Do you love the idea that WordPress is open source? That it comes with a built in CMS (Customer Management System) that allows you to make changes to your website without a developer? That so many additional functionalities are capable in the WordPress community…often for free?
We all love WordPress! That is why WordPress powers 1/3 of the World Wide Web.
But there is a downside to WordPress as well. WordPress is a combination of the WordPress Core, the theme you add to your website, and the various plugins you add for additional functionality. What this means is that when there is a failure, it is very hard to know who to call for help. There will be some finger pointing among the theme developer and plugin developers. Of course, if you are using the free version of the theme or plugins, the only place you can call for help is your website host or your web developer, if you have one. And your host or your developer will be pointing fingers at the theme and/or plugins you have chosen.
There are theme, plugin, and website hosting decisions you can make that will reduce and almost eliminate the risk of website downtime. In this post I will be giving you the key to the vault…the secrets of a WordPress developer.
Optimized or Managed WordPress Hosting
As WordPress has evolved, some website hosts have built website hosting packages that make your website run faster and more reliably. However, this comes at a cost. Optimized WordPress website hosting starts at around $20 per month. Here are the features I look for in Optimized WordPress hosting:
- Automated backups and one-touch restore. You absolutely need a way to bring your website back up immediately if it crashes.
- SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate. This provides your website browser bar with the little lock to let your website visitors know it really is your website and not a fraudulent copy.
- Staging Website. You or your developer will use your staging website to try out major changes to your website in a safe environment. The staging website is a complete copy of your website, but it isn’t live on your domain.
- Caching and CDN (content delivery network). Caching files makes your websites faster and the CDN will put copies of your website files all over the world so that they do not have as far to go to reach your website visitor.
At White Buffalo Websites, we use the Flywheel Optimized WordPress hosting. I researched the best optimized WordPress hosts, and three came to the top of the list: FlyWheel, Siteground, and WPEngine. The website you are viewing right now is on Siteground, which has been an excellent website host. FlyWheel is my favorite, though, because of the easy to use interface and excellent service they provide. WPEngine has a reputation as being the fastest website hosting, and also the most expensive starting at $35 a month. I have had the best service experiences with FlyWheel and their user interface is far and away my favorite.
These are many other optimized WordPress hosting companies. I would avoid GoDaddy because of their aggressive sales, but they can be very good at service. I have also used the HostGator Managed WordPress, and it doesn’t have the features I would like. Blue Host at one point was moving towards Optimized WordPress Hosting, but my recent experiences haven’t been good.
The key is to find Optimized or Managed WordPress Hosting from any hosting provider, because it will keep your website running smoothly.
Not all WordPress themes are equal. I install the Beaver Builder Theme on all new websites, because it is stable and feature-rich. If your website has a strong need for speed, I would recommend WPEngine Hosting (the fastest hosting) and they provide you with access to all of the Genesis Framework Themes included in your hosting package. See my other article on website themes.
Choose Plugins Carefully
One thing that makes WordPress so great is the ability to add functionality to your website with plugins. Because many plugins are free, it is a temptation to add a lot of plugins. However, each additional plugin you add increases the complexity of the website and with it the probability of a crash. Moreover, plugins will slow down your website, and speed is everything. Before you add a plugin ask yourself:
- Do I need this plugin?
- What is the reputation of this plugin?
Of course, you want and need plugins for your website. That is what makes WordPress so great. But some care to only use the best plugins is necessary.
At White Buffalo Websites, our default is to use Flywheel Hosting for our websites. We buy the hosting in bulk so that we can offer it to you for much less than you would pay for it. We will work with any WordPress theme, but by default will use the Beaver Builder Theme. The Beaver Builder Theme is structurally sound and has enough features that your development cost is greatly reduced.