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Is your WordPress site scalable enough to handle more visitors?

Despite the fact that WordPress is the most popular content management system on the planet, not every WordPress website is scalable or elastic. It doesn't even imply that most WordPress sites are prepared for traffic surges.


There are plenty of WordPress sites that can't manage their current peak traffic without slowing down or throwing problems, making it difficult or impossible for visitors to utilise your site.

Is your WordPress site scalable enough to handle more visitors?

This is especially concerning for ecommerce firms that rely on WordPress to generate sales and income in conjunction with shopping cart software such as BigCommerce or WooCommerce. It doesn't take a study to figure out that website owners want their sites to run well for all users.


WordPress as a Solution for Large-Scale Websites

WordPress powers over 27 million websites, including over 4,000 of the top 10,000 websites on the internet. According to Wappalyzer, WordPress controls 75% of the Content Management System (CMS) market. Drupal and Joomla are the closest competitors, with just 4% and 4% of the market share, respectively.


WordPress.org claims that its open-source software runs 35% of the web, ranging from small blogs to some of the world's most popular websites.


Their portfolio includes websites for magazines like as Rolling Stone and Vogue, as well as websites for businesses such as The Walt Disney Company.


Is WordPress a Scalable Platform?

There's no doubt that a WordPress website can expand to meet the demands of large-scale, high-traffic websites. That isn't to say that every WordPress website can guarantee 100 percent uptime during traffic spikes.


Rather of focusing on WordPress's core software as the be-all and end-all of scalability, it's more vital to concentrate on elements specific to your website, such as themes, plugins, and customizations, as well as appropriately scalable hosting.


Steps to Increasing WordPress's Scalability

WordPress is a versatile platform in and of itself. The sky's the limit if you eliminate any bottlenecks and provide your website with adequate hosting resources. When it comes to gearing up your WordPress instance for more traffic, these are the most typical areas to pay attention to.


1. Software best practices.

Your custom code can affect page loading and scalability in more ways than one. Your code should be "clean" and generally free from bugs and unnecessary bloat. Likewise, avoid dependencies on third-party services that won't scale - anything from a stock ticker to a live chat system not designed to handle massive increases in traffic.


In some cases, programs like NewRelic can be very useful for finding coding errors and issues that cause problems like suspended processes eating up your website resources.


2. Vertical scalability.

Sometimes your site simply needs more resources to handle the traffic. Hardware resources like CPU and RAM are essential to handle traffic spikes. Dedicated servers usually have enough processing power to handle slight spikes, but may not be optimally configured for continuous streams of traffic.


In the public cloud, it is possible to allocate additional resources to your server by adding more CPU cores and RAM, but this will require downtime as these resources cannot be added while the server is running.


3. Horizontal/flexible architecture.

In many cases, more CPU and RAM alone will not be enough to meet your needs. Your hosting server, whether it's a dedicated server or a cloud account, is going to suffocate. Instead, you'll need to use load balancing to spread your traffic across multiple web servers.


As with vertical scaling, professional hosts can help you with automatic scaling "horizontally" by rotating more web nodes as needed. This is often achieved on a public cloud, such as AWS.


4. Caching.

Within your WordPress site, a variety of elements need to work together to produce a complete web page. This includes your theme, text, images, and content. A Full Page Caching (FPC) solution saves fully generated web pages so that those elements are already assembled and ready to be transferred more efficiently to a web visitor's browser.


It is also possible to move session, object caching, and store data in RAM, which significantly reduces processing time, database calls, as well as API results.


5. Content Delivery Network.

Instead of loading all of your hosting resources from your single hosting account, you can use a content delivery network (CDN) like Cloudflare to distribute copies of files, such as images, over an "external network" of servers around the world.


As with other caching systems, this reduces the resources your hosting environment needs to serve your site. In addition, CDNs can offer a wide range of security, flexibility, and speed benefits.


6. Optimizing databases.

The content on your WordPress site is stored in a database. By making sure your database is well configured and optimized, you can reduce the chances of a weak link in the scalability chain linking to your database. The focus should be on hardware as well as software using a database such as MySQL or MariaDB with proper scaling and configuration.


