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Top tips for scaling using WordPress

Guide
by James Holloway Agency Partnership Director

The Potential

Running 32% of the internet, WordPress is the most popular open-source web development platform. Around 19 million sites across the entire web use WordPress, and over 45000 plugins make it an extremely versatile tool.

WordPress is highly customisable, and can be used by bloggers using an in-built theme, or to produce a complex website with capacity to handle a global brand with millions of page views per month.

Is WordPress scalable? Certainly, but it is important to take some measures in order to implement it successfully.

The Challenges

When building a large-scale website, you need to consider how to handle the huge volumes of traffic. Whether it is an ecommerce website, a brochure website, or a membership website. Issues with scalability typically occur due to:

  • Inadequate caching
  • Handling large media assets
  • Using too many heavy plugins
  • Loading a large amount of scripts/styles across the site.

Here are some of our top tips to scale successfully…

Take-Home Tips

1. Cache correctly

Caching is the storage of data into a temporary memory store in order to improve and decrease loading times when that same data is requested in future. The original server of a web page might struggle to handle the number of requests for data if each visit acted as a new request. Caching allows the browser of return visitors to get the files from the store and remove some of the burden placed on the network. The importance of good caching only increases with the amount of traffic you are going to be handling. There are a number of plugins available to help with this but for large-scale sites, reverse proxies can be better. These act as a static cache of data serving stored data to users without the need to query the WordPress database.

2. Don’t forget your media

If you have a large amount of media on your website it would be wise to use a content delivery network to speed up delivery and improve the user experience. These work similarly to reverse proxies in that they store and distribute media independently from WordPress.

3. Consider scaling horizontally

Elastic Architecture – Consider building your website with a flexible server base to cope with high traffic demands. This way, you can use additional servers when traffic increases to avoid server overload, balancing the load and reduce response times.

4. Don’t use too many heavy or incompatible plugins

Features such as visual builders, sliders, multilingual plugins all offer clear benefits ranging from enabling non-technical professionals to create visually engaging and dynamic content, to allowing website owners to create content in several different languages in order to serve global audiences. However, these can cause pain points, affecting load times, producing security vulnerabilities, or even breaking your page. These issues can be addressed by doing your research and only picking plugins that will compliment your website goals and not hinder them. Also ensure that your plugins are compatible as it is possible for multiple plugins to be actively competing for the same hook and interfere with how WordPress behaves. Whenever you add something new or update a plugin, test them carefully before pushing live.

 

The Takeaway…

WordPress is an extremely versatile platform powering websites that range from blogs to ecommerce to portfolios. It isn’t just a software, it is a powerful application framework that can be used to address various business challenges and requirements.

Provided you have the right infrastructure and resources, WordPress can be used to build large scale websites serving hundreds of thousands of users and millions of page views.

Just take a look at some of the incredible sites that have been built in WordPress here