How to Build Data-driven WordPress Website

8 minutes read
How to Build Data-driven WordPress Website

The need for data-driven websites is increasing over the years, as we’re living in a world where most business decisions are driven by data. The amount of data creation may go up to 180 zettabytes globally.

Developing a database-driven website is a difficult task. At each moment, your CMS will get flooded with data, and processing that data effectively is a challenge.

Fret not!

Here you can learn how to develop a database driven WordPress website. But before that let’s understand what is data-driven website?

What Is a Data-Driven Website?

A data-driven website differs significantly from its static variants. One major difference is that you (admin) can quickly update a data-driven website as and when new data comes to light.

In fact, the sole purpose of such a website is to display the latest content. So, unlike a static website, it gets updated regularly and on time.

This means a data-driven website is not a one-time project. It is an ongoing process. In other words, your website needs to be flexible enough to blend frequent changes.

The bottom line is – the website database will be the most affected element in your data-driven website. Let’s consider a few examples to illustrate this point.

  • In an online store, the website database keeps changing every time a new order gets placed or a new customer signs up.
  • Many websites collect data from third-party platforms. You would want to store this data, then filter and display it in an easy-to-understand format. This makes optimization in the database necessary.
  • Another scenario is when your website database gets updated more frequently, and you want to process the updated data before displaying it. That’s also where WordPress database optimization comes in.

WordPress as a CMS Is a Good Fit for a Data-Driven Website

A data-driven website requires a content management system (CMS) to work efficiently. The CMS enables you to manage the website content with ease and structure. And WordPress is the most popular CMS that fits the bill.

The WordPress default database schema consists of a couple of tables developers use in every request to both front-end and back-end sites. Plus, there are many tables for posts and pages, comments, terms, user accounts, and settings.

WordPress authors have done a decent job of optimizing resource usage and designed tables to store virtually endless amounts of data.

Data Stored in WordPress

WordPress allows you to save any custom entity as a post, an object with a unique identifier, name, content, or date of creation/modification associated with a particular user.

Meta entries use key-value pair that is associated with a post. In fact, you can seamlessly manipulate entities as posts and add a set of meta parameters to them. This universal post-oriented approach is the easiest and fastest way to store and retrieve data from the database server.

Common Issues We Face with WordPress Database Structure

Every WordPress site uses the database (to some extent) to store and serve content. WordPress supplies very intuitive mechanics for posts. But at the same time, it opens a gateway to database performance issues. Small sites focused mainly on static content can play quite efficiently on this built-in solution. However, the bigger and more complex services mentioned in the examples above require a smarter approach.

As you start adding data to WordPress, the size of the post meta table will start increasing due to its key-value pair. Everything you add through the website probably needs to store info in post meta.

You may face data delivery issues when the data is getting processed in the background before being displayed to the users. For example, if you’re getting thousands of orders daily, you will face issues when generating monthly and weekly revenue reports.

This applies to other instances too. For example, if you feed your website database heavily and more frequently from a third-party platform, increased post meta table size will cause issues when you want to filter and display the latest data. This happens because the database query takes more time to process that data.

Limitations of WordPress Database Structure

What causes this problem?

In WordPress, the post meta table uses a key-value pair associated with a post. In short, if a customer purchases from your online WordPress-based store, it will store all the data in key-value pairs.

Key Value
order_id 1001
first_name John
last_name Doe
purchase_date 01/01/2023
order_id 1002
first_name Kevin
last_name Yew
purchase_date 01/01/2023

These issues could only be addressed if the key-value pairs were designed as given below, by minimizing the number of rows and converting them into columns. Unfortunately, that’s not in our hands.

Key order_id first_name last_name last_name
Value 1001 John Doe 01/01/2023
Value 1002 Kevin Yew 01/01/2023

It will occupy less space in the post-meta table. But as per the WordPress database structure, the post meta table gets used globally and there is no way to change this.

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Possible Solutions

Luckily, to get you out of this pickle, we have found two potential solutions.

They are:

1. Solution One (Use A Custom Order Table)

You can’t optimize the structure of the default WP post_meta table, but you can create a table tailored to your requirements and store the order data over there. You will need to work with a seasoned WordPress expert because it requires a few changes in the default WooCommerce order functionality.

Here’s the step-by-step process.

  • With the help of a WordPress expert, you can create an optimized custom order data table like the one below:

A Custom Order Table

  • Now, ask your WordPress developer to Instruct the CMS to insert and fetch new orders from the custom table.
  • Next, ask your developer to migrate your old order data to the newly created custom order table.
  • However, this is a customized solution, so it will be applicable if you’re not using this order data with any other plugin. If you use plugins, they will still try to fetch the data from the post_meta table.

2. Solution Two

Let’s say you are feeding the website database from an API or any third-party platform. You have thousands of records coming in and want to filter them in detail while displaying them on the website. The problem is, if you are storing all this data in a custom post type, it will get stored in a traditional WP way, meaning in a post_meta table. Again, the variety of data gets stored as a key-value pair. In short, you will not be able to filter this data in detail.

  • For example, let’s assume you have created a recipe website where recipe data comes from an API. You have set up a recipe listing page and added a filter. The filter contains various options like Meal Type, Course, Diet, Protein Options, Difficulty Level, Methods, Other Nutrient Options, and much more!
  • If this recipe data is stored in a custom post type, the recipe attributes will also get stored as a key-value pair in a post_meta table.

post_meta table


    • When a user tries to filter thousands of recipes with different filter options, the WordPress default database query will start looping through each record to find the matching results. It will take longer and longer as the size of the post_meta table increases. It may result in data-delivery issues moving forward.
    • Rather than creating custom post types to store this data, you can create an optimized custom table. It will avoid increasing the size of the default post_meta table and help you increase the efficiency of processing/filtering that data as and when required.

Below is an example of a well-optimized table:

optimized table

  • With a solution like this, your users will get results within a few seconds when they try filtering those recipes.

Ready to Build a Data-Driven WordPress Site?

Our White Label WordPress Development solutions are designed for agency owners to take on more projects and scale their businesses. Get Started with Data-Driven Web Development Today!


The need for a data-driven website is undeniable in this increasingly digitalized world. Concrete and actionable data insights can drive more sales and generate better leads. It’s in the best interest of your agency/brand. And with these quick tips, you can create and maintain a more data-driven WordPress website. Try these now and let us know how they helped.

Are you struggling with your WordPress website performance? Reach out to us for customized solutions.

  • Priyal works as Technical Project Manager (WordPress and WooCommerce) at E2M and leads a team of 15 developers. In the 5 years of experience, she has gained expertise in developing functional WordPress websites and worked with multiple Plug-ins and themes. She is highly attentive to client's needs and delivers excellent results consistently. She lives by the mantra, “Decide. Commit. Succeed.”