How to choose the best hosting company for your website
In our previous post on How to build an Online School, we mentioned that using WordPress enables non-techy people to build sophisticated, professional, commercial education and e-commerce website equipped with learning management system (LMS) without having to write a single line of code.
If you are taking this path, the first most important thing you need to work on is to choose a good hosting for your website. Our recommendation for anyone starting an Online School is WP Engine. Get 2 months free hosting when you sign up through us with this link.
If you Google the list of top hosting companies, you will get many blogs giving comparison of these hosting companies base on the features and pricing they provide. If you were to compare base on pricing, honestly, there is not much difference as hosting is a very competitive industry and most of these companies have very competitive price plans. In fact, we advise that price should not be your key consideration when you are running an Online School because the price difference is only a couple of dollars per month.
Instead, you should choose your hosting company base on the key factors that will drive your business success. We have walked this path and have tried out many hosting companies. What we are going to share with you is base on all the years of experience that we have gained.
HOW HOSTING AFFECTS YOUR BUSINESS SUCCESS
When you run an Online School, your success is very much dependent on the following:
1. Loading Speed of your web pages – Needless to say, we all know that if a web page takes a long time to load (especially when the page is filled with multimedia resources), it is very frustrating to your online students. There is another important reason, and that is the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) factor. In ranking websites to present to internet searchers, an important factor that Google use is the web page loading time. Some hosting companies have carefully designed and equipped their network with capabilities that increases the speed of web page loading. In addition, the location of the hosting company’s data center has significant impact on the loading time as well. For example, if you are in Singapore and serving mainly end users located in Singapore or Asia, having a hosting company whose servers are located in Singapore will speed up your web page substantially.
2. Uptime/Availability – If your website hosting server is down, especially when students need to access your courses during examination period, it will be disastrous for your students. It can also severely affect your branding and your business survivability. Although most companies will claim that they have 99.99% uptime, you should also consider how they will handle your website in the event if your site is hacked. Once, