The 20 Largest ExpressionEngine Sites, October 2011

If you want the most recent list of largest EE sites, it’s right here.

People often ask us, “Can ExpressionEngine handle my HUGE TRAFFIC requirements? Because I’m planning to get [one gazzillion hits or something like that] and I heard Drupal or Wordpress is better for big sites.”

The answer is: Yes, EE can handle your traffic, if you know how to set it up properly and if your hosting provider is reliable and robust.  Here at Hop Studios, we have been building large ExpressionEngine-powered sites for years.  Nevertheless, until we first researched this list, it was hard to find concrete examples of enormous sites to back up our assertion that EE could handle large traffic.

So we made this list. And because we like to share, below is the current definitive list of the 20 largest ExpressionEngine websites. (Why 20? Because the last list was 32 sites and that was too darn long, that’s why.)

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, October 2011

  1. Barack Obama: You’ve heard of him, yes? This is his campaign site*
  2. Totally NSFW: adult content (porn)
  3. iLounge: everything about the iPod and iPhone
  4. BroBible: a site for men
  5. Penny Arcade: comic strip

  6. Periodicos Zocalo: newspaper in Mexico
  7. Gear Live: gadget news
  8. SpeedTV: NASCAR news
  9. Kukla’s Korner: hockey fans
  10. Paula Deen: famous chef

  11. Red Flag Deals: shopping deals
  12. DipNote: : U.S. Dept. of State’s blog
  13. A List Apart: resource for CSS and design
  14. BMI Music: music licensing and artist
  15. Trend Hunter: trends and gossip

  16. DJ Booth: songs and news
  17. Pep Boys: car parts
  18. Campaign Monitor: email campaign tool
  19. It Gets Better: support for gay youth
  20. Truthdig: independent political news

(Items in green are new since last year; other sites may be new to the top 20, but were on the list last year.)

* 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.

The largest confirmed traffic we know of is a tie between iLounge and totallyNSFW; they both have 20,000,000 pages per month. The largest number of entries we know of is Periodicos Zocalo: 453,000. Yes, that’s 453,000 ENTRIES! Woah.

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, Garmin, Vodafone, and The sites (or sub-sites) of these big companies do not deal with the large amounts of traffic that the ones listed above do.

Several of the biggest sites from the last list have switched completely away from EE in the past year, but I don’t think that this is an abnormal occurrence. However, I’d have liked to see more brand new sites pushing existing sites out of the top ranks. Here are the ones that left EE completely this year:

  1. Top Gear: BBC car show
  2. allkpop: Korean celebrity news
  3. The Frisky: celebrity news

Much of the raw data we gathered is available for you to use, so long as you credit us. Take a look:


Click here to view the spreadsheet directly

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.

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!

Update 10/16: iLounge uses EE for its site, but not for its forums, we’ve been informed.


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