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WordPress for High Load Websites?


Today we will talk about high load websites: especially about high load start-up planning with WordPress CMS (Content Management System). Questions that I plan to cover in this article are the following:

  • Can WordPress be used for high load websites or not?
  • What are pros and cons for choosing WordPress?
  • What are the potential problems that I will likely face when my traffic hit the ceiling?

Can WordPress be used for high load websites or not?

Currently WordPress is the most popular free content management system available on the Internet. As states there are 4,488,777 websites using WordPress. 317,253 websites are within the most visited sites on the Internet.

If you look at the statistics carefully you will find that business and entertainment websites have the biggest share. This means that there are lots of successful websites running on WordPress and for sure huge part of them have high traffic and high load.

Most amazing example for me is CNN Political Ticker. But there are more.

So the answer to the first question is pretty clear. Yes, WordPress can be used for building high load websites!

What are pros and cons for choosing WordPress?

…advantages and bottlenecks of this decision

Pros. It’s free! It’s easy customizable, and there are armies of freelance WordPress programmers that will help you in customizing or adding a new feature to your website.

It has very big community that performs bug tracking and periodically updates the core of WordPress, which is again free and you can update your website core free of charge.

There are plenty of free and non-free plug-ins written for WordPress. The most important plug-in for non-English websites I assume is a multilingual plug-in. I’ve personally faced this problem many times with other CMS systems. Currently none of the free CMS systems have good and stable multilingual support except for WordPress. Plug-in is called WPML. I personally bought this plug-in for two of my clients that asked for a multilingual website.

To say the truth, this was the only determining factor, for me to choose WordPress for these websites. Because I wanted something lite and stable. So that I can setup this kind of website in couple of days. For a small, non demanding website this is really important.

Cons: WordPress is open source CMS, which means that every one can view PHP codes of the system. From time to time people find bugs in the system and publish these bugs in public forums and bug-tracks. Later WordPress team fixes the bug and releases update that will fix it. And if for some reason you have missed a critical update your website becomes vulnerable to attacks.

So, you or your webmaster should always follow bug-track and make updates on time to keep your website up-to date and secure. As I mentioned updates are free. But! Not all updates can be installed without additional headache and pain. Some updates need to be planned thoroughly and tested in a testing environment. Some plug-ins can brake because of the update of the WordPress core. Some updates could not be applied automatically and you need a smart guy to hack the code and make manual update and big fix.

All the other cons I will list under the second section: potential problems.

What are the potential problems that I will likely face when my traffic hit the ceiling?

First: Default WordPress setup is not optimized for high load. There are several reasons for this. By default nobody knows what plug-ins you are going to have in your website. This means you should manually perform optimizations tasks like combining CSS, JavaScript files, serving zipped content with caching of static objects.

Second: Nobody knows how many different blocks of content you want to use in your website. Which means that may be you need three and sometimes four different sizes of the same photo to display in different blocks. This means that you should either have the same photo scaled and distorted for different blocks or you should upload the same photo with three, four different sizes. or… you gonna hack the core of WordPress and make this scaling process pragmatically. So in either case you have to do a lot of task to achieve this.

Third: Nobody guarantees that your WordPress will still serve pages when your traffic hits 200 or 300 visits per second, even if you have bought a dedicated server. WordPress core needs a serious optimization tasks to be performed in order to be abel to survive under high load.


I don’t want to scare you. You can go for WordPress, but just remember to hire a good consultant that will understand your future needs and can define the action plan or a change list that needs to be implemented on your website to ensure that at least in nearest future you will not have performance problems.

Read about optimisation in general. And if you have more specific questions, just ask me in comments. Thank you for your attention.


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