The Proof: Building on the Fastest Digital Experience Platform for WordPress

New, third-party data shows WP Engine hosts the most top sites on the web and offers the fastest Time to First Byte on desktop and mobile among all WordPress providers.  

Bringing your digital vision to life 

WordPress adoption is surging—from small creative agencies to enterprise organizations—businesses looking for an easy, flexible way to create and manage engaging content on the web are simply choosing WordPress over other solutions. 

At the same time, businesses around the world are leaning on digital channels like never before. The need for fast content management solutions with a low barrier to entry has skyrocketed, and WordPress is the best solution to fill the void. 

Why is WordPress so popular?

Because it’s open source and free from upfront licensing fees, and because it offers developers a customizable platform for building any type of website imaginable, WordPress is a powerful tool and a popular choice—now, more ever—for businesses of every size and shape.   

From the plugins and themes that make WordPress extremely flexible to the REST API, which allows all manner of integrations and is increasingly used for headless WordPress configurations, WordPress simply offers developers and creatives alike the tools they need to bring their digital vision to life.  

Prioritize website performance

Nonetheless, making sure a WordPress (or any) website is fast, and making sure it performs well once it has launched introduces a new set of considerations. Even the best-looking and most functional websites are only as good as the way they perform—a slow, clunky user experience will send just about any site visitor packing. And although native WordPress is a great place to start when it comes to building a fast, responsive website, how and where you host your site can have the largest impact on the way it performs.  

WP Engine is the fastest platform for WordPress so it’s no surprise the company hosts more of the top 10M, Alexa-ranked sites than any other WordPress provider. New data from W3Techs shows WP Engine hosts more of the top 10M, Alexa-ranked sites than any other WordPress provider. Even better, based on data from the Chrome user experience report (CrUX) — which is published by the HTTP Archive, an open source project maintained by a core group of developers and contributors — WP Engine’s sites perform faster than those of any other WordPress platform. 

Sounds too good to be true? Keep reading for a complete breakdown of the data and see exactly how WP Engine stacks up. The simple takeaway is this: If your site isn’t built on WP Engine, chances are, it’s not performing as fast as it could be. And for your business, time is money.

The need for page speed 

What is page speed and why is it a key site performance factor? Before we dive into the details, it’s important to understand why performance—and page speed in particular—is such a crucial factor for websites today. 

The ubiquity of the Internet has ushered in a sharp drop-off in consumer patience, which means most web users today are less likely than ever to wait for your site or its various pages to load. 

If you examine this by generation, the younger your audience is, the more likely they are to abandon a slow-loading site. Gen Z—the youngest generation of consumers with the most buying power—will give you around nine seconds of their time before they move on to something else. When you think about your site, how much of that tiny window is sacrificed right away to slow-loading or unresponsive pages?  

Why is website performance important?

A website’s speed—how fast it loads, how fast it responds to requests—can make or break the entire digital experience. For media sites, bounce rate is heavily affected by the speed at which content loads. For any type of eCommerce site, speed may be the most important factor of all as it’s tied directly to conversions of online shopping carts into revenue. 

And when it comes to accessing a site on a mobile device, every second may matter even more. According to Statista, in 2019, 63 percent of paid Google search clicks in the United States originated from mobile and mobile accounts for approximately half of web traffic worldwide. In the fourth quarter of 2019, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 52.6 percent of global website traffic. 

There’s no question—the ability to build fast-loading and responsive digital experiences is now a key differentiator for any business. If your site takes too long to load, there’s likely another site that doesn’t. Meeting this consumer demand is simply more important than ever, and yet, making a website “go fast” is far from a simple endeavor. Even though the need for speed is well understood, there are still a large number of slow websites out there—your website doesn’t have to be one of them. 

WP Engine hosts the most top sites on the web and offers the fastest Time to First Byte on desktop and mobile among all WordPress providers.

The WP Engine performance difference

WP Engine is a platform that optimizes WordPress and integrates it with leading technologies to ensure that our customers receive the best website performance. On average, when new customers move to WP Engine’s platform, they see a nearly 40% improvement in page speed alone, right out of the gates. 

While that’s a great stat, and one we’re constantly working to improve, it’s worth mentioning that we view performance as more than just speed at WP Engine. Rather than a one-dimensional catchphrase, we approach performance as a multi-pronged effort that combines best-in-class cloud infrastructure, SOC2 compliant security and managed WordPress expertise. By taking a wider view of what performance means, and what it means to our customers—speed, uptime, availability, and scalability, to name a few factors—we’re able to constantly focus on improving our platform for the metrics that matter to our customers.

Internally, we like to say that “performance is a practice, not a project,” meaning, we’re never satisfied with our current state and we’re always looking for new ways to improve all components of site performance across our entire platform and the tools we build for our customers. 