7. Indexing search.

The site search feature built into WordPress can be an obstacle in some situations. As your site grows, you should consider another option, such as ElasticSearch.


8. Security.

As with other popular CMSs, WordPress security is a moving target. Your web host should deploy a web application firewall, intrusion detection, and malware scanning solutions for your site. However, it is important to ensure that these systems do not harm your scalability.


For example, if your malware scans are scheduled at peak traffic times, they may be using vital server resources at the worst possible time. A WordPress security audit can help you identify weaknesses and risks.


9. Available disk space.

Running out of CPU and RAM resources is temporary during high traffic and usually resolves itself, but running out of hard disk space is catastrophic and requires manual intervention. It is important that your host alerts you if you are running low on disk space. Without enough space to pool your cache or handle other essential server functions, your website can stall.


10. Integrals.

Does your website communicate with other external software and systems via APIs? Are you fetching data from other websites or servers via JavaScript or iFrames? Know that each integration presents another potential point of failure when it comes to scalability. It's important to choose integrations that you can rely on to be scalable and not get in the way of your site.


If you are running an e-commerce store with your WordPress site, you may be putting more load on WordPress than you need to. There are many great examples of WordPress + BigCommerce Headless Commerce sites, where WordPress is used for its powerful CMS capabilities, while BigCommerce provides a hosted e-commerce backend for managing product, customer, order, data, and other vital processes for managing an online store.


11. Server software.

Your web host should analyze your website and choose the right software such as NGINX or Percona DB. New versions of software like PHP work more efficiently than older versions, which helps with overall scalability, not to mention security. How everything is configured is equally important. Simply installing a program like PHP will not guarantee successful scalability. It takes an experienced hand and the right settings to avoid choking.


12. Hardware performance.

As with all computers, not all hardware is the same - and it's not just about size. For example, choosing a host that uses solid-state drives (SSDs) using TLC technology can lead to much better upload speeds and scalability than spinning disks or SSDs using QLC. While you may be able to get a cheap hosting solution on older hardware, it is best to look beyond the cost and focus on getting the right architecture for high performance.


13. Speed ​​optimization.

In general, the better your WordPress loading speed, the more compact, "minimize" and optimize your site will be. Your infrastructure should be able to serve more users more elegantly if it's not throttling with large files and otherwise poor code performance. You should also have a time to first byte (TTFB) of less than 200 milliseconds, which is easy to verify with a WordPress speed test.


Best practices for WordPress scalability

Now that you know what affects your site, these are the best practices that will traditionally have the most impact on WordPress scalability and resiliency.


1. Use the right hosting provider.

You may have noticed that more than half of the WordPress expansion steps mentioned above require optimizing your web hosting. Selecting the right WordPress hosting plan with a provider that specializes in WordPress scalability will greatly increase your chances of success. So does having a team involved in real-time monitoring of your hosting environment.


2. A lightweight WordPress theme.

If your WordPress theme is poorly coded, or full of unnecessary features and code, it can overburden your site and limit your ability to handle large amounts of web traffic. Consider cleaning up your theme code, or simply using a theme designed for page speed and scalability needs.


3. Simplified plugins.

Each plugin adds weight and risk to your store. When it comes to WordPress plugins, less is more. Choose plugins wisely, and if they are not really necessary, make sure to remove them. If you're running an e-commerce site, consider adding BigCommerce to your WordPress site, which will offload much of your e-commerce workload to your BigCommerce SaaS solution.


4. Pregnancy test.

As they say, the proof is in the candy.” You should run a WordPress load test to verify that your site is able to meet your specific expectations and traffic goals. Furthermore, you should retest from time to time, for example after making changes and updates to your site, or when You think you might be nearing a new traffic peak, like before Black Friday.


Conclusion

Your WordPress site will be as scalable as you make it. To scale WordPress, you must adhere to best practices when it comes to web development and web hosting, and you will need vendors that you can rely on.


You should never assume that because there are huge WordPress sites, or because your WordPress site is hosted in the cloud, your site can handle anything you throw at it.


Whether you're using WordPress as a blogging platform or to run a more complex website, you should test, tweak, and make sure your site is truly scalable - and rely on teams you can trust to support you!

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