Achieving Peak Performance With Headless WordPress

To improve search engine rankings and the browsing experience for its 50 million monthly readers, Android Authority increases speed 6x by adopting a headless architecture with a WordPress back-end.

Industry: Digital Publishing

Site: androidauthority.com

Challenge

Build for growing site traffic and performance tied to revenue without disrupting publisher workflows. Future proof site to increase flexibility and ease of development, decreasing time to innovation.

Solution

Upgrade from a traditional WordPress deployment to Atlas, WP Engine’s Headless WordPress platform.

Results

Radical performance improvements, including: 

  • Up to 6x increase across all Lighthouse metrics 
  • Revenue increase across the board within first month of adoption
  • Faster on desktop and mobile than any of its competitors

Android Authority is the largest independent publication dedicated to the world's most widely used operating system—Android OS. Every month, the digital publication influences an audience of 50 million technology enthusiasts, industry professionals, and savvy millennials. The Android Authority team is a diverse coalition of expert writers, device reviewers, videographers, journalists and Android developers who have come together under a united passion: a love of mobile technology and the determination to deliver top-notch content.

"We couldn't have made this happen without WP Engine and Atlas. The other options out there either don’t offer the WordPress experience we required, or the headless platform power we need for a website of our size and expected growth.

—–Tayo Onabule, Head of Product,  Android Authority

Setting a higher bar for performance

When it comes to the world of Android OS, Android Authority has you covered. 

Founded in 2007, the online publication has become a content juggernaut with millions of daily readers and an archive of more than 64,000 articles (and counting) focused on all things Android and the wider world of tech. 

Today, Android Authority is the largest, most widely-read independent publication dedicated to Android, and it’s built a massive, loyal readership that keeps on growing. 

Delivering quality content and an excellent on-page experience to those millions of readers is at the core of what Android Authority does, and rather than use paywalls or subscription-based content, the publication relies on ad revenue as a key part of its business model.

As the site has become increasingly popular (traffic has grown more than 200% in the last year alone) Android Authority’s digital teams have had to find new ways of providing that excellent on-page experience at scale, both for readers and for revenue. 

“Android Authority began hosting its site with WP Engine in 2019, and as traffic began increasing dramatically, we started looking for options to address scalability and performance in a way that would support immediate growth but also set us up for the future,” said Tayo Onabule, Head of Product at Android Authority.

With growing demands on resources, Android Authority began working with WP Engine and agile design agency Luna London to better serve more traffic with a lightning-fast page experience, while bringing more flexibility to both developers and content creators. 

“It became apparent that headless architecture was the best strategy and Atlas was the ideal solution,” Onabule said. “Atlas delivers everything we need to radically improve scale and performance without disrupting content publishers’ workflows.”

A future-proof solution for added growth

The completeness of Atlas was one of the most attractive qualities for the Android Authority team. Atlas provides dynamic Node.js hosting, Headless WordPress optimization, and the option to choose any JavaScript-based front-end framework, all in one solution.

“By putting it all together,” Onabule said, “Atlas made it easier for us to adopt headless by cutting out the need for multiple vendors, allowing us to understand pricing, build requirements, and troubleshoot with one trusted partner—WP Engine.”

It also made it easier for the many stakeholders who took part in the project to ensure their requirements were included in the new solution.  

“Android Authority is a diverse business and a lot of different users have different needs for the site,” Onabule said.

Getting stakeholders on board wasn’t just about getting approvals, it was about making sure this solution could help them all—from sales and marketing to development.” 

Because headless architecture decouples the front-end of a website from the back-end, it provides greater flexibility to developers, without disrupting the workflow of content creators, in addition to security and performance improvements. 

On the development side, moving to Atlas meant Android Authority’s developers could use their choice of React-based, and performance-focused front-end frameworks. 

“Being able to build a site in React is a big deal for us,” Onabule said. “And it allows us to do a lot more going forward.” 

On the sales and marketing side, Android Authority’s publishers were able to feed content into the new headless set up the same way they always had—using WordPress—but with improved results on the front-end like increased page load speed and stronger SEO.  

Headless WordPress provides developers with a flexible, decoupled architecture so they can ship features rapidly using the modern tools they prefer
Headless WordPress provides developers with a flexible, decoupled architecture so they can ship features rapidly using the modern tools they prefer

The Results

Radical speed and scale. Revenue up and to the right.

With headless architecture via Atlas in place, Android Authority has seen both immediate results and positive indicators for the future. 

From a performance standpoint, pages across Android Authority's website and mobile application are loading more than 30% faster.

This has improved Lighthouse metrics by as much as 6X, and all of the site’s Core Web Vitals have strengthened to green or “good” thresholds for both mobile and desktop users. 

Core Web Vitals focus on site performance and overall user experience, and they now play a larger role in Google's search rankings

While faster page speeds have provided site visitors with a better user experience, they’ve also boosted Android Authority far beyond its competitors.

Android Authority is now faster on desktop and mobile than any other competing tech media site, and its direct competitors don’t even come close with an average Lighthouse score of 25 and red Core Web Vitals across nearly all categories.

Due to the added speed and the refreshed site layout, Android Authority’s ad revenue also began to increase within one month of moving over to the headless configuration.

“We expect these numbers to go higher as traffic flow accelerates,” Onabule said.

“But by all accounts—across performance and scale as they’re tied to user experience and ad revenue, our foray into headless has been an absolute success.”

Much of that success, he added, was rooted in the Atlas solution itself, and the benefits it includes for sites of Android Authority's size and needed scale. 

“We couldn't have made this happen without WP Engine and Atlas,” Onabule said. “The other options out there either don’t offer the WordPress experience we required, or the level of hosting we need for a website of our size and expected growth.”  

“This was truly a unique win that combined Android Authority's pioneering tech spirit with the great partnership and powerful solutions only WP Engine can provide.”

Atlas: The Future of Headless WordPress

Achieve unprecedented performance using modern frameworks and the world’s #1 open source CMS with one powerful headless platform. Discover how easily you can create and launch extraordinarily fast headless websites. Find out more from our Atlas experts or check out our developer resources to view documentation.

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