I am in love.
For so long, hosting had been such a painful part of running a website design business. The constant annoyance of being let down. Hosts that would just disappear of the face of the planet for up to 12 hours at a time. Painful response wait times from support to get problems fixed.
There is a new love in my life. An that is WP Engine.
First of all, what the heck is website hosting?
Website hosting is like your bit of ‘real estate’ on the internet. It works by storing the files (such as code, images, PDFs and scripts) that make up your website on a fast server that is connected to the internet. When a visitor types your domain name (e.g. www.yoursite.com) into their browser’s address bar, your server is located, and files are sent back to the browser’s computer. The server space where everything is stored is referred to as ‘website hosting’.
Different types of hosting
Hosting ranges dramatically in terms of cost and service. Generally the cost of hosting has come down significantly over the years. It is very easy to purchase a ‘shared hosting account’ (meaning you share a server with a few hundred other users) for a few dollars per month.
The love of God, stay away from these!
Like anything in life, you get what you pay for and hosting is no different. These shared hosting plans tend to crash often and are notoriously slow and customer service poor. Your website load speed is measured by Google and is important to ranking so you want to ensure your site loads fast.
An important part of hosting a WordPress website is ensuring that the underlying core software and plugins are always up to date and secure. Due to the fact that WordPress (our primary tool of choice) is open source it is easy for hackers to look for vulnerabilities and exploit these. Their motivation is typically to inject malicious code and links into your website to gain advantage in Google. The last thing you want is a bunch of Viagra links on your website!
WordPress is always working on new security patches and features. It is imperative that this maintenance happens otherwise you are leaving your site exposed. A good quality host or web designer will ensure that your WordPress is kept up to date and secure as part of their service.
Dedicated WordPress hosting
Due to the popularity of WordPress as a platform, companies like WP Engine specialise purely in hosting just WordPress websites. They are very proactive about security and by default they take care of all WordPress software upgrades. Their speed and reliability tend to be a lot better as they look after all the technical aspects that enable delivery of your website as fast as possible. For added peace of mind, these services take daily backups of your website so you can roll back and restore with one click at any point in time. If your website is ever hacked, they will fix it as part of the service.
In addition, a feature called a CDN (Content Delivery Network) will be built into the platform. This means that a copy of your website exists on hundreds of servers around the world. The website that is geographically closest to the visitor accessing your site will load automatically, speeding up load time. The end result is your site loads super FAST!
Typically a service like this does cost more but when you factor in the added value of security, maintenance, backups and support it is the logical choice.
A faster website is not only better for your ranking in Google, it is great for your users. Studies have shown that a delay of even one second can affect the user’s flow and train of thought. After three seconds the user will abandon your website all together. WP engine’s servers load FAST. We have transitioned sites to their servers and on average they load twice as fast.
We have been with WP Engine for over 12 months now and have not been let down once.
We are an enterprise level partner with over 300 sites hosted there.
Support are wonderful. Average ticket response time is around 30 minutes. The do what they say they are doing to do every time.