We usually start with the cheapest webhost we can find
When I started my first website, about 17 years ago, I picked a package with a company doesn’t even exist today, but I remember the price was $2.99/mo. I thought that was a fantastic deal and was sure I would soon be raking in the cash with my new website.
The first time I had a question and contacted support I realized why they were so cheap. Not only did support take over a week to answer, they didn’t even know how to answer my question! Not to mention the downtime, the site was down for a few hours at least once a week.
Another thing I realized was that compared to most of the other sites I was browsing, my site loaded a lot slower even though it was a simple site with just a few images.
A slow website hurts your business
Fast forward to today when the average page load times are shorter than they’ve ever been, generally below 2 seconds. If your website is image heavy and not optimized properly you could be looking at 8 – 12 second page loads. The average user clicks away from a site if it doesn’t load fully within 2 seconds.
This means that no matter how much time and money you have spent building the perfect site for your business, if it takes more than 2 seconds to load there is a good chance your site is not being viewed at all.
Not all webhosts provide the same performance
There are a lot of factors that come into play when optimizing a site for speed. The most obvious culprit is images. Images take up a lot of bandwidth, so it’s important that all images on your website are fully optimized, that means reduced to their smallest possible file size. Optimizing images will give you the biggest bang for your buck in speeding up your page load times. Beyond that it gets a little more complicated.
Each website requires a number of files and assets to load, the more times the website needs to ask the server for assets the slower the page will load. So minimizing these HTTP requests as they’re called helps to minimize load time.
To make matters even more complicated, most webpages nowadays are run using Content Management Systems (CMS), such as WordPress, Drupal, etc. These are all applications that build pages dynamically – rather than going in-depth into what that means lets just simplify and say that this means that when a user requests a certain page, the web application has to build that page on the webserver, then send the completed page to the users browser. This takes time. Admittedly it’s a pretty short amount of time usually, but depending on the server architecture this can adversely affect page load time.
The solution to this is to build that pages ahead of time then just serve the completed pages to the user, this process is called cacheing. There are a number of popular cacheing plugins for WordPress which work well but are generally complicated to setup properly as this requires in-depth knowledge of the webhosting architecture.
Website Security is very important
To add to the confusion we still haven’t considered website security. The worst thing that can happen to your website is for someone to hack it and put links or pictures to content that you do not want to be associated with. I recently helped a client who had an insecure installation on his webhost, which housed a number of WordPress sites. They were all infected due to one weak link. Worst of all the hack managed to add very unsavoury text and images to their google search results! This was a terrible problem for everyone involved and cost a lot of money, time, and frustration to fix.
There are a number of great security plugins out there for WordPress, but again most users will face the same issues as setting up the cacheing plugins. They are complicated to setup correctly and often require updates and maintenance to keep them secure.
WordPress focussed webhosts are the future
All of the above gave rise to a new type of webhost, ones focused exclusively on WordPress. This means that their server architecture is optimized for one platform only. They don’t need to worry about email, supporting countless languages and scripts, etc. They just do WordPress.
The great benefit of these new kind of webhosts is that they handle the cacheing and security, they are generally staffed with WordPress experts – and on top of that they are blazing fast.
Sonic Pixel recommends Flywheel WordPress hosting
I’ve had the opportunity to test almost all of the managed WordPress hosting solutions offered by the traditional webhosts as well as newcomers who have emerged. I can say with confidence that the best WordPress managed webhost is Flywheel.
They not only take care of cacheing, security, and but they offer nightly backups so your content is safe. As well as staging areas, this means you can experiment with changes on your site in a safe area where only you can see it, then push it live once it’s looking how you want it.
If that wasn’t enough they’ve got excellent support and a beautiful, simple to use interface. I’ve contacted support a number of times and have always received quick, informed, and often witty help.
But don’t take my word for it, click here to try Flywheel for free.
They’ll even migrate your WordPress site from your old host at no charge.