Since May 2009, we’ve been keeping track of the largest ExpressionEngine sites on the web. This year’s update proves once more that yes, ExpressionEngine can handle extremely large traffic, if you know how to set it up properly and if your hosting provider is reliable and robust.
So why the list? Well, we have been building large ExpressionEngine-powered sites for a decade, and we’d often see lists of the large organizations that used EE: Apple, BBC, Disney, Garmin, Nike, Sony, etc.. Nevertheless, until we first put this together ourelves, it was hard to find good examples of the EE sites that actually handled huge traffic, and not just the ones that used EE within their infrastructure somewhere but for smaller sites.
But wait… What exactly defines “largest”?
That’s a tough question, because some sites that have a huge amount of visitors might still be just one page in scope. Or a site that serves a niche audience and has a low global Alexa ranking might have crazy active forums. We consulted with many other EE professionals to come up with the following important factors, which seemed to be the consensus about what determines “largeness.”
- number of unique visitors and pages / month
- number of entries and comments
- number of members and forum posts
- awards and buzz
Combining all these data points from an initial list of more than 150 candidate sites, we came up with the ranking you see here, which was based on all the data we gathered plus a little bit of what we like to call “magic ordering sauce.” You might argue with the specifics of the order, however, we guarantee that you’ll be impressed, and surprised, by this list.
The 20 Largest ExpressionEngine websites, as of February 2016
- Barack Obama: You’ve heard of him, yes? This is his campaign site*
- Garmin: many of their mapping sites
- Donald Trump: u.s. presidential candidate
- Periodicos Zocalo: newspaper in Mexico
- Trend Hunter: trends and gossip
- iLounge: everything about the iPod and iPhone
- Totally NSFW: adult content (porn)
- Life Site News: Religious ministry
- Penny Arcade: comic strip
- Pizza Hut: Get a pizza RIGHT NOW
- CBC.ca: Many of their show’s sites
- Vertical Response: Email marketing tool
- Playbill: Theater business news
- Fodor’s: the travel guides
- Gear Live: gadget news
- My Newsletter Builder: Really? Two email marketing tools? Yep.
- VKMag.com: online magazine
- A List Apart: resource for CSS and design
- Getty Images: The story behind the photos
- Truthdig: progressive news site
(Items in green are new since last year; other sites may be new to the top 20, but were on the list last year.)
Notes for 2016
1. donaldjtrump.com was on ExpressionEngine from May 2015 to Sep 2015, according to BuiltWith.com. I have been unable to verify traffic levels at that time, or to determine what it’s running on now, but it deserves to be in the list.
2. Change.gov used to be the top site on this list; I’ve retired it because it hasn’t been active since 2009, though it would still easily rank in the top 5.
3. I didn’t find as many new sites this year. Give me your tips!
4. The largest confirmed traffic I know of this year is still Garmin at 23,000,000 pages per month. The largest number of entries we know of is Periodicos Zocalo: 1,200,000. ZOMG.
5. The site I most wish had made the list? Butterball.com, the Thanksgiving turkey recipe site that I know must get huge traffic a few times a year…
If you’re looking for the names of big companies that use EE, the list includes Stanford, U of Miami, MIT, Mailchimp, Cisco, Boobieathon, Sony, Apple, Disney, Nokia, WB, Ford, BBC, Nike, Adobe, Toys R Us, Vodafone, GOP.com and Democrats.org. However, to my knowledge, these companies’ usage of EE is for sites (or sub-sites) that do not deal with the large volume of traffic that the ones listed above do, and this isn’t about name dropping, this is about BIG SITES.
Much of the raw data we gathered is available for you to use, so long as you credit us. Take a look:
Also note, the spreadsheet is a living document, so it may in the future show a different ranking than the list in this article does. That’s because we’ve learned more and updated it. The list is still the list, but the spreadsheet reflects live data.
Special thanks to the folks on Twitter who chipped in with suggestions, and to some folks who couldn’t help us on the record.
Please let us know of any missing sites, either in the comments or by contacting us directly. Thanks!