WordPress Hosting for Small- to Mid-Size Businesses
So, you’re ready to get a website! Hurray! Besides finding a fabulous web designer (Seven Blocks Design — cough, cough), what do you need to get started?
First things you need are a domain name and website hosting.
Just to clarify: the domain name is your web address, your URL, your www.MyWebsiteName.com, and web hosting is where all the files that make up your site are stored.
When I first started designing and building WordPress websites, I generally used whatever hosting people already have or recommended BlueHost, which has been listed on WordPress information site (although this list is often a hot topic for debate within the WordPress community). However, as my experience and research in this area has grown, my own recommendations have changed.
Why Is Good Hosting Important?
Hosting can impact security, speed, website uptime (meaning that your site doesn’t go down temporarily when your site or other sites that are sharing the same servers get busy), scalability (how many site visitors you can have), whether they run the latest software, etc. Other considerations are their expertise with WordPress and customer service (“Press pound/hashtag three hundred and forty-three to give us your great-grandmother’s maiden name and social security number…”).
Types of Hosting
There are a range of hosting possibilities including Managed, Shared, VPS, Dedicated, and Cloud hosting. Here’s a great article on the differences between these kinds of hosting.
On the enterprise level, companies and well-known brands using WordPress (such as The New Yorker Magazine, Sony Music, BBC America, Variety, and more) may have dedicated servers costing hundreds or thousands of dollars a month. On the other end of the spectrum, there are hosting companies that no one has ever heard of (and even some that you have) offering the cheapest hosting — in general something is going to be lacking in terms of what they offer in exchange for those deep discounts.
We’re going to focus on Managed WordPress hosting options for typical small to mid-size businesses. Managed WordPress Hosting is generally optimized for WordPress and provides better security and speed for WordPress sites. These are the 3 hosting services that Seven Blocks Design likes and recommends. That’s not to say there aren’t other good services out there, and we can always review the pros and cons of services clients may already be using.
*All prices are the listed prices on the respective sites as of April 2016.
Managed WordPress Hosting
The known leader in the field – WPEngine
Starts at $29/month* for 1 site, 25k visits, 10GB storage
One of the leaders in this field is WPEngine, who unlike most other hosting companies, specialize only in WordPress. Because of this focus on WordPress, their sites are typically faster and more secure. WPEngine’s prices start at $30/month* for 1 site, 25k visits, 10GB storage, and unlimited data transfer; they have a 60-day money back guarantee and you can always scale up for more money. WPEngine offers automatic backups, top-notch security, automatic updates, daily monitoring, free restoration should you ever be hacked and highly-optimized server configurations for fast sites. They also provide a great staging environment and 24/7 customer service.
What’s a staging environment, you say? It’s a safe place to make changes or maintenance updates to your site without it being live, and then you can push those changes live with the click of a button. While this is the preferred method for any site, the larger or more complex your site is or the more visitors you have the more important it is.
The contender – MediaTemple
Starts at $20/month* – 2 sites, 400k visitors, and 30GB storage
MediaTemple is another solid contender in the Managed WordPress hosting arena. $20/month* gets you 2 sites, 400k visitors, and 30GB storage. MediaTemple offers automatic WordPress core updates, automatic daily backups, 24/7 uptime monitoring, front-line security, daily malware scans, 24/7 customer support, staging environment, and enhanced speed.
If your website is fairly large (25+ pages), is an e-commerce site, has a healthy number of site visitors (over 100/day), or you just like to know your site is super secure and super fast, it’s totally worth the money.
The solid basic – Siteground
Starts at $3.95/month* – 1 site, 10k visitors, and 10GB storage
Siteground is solid basic hosting for the budget-conscious individual or small business site. They have also been added to WordPress’s shortlist of hosting companies. They have very responsive customer support. There have different levels of security, speed, and backup, and other features with their different plans. Only the top level offers staging.
Unlike the other 2 providers, their rates do go up after a year, but if you always renew in advance when they send you a reminder, it won’t be their “full” price. This is because they are still in the league with competing on price rather than more specifically on quality.
Siteground’s hosting is less “managed” than WPEngine or Media Temple, and it has less room for growth in traffic (tops at 100k visitors). There are also limits to the staging environment if a site’s database gets very large.
While it’s a more basic service, we’ve seen very little downtime on sites hosted with Siteground compared with sites hosted at BlueHost or GoDaddy or other basic hosting companies.
Hosting choices come down to determining what’s best for your specific site needs, goals, and budget. We hope this gives you a starting point for determining what’s right for you.