At IronGate, we proudly moved to being a WordPress shop a couple of years ago for several reasons: clients love the dashboard, there is a huge support base for it, and finding developers is easier. There have been some hurdles, one of which has been speed; it is well known that a WP site with a poorly-coded theme and a million questionable plugins on shared hosting results in glacial load times.
There are a million blog posts that explain in great detail how to speed up your WordPress site, and I won’t try to reinvent the wheel, instead focusing on one improvement we’ve made recently: upgrading to PHP 7.
What is PHP 7?
PHP is the server-side scripting language that runs WordPress. Many programmers have described PHP as the station wagon of languages; it may not be the prettiest or the most fun to drive, but it has stood the test of time and will get you to where you need to go. PHP 7 is the first major PHP release since 2004, when PHP 5 first came out (rumor has it that they skipped PHP 6 because the project failed).
Why should I care?
Because PHP 7 is fast. How fast? More than twice as fast as the previous version. Check out these benchmarks:
We’ve recently been dealing with some scaling issues with one of our larger WordPress sites that has been getting hit by a lot of traffic. I’m about to admit to some seriously horrendous loading times, but I’m not ashamed to say that we have learned a lot from this experience. Again, this isn’t a post about overall site streamlining, so I’ll focus on our change to PHP7. Check out this load time difference from gtmetrix.com (even with caching enabled):
Move to PHP 7
Thankfully, many hosts are already supporting PHP 7 for their shared hosting plans, so if you are like a majority of basic users you should be able to change now, if not soon. If you are on your own server, just do it. Now.
Interested in learning more?
- 5 things you must know about PHP 7
- Getting ready for PHP 7 (compatibility pitfalls)
- PHP 7: The Way of the Future (performance stats)