What does everyone think of WordPress? To be honest, I love it… And I hate it. It’s my favorite CMS because it’s easy to install and if a server is configured correctly, it can withstand large amounts of traffic. When I was a WordPress newb, I was convinced the CMS was only made for smaller websites and couldn’t handle large volumes of traffic. Especially large volumes of traffic at once.
Well, I was wrong. There have been a lot of developments in the right direction but for the past couple of years I have used WordPress on a highly populated property (1 million unique visitors/month) and it never skips a beat. This didn’t happen out of the box, as my server had to be properly optimized to work with WordPress. Further, a lot of trial and error had to be done with my WordPress theme/plugins. Those are the wild cards.
At stock, WordPress can and will function on a popular website if the server is setup to handle it. But it’s the coding of the theme/plugin setup that will ultimately determine its success.
That leads me to what I hate about WordPress. Anything beyond stock, the coding for WordPress can get messy. However, to have a professional looking website through WordPress, it can’t look anything like it does out of the box. These edits are cosmetically nice but can cause serious problems under the hood.
I’ve had it all happen, even at one time removing MySQL in favor of MariaDB when it turned out, I had a bad WordPress theme that was causing the issue. In short, connections to the database weren’t closing, thus hanging, which resulted in a nasty server lag that went on for months.
So while WordPress is quick, easy and effective, it can be quite temperamental with any “out of the box” changes. The problem is, the changes aren’t only needed but essential if one is going to have a professional looking website operated on WordPress.
Here are some tips for those that want to use WordPress on a popular website:
1) Get a simple theme.
There are tons of places to buy themes but make sure you pick one from a reputable coder that is updated to function with the latest version of WordPress. Read reviews from other users and take any complaint as a red flag.
2) Use minimal plugins, install new ones slowly.
When I was a WordPress newb, I would look for plugins to enhance my website. The problem was, I would end up with a large amount of Plugins — some good and some bad. Really, really bad. As a result, my website would lag and I had no idea what was causing it. When this happens, the only way to fix it is the process of elimination (disabling plugins one at time and testing to see if the problem can be replicated.) To get around this, keep plugins to a minimum. You will be glad later.
3) Try to keep the edits at a minimum.
With WordPress, one doesn’t have to mess with a lot of code so don’t waste your time by manually editing a theme. I understand there are some edits that can only be done by manually editing, but keep in mind a design update will eliminate all of them. Obviously you backup the files but that won’t stop you from having to manually re-implement them. I’ve learned, less is more. The less you mess with the code, the less likely it is to give you problems.
In conclusion, WordPress can handle large volumes of traffic. I have a live example and it works great. However, I have a good design that is constantly updated with WordPress, I use a minimal number of plugins and I don’t get crazy by trying to be an HTML ninja.