Optimal Way to Host WordPress

Mark Jaquith  Next Generation WordPress Hosting Stack   WordPress.tvThis post is based on Mark Jaquith‘s 16 October 2014 talk Next Generation WordPress Hosting Stack.

WordPress is dynamic and so every time a page is rendered it is created on the fly. Systems like Movable Type used to prerender all their pages but with large (more than 1,000 pages) WP site this is impractical.

Speed Considerations

You can measure speed of download using the Network Tab in Inspect Element of Chrome.

 3 seconds + : Performance Emergency, you will lose users

1-3 seconds : Users will be annoyed but most will stick with this suboptimal experience

.5-1 second: May seem a little bit slow but not noticeable

250-500 ms: Good, users engaged

<250 ms: FAST

<100 ms: INSTANT

Mark mentioned that he managed to get his site http://havebabyneedstuff.com/ display in 29 ms.

WordPress Hosting for Performance

You need to do it yourself using a VPS (Virtual Private Server); Mark recommends Linode and Digital Ocean.

  • PHP-FPM – use to run PHP on Nginx: http://php-fpm.org/
  • Latest version of PHP (5.5 at the time of writing), much faster than previous versions, has a built-in opcode cache.
  • HHVM (HipHop Virtual Machine) Alternative to PHP-FPM, project by Facebook. Amazing performance benefits and fully supports WP. Set up site monitoring because still a bit unstable, but can be 4-5 times faster than PHP-FPM
  • MySQL
  • Caching – Nginx is Mark’s preferred way to cache, see his set up here. HTML output caching is crude, object caching is elegant. WP supports this in core, by default it uses object caching. Mark recommends using redis for caching (Pantheon is the only WP hoster currently using this).Also use the PHP caching functions such as wp_cache_set() to cache. The rule of thumb is to cache any data that’s expensive to build or that talks to remote servers.Here’s Mark library that wraps the WP Transients API (option for soft expiration).
  • Measuring – Mark uses New Relic for analyzing why a site/query is slow.

Recommended WordPress Stack

Nginx (with caching)


Update from WordCamp San Francisco 2014

WCSF14-4-of-7I had the wonderful opportunity to attend WordCamp San Francisco 2014, the year’s largest conference about WordPress.
This event is one of the highlights of my year – it’s exciting to meet new people, and to hear about cutting edge developments in the World of WordPress. I recommend watching Matt Mullenberg’s (WordPress founder) keynote speech:

Some notable ideas

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.10.30 AMComing up in Version 4.1

  •  Improve the editor features.
  •  Improve the performance of drop-down menus of users and posts (ie. the page parent selector), most likely by implementing Select2.
  •  UI on the user profile screen which displays a user’s logged in sessions and allows them to be logged out.
  •  New default theme, Twenty Fifteen.
  •  Improved UI for installing and updating plugins and themes (async installation), possibly core too.
  •  Improvements to media management on mobile devices.
  •  Ability to install new languages after install.
Overall it feels as if in 2015 WordPress is about to undergo a transformation in internationalization and flexibility – a lot of fast change is ahead!

How to Write a Tagline

For small companies and startups, a tagline is important to describe what they offer in a single sentence.

A tagline can simply be the answer to these questions:

  • If someone found your business card, could they glance at it and know exactly what your company does?
  • Imagine the perfect prospect looking for a solution to their problem in a Search Engine. What kind of question would they ask, what kind of search terms would they use?

Make sure that you are not just focusing on what your product or service is and neglecting what it offers. It’s important to emphasize the benefits of your offering.

And one more piece of advice from Copyblogger:

Be clear, not clever.



Launching Website Redesign: How to Redirect Legacy Links

Legacy Links still in Google from the Google Analytics Content Report

From a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) perspective, one of the key issues is redirecting legacy links to the new pages.

Legacy links are links from your old site that get broken when the new site goes live.

For example, your product page might have been at:


And now it’s at:


But after you go live, you may still be receiving a lot of traffic to /products.html from Google and other sites which have links to the old page. If you don’t deal with this issue promptly, your Search Engine rankings will go down and you may lose a lot of traffic.

There are a few way to resolve this issue:

Manually redirect

You can make a list of all your old site pages and use the .htaccess to redirect them all to the new perspective pages. Here’s how to set up .htaccess for redirects. This solution is impractical with sites with hundreds or thousands of pages.

Use the WP plugin Redirect

WordPress has a useful plugin simply called Redirection. It allows you to enter redirects through the WordPress admin backend, and keeps track of how many times each link has been clicked upon.

WordPress Plugin Redirection

This is what the WordPress Plugin Redirection looks like

How do I find out which are my most important Legacy Links?

An easy way is to use the Google Analytics Content report. After launching your new site (assuming you’ve also installed GA), go to Google Analytics and navigate to Content -> Pages. On that page search for google. Here’s an example of the report you will see:


Legacy Links still in Google from the Google Analytics Content Report

For example Line 1 tells you that /community/garrigues-interview.html is legacy link in Google and needs a redirect. If you go through this exercise once a day in the first few weeks after launch, you will be able to deal with the legacy links issue efficiently.

Conference Websites with WordPress

EIPBN Conference Website 2012 Hawaii

Are you looking for a way to enhance your conference website template year after year, without having to spend a fortune in the process? Do you want your conference website to have a fresh look and feel year after year, yet with the basic content intact?

This is a case study of one of our conference website clients, EIPBN.  EIPBN is an important international conference on Electron, Ion, and Photon Bean Technology and Nanofabrication. The conference takes place at different locations every year, such as Hawaii, Alaska, Las Vegas, but their website will always remain constant. This provides returning users and attendees the ability to find everything they need quickly every year.

