During the CMA Awards, “Country Music’s Biggest Night,” our websites drive a huge percentage of our annual traffic – it exceeded 71 million hits on Awards night in 2014. Our sites can’t go down. If our users can’t get to CMAawards.com on Awards night, it’s a huge missed opportunity for the organization.
And that’s just what happened a few years ago – the site was down for between 30 minutes and 45 minutes as the awards aired live. It was a bit embarrassing to say the least.
At the time, CMAawards.com and the rest of our sites (CMAworld.com, CMAfest.com, CMAsongwritersSeries.com, CMAfoundation.com, and more) were built on the .NET platform. It was complicated, time consuming, and costly to update. And our sites became stagnant because it was such a hassle to update them with new content. At the same time, our content management system upgrades were costly – often running $5,000 a pop.
We needed something better. WordPress was the perfect solution. I had already used WordPress and Concrete5 for a few other smaller projects. From a usability perspective, WordPress was hands down my choice. It was super scalable, easy to update, and presented a terrific user experience for our visitors. From a development standpoint it was again my No. 1 choice. There’s a huge community of developers and designers that contribute to the codebase providing for consistent updates and new and better features.
Once we decided to migrate to WordPress, we signed on with WP Engine for fully-managed WordPress hosting. When we migrated, we immediately noticed an increase in speed, and our page load times improved significantly. From a scalability perspective, our sites withstood more than 500 million hits in 2014 with barely a hiccup.
And the time and money required to update our sites shrunk immensely – we could do more at a third of the cost, and moving to WP Engine saved me and our IT team the 10 to 12 hours a week we spent fussing with our sites. Our uptime has also improved dramatically. With WP Engine, we no longer fret about site performance. We can concentrate on what’s on the site rather than if the site is going to crash.
Now, the CMA team can focus on providing great content to our users, and all of our sites give them a much better experience. If you are researching website platforms, I think your search begins and ends with WordPress. Then you’ll need hosting. That’s a short conversation too. Moving to WP Engine saves CMA 25 percent in hosting costs each year. But the element I’m most excited about is the peace of mind that we get from the WordPress and WP Engine combination. IT JUST WORKS.
For more information on how the Country Music Association finds success with WP Engine, download this case study.
Ben Bennett is Director of Digital Strategy for the Country Music Association (CMA). He oversees development and maintenance of all CMA consumer digital platforms.