Why migrating to PHP7 is the clever thing to do

As web technology continues to develop at an incredible rate, keeping up with the competition is an ongoing challenge for online businesses.

Recently, performance optimisation has become a crucial part of this as more people are using mobile devices to browse the internet and have shorter attention spans than ever before.

The release of PHP 7 represents a leap forward for website performance and as part of our commitment to delivering world leading WordPress support, we are about to begin upgrading all compatible client sites.

PHP and WordPress

PHP is a server-side scripting language used for web development. It is distributed under an open source licence meaning that it can be freely redistributed and modified.

WordPress is written in PHP so page loading times are directly by affected by how fast the script can be read and interpreted by the server. The latest release of PHP, version 7, was originally dubbed PHP Next Generation (PHPNG) and aimed to improve performance by making the process more efficient.

Testing has shown it to be almost twice as fast as it’s predecessor and so WordPress sites migrated to PHP 7 can expect significant performance improvements.

Benefits of migrating to PHP 7

The major benefit to WordPress sites of migrating to PHP 7 is increased performance but what does this mean for website owners? There are several benefits:

Better search engine rankings

Faster sites deliver a better user experience and as search engines are always looking to promote the best sites, they like to reward those that have invested in performance optimisation.

Improved mobile browsing

As more than half of all internet browsing is now done on mobile devices, having a fast website is more important than ever.

Higher conversion rates

A better user experience could lead to higher conversion rates i.e. more leads and/or sales.

Reduced operating costs

PHP 7 requires less computing power to deliver the same website performance so smaller, lower cost servers can be used. Similarly, the same servers are more robust as they have more resources available to handle increased traffic to the site.

Migration challenges

PHP 7’s language was deliberately kept very similar to its predecessors for maximum backward compatibility but there have been some changes.

The WordPress core has been fully PHP 7 compatible for some time but not all themes and plugins are up to speed and while some may only trigger warnings after migrating, others might not work at all.

Fortunately WP Engine have released a plugin to test compatibility before migrating, which generates a report identifying themes and plugins that could have problems.

Once a site has been given the green light, it can be migrated to PHP 7 for testing and performance evaluation.

Migrating to PHP 7 is clearly the clever thing to do.

Better performance means your business is more likely to stay ahead of the competition and succeed online, which is exactly what we aim to deliver for our clients.

With appropriate preparation and planning, the cost and downtime of the process can be minimised and when it comes to WordPress sites, the upgrade certainly delivers a lot of ‘bang for your buck’.

We’ll be taking care of this process for all our clients to ensure a smooth transition and independently benchmarking their sites’ performance before and after so they can see the improvement in performance.