection to that resource is made, so by decreasing this figure we are actually going to see a much larger saving on our total page load time. We are effectively reducing the TTFB for all of the resources hosted on our domains.

Financial Times added a one second delay to every page view and saw a 4.9% drop in the number of articles users read over a 7 day window. A two-second delay resulted in a 4.4% drop, and a three second delay saw a 7.2% drop. After twenty-eight days the two and three second variants both resulted in further drops in engagement

WPO Stats

Most pagespeed stats are typically measured from the start of the page loading process up until the very end. This means that the TTFB may not have been affected by the optimisations made by The Trainline or COOK if they focussed on areas such as image optimisation or criticalcss.

By measuring in the same way that our example sources have (from the start of the page loading process to the very end of it) we are currently seeing that our sites homepage fell from 3.183 seconds load time to just 1.44 seconds. This amounts to a total saving of 1.743 seconds.

This is now much higher than the savings that we have seen reported in our previous examples about COOK and The Trainline. When you consider the work that the Financial Times have done around pagespeeds we can also expect to see a similar trend on our site.

Comparison of Load Times

Comparison of load times between Craft 2 and Craft 3

Although you may not see a huge deal of changes in the backend of Craft, the pagespeed improvements achieved from updating the framework should have a positive impact on your site. You should see improvements in conversion rates, bounce rates, and pages per session.

By keeping your website up to date with the latest releases, you'll be protected from any security vulnerabilities that might be discovered. If this happens, then the latest version will be fixed as quickly as possible. Whilst Craft 2 will still receive support and updates for a period of time, this will eventually be stopped in the same way that Microsoft no longer support some of their older operating systems.

We want the websites we build to not only be fast, but also give you a platform that is easy to use and gets the results your business desires. We keep an eye on a range of technologies and frameworks so that we can make an informed choice upon which tools we use. We do this so that we can build you a site that we can be proud of whilst ensuring that it will enable you to meet your objectives. If you want to move your website onto Craft 3, or just want further information, then please contact us for a chat.

Matt profile

Matt develops custom plugins for Craft CMS to extend the core functionality. He also focusses on pagespeed improvements and server environments.

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