All websites should be fast – so avoid WordPress!
Solution Loans came to us earlier this year as they wanted one of their loan websites (Guarantor-Loans.co.uk) rebuilt. So, nothing odd there. However, they insisted that speed on a mobile was of paramount importance. Why so precious about speed you might say?
Well, you’ll have noticed pedestrians with their faces focused on their phones and not the next lamp post. You may have teenagers with their fingers buzzing at high speed over their phone screens. The whole of society seems to be glued to these devices and now Google has officially gone “mobile first”. For Solution Loans over 75% of web traffic comes from mobile. The other key stat is that if a website loads in more than a couple of seconds then the user will go elsewhere. Speed should be at the top of all website owners’ UX lists. Yet, it seemingly isn’t.
WordPress has become the de facto way to design and build websites. It’s undoubtedly flexible. Themes and plugins (often free or low price) offer a seemingly infinite number of options. Designers these days assemble websites from existing components rather then starting from scratch. And that’s fine as it can help to deliver more visual bang for the client’s buck. But there is a at least one major downside to these database-driven CMS websites – very poor speed performance.
You have to feel sorry for the servers dealing with this type of site. The strain they feel as they assemble the next page for delivery is almost palpable. Even implementing best practices in terms of caching, image management, minifications, etc (often delivered by yet another resource-hungry plugin) can’t significantly help. You won’t find many WordPress sites with a Web.dev performance score of more than 60.
For Solution Loans we settled on the solution of a statically generated website. There are numerous static site solutions (we used Jekyll) but they share the common principle of compiling the pages just once and then serving out flat files the instant they are required. This solution undoubtedly requires more from the coder than does a WordPress site, but there is a growing pool of talent out there and this type of site is gaining more and more traction. For the user the routine maintenance of content is via a CMS-like back-end that is not dissimilar to WordPress. And, you can have a blog too.
By the way, we were so impressed by Jekyll that we decided to give it a bit of financial support. You can donate too at https://opencollective.com/solutionloansuk.
Before you plump for WordPress as the basis for your next website do consider the static site alternative. You may be surprised just how much the technology and user-friendliness has moved on. And speed, oh the speed! Our client’s new website scores 96 compared to c.50 on a WordPress site. And they are really, really happy!