Beyond 10,000 posts: a super-mega-big static WordPress site

One of the common questions we get about static WordPress sites on Shifter relates to site size. Not disk size but the maximum number of pages a site can have before the generator reaches its limit.

The answer to that question is; we don’t have a limit. We don’t have a maximum number of pages that the generator can support or any mechanism to prevent you from creating a larger than the average site.

Setup and Testing

To test this we’ve created a very large demo site. So far, the site just surpassed 10,000 posts and it rendered perfectly using Shifter’s static site generator.To create this demo site we used FakerPress. It’s a WordPress plugin designed to create demo content. It supports custom post types, it can import placeholder images from resources like unsplash, and it even offers support for custom fields. It’s a truly wonderful plugin.

I started by creating a new site on Shifter. This pre-installed WordPress for us and we called it WordPress 10k for our 10,000-page goal.

Next, I installed FakerPress from the Dot Org directory from within WordPress and started generating pages. This took a while but I let run in the background,

For the demo content, I focused on creating posts with between 4 and 15 paragraphs, full range typography using headers and links, and images

With that complete, I was to generate my site! I started to generate a new artifact for my 10,000-page site and it worked!It only took a few minutes to complete which was a nice surprise. To speed things up, I adjusted the generator settings within my site. This feature is provided on all sites and can be found in the WordPress dashboard under the Shifter admin page labeled, Settings.

I enabled the option to skip creating pages I didn’t need such as tags, categories, media pages, author pages, and more. These could be skipped on any site that doesn’t use them but it all depends on your theme. The biggest change you will notice when adjusting these settings is the build time can be dramatically reduced.

Now that our site was complete I wanted to see how it performed on a page speed test. I’m not a huge fan of page speed testing tools and I’ve said this before as they are often used for the wrong purpose. But in this specific case, I do think it was relevant.

I use these sparingly is that they load the page once or twice and they do not replicate normal traffic.

Tools such as GTMetrix, Pingdom, WebPageTest, PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse, etc.. are designed to test the web page itself, not hosting infrastructure.— Daniel Olson (@emaildano) April 6, 2019

In conclusion, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to please an online testing tool. Instead keep it simple and focus on things like, overall page size, the smaller the better, and load time. That’s something everyone can benefit from.— Daniel Olson (@emaildano) April 6, 2019

I use these sparingly is that they load the page once or twice and they do not replicate normal traffic.

The load time I got from Pingdom just 226ms! I was bummed that the score wasn’t a perfect 100 and only 99. That’s entirely up to the theme though. Just as a reminder, a high score does not mean a fast site. It’s just a high score!

View Test Results

So, what does this mean? It means that large sites are okay on Shifter. We haven’t found the upper limit yet but I do hope that we find it. Once we do, we’ll be able to adjust and set the bar higher.

I’ve read some feedback in the static site generator community about site size and the max limit. I think we all have a lot to learn from each other and the basic ideas for how to solve these problems are absolutely cross-platform.

Let us know what you think!

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