Replacing Dynamic PHP Functions for WordPress

Shifter makes it possible to host your WordPress websites statically across a variety of CDNs. While this innovation solves a number of problems (and provides many cost and workload benefits, as described in our Shifter Case blog post), there is one thing Shifter websites cannot handle: dynamic functions handled by PHP.

But there’s good news: dynamic PHP functions can be replaced by external modern services through a simple implementation. We like to think of this as an evolution rather than a limitation—people separate things into many different parts and can use variant external services to achieve their specific goals. This the microservices approach to modern web development and this is also the approach we use at Shifter.

Let’s have a look at how to integrate external modern services with your WordPress sites. You can do it all with plugins—no need for additional code—and your site will gain more solid architecture. Even basic WordPress sites can use these services to improve their infrastructure performance and reduce cost.

Three processes you need to replace:

  1. Search
  2. Comments
  3. Contact forms

Search Replacement

WordPress default search can be replaced with either Google Custom Search or Algolia. It’s free if you go with Google and here’s how to implement it with a simple plugin. Algolia is a paid cloud search solution that we recommend. It will return the best results with additional functions such as keyword suggestion, sort, and more through their APIs. You’ll need a plugin made by the Algolia community and these implementation instructions.

Comment Replacement

WordPress’s default comment system will not work on static HTML websites, but Disqus is a great alternative. Disqus is a SaaS that offers a good comment experience for users on multiple platforms, including WordPress. You can integrate Disqus using their official plugin and these simple tips.

Contact Forms Replacement

Contact forms receive posted data and save it—and you can easily do that with external services. Mautic is an open source software for marketing automation, and they have a cloud service to host your data on their server. It’s free until you get more than 1,000 emails a day and you can easily integrate it with your current site. Zendesk is another option, and one of the top services that integrates your communications with your customers. They offer a support ticket system, chat system, FAQ CMS, forms, and more. Their service starts at $5/month and you can integrate it into your site with their official plugin.

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