Server page compiling delay

Hi all,

Just started out on Webflow and looking to migrate our business site over from WordPress.

I was doing some performance testing and noticed something with the hosted pages.

Whenever you publish the site, the load time of every page after is significantly slower than subsequent requests to the page, presumably because it is compiling the page, then future calls are cached on the server.

For example, you can see below that the first visit to a page took over a second, then requests after are a lot faster.

This isn’t browser caching, this is happening on the server.

To give you another example, I did a Lighthouse check on a page that has already been loaded. As you’d expect the result is great and everything is reasonably fast:

I then made a tiny text change and republished the site, then did the same Lighthouse test on the same page, but this time letting it hit the page fresh right after a publish. You can see from the result that it’s not as good, and the reason is “Reduce initial server response time”:

This doesn’t only happen post publishing, if the page hasn’t been visited in a while, then it also causes this “recompiling” delay.

The main cause for concern is the fact that search engines are the ones that are likely to be crawling your site and hitting pages for the first time before your visitors in most cases, and if they’re seeing the page load time is poor then this could affect rankings. It’s also not a great user experience having a delay, albeit only initially.

Just to mention, if you have a Webflow site, you can do the exact same test, although your page load times might differ significantly, for example, the initial load time might be 100ms, but then subsequent calls might be 15ms. In this case, it probably doesn’t make much difference for you, but for us it seems to take over a second.

What is everyone else’s thoughts on this? Has anyone experienced this and found workarounds?

@akibro - The standard and CMS pages are generated on publish and served with a varnish cache. The only thing that would be different on one page to the next is any actual content you included and any scripts you add.

Hi Jeff,

If you’re saying that a publish essentially generates a static version of all pages including dynamic ones, then it must be something else causing the delay, such as network latency to pull the page into cache (server side) before serving.

The fact the server takes 1 second to load is really not great for SEO purposes since Google is likely to be the first one to hit these pages on a daily basis as it crawls through the site, and may penalise us for that slowness.

It would be great to get an understanding of what is the actual delay, and if it’s possible at all to prevent this.


@akibro - It would be helpful if you could share a published URL to the page, so inspection in a browser is possible. I provide consulting on performance tuning and will take a look if you do.

Here is an example page:

If you append a unique quersytring at the end, you can replicate the issue.

For example:

Yeah unique test was taking between 700-1000ms. On “test5”, I repeatedly refreshed the page which shows an initial load time of 793ms but then 12-27ms for subsequent pages.

I get that this is some sort of cache loading issue, but the fact it’s taking almost a second seems excessive, so perhaps it’s something on our setup that is causing this server side rendering slowness.


Your site has 404 errors. Check your console and fix the errors, then retest.


I appreciate your help, but I think you’re missing my main point. I’m not concerned about the load time for the client, I’m referring to the server side load of the initial document.

The client-side errors do not happen on our main domain where the site loads (About accessible surveys at SmartSurvey | SmartSurvey), but regardless, it’s not related to the issue I’m talking about.


FYI: Webflow’s acceptable use policy prohibits performance testing so that you know.

Testing your connection to the distributed infrastructure will only show results related to your node. Many factors can influence your load time. I am usually more interested in how the actual visitors’ experience is. Page Speed Insights offers just that. Since I can’t load test (TOS violation), I would go by the fact that Webflow serves millions of page views quickly as evidenced by a dev tool inspection. You may want to review the architectural aspects of Webflow as published by them if you haven’t. You can then determine if it meets your requirements or not.

I can often get better performance on my deployments off Webflow, but then I control the tech stack and what is loaded.

Webflow References:

Have a great [morning, day, night].

Very helpful, thanks Jeff!