Most WordPress users know the importance of keeping their plugins and themes up to date but, more often than not, PHP gets left behind. In fact, close to 50% of WordPress sites are running on a PHP version lower than 7.0

PHP, or hypertext processor, is the scripting language used by WordPress, and running the latest version is an easy way to ensure optimal speed and security for your site. WP Engine customers who move from PHP 7.2 to PHP 7.3 see up to a 15% decrease in request processing time. This mirrors official PHP benchmarks that state that PHP 7.3 is 10% faster than PHP 7.2.

At WP Engine, we know that updating PHP versions isn’t always straight-forward. That’s why we’ve made the updating process more user-friendly than ever, allowing us to bring better, more secure software to our customers, faster. With our PHP Test Driver, customers can preview the latest PHP version on their site, and if all looks good, they can upgrade with the click of a button using our PHP Selector

To learn more about our customers’ experiences updating to PHP 7.3, we spoke with Founder and Core Contributor of Coywolf, Jon Henshaw. Coywolf is a digital publishing and membership-based site that uses WP Engine as its digital experience platform of choice. 

Can you speak to your past experience in the Tech and Media Industry?

I have over two decades of experience in tech and have been working at a large media company for a little over a year and a half now. In my recent past, I co-founded and created Raven Tools, which is a SaaS used by digital marketing companies and agencies for research and reporting. I sold that company a couple of years ago and began my job at CBS Interactive, which has been a great experience so far. I’m still an entrepreneur at heart though, which is why I started Coywolf in 2018. 

What inspired you to found Coywolf? 

Coywolf is a product of a few things. First, I’m a very curious person and I wanted a digital playground where I could create and test new things, converse with like-minded marketers, and share ideas. Second, it’s my endeavor into media and publishing, which I’ve always had an interest in. And third, I wanted to create an online space where people could learn without the distraction of ads and popups.

What differentiates Coywolf from other digital publications?

Coywolf presents content, specifically webmaster resources and digital marketing insights, in a new way that I think people will prefer to consume. Coywolf allows people to focus on the content and keep moving along with their day.  

What really differentiates Coywolf is that it is also an online community that people can join through a membership. The membership includes access to exclusive editorial content, a private forum, and new software I’m currently working on. 

Why did you choose WP Engine as your digital experience platform? 

I’ve always worked with WP Engine. Even before Coywolf existed, I was already a customer and knew WP Engine is where I wanted my site to be. 

What was the process of updating from PHP 7.2 to PHP 7.3 with WP Engine? 

The process of updating to PHP 7.3 was effortless. All it took was the click of a link and it updated “automagically” in the background. I really appreciated how easy WP Engine made this process because in the past, with other customer providers, I’ve had to contact support and do all kinds of different things. 

What changes did you see as a result? 

Performance improvements were immediately noticeable. Where I saw the biggest jump was in the WP admin. It’s not that WP Engine’s WordPress admin access has ever been slow, but this made it even snappier. Everything was quick, and it was noticeable. It was so obvious I probably tweeted about it to say something because I was a little surprised. 

How does having a faster admin help? 

Having a faster admin adds efficiency to my workflow—I just get more stuff done. I can update my site or switch between areas faster. I don’t have to wait for something to load, which is typical for a lot of WordPress sites regardless of where you host it. With PHP 7.3, everything is quick and snappy. 

What would you say was the biggest takeaway from this experience?

I have been using hosting sites for well over two decades and it has always been difficult to upgrade the version of PHP you are running. The fact that WP Engine went out of their way to make this process really easy and put that power into the user’s hands makes me confident in my decision to choose WP Engine as my digital experience platform.

Want to know more about PHP 7.3? Check out this helpful article about why you should update today. 

Follow Jon Henshaw on Twitter and stay up to date with what’s new on Coywolf