How slow was my Wordpress?

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Posted by Michael Grover on Nov 07, 2022
I get approached somewhat regularly by clients who want to do a site and immediately start talking about Wordpress. There is so much more to consider for a site than the CMS. The CMS is literally the back-end of the decision.

Jumping to what CMS to use is kind of like this: I have an idea for a sneaker and I want to use a particular factory to create them. erg--no.

Don't get me wrong. Wordpress is an amazing system that does a LOT of things right. Like a lot of software, Wordpress builds the aura that it's super-simple to create a site. But to paraphrase Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement, it depends on the site.

Sure, you can bang out a Wordpress site relatively easily. But if you're doing a professional site that you want to be able to manage easily, that you want to ability to scale, and you want people to easily access, you're going to have to do some custom planning and integrations. And you might have to do so many integrations that it's just not worth constricting yourself to a particular platform.

Out of the box, Wordpress can be super-complicated for almost no reason whatsoever. Posting an article can be a game of wack-a-mole with a bunch of form fields, some of which you use and some of which you don't.

And, worse, if the hosting isn't just right, it can be sloooooowwwwwww. An attempt to do my own blog in Wordpress met with utter disaster. Simple text-only pages were taking 11 seconds to load. Now, I'm probably a bit more patient than the ordinary user and I wanted to throw my computer across the room.

Based on what was important to me about this blog, I chose an alternative path and now have stories loading in 16 milliseconds. (Speed is important to me.) Even allowing for a bias accounting for my use of an IIS server, there is really no reason a Wordpress page should take so much longer.

This might look like a joke but it's not. This is a graph showing the relative speed between my out-of-the-box Wordpress install and the solution I ended up using.

I spent an inordinate amount of time researching the problem. No big surprise, there were a bunch of plug-ins promising to fix it all. But none of them had any effect whatsoever. I wondered why the Wordpress Plug-ins site would say that these plugins had so many users because they were all at-best ineffective. The worst one had a hand in knocking my entire site offline for 48 hours. (It wasn't exactly the plug-ins fault. It was my fault for taking its recommendation that I move to a CDN, a perfect example of why plug-ins should be the last resort, not the first.)

Then there's this bizarre perspective that Wordpress developers have to add plug-ins for everything. What's particularly ironic about this plug-in fetish is that, in my research to figure out why my Wordpress was so slow, the main advice people gave was to reduce the number of plug-ins. (For the record, I was using the most basic install possible.)

Remember the immortal words of Albert Einstein: "Make everything as simple as possible and no simpler."

About Me

I've managed the intricate details of web sites large and small. As a former marketer, a unique characteristic that you will find with me is that I manage websites with a sensibility that always looks to support and bolster a site's mission. I have experience with most major platforms, frameworks, and software so, no matter how your site is constructed, I am likely to hit the ground running to help improve performance and make it the site you've always wanted.

Contact Me

Michael Grover | | 617-435-1340

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