WordPress could be a solid foundation for a site like TripAdvisor – and probably Airbnb. Read the complete overview and our relevant experience below.
No off-the-shelf solution or a framework would work right away for a platform of a similar scale. And even the best practices on building a product from scratch or using a lightweight framework will be redefined once you grow beyond a certain scale.
The High Scalability Model
One of my favorite performance blogs is High Scalability. It cover case studies from some of the top players out there. You can read how some notably minor changes have had a massive impact for companies like Instagram or Pinterest. Netflix’s architecture overview is also available on their blog:
- A 360 Degree View of the Entire Netflix Stack – High Scalability
- TripAdvisor report 390M monthly unique visitors and 500M total reviews and opinions.
- Airbnb is branched into 65,000 cities, presenting over 3M listings and having accommodated over 200,000,000 total guests.
Each of those massively successful businesses has innovated continuously on the technical spectrum as well. Large brands face high-scale problems all the time.
Which also requires a more platform agnostic approach. The larger the technical solution, the more likely is relying on different programming languages, database engines, hosting environments, and hundreds of helper tools and libraries in-between.
Is WordPress the ideal solution to power another Netflix? Probably not. The thing is, Netflix is less of a CMS and more of a streaming company. The core logic of the business is video streaming. The CMS aspect isn’t as crucial and core WordPress components such as Media or Comments will simply carry technical debt.
Can it handle Airbnb?
Probably yes. We’ve scaled listing platforms to tens of millions of visitors and hundreds of thousands of entries, both as a single site with venues, and a multisite environment. It’s somewhere between 10% and 20% of Airbnb’s scale and we could have accommodated more at a fairly affordable recurring cost for hosting and maintenance (within the low five figures/month).
In fact, Placester is a massively successful business serving nearly half a million real estate agents. To the best of my knowledge, their hundreds of thousands of sites are still WordPress based – as seen in their Developers section or some featured resources back in 2014 (most of which are still hosted with them).
TripAdvisor can actually fit a WordPress environment fairly well.
After all, you’ve got venues and comments, some registered users, and attachments for some of the venues. Sounds familiar?
WordPress.com serves over 400 million monthly views – more than TripAdvisor and probably more than Airbnb. Both websites rely on structured content in a CMS-alike manner, utilize media actively, and welcome a percentage of registered users. Using WordPress as a core framework may be acceptable.
It would still require a massive team, include a revamp of the WordPress life cycle, and depend on tons of 3rd party solutions and applications as well. But that would be the case regardless of the choice of a core framework or platform.
Netflix simply doesn’t seem like a perfect match for WordPress. A lightweight CMS and a better focus on streaming and video hosting/management seems more applicable here.