WordPress is now the preferred content-management system for over one third of all websites. That’s a pretty good reason to think it’s probably right for your website too. But what exactly is it? How did it start? And how do you find the right hosting plan and provider for your online needs?
WordPress actually launched almost 20 years ago as an open-source blogging tool. In the decades since, it has remained free to run and to modify. Founder Matt Mullenweg has been able to secure the software’s future through his company Automattic, which provides commercially successful services around the platform. At the same time, Automattic has always encouraged the growth of an independent WordPress ecosystem.
So, WordPress as a low-cost, high-quality publishing solution is here to stay. And it is getting better every year through the contributions of tens of thousands of developers around the world.
WordPress is easy to set up and starts you publishing right away. You can intuitively post richly laid out content containing images and videos. It is easy to change the look of your site with themes and settings menus, no coding required. Through plugins, you can expand the functionality of your site to serve almost any specific need, from community management and eLearning facilitation to eCommerce and affiliate marketing.
If you have a project that involves starting a website, then a legitimate question is almost always, “Why not use WordPress?” If you can’t come up with enough reasons against WP, your next question will be, where do I host my WP site?
The Automattic company makes some of its money providing hosting for WordPress sites. Their offerings go from an ad-supported free plan with severe limitations to a very expensive VIP program with in-house expert customization for very high-volume sites.
WordPress’s “popular” Premium plan costs $8 a month, which gets you:
But you will need at least the Business plan at $25/month to install any plugins.
The open-source philosophy behind WordPress means that a web host can install this best-in-class software and offer it to its clients at no extra cost. That makes it very attractive to internet service providers, which is why there are so many other WP hosting packages out there.
The cheapest are ad-supported free plans. The companies offering them hope to make additional money by upselling their customers “extras” such as FTP access, or expensive storage increases for when the paltry allotment that came with the plan runs out.
There are many reasons to tread carefully here. First of all, the plans usually offer very small amounts of disk space and limit the size of file uploads. Also, providers of free plans rarely invest in robust network hardware or adequate security measures.
Your site will be at the mercy of ‘bad actors’ taking advantage of the weak security on these congested shared servers. The risks include not only theft of data or passwords but also blacklisting by email servers and search engines, which you might never be able to recover from.
Luckily and thanks to the WordPress model, trustworthy web hosts with reliable and secure data centers offer good plans that are not expensive yet still give you a lot of control.
Shared hosting allows you to install WordPress on a server that you rent part of. Usually, this is done through an easy, one-click web interface where you can install lots of other software too. It is the cheapest way to start publishing but it can be slow.
Managed WordPress hosting gives you access to the platform on a containerized server dedicated only to WordPress. Everything in the environment has been optimized to make WP fast and secure.
A third option is installing WordPress on your own virtual private server. This is for those who want maximum freedom or want to learn.
All have their place. It just depends on who you are and what you are planning to do.
Different users need different solutions:
- for beginners
- for nonprofits
- for small businesses
- for eCommerce
- for bloggers
In state-of-the-art Managed WP hosting, the host runs fortified versions of WordPress in virtual machines, one for each user--providing a few layers of insulation right there. The host will apply necessary security patches to your OS, your WordPress, and your plugins.
You can still have your own distinguished domain name pointing to your managed WP site. NameCheap makes this very easy from your account profile settings.
Even after many years, most people don’t outgrow their Managed WordPress Hosting. Best-in-class services such as EasyWP offer blazing performance with all the most useful extra customization features available through an easy web interface. NameCheap’s Managed WordPress plans top off at 500,000 monthly visitors. By then, you’re surely not a beginner anymore.
Nonprofits might be tempted by the rock-bottom deals in shared hosting. For $2.55/month and a bit of time and self-education (or help from tech-savvier allies), you can have WordPress up and running on Namecheap shared hosting with room to spare for a team communication server.
The arrangement comes with drawbacks like the possibility of unruly neighbors or bandwidth bottlenecks, but you can deal with those. You don’t have a lot of sensitive information anyway. You just have to remember to keep all the software patched. If you need help, there’s always Google and Reddit.
However, even nonprofits can benefit from the peace of mind provided by managed WP hosting. For a little more money each month, you would have more time and energy to spend on your actual mission.
If you are an offline business that just wants to create an independent online presence, then managed WordPress with your own domain name is a safe choice. Choose a tier that allows ample customization so you can play with themes to reflect your corporate identity without any fuss.
