Author’s motivation and background story

How the author got into writing a paper on WordPress performance optimizations?

When I was younger (about 12–13 years old), I started to wonder about how the Internet and the web sites work and from what are they made of. That marked my life-long interest in web development. A few years ago, me and my friend wanted to create our first blog. That was the first time I stumbled upon WordPress. However, it was not until the year 2014, especially the summer of that year, that my interest in the WordPress web development started to get more serious. Getting back to the Comenius University to finish my computer science bachelor studies, it was then quite natural for me to select such a topic for my bachelor’s work.

Last year (2014), I got to work on an interesting Bitcoin-related project consisting primarily of a WordPress-powered news outlet. When I joined the developer’s team of the company behind the site, I was shocked by the poor performance and resource usage of the site. No one was into optimizing the server or the site (application) itself, but visitors were unsatisfied and complaining most of the time, so I took that part of the business as my responsibility.

Optimizing the web application

I started with rewriting the application extensions (such as plugins) programmed by developers who joined the company before me. I managed to decrease the loading times considerably mainly due to the fact that the original code was not architected and designed very well. After some time, an idea struck me — what we should concentrate on is making the underlying server software (stack) faster. As an example, what if we replaced Apache HTTP web server application with Nginx one? What if we install a PHP opcode caching? Or even better, what if we replace the original .php interpreter with Facebook’s HHVM?

The results

The results were great — loading time decreased, memory usage decreased and visitor count increased. Although we did not apply all of the tips and tricks which will be outlined and described in this paper, we still got an enormous performance improvements. These are the reasons why I am confident that after reading, studying and applying at least a part of what has been said will make a difference to your WordPress-based web site or application.

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