Do Shortcodes slow down WordPress

In WordPress, specific code snippets help users change the performance of WordPress backend, front-end interface, or website’s functionality.

WordPress interprets such code snippets in a specific manner – without needing users learn how to code or program certain aspects of WordPress infrastructure.

In WordPress, the particular code snippets we addressed are called Shortcodes. In this article, along with shortcodes’ basics, you’ll learn about shortcodes’ speed impacts on a WordPress website.

Introduction to Shortcodes in WordPress

Shortcodes are code Tags in WordPress content, helping users change the WordPress front-end display. For example, WordPress can quickly display a custom layout with a shortcode.

WordPress, by default, interprets shortcodes in WordPress content – pages and posts. Shortcodes are small code snippets, such as [ box ], enclosed in brackets.

Do Shortcodes slow down WordPress?

Shortcodes’ influence on WordPress speed depends on certain aspects – including site cache, shortcodes’ source code, and the number of HTTP requests.

Let’s address more details about speed measures of WordPress shortcodes.

WordPress Cache

According to experts – the speed influence of shortcodes depends on various factors in WordPress.

For example, shortcodes do not influence WordPress page speed if a WordPress site is configured with proper caching. However, speed issues of Shortcodes also depend on what shortcodes and plugins do in WordPress.

Also – the speed influence of shortcodes also depends on the page-level cache in WordPress. The front-end result of a shortcode is rendered only after the calls of shortcodes are correctly executed on the server.

In this case – shortcodes may slow down page speed if the page hasn’t been cached. However, once the page using shortcodes has been cached, using shortcodes has no significant effect on WordPress speed.

Using different plugins for WordPress cache also matters. A poorly-coded plugin for cache may do more harm than improving page speed with the cache.

Poor codes and simple Function Calls

Developers believe – shortcodes make WordPress run simple function calls – thus don’t affect WordPress speed performance. However, as discussed above, executing poor code with shortcodes may affect WordPress page speed.

In this case, you can also choose manual source codes and achieve performance similar to Shortcodes. However, if you need more WordPress and HTML knowledge, you can hire developers for custom source codes in WordPress.

Sometimes, you can also use a page builder in WordPress to help you achieve custom layouts. In this case, there is a slight difference between the speed measures of page builders and shortcodes.

Number of Shortcodes in a WordPress page or post

Depending on the number of shortcodes used on a page, Shortcodes may affect page speed performance. More shortcodes on a page can slow down page speed performance in WordPress.

For beginners, using a few shortcodes in WordPress content keeps up WordPress speed. For example, using Shortcodes Ultimate – one of the best plugins for WordPress shortcodes, doesn’t slow down page speed in WordPress, if using lots of shortcodes in WordPress is not the only option left for you.

Web Design Rules

According to web design standards – “anything you add to a page slows down the speed with excessive server resources and function calls”. Although a shortcode may affect the speed in milliseconds, the effects of poor code can also harm WordPress speed.

Similarly, you can run page speed experiments if you need to use a WordPress plugin for shortcodes. In this case, if choosing a plugin for shortcodes is undeniable, the page speed insights will help – if you can continue with a specific candidate.

Database Queries

Experts also believe – Shortcodes don’t affect a WordPress page speed if you’re not using shortcodes with lots of database queries.

Here – there are two cases.

A shortcode may fetch and display database data – internally. In this case, the page speed insights may slightly increase for pages with shortcodes.

On the other hand – if a shortcode plugin in WordPress communicates with external apps, fetches and shows data with API calls – the page speed insights, in this case, may seriously damage WordPress page speed.

Plain HTML vs. Shortcodes

If you can achieve similar results with plain HTML, don’t use shortcodes in WordPress pages and posts.

Here – web browsers parse plain HTML better than shortcodes – and positively affect page speed in WordPress.

For example, including a global layout with a shortcode is a bad idea if you can code HTML for a similar front-end layout.

Shortcodes plugins in WordPress

In WordPress – specific plugins help you use shortcodes in WordPress pages and posts.

If coded with poor design, source coding, and function calls, plugins in WordPress can slow down page speed.

For example – you can use the Shortcodes Ultimate plugin for WordPress shortcodes. After running an experiment with the said plugin – we noticed – adding a few shortcodes to WordPress content slightly increases page speed measures, not noticeable in most cases.

Shortcodes integration with 3rd party Apps

If a shortcode runs calls with external API, effects on WordPress page speed are apparent.

In this case, we can assume – there are two shortcodes’ categories in WordPress – internal and external.

If a shortcode addresses internal infrastructure, such as database queries, it may not affect page speed. However, integrating a shortcode with external apps affects site speed in WordPress.

In this case, what a shortcode does in WordPress matters regarding page speed in WordPress.

Effects of Shortcodes on WordPress page speed (Experiment)

In WordPress, we created two pages with slightly different content.

The first page includes plain text, while the other contains four shortcodes and text.

The GT Metrix stats show – the page with shortcodes slightly slows down page speed in WordPress. Although the difference is slight, we can assume that shortcodes affect WordPress page speed, as shown in the screenshot below.

Do Shortcodes slow down WordPress

You can see – the structure and LCP stats are increased for the page with shortcodes.

There is another case – too.

A web host can also have effects on page speed performance in WordPress. Here – there is a difference between WordPress sites with different speed measures.

For example – a WordPress site with speed optimization does not affect performance, while a poorly-coded WordPress theme can also slow down WordPress, even if the shortcodes are not the real culprits.

Final Thoughts

As discussed above – the relationship between shortcodes and WordPress page speed involves different factors.

However – most users don’t need shortcodes if they don’t add value to WordPress front-end interface. Also – using a few shortcodes in WordPress doesn’t affect page speed, as shown in the screenshot above.

In most cases, the difference is only noticeable in WordPress once a plugin starts conflicting with the plugin used for Shortcodes. The source code of a plugin used for shortcodes, database queries, and front-end results also matter when measuring page speed in WordPress.

Contact us for more information on using shortcodes in WordPress, page speed issues, and performance improvements for WordPress websites.

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