WordPress became a dominant platform for websites. According to various analytics systems, more than 30% of active websites in the world are currently using WordPress at their content management system.
In our own experience, moving ByteScout website from our homegrown PHP based content system to Drupal CMS and then to WordPress brought us many new advantages: a wide choice of website hosting platforms, access to many design themes, access to free and paid WordPress plugins. What is also important is that there is no shortage of WordPress developers and there are thousands if not millions of developers who know WordPress and who can help you with it at an affordable price.
Disadvantages of WordPress are the following: there are a lot of free and commercial design themes and plugins but not all of them are good for your website in terms of the speed. One should remember that though the WordPress engine itself is free if you use it for commercial purposes then you may want to use commercial paid themes and plugins so you can get support and updates.
Another disadvantage is that currently there is no real alternative to WordPress. We tried Drupal CMS that is supposed to be so but it was hard to find and buy a custom design theme, it was hard to find good and fast Drupal developer and what is very important: it was hard to maintain and update Drupal.
Basically, you are provided with access to a remote server with PHP support and a database. You should configure and upload WordPress and get it running yourself. Also, you are supposed to maintain and run updates for your WordPress installation, backup database, install and maintain theme and plugins updated, and periodically check that your WordPress site was not hacked. In exchange, you pay a very low fee like $5 / month for this type of hosting.
As the number of WordPress websites was growing, more and more hosting providers started to offer so-called “managed hosting”. Managed hosting assumes that web hosting provider is doing installs, updates and, in some cases, even configures WordPress installation for you. You only need to add and update content, you can install themes and plugins. Managed to host providers to charge more compared to unmanaged WordPress hosting services.
At ByteScout, we’ve selected to go with managed hosting so we can focus on the content and website. We were also looking for a hosting service with 24/7 technical support so we don’t have to have our own dedicated engineer for just a single website monitoring and critical fixes.
What to look for in a managed WordPress hosting provider?
Below we will list a few leading WordPress hosting providers with our short comments based on our experience. There are many WordPress hosting services for both personal and business websites but these services below are mostly for business use. Links below are not affiliated links and we do not earn from any of these services and reviews below are just our opinion based on our own experience.
This web hosting service is provided by Automattic, the company that actually develops and supports WordPress open-source engine. Their managed WordPress hosting plans start at $4/month and are not limited by the number of page views. Their pricing plans are differentiated by the set of features available: they provide e-commerce functions like the ability to accept payments, integrate with top shipping carriers. Low priced plans come without backups and you have “wordpress.com” branding in the footer. If you want to remove the branding, want to have backups, it will cost $25/month and higher. Also, you don’t have SSH or SFTP access to your website at all so you can’t do any customization.
This worldwide leader in the domain name sales space also offers various website hosting options. Their pricing plans vary from $7 to $16 per month (as of January 2020) based on the number of monthly page views. To have some features like an SSL certificate, you should purchase it as a separate service. GoDaddy model is based on providing a lot of various services complementing each other and charging a small fee for every service. You should calculate the final price based on additional services you may require, like SSL certificate (to have https:// for your domain), backups, monitoring, etc. Their pricing plans are based on monitored monthly visits to your website +storage you need for files, pictures, and media files.
One of the oldest web hosting providers now also provides managed WordPress hosting options that start at $6 / month. Their pricing plans are also based on the recommended number of monthly visitors to your website and they already cover CDN (content delivery network) that provides faster response and faster page load speed. They also offer unlimited storage with all hosting plans but their backup storage plans are limited so if you are not paying for main storage, you will likely pay for backup storage based on the amount of data you have.
Pagely is the premium managed WordPress hosting for business and enterprise customers founded by Joshua and Sally Strebel back in 2006. As I understand they were among very first managed WordPress hosting services. Their pricing plans start at $199/month for 5 websites and they run on top of Amazon AWS infrastructure. Their pricing covers both website hosting and additional options like automatic backups, SSL certificate, their own built-in CDN, DNS services that are designed to improve the performance. They charge for additional storage and traffic. Like all other providers, they also offer free website migration. They do not charge based on monthly website visitors.
Though images and other media files can be hosted on Pagely and delivered through WordPress for ByteScout.com (this website), shortly after we’ve migrated to Pagely, we decided to move all large files downloads for our products and files larger than 20 mb+ into our own CDN running on Amazon AWS Cloudfront. Though it involves additional costs comparing to hosting all the files on Pagely, this way we were able to automate uploads for our product updates and we are also able to fully leverage all the servers provided by Amazon AWS network.
Based on our 3 years experience with Pagely we love them because our website is just works and their customer support is fast and helps us to resolve issues very fast (they even sharing technical tips to do).
WP Engine is the premium managed WordPress hosting service that was founded and bootstrapped by four-times entrepreneur Jason Cohen in 2009 after he switched his own website from the Squarespace platform to WordPress. WP Engine’s main promise is that they can provide the fastest speed for your WordPress website and their pricing plans start at$29/month. Their plans are based on the number of website visitors per month (so the more visitors you have, the more you will need to pay) and you also may need to pay or upgrade for additional options like SSL certificate if you are on the lowest pricing plan.
Based on our experience and the selection of web hosting provider for our WordPress based website, they are a direct competitor to Pagely. Our trial with ByteScout.com on WP Engine was gone great. But we choose to go with Pagely because we have automatic redirects on our website that we use for some old and outdated links and WP Engine service was counting them as page views. Overall, a lot of popular websites are hosted on WPEngine. They also offer free migration and their customer support seems to be fast and responsive based on our trial period experience.
If you are an aspiring entrepreneur then I highly recommend you to explore WPEngine’s founder Jason Cohen blog where he is sharing his lessons along the journey with his bootstrapped business, also check hist famous talk at Business of Software Conference, called Designing the Ideal Bootstrapped Business
P.S.: Looking for faster and simpler but still free and open-source WordPress? Check Ghost, the open-source alternative that was founded by O’Nolan, former deputy leader of the WordPress User Interface team after becoming frustrated with WordPress.
This article is written by our featured writer Eugene Mironichev, an expert in software products and team management (published a book in 2017), Forbes writer and speaker at tech and business conferences.