If you have a business, you need a website – that’s just the way it is these days.
Most business owners who are serious about their online presence will hire a company experienced in creative and functional website design & development. But, it’s so important to understand that a really awesome website goes beyond how it looks and functions on the front-end.
The back-end of your website – the place where you, the business-owner can add, edit, and manipulate content – requires just as much attention. These days, the ability to make changes to your content, images, products, and more should not require you to know how to code. Most websites these days are built on top of a framework – or “skeleton” – called a content management system (CMS).
There are many content management systems and web hosting services available, but let’s be realistic: chances are high that if it isn’t already, the company you hire will build it on WordPress. Why do we say that? Because around 50% of all businesses do.
It’s what we use for our clients at White Rabbit Marketing, and if it’s not the standard CMS for businesses, it’s pretty darn close.
Building a site on WordPress allows us to develop more “turn-key” websites that require half the time to update and are scalable to our clients’ needs. It also allows us to teach our clients to update their website content easily and with minimal fear of breaking it, saving them time and money.
It’s important to understand that, while WordPress is extremely convenient and easy to use, every CMS is not without its cons. There were two main areas of focus for us regarding building sites on WordPress:
Site speed: Content Management Systems, especially ones that are heavily customized add bulk to a site which can cause longer load times. We are not ashamed to admit it – Our website designs may be stunning and have awesome features, but they are also bloated, which required us to really concentrate on minimizing load times.
Security: Because WordPress (and most any 3rd party CMS), is open-source it not only attracts users, it also attracts hackers looking for exploits, either through the admin itself, or through a back door in one of the over 40,000 plugins available to install.
Breakage & Scalability: Though we develop our website admin areas to be as user-friendly as possible, and coach our clients to update their sites, there is always the chance that a user can inadvertently break something important. WordPress and its plugins are constantly evolving, updating to include new features, bug fixes, and security patches. It’s only a matter of time before an update becomes incompatible with a bit of code.
Because of these concerns, we thought it would be worth it to introduce you to a web hosting option we discovered several years ago that completely changed the way we look at hosting companies in general. Designed specifically for WordPress sites, this company had a solution for every one of our major concerns and has been one of the best decisions we have ever made in regards to managed hosting: WP Engine.
Managed Hosting Can Save You Time And Money
Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Why should I care who hosts my website? Why should I pay more if I can just go with the most well-known company, or the cheapest deal? What does it mean to specialize in ‘managed WordPress hosting’, anyways?”
All fair questions for those unfamiliar with the myriad choices available to you beyond the “Big Three” hosting companies. But, take it from someone with years of experience dealing with many different hosting companies – there is a difference….
A HUGE DIFFERENCE.
Let’s take a look at what WP Engine offers and why affordable, managed hosting trumps a “good deal” any day of the week:
Speed, speed, and more speed.
When compared to other hosting services, WordPress sites that use WP Engine really are faster. This is vitally important, because studies have shown that people are far less likely to convert if your site is slow. Keep in mind that on the internet, speed is measure in milliseconds, so when we began using WP Engine to host our clients’ sites and saw page load time decreases of up to TWO SECONDS, our minds were blown.
WP Engine also works with NetDNA to offer a content delivery network (CDN) that allows visitors to get site content from the servers that are closest to them. Translation: content loads even faster making your website load even faster.
Automatic installs of WordPress upgrades and patches. Real-time threat detection that blocks spammers and hackers. Firewalls. Network analysis monitoring tools. Vulnerability scans. These are just a few of the ways WP Engine defends against security breaches. They even have a WordPress plugin “blacklist” which details plugins known to have major security risks and which are disallowed on the hosting environment. This kind of peace of mind is invaluable.
Tech Support that is second to none.
We simply cannot stress enough how important it is to have a support team that can actually help you out of a tight spot. If your site is hacked, or you accidentally break something, who do you turn to?
Your “web guy” who answers emails a week late, or never returns your phone calls?
Your nephew’s friends’ college roommate who knows “a lot about websites”?
Your hosting company – Wait. What?!
We have quite literally spent DAYS on phone calls and live chat sessions with just about every major hosting provider over the years and WP Engine’s team is by far the best around. While most hosting companies will help (albeit minimally and with limited knowledge) with hacking issues, most don’t have the technical knowledge to deal with development issues directly related to your website. At WPE, they specialize in WordPress and all of their tech specialists are trained in the same. They have gotten us out of some sticky situations throughout the years and we can count on them to help us with issues that most hosting companies wouldn’t, and couldn’t, handle.
In its simplest definition, scalability means to allocate additional resources to your hosting environment as needed. Whether your site gets a few hundred visitors a month or tens of millions, your hosting environment has to keep up with that influx of traffic.
You’ve heard the term “crash the servers”, right? Well, that’s exactly what happens. A website is hosted on an actual computer, or in the case of cloud hosting, bits and pieces of many computers, and when traffic to that website increases it uses up allocated memory. When that memory is all used up, the server crashes and the website does too.
WP Engine knows how to handle traffic increases so every visitor not only gets an optimal experience, but minimizes website down-time. One of the biggest reasons their scalability is so good is that they use EverCache to serve up media quickly and automatically refresh your cache. Simply put, the more cacheable a site is, the more scalable it is.
The “fix-it” button.
Okay, so there’s not an actual button, but WP Engine does make it ridiculously easy to revert back to an older version of your site if something weird ever occurs with your site during a version or plugin update, or you accidentally break something. Without this feature, mistakes would be incredibly costly and time-consuming. With it, websites can be restored within seconds and visitors are unlikely to ever know there was a problem.
Everything is optimized for WordPress.
Other hosting services need to be able to work with all of the different content management systems and web technologies. This is inconvenient for obvious reasons. When you use a “one size fits all” approach, you end up cutting corners and your staff’s technical knowledge is stretched thin.
WP Engine is tailor-made for WordPress and only WordPress. This enables them to optimize their offerings for WordPress’ specific architecture. Simply put, because they focus on WordPress, your site will be faster, more secure, and enjoy other benefits you wouldn’t get with most other hosting services.
Do we recommend WP Engine?
The answer is pretty obvious, right? Yes, we absolutely do.
When our customers opt to go with WP Engine, it makes our job easier. Rather than worrying about potential security or scalability issues, we can spend our time designing the best possible websites and crafting content that converts. We can continually try new things to make your site work even better without worrying about time-consuming, costly mistakes, because it’s incredibly simple to revert to a previous version of the site.
WP Engine is all about freeing up designers and developers to do what they do best… and when that happens, it allows our clients to do what they do best.