How FiveThirtyEight Shattered Traffic Records with Zero Downtime During the U.S. Election

Raise your hand if you found yourself endlessly hitting the ‘refresh’ button on your browser the week of November 3.

Yep, us too. Including those of us who were heads-down powering the sites serving late-breaking election updates to every corner of the globe.

With so many customers in the news business, election season is always a busy one for WordPress VIP.

The WordPress VIP team was responsible for at least a handful of the billion pageviews FiveThirtyEight served during election week in the U.S.

High scale, zero headaches for FiveThirtyEight

Four years ago, we saw landmark traffic spikes for customers like FiveThirtyEight, who posted in a single day the amount of traffic we expect the largest-scale sites to power in an entire week.

This year, FiveThirtyEight shattered its own record, serving close to 1.3 billion pageviews from Monday-Friday during election week. On Tuesday night alone, their site served 132,000 requests per second, with WordPress VIP’s server response time staying flat at 144 milliseconds.

A chart of FiveThirtyEight's site performance during the U.S. presidential election
FiveThirtyEight served 132,000 requests per second on election night in the U.S. while server response time stayed flat at 144 milliseconds.

Engineered for peak performance

A win like that doesn’t just happen by chance.

One of the benefits of WordPress VIP’s approach to customer success is our true partnership with each of our customers. We knew far ahead of time that customers like FiveThirtyEight would experience massive demand during election week, so we collaborated closely with them to make sure they were ready to shine on their biggest night of the year.

In the weeks leading up to the election, our dedicated team of engineers coordinated with FiveThirtyEight’s engineers and their development agency 10up (a WordPress VIP Gold partner) to improve cache efficiency and ensure their sites were optimized for the extraordinary traffic they were expecting, freeing them to focus on delivering content to readers all over the world.

Election season is stressful for everyone involved, but our biggest goal was to help our customers breathe a little easier knowing WordPress VIP and 10up were hard at work on their behalf. There’s no greater satisfaction than celebrating their success. If you need a partner to help your digital experiences shine, don’t hesitate to reach out.