Rocket Loader rocks! (finally)

Since 2011 CloudFlare, even on their free tier, has offered a very promising, very frustrating feature called Rocket Loader. Rocket Loader promises to greatly accelerate the loading of JavaScript, turbocharging JavaScript-heavy sites like those that use WP.

Rocket Loader rocks

At the beginning, Rocket Loader was labeled ‘beta’ – meaning buggy – and gained an unfortunate reputation for causing wonky behavior, especially with WP sites. In my case Rocket Loader broke the sliders on my WP sites. So, I patiently waited for the bugs to be eradicated and the ‘beta’ moniker to be banished. The years crawled by. 2012 – still beta, still wonky. 2013 to almost half way through 2018 – still beta, still wonky. I had almost given up. I don’t mean to unduly criticize the good people at CloudFlare – they provide a truly awesome service of which I take full advantage of the free tier.  I benefit tremendously and they make not a penny from me. I owe them immense gratitude and they owe me absolutely nothing. Still, I was selfishly irritated waiting years for Rocket Loader to finally work right.

My irritation ended today. Rocket Loader graduated from beta and entered prime time on June 1, 2018 – but I just noticed today. In my admittedly so-far brief testing it works perfectly – it no longer breaks my sliders. And it significantly speeds up my sites. Using my favorite website speed test – GiftOfSpeed.com – on this site before Rocket Loader:

Load time 1.5 seconds, faster than 90% of tested sites. Pretty good. Maybe I don’t need Rocket Loader after all.

With Rocket Loader:

Wow! All metrics are improved. Load is time less than half, at 580 milliseconds – faster than 95% of tested sites. Rocket Loader rocks! Very much worth the wait.

Death to Sliders?

 

Death to WP slider plugins? I find a lot of support for the sentiment among WP experts:

The slider detractors’ arguments include:

  • Sliders can be slow loading, degrading my site speed
  • Sliders used to cram a bunch of content into a small space degrade my SEO
  • Sliders used to rotate ads are just annoying
  • Sliders have a poor click-through rate
  • Sliders are so last week. All the trendy sites have moved on to the next groovy new design fad

OK, but slider detractors get it only partly right. Sliders, like any design element, can be misused. If I misuse any design element I should not be surprised that I get poor results. But the blame is on me, not on the design element. I should not use a slider to cram in rotating content, or to bombard my users with multiple ads, or in some misguided attempt at generating click-throughs or being trendy.

For design dolts like me, a slider can add visual interest to an otherwise dull page. Also, people with way more creativity than me use sliders very effectively, for example a slide show of an artist’s portfolio. A well coded slider, like the popular free Meta Slider, has minimal impact on page load time.