The Web Hosting Qualifiers
Strategically choosing the way you build, manage, and optimize your website is key to creating the best experiences for your customers. You have the freedom to choose your own team, assembling each component to create the fastest, most powerful digital experiences—and it all starts with your hosting provider.
The right web host will serve as a natural extension of your team, helping you work smarter, not harder, and providing you with the expertise your site requires where you need it most.
Just like the coach of a winning team, it’s up to you to choose the best player for your web host. Nonetheless, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind as you evaluate your options.
Download this play-by-play guide to get the full story and find out more about the capabilities you’ll need in a hosting provider, or read on for an excerpt from the ebook to get started!
Understanding Your Business
In today’s rapidly-evolving digital landscape, one-size-fits-all simply doesn’t fit anymore. That’s true for your technology stack, and it’s true for your hosting provider, which should offer you the freedom and flexibility you need to achieve your goals.
Freedom and flexibility is often what draws businesses towards WordPress in the first place—its ease-of-use as a Content Management System (CMS) is hard to match, and its open-source code base and massive catalog of plugins and themes allow you to build sites exactly how you want (and host them with your provider of choice).
However, if you build and manage WordPress sites with a web host that doesn’t specialize in WordPress, you may find it difficult to maximize the full potential of your digital presence.
Additionally, a provider that doesn’t offer flexible plans or one that tries to force you into the wrong plan is not a partner for long-term growth. No matter what your business looks like
now, you need a hosting provider that can meet you where you are, while providing plenty of options to scale, flex, and grow as your business does.
While finding a host that can meet your business needs
is crucial, tying that together with specific infrastructure requirements is also an important qualifier for any web host.
One of the most important pieces of your web infrastructure is the server (or servers) it includes, as this will play a major role in your site’s ability to serve content quickly and keep up with increased demand.
Servers generally fall into two main buckets: Dedicated or Shared.
Dedicated WordPress Hosting
Larger websites often require more server resources to meet higher levels of traffic and process more data. If that sounds like your site, dedicated WordPress hosting may be right for
you. Hence its name, dedicated hosting provides your site with a server all to itself, rather than one that shares valuable resources with other websites.
While dedicated hosting offers you the highest ceiling with regards to server resources, bandwidth, and security, it will also come at a higher cost. What’s more, with an unmanaged or discount web host that only provides the bare minimum, you may be responsible for managing your server all by yourself.
Typically, dedicated servers are used by larger companies and websites with the budget and the requirements to justify the cost and necessary staffing (e.g. eCommerce sites and high- traffic digital publications).
Although dedicated servers often do require more attention and maintenance than a shared server, managed dedicated servers can offload the responsibility form your in-house teams, while ensuring peak performance and prioritizing security.
In contrast to dedicated servers, shared servers accommodate many websites using a shared pool of server resources. This is the most common type of server setup you’ll find, and it can be a great option for sites that require a set amount of resources.
Shared hosting can also vary—widely— from low-end discount hosts, to higher-end shared hosting solutions.
Lower-end options often put many websites on a single server, and have limited security protocols between accounts, increasing security risks and cross contamination from other websites on the server. This can be particularly prevalent with discount hosts, as a low barrier to entry allows for a larger number of poorly-configured shared environments.
Higher-end hosting providers will limit the number of websites on a shared server, and ensure there is additional bandwidth
as well as failover capabilities if one website on the server experiences a traffic spike, or starts to overuse resources. These solutions are often considered “managed” meaning they include improved and continuous security measures and limitations to protect against cross contamination.
For many businesses, lower-end shared hosting may offer an attractive, upfront price point, but it’s ultimately not a viable option, especially if sensitive information is stored on the site (such as customer data or payment information). Higher- end shared hosting, on the other hand, can provide a good compromise between price vs. functionality and security.
Developer Tools and Technology
While server resources are the raw power that fuels your website, specialized tools and features that make developers’ lives easier aren’t just complementary, they can be a game-changer.
That’s why, when qualifying the right web host for your business, it’s important to look closely at the set of tools made available to you and your development team.
Some low-cost hosts may provide basic developer solutions with their hosting plans. This might work for teams with plenty of in-house talent and a desire to remain hands-on, but if
you have limited time and/or technical expertise, a lack of development tools from your hosting provider could mean more DIY solutions that have to come from you and your team.
On the other hand, a web host that offers a more robust set of dev tools as part of its web hosting platform will help you and your development team speed up workflows and improve the quality of your code.
Additionally, because there is such a wide and growing list of WordPress developer tools available today, a web host that provides access to a full toolset—rather than a disparate, incomplete collection of solutions—means you and your team can accelerate development and save time when it comes to finding the right solutions.
Another critical piece of information you’ll want from a potential hosting provider is an overview of their security strategy.
Every web host should have basic security standards in place, but the collection of security measures taken by your host should also extend beyond the bare minimum. Just as cyber attacks and attackers are becoming more sophisticated, your hosting provider should offer a strong security environment that protects your website while ensuring peak performance.
Basic security measures include ensuring the safety of physical hardware such as servers, secure virtual access through multi-factor authentication, encryption services, and vulnerability scanning. Additional security measures that should be in place with your web host include:
International Security Standards
There’s nothing to stop a web host from calling itself secure, but there are also specific standards and certifications focused on information security they will either have, or
not. SOC 2 compliance or ISO/IEC 27000 certifications, for example, are both indicators of a web host’s security posture and its commitment to information security.
Plugin Best Practices
Plugins are one of the best parts of WordPress, but out-of- date or poorly-maintained plugins are one of the largest sources of security vulnerabilities. With that in mind, finding a web host that keeps a close eye on plugin vulnerabilities is a web host that’s looking out for your security. WP Engine, for example, maintains a list of plugins that are disallowed on its platform due to security and performance issues.
Disk Write Protections and Limitations
Malicious code can embed itself into a website by writing to the file-system. This occurs when a vulnerability in a theme or plugin leaves the door open for malicious injection. Make sure your web host limits the processes that can write to disk, so even if you’re using a theme or a plugin with a vulnerability, it will be harder for them to be exploited.
The Site Management Experience
A seamless user experience isn’t just crucial for the sites you build, it should also be part of your experiences as a user of your web host’s platform and its technology.
Navigating the ins and outs of the sites you manage, whether there’s one or 100, should be as straightforward and intuitive as possible, making it easy to find site data and details in a pinch.
Bulk site management, including plugin and theme updates, should also be easy to undertake, ensuring your hosting provider and its platform aren’t slowing you down.
Additionally, migrating sites or seamlessly moving between a staging environment and production should be straightforward, making it easier for you to keep doing what you do, without lengthy workflows or ineffective processes.
Your ability to self-serve using a web host’s platform or customer portal is something you’ll want to take a closer look at, as this will be the platform you are working in each and
every day. But just as that intuitive, user-friendly experience is important, so too is the support provided by a web host, when self service reaches its limit.
Complete Your Technical Team With WP Engine
When you partner with WP Engine, you get more than just web hosting, you unlock a smarter way to WordPress with a fully managed platform and developer solutions trusted by more than a million brands and agencies of all sizes.
From the second you sign up, WP Engine will complement your technical team, allowing you to build better sites faster, manage them with ease, and optimize performance to increase sales and grow your business.
WP Engine takes care of the nuts and bolts that keep your WordPress sites at their best, ensuring your business is always putting its best digital foot forward.
If you think we aced the technical tryouts, sign WP Engine to your team! Follow the links below to learn more about our plans, talk to a specialist, or start hosting your WordPress sites with WP Engine today.