Time to First Byte (TTFB)

When it comes to speed, which, as mentioned above, is a major aspect of performance, one of the metrics we focus on is Time to First Byte or TTFB, specifically as it relates to page speed and how much time it takes to load all of the content on a particular page. .  

TTFB is an important metric because it measures the time from the start of a navigation request to the time the user receives the first byte of the response from the server. We believe this metric is a fair representation of host speed, as other metrics (like First Contentful Paint) are more relevant to front end performance, which doesn’t necessarily measure a host’s speed, and depend on optimization of a website and/or its code. 

The fastest digital experience platform for WordPress, bar none 

Looking at TTFB, WP Engine pulled trailing six months of consecutive data from the HTTP Archive’s Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX) for approximately 1 million websites. Armed with this dataset, we filtered out all WordPress sites, and then identified which sites were running on a WordPress Experience Platform or a WordPress Managed Host. We then compared the average TTFB for all of these sites, adding performance bands. Fast is the percentage of sites by host where average TTFB is less than or equal to 200 milliseconds. Average is TTFB more than 200 milliseconds and less than or equal to 1000 milliseconds. Lastly, slow is TTFB greater than 1000 milliseconds..

Our findings? For starters, WP Engine is the fastest platform on desktop and mobile* for WordPress.

WP Engine  is the fastest platform on WordPress according to the TTFB metric pulled from the CRuX report.

The data above clearly shows that WP Engine has the highest percentage of sites that load in less than 200ms among all other WordPress platforms tested over a trailing six-month basis

This is significant because TTFB is a blocker for all other performance metrics. For example, by the HTTP Archive definition, a user cannot possibly experience a fast First Contentful Paint (FCP) or First Input Delay (FID) if the TTFB takes more than 1 second.

In short, if page speed is important to you and your organization, WP Engine is the best place for your websites to be hosted. 

While we recognize that internet speeds play a role in the TTFB metric, they were uniformly distributed amongst the dataset without effect on benchmarking WordPress hosts.

We also made sure the information was coming from a rigorous data set, which, we determined, indexed nearly one million sites across a three-month span.

Finally, we were impressed with this data specifically because it comes from a third-party source. Many web providers will offer a laundry list of stats that “prove” they are fast, but those stats are often based on in-house metrics with zero transparency. Others pay for reports that are not made publicly available and they refuse to provide supporting evidence for their claims.

The data we cite in this report is from a completely open source, third-party — something we feel very strongly about given we’re a WordPress platform and are committed to supporting the WordPress and other open source communities. If anything, the results reflect our never-ending obsession with performance—of which speed and TTFB are a part— and they are based on data we use to help better inform our efforts and make continued improvements to our platform. 

Research and Methodology 

As mentioned above, the data for this report was pulled from The HTTP Archive and the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX). We used data from the HTTP Archive to determine the host of the site (the headers are contained in the HTTP Archive, but not in the CrUX). Then, we use the CrUX to measure speed (the TTFB data exists in the CrUX). CrUX data is pulled each month and then a competitive analysis is run on a trailing six-month basis.

More about The HTTP Archive 

There are many ways to test the speed of a WordPress platform. Why did we use data from The HTTP Archive and the CrUX as opposed to another method, such as running synthetic load tests? We saw three main advantages:

  1. The datasets are publicly available, so anyone can see the data we used
  2. The data comes from an impartial third party, rather than a brand or an affiliate
  3. The data is based on real user experiences on the web. Synthetic load tests do not measure real user experience, and results vary from test to test as there is no standard methodology. 

On a monthly basis, HTTP Archive crawls millions of URLs on desktop and mobile, gathering information about how the content on these pages is structured and served. The URLs come from the Chrome User Experience Report, which is composed of real user experiences on the web. It measures a myriad of performance metrics including First Contentful Paint, DOM Content Loaded, and First Input Delay. The output of this data can be found in such well-regarded tools as Google’s PageSpeedInsights

A detailed explanation of The HTTP Archive method can be found here:

“The list of URLs is fed to our private instance of WebPageTest on the 1st of each month. As of March 1, 2016, the tests are performed on Chrome for desktop and emulated Android (on Chrome) for mobile. The test agents are located in the Internet Systems Consortium data center in Redwood City, CA. Each URL is loaded 3 times with an empty cache (“first view”). The data from the median run (based on load time) is collected via a HAR file. The HTTP Archive collects these HAR files, parses them, and populates our database with the relevant information. The data is also available in BigQuery.”

Speed up with WP Engine 

As so much of the world has moved online, the digital experience is more important than ever. At WP Engine, we believe WordPress is the best way to harness the power of the Internet and bring your digital vision to life. And if you’re not on the WP Engine platform, your WordPress websites and applications could be even faster. Join the 120,000 customers around the world who enjoy the fastest platform in WordPress.

So if you run WordPress, run fastest with WP Engine.

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