November 24, 2013 Pieter Hartsook

Why we recommend our clients switch website hosting to WP Engine

wpengine logoMany of our clients come to us with websites hosted with companies like HostGator, Bluehost, HostMonster, and even GoDaddy. We currently recommend their redesigned site be moved and deployed at WP Engine.

Why WP Engine?

There are several reasons why WP Engine is a superior value for a larger, more complex website, and it is a better choice than a typical shared hosting provider.

Pros

WP Engine specializes in hosting WordPress websites

Joomla-Drupal-WordpressThat’s all they do, and they are very good at it. They don’t provide email or DNS services. They don’t host html, Drupal, Joomla, or Cold Fusion sites. Their architecture is optimized to provide the best security and performance for the unique requirements of WordPress. Many hosting companies claim they support WordPress. But when you’re hosting WordPress, you need specific support. If a plugin breaks, or a theme file doesn’t work, and you’re hosted with a typical hosting company, they’ll throw up their hands and say We’re not responsible! We just provide the server and the bandwidth, buddy. But at WP Engine,  their staff consists entirely of WordPress experts, so they will help you track down and troubleshoot your WordPress issues. 

Security

cyberattackAs WordPress continues to grow to represent a significant percent of all websites it becomes an increasingly popular target for hackers, malware, spammers, and other unwanted attention. A hacked site can modify your content, grab email addresses and other information about your users and subscribers, use your server to send out spam, have your site show up in browsers with black list warnings, and may result in your hosting provider shutting the site down. Your security on typical shared hosts can be compromised not only through weaknesses in your site, but vulnerabilities in other sites running on the same server. WP Engine provides separate file system roots for each customer so that hackers can’t get into your site through the back door. And should your site get hacked, their hosting package includes the services of the best-in-business Succuri.net that will clean out the malware, restore your site, and monitor it against future incursions.

Performance

speedometer_fast-wallpaper-1024x768No matter what you do on your individual WordPress site to optimize page-load performance you can only improve it so much on a typical shared hosting provider. WP Engine takes WordPress performance seriously and has created a custom optimized architecture for their servers that ekes out every last bit of speed for your website, things that you just can’t do on a typical shared hosting service. Google says they lose 20% of their traffic for each additional 100 milliseconds it takes a page to load, so reducing your page load time from 3-4 seconds to 1-2 seconds makes a big difference in how far a customer will travel into your site to get the information they need. WP Engine provides this optimization, you don’t need to install, configure and maintain local caching plugins. Here is an example of a before and after. The original page on HostMonster took 4.82s for the first part of the page to show, and 1.61 seconds later it finished loading for a total of 6.43s for the full page to render. After moving that site to WP Engine that page load time dropped to 3.87 seconds, almost a 40% decrease in load time.

Page initially loaded in 6.43 seconds

Page initially loaded in 6.43 seconds

After moving site to WP Engine page load time dropped to 3.87 seconds, almost a 40% decrease in load time

After moving site to WP Engine, page load time dropped to 3.87 seconds,  a 40% decrease in load time

Convenience

easyOnce a website is in production, we recommend making a copy of the production site as a “sandbox” or staging site where you can experiment with updates, theme changes, new plugins, etc. without affecting the public-facing production site. Keeping the staging site synced up with the production site so you are testing the latest version of the site can be a problem. WP Engine recognized how important this is and provides a one-click button to make a copy of your site into a staging area. It only takes a couple minutes to make the copy so you no longer need to worry about syncing, you just make a fresh copy when you want to update the sandbox. And when you are finished and the changes on the staging site are approved, another single click copies your updated site to the live production site.

Cons

Price

Green Dollar SignWP Engine hosting is more expensive than typical shared hosting plans and you also pay separately for each website. Typical shared hosting plans currently run about $12-$15/month (after the initial discounted introductory price expires). WP Engine charges $30/month (but this cost includes the Sucuri.net malware detection, alerting, and cleanup services that you would pay $7.50/month for if you were not at WP Engine). So really the difference between WP Engine and a typical shared hosting plan is about $10/month if you only have one website.)

WP Engine only hosts WordPress websites, no domain registration or email accounts

no_email_iconA typical web hosting company like GoDaddy, HostGator, or Bluehost can provide, in addition to web hosting,  your email accounts, and domain registration. When you move your website to WP Engine you will have to have have another supplier provide the domain name hosting and the email services for your domain.

But if first impressions are important for your company, your website’s reliability and performance should matter to you. I can’t think of a better way to get that than by hosting your WordPress website at WP Engine.

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