WordPress is the most popular content management system on the planet due in part to its extensibility. However this ubiquity and extensibility presents unique hosting and security challenges.
If your WordPress website is for personal pleasure or a hobby project then you don’t need to worry. However if you depend upon your website to drive traffic and or revenue for your business then you need to carefully consider where your website will live.
A top-quality host will provide the performance, reliability, and support that you require for your businesses success.
Because of the way that WordPress is programmed — to be infinitely extensible — it can sometimes take quite a long time for a WordPress website to respond. The first solution to this conundrum should be a well-built website with limited use of heavy plug-ins.
However even once that is accomplished very significant gains to be had from choosing a performant host with experience hosting WordPress specifically. A number of hosting companies are now offering products specifically for WordPress websites. In my experience most of the solutions that cost at least $15/month are suitably fast.
This additional expense beyond typical shared PHP hosting is because of the specific caching strategies required for WordPress.
A website isn’t very useful if your potential customers can’t access it. True 100% uptime is unattainable, however a reliable host will ensure that your website is nearly always up.
I have been a WP Engine customer for four years and I have never had a problem with them in this regard. They have even been so kind as to move websites from one server to another to avoid downtime for scheduled maintenance during a critical event for the businesses owning those websites.
Especially if you don’t have an ongoing relationship with a webmaster, support from your hosting company is paramount. An ideal host will know WordPress inside and out and be able to guide you through the intricacies of your CMS in addition to your hosting environment. WP Engine has the best support of any host that I’ve used. Though their hours are not 24/7, all of their agents are based in the US and are both responsive and extremely helpful. They seem to actually enjoy helping customers, a rarity in support for sure.
Unless you are a developer, the features that come with your website hosting probably won’t matter too much to you. However, if you are a developer you’ll want to read this section closely. WP Engine and Pantheon are the leaders in the pack for fully featured WordPress hosting. Both of them offer the ability to create development websites postponing payment until launch, deploy using git, and transfer ownership of a site to a client.
They each also provide their own unique take on a staging environment. WP Engine provides a simple and clear cut interface and a more attractive price point, whereas Pantheon offers more flexibility for advanced and custom deployment pipelines.
For a typical business website or blog, hosting will cost about $15-$30 per month. WP Engine falls into the high end of this range, while something like Siteground represents the lower end. In my experience, the extra $14/month is worth it for the peace of mind and world-class customer support.
For an e-commerce website or a website with high traffic volume (millions of visitors per month) you can expect costs of $100 per month or more. If this seems too expensive, you may want to consider a hosted solution like Shopify (for e-commerce) or Medium (for publishing).
Once you’re spending more than $300/month on hosting for a single WordPress website, you may want to consider moving to a custom host. However, if your team lacks a member with sufficient technical knowledge, outsourcing the problem to pros is always a good idea.
If you can’t tell by now, I really like WP Engine. It’s really hard to beat what you get for the price: a fast, reliable host; and easy-to-use interface; a staging environment; git deployments; daily backups and manually triggered backups; super easy backup-restore process; amazing customer support… etc. While they don’t serve every niche, for 95% of business owners with WordPress websites they are the perfect choice.
Disclaimer: Yes, those are all affiliate links for WP Engine, and I’ll get a small kickback if you purchase after clicking on one of those links. That being said, I don’t recommend any services that I don’t also use myself. Despite having more than enough technical competence to run my own servers, I still rely on WP Engine to host my own WordPress websites. And I’d have written this article even if I weren’t a WP Engine affiliate, I assure you 😉