With the EIBPN project we are able to create what appears to be a completely new conference website year after year through simply making changes to the images and the palette (the WordPress theme).  The pages are organized in the same way as previous years, but the look is completely different to give it a brand new appearance. All of the websites from the previous years are archived so that they can still  be accessed.

We use WordPress to archive the prior year’s versions of the website, so the whole process saves time and money. You won’t have to create a brand new website from the ground up because WordPress will make it appear as if you did, but you are going to save a lot of time during the process and implementation of your international conference website.

Here is are 3 iterations of the EIPBN site from 2010, 2011 and 2012:

EIPBN Conference Website 2010 Alaska

EIPBN Conference Website 2011 in Las Vegas

EIPBN Conference Website 2012 Hawaii

New Whitepaper Released – How to Hire a Web Developer

We’ve released our first whitepaper “How to Hire a Web Developer”, in which you you can learn how to:

  1. Define your project
  2. Find some suitable candidates
  3. Select the right developer

Learn the questions you must ask before making the decision to hire someone to work on your project.

Download it now!

WordPress vs. Drupal

WordPress vs Drupal search references from Google Trends

The era of hand-coding PHP and HTML scripts has largely gone by the wayside, thanks in large part to Content Management Systems, or CMS’s“ and that’s a good thing. Today’s site creators, however, are left with a tough choice: Drupal or WordPress?

When you’re trying to choose a database-backed, open-source CMS that can be easily managed by non-tecchies, the decision often seems to boil down to these two applications. While each side has its own advantages, drawback and supporters, we think that WordPress offers a better CMS solution.

Why? Two words sum it up: growth and ease.

WordPress.com growth (from dstevenwhite.com)

WordPress is growing rapidly. Since its release in 2003, WordPress:

In contrast, only 1.6% of the top 1 million websites use Drupal. Its website receives about 55,000 unique visitors per month, as compared to 50 million unique visits each month to the WordPress website.

These figures emphasize WordPress’ more extensive support/code base and huge global community. WordPress was viewed as a blog engine, when in fact, 74% of WordPress installations are used as CMS, and not blogging.

As to ease of use, the comparison is even clearer. While both WordPress and Drupal are simple to install, once its configured, WordPress is ready to use — in as little as five minutes.

On the other hand, many administrators find Drupal’s learning curve confusing, overwhelming and steep. This is due in part to Drupal’s system of thousands of contributed modules; while they add flexibility, they also tend to have overlapping functionality.

Also, Drupal does not guarantee backward compatibility through revisions. While this reduces software bloat, it also may necessitate code rewriting, an activity that adds to your workload.

WordPress offers almost 1,400 themes, as compared to Drupal’s 885, and a range of user-friendly plug-ins, extensions and modules — about 17,000 to Drupal’s 9,000. WordPress plug-ins are extremely easy to use “ just drop them in. In comparison, Drupal offers few ready-made plug-ins.

WordPress vs Drupal search references from Google Trends

WordPress vs Drupal search references from Google Trends

Add a lower average set-up and customization cost — $250 for WordPress and $5,000 for Drupal — to a lower monthly maintenance cost — $250 for WordPress and $1,500 for Drupal — and WordPress looks even more attractive and practical.

For all but the largest commercial projects — which tend to require extensive customized developing — WordPress provides a better CMS solution.


Download our free whitepaper, How To Hire a Developer:

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WordCamp San Francisco 2010 Impressions

I attended WordCamp San Francisco once again this year, the annual geek lovefest for all things WordPress, and here’s a summary of highlights.

Matt Mullenweg taking questions at WordCamp SF 2010

Matt Mullenweg taking questions at WordCamp SF 2010 courtesy of BloggingPro

First the keynote speech by WordPress co-founder, Matt Mullenweg, State of the Word.

WordPress 3.0 will have the following:

  • New default theme Twenty Ten, with dropdown menus, custom post headers/images, custom backgrounds à la Twitter
  • Custom Post types, making it easier to do what we’ve been doing for years using custom fields; this takes custom taxonomies to a new level and allows for Event-type posts, Press Release-type posts, each with their customized fields in the admin edit view.
  • Custom Menus where users can define links in navigation menus in any way they please; this seems like the most important advanced in terms of WordPress as a CMS.

Matt mentioned some numbers too:

  • 74% of WP installations are being used as CMSs.
  • Core contributors went from 4 to 9.
  • 1,400 users on Trac, the bug tracking software, double from 2009.
  • 21m downloads of WP (10m in 2009).
  • 35 billion page views for wordpress.com and wordpress.org.
  • 8.5% of sites crawled by a Drupal-backed study were running WP.

The future:

  • Making using WP more fun.
  • Enhancing security, especially plugins via core (vetted) plugins.
  • Improving publishing via mobile devices.
  • WordPress.org being redesigned and to move to BuddyPress.

As you can see, the State of the Word is good.

WordCamp San Francisco 2010 WordPress conference

even the "small" dowstairs hall was packed this year

Other highlights included:

All in all it was an excellent conference, and great value at $50. I truly appreciate Matt’s continued efforts to make the world a better place through software as opposed to trying to make as much money as possible.

Workshop on How to Generate Leads Using the Internet: Feb 19 San Jose

Philippe Alexis and Juliette Donohue will be teaching a 2.5 hour “Workshop for Generating Leads Online” in San Jose next Thursday, February 19 from 9 to 11:30 am in San Jose ($200 before February 16).

It will give you a solid foundation into the principles of Internet marketing, and how to put them into practical use for your own website. We will also be giving out a workbook to take with you as a guide to implement the workshop recommendations.

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