When I first switched to WordPress (from Blogger) I was blown away by the functional breadth that their platform provided. Anything you couldn’t find as a “plugin” you could extend relatively easily with PHP. That was then, this is now.
The Performance Problem
The idea that lots of little 3rd party modules written by small 1 or 2 person shops (obviously some plugins are larger) and then just configured together lends itself to performance problems and yet WordPress struggled valiantly to solve that problem. The problem is that our expectations changed. Today we have frameworks like Ember, Angular, and React which help to make the user experience many times faster. Furthermore asynchronous backends powered by NodeJS or other more modern technology just completely outperforms the PHP architecture.
The PHP Problem
PHP in some ways has re-invigorated with PHP7 but it’s probably too late to save a drowning ship. PHP just isn’t a “respected” language in Western markets and it’s big advantage in recent years was the vast number of people who had skills in PHP. The numbers were always a bit misleading: though there were many there was a very bad signal-to-noise ratio within this group. More importantly, the reason for the large number had less to do with the age of the language and far more to do with two key aspects:
- The default “hosting stack” provided you PHP to do your work in
- WordPress uses PHP
The “stacks” that developers have available to self-host has blossomed both in number and choice over the past 5 years and PHP no longer is sole heir to the personal blog. And, of course, the other leg on that table was WordPress. Gone too. PHP had a good run but its days are numbered now.
My Personal Strategy
I had felt for a long time I needed to move off of WordPress and move toward Ghost (or at least a JS-based platform) but I was waiting for their API and 3rd party tools to increase a little. Now I’m a little unsure. Fortunately, my own personal inertia will likely allow me to solve this problem a few months from now so there should be more data on Calypso at that point but if they can give good SEO along with a modern API and performance they’d be a hard platform to beat.
If I were Ghost I’d be very worried. I hope there’s room for both. Even if you’re someone like SquareSpace I suspect you’re going to be a little sweaty today.
I’ve been waiting for an hour now to publish this because the drafts saves stopped working. I’m guessing WordPress may be getting a spike in traffic today