WordPress and the need for Speed
WordPress powers a staggering 60% of CMS websites on the internet and is one of the most successful internet publishing and eCommerce tools in existence today. It got that way because of a combination of factors.
A good name
The name WordPress was a perfect choice back in 2003 when the project started. It conveyed the ideals of the project to become a digital printing press for word on the internet, somewhat before its time. But that is one of the hallmarks of a successful internet brand being slightly before its time and with an excellent name and a great offering.
A good offering
WordPress has since the early days been easy to use while at the same time being expandable. It is not just easy for users with addons but also easier for developers with excellent documentation and examples, and the broad framework that exists for developers to build on. The addon ecosystem is in no small way responsible for WordPress’s growth.
A great community and business
The community around WordPress has been excellent. It has been well guided, and enough has been made free, while at the same time there has been room for premium products and services to make money.
While there are a host of other eCommerce offerings out there, that fact that you can set up your own eCommerce store for free using WordPress is just impressive. It has made selling even the simplest thing on the internet possible and easy and at the same time speeding up the adoption of eCommerce.
So WordPress is great, but it does have one downfall. It is slow. This is due to its reliance on a database that tends to be MySql and of course, a whole lot of PHP from addons that gets run every time a page is loaded.
Apart from the page content, WordPress tends to store a lot of configuration information in the database and reading this data out in the way it is stored all takes time.
The location of your hosting is also a key component in determining how fast it loads. If you host your website in Australia, but most of your clients are in England, then it’s not going to be so fast for them, and you need to think about where to be hosting your server.
Thankfully there are a few ways to alleviate the speed. The first is to get good hosting that has fast SSD drives, and if it is shared, hosting ensure they do not overload their servers. The second is to use the ability to cache pages, which bypasses a lot of the code and database queries for most requests and thus speeds it up. This gets to improve the first and one of the key metrics, the Time To First Byte (TTFB), which measures how long it takes from the time a person clicks a link to your site and the first byte of data starts arriving on their browser.
There are a host of other ways to speed things up, but that will be a subject of another blog article on another day.