WordPress: scaling up developers

A friend of mine is scaling up her website. It’s running WordPress and has ways too many visitors for their stone-age hosting, which means the service is slow and crashes regularly.

I’m trying to help out, and there are low-hanging fruits all along the way, like moving the files and database off from the VPS and into the cloud. Eventually we are going to move the whole lot to a low-maintenance cloud host like Heroku or CloudControl, use nice caches and what not.

There is one massive bottle-neck: developers.

Technology is awesome. Today you can live in a cave and run a website with close to 100% uptime rate for buttons. No kidding, this blog, receiving about 3000 uniques every month, is running on the smallest Heroku instance – with 100% uptime for the 3rd consecutive month, according to Pingdom. Could easily handle ten times the traffic, all less than $10 per month.

Developers are the ones who are not awesome. They are many, for sure. Throw a stone any direction, and it will hit a WordPress developer.

That stone is likely to hit one who is renaming files to php.backup instead of using version control. One who is not reading Hacker News. One who has never heard of the Twelve-factor app.

It’s definitely not because the new technology is too difficult to learn. I’ve just had a 19-ys-old teammate on a London Hackathon who was writing code for Android, Pebble watch and hacked together a website in 24 hours. I’m pretty sure that, if you’re a developer reading this, you can tell the same story about yourself in your early 20s. We are curious people. I think most developers just give up trying after a while.

The friend-of-mine with the WordPress site is now working with a team of developers who look at Heroku and send me e-mails asking for the FTP password. Clearly, they need to go. Is it easy to find a better team? It is not: Linkedin makes it way too easy to copy CVs, the example codes are plugin rip-offs, and no one can pass the simplest of tech interviews.

Without developers though, any tech project manager is just the coachman who whips thin air and wonders why the carriage wouldn’t move.

(I’m helping out a few friends with their side projects these days, so you can expect more of these rant-posts popping up, haha.)