You probably won’t need a huge amount of storage space to keep your site fresh with relevant articles and updates about your featured products and promotions. This will help improve your ranking on related search terms. For advanced Search-Engine Optimization options, make sure your host allows installing plugins like Yoast, the most used WordPress SEO plugin.
For agencies that offer digital services to other businesses, a virtual private server might be the best choice for a WordPress-based home on the web. The experience you accumulate setting up and maintaining your own WordPress server will enhance your credibility.
As a site designer, you will be able to use advanced site-versioning plugins to securely show clients new iterations of their designs. As a team, you might adopt other server-based tools to assist in your production cycle, and you can easily run them alongside your WordPress installation on the same server.
If online sales are your plan, the WordPress ecosystem is rich in options to help you layout a webshop, manage sales, accept payments, and do your book-keeping. The undisputed leader of the eCommerce plugins is WooCommerce from Automattic, which covers all these and even helps with shipping.
Just like WP itself, WooCommerce is open-source and free to install. It even has its own plugin architecture. The top 10 most useful extensions for WooCommerce include Google analytics, Facebook integration, automating requests for reviews, and live chat.
All this freedom can be yours if you run WordPress on your own server. However, many hosting companies make the WooCommerce plugin part of a more expensive eCommerce tier of their managed WP hosting--but not Namecheap.
Most bloggers will be perfectly happy with a WordPress blog on a managed WP plan from a reputable provider. You will want to weigh the storage options carefully to accommodate your future image-storage needs.
However, if you are a tech blogger, or somebody commenting on software development, web design, and digital life in general, then to maintain your credibility, you should invest the time and effort to configure and run your own server.
It will allow you to experiment with things and make your writing better informed. You can attract a lot of readers with stories about the times you screwed up your server and how you fixed it.
The world’s greatest web hosting companies all have a WordPress strategy. While they all offer 24/7 support, free migration, and automatic software updates, the rival product ranges are differentiated enough that a close look at each of them is warranted.
On its page for WP hosting, GoDaddy leads with its 30-day money-back guarantee and touts Free SSL starting with its $19.99/month Ultimate plan, which comes with unlimited storage and unlimited visitors. For peace of mind, GoDaddy offers 90-day backups and 1-click restore on all its managed WP hosting tiers, starting with its $9.99/month Basic plan (30 GB of storage, ideal for 25,000 visitors/month).
Hostgator ups the money-back guarantee to 45 days on its managed WP hosting plans starting at $9.95/month. That buys you 100,000 monthly average visitors and unmetered storage, with a free SSL certificate and 1 GB of daily backups.
With a first month costing between $1 and $3, Namecheap is trying a fresh way to communicate about its almost-free trial. Namecheap’s EasyWP WordPress plans start with including free Positive SSL certificates at the Turbo level for only $5.74/month if paid annually, which gets you 50GB and up to 200,000 visitors/month.
Thanks to its investment into its own optimized cloud network and a globe-spanning content-delivery network, Namecheap has become a name to beat in Managed WordPress performance. In a recent comparison, they ran in Europe, EasyWP edged out GoDaddy, Bluehost, and all the others in latency and delivery speed.
BlueHost has both shared and managed WordPress hosting. On the shared WP side, BlueHost at the moment has a deeply discounted monthly rate of €2.65 ($2.95) on its Basic plan for the first three years in Europe, renewing at €7.18 ($7.99). This gives you 50GB of storage, a free Auto SSL certificate, and a free domain name for one year.
Bluehost’s next shared plan, Plus ($10.99/mo), already promises an unlimited number of websites, unmetered storage, and unlimited bandwidth. But to access BlueHost’s spam and malware protection features, advanced analytics tools, and in-house SEO tools you have to switch to its fully managed WP Pro plans ranging from $30 to $60/month.
The WordPress universe constitutes a powerful counterweight to the Googles and Facebooks of this world, an antidote to the concentration of the world’s data in a few corporate hands. Like Namecheap, Automattic truly champions an open internet for as many as possible.
With WordPress hosting, you retain control of your data, of your user metrics, and of which third parties share in this data. And for all of this, you don’t even have to sacrifice ease of use or versatility. WordPress is a future-proof distributed project, growing with changing technology and rewarding people’s investment of effort over time.
When it comes to choosing a way to host your WordPress site, take the time to think about how your needs will evolve. Think future-proof.