Selecting the Right Hosting Platform for Your WordPress Site

It’s Monday morning, and you’re sitting at your desk with a fresh cup of coffee. An inbox full of emails is waiting to be answered. Your shop manager calls, saying they can’t get onto the company’s e-commerce site. It’s not loading properly, and the pages are coming up very slowly. You pull the site up in your browser only to find that it takes 10 seconds to show any content. “Maybe this is the reason why your site hasnt received any orders all weekend…” you think to yourself.
This is the scenario many sites over the web encounter at some point, and there are many reasons. Maybe the person managing the e-commerce site uploaded a 20MB image. Maybe they added a plugin that conflicts with one of the other plugins, or made a code edit that broke the site. Or maybe, you’re on a shared hosting environment where one of the other properties on that environment is having one of the aforementioned issues, and it’s affecting your site.

Choosing a Hosting Provider

Choosing a good hosting provider is something that can be difficult for a lot of people. What makes a good hosting provider? What type of site do I have, and how does that affect what type of host I should choose? There are a few different types of hosting services you might look into.
  1. Shared Hosting

    • The most common. Your site, and potentially hundreds of others, share the same server node. When one of the other sites on the node goes down, or has a performance issue, it can affect you and everyone else.
    • Cheapest solution.
    • Meant for non-mission critical sites, brochureware, low traffic and low size sites.
  1. VPS / Virtualized Environment

    • When you want to isolate yourself from the rest, but you don’t want to pay for an entire dedicated server.
    • Also only good for smaller sites, as these typically don’t have a huge allotment of resources.
    • Can be expensive if fully managed; if self-managed it can have security risks and may require a developer / IT person to manage it.
  1. Dedicated Environment

    • You are renting an entire dedicated server, and only you have access to those resources.
    • Extremely expensive if fully managed and, if not, requires a huge amount of knowledge and time to maintain on your own. It’s still expensive even then.
    • Meant for companies who want full control over the hardware behind their site(s), for either security reasons, or because they are a large enterprise.
These three types of hosting environments have been the standard for web hosting for many years. But there’s a slightly lesserknown type of hosting that most people aren’t aware of. Imagine having the security and stability of a fullymanaged dedicated server, but with the price scale of a shared/VPS environment? Enter PaaS (Platform as a Service). 
PaaS is essentially a platform that allows you to build out websites or web applications without worrying about the infrastructure/hardware behind it. Usually theyre super easy to get started with, and leave you with the sole task of just building your website. This is why we at Curious Minds Media recommend switching to a PaaS solution for your hosting needs.

Working Smarter, Not Harder

A WordPress website, even if it’s brochureware, isn’t just brochureware. At its core, WordPress is a blogging platform. It communicates with a backend on every request, and can potentially load many plugins that you install into it to extend its functionality. Some themes are also packaged with heavy tools, like visual editors and other functionality, making it easier for non-technical people to develop their own website without hiring a web developer.
Because of how many different working pieces are in a WordPress site, managing it can become very complicated, very fast. The potential for a security risk or vulnerability rises exponentially with each different third party plugin or theme you install. It’s for this primary reason that you do not want to get stuck managing a custom VPS or dedicated platform for your WordPress site. Work smarter, not harder, right?

Using a Solid Hosting Platform

The most secure WordPress sites are the ones who have a solid hosting solution, or PaaS, behind them. Clear and thoughtful decisions behind theme selection, plugin usage, and selected tools separate the most performant WordPress sites from the rest. But the right theme, plugins, and tools for the job won’t matter if you’re not on a good hosting platform for your site. Sometimes all it takes is the two seconds difference in server response time to throw server metrics into the red zone.
Some PaaS solutions, such as WPEngine, allow you to connect via Git to push code and development updates to your site. This is super useful, as you can use Github to retain revisioning and history on your codebase, and when you’re ready to make a change on the site, you can deploy via Git Push. This means no more fussing around in FTP/SFTP, wondering who edited what file last, and what changes were made.

Updating and Maintaining

The last key point to make is the importance of keeping your WordPress site updated, in order to keep it secure and functional. But sometimes this isn’t as simple as clicking to update a plugin or theme. What happens when one of the plugin updates breaks a functionality on your website, or even causes the entire website to go down? What do you do then?
At Curious Minds, we offer Maintenance Plans for your WordPress site. We not only keep your site updated and secure, but we’ll also be there to help out if and when something does break. On Professional Plus and Enterprise plans, we’ll even set up an off-site staging environment if you don’t already have one, to ensure that we can test updates before pushing them live.
A maintenance plan is crucial to your WordPress website’s success. Not only do we keep things updated and secure, but at Curious Minds we actively work to provide you with feedback and suggestions on your site, and help to keep everything working smoothly. We provide recommendations for optimization, and do what we can to get your site in the best shape it has ever been in, and keep it there.

About Curious Minds
We are a web development firm in New York and Chicago, providing development resources and consulting for websites and mobile apps since 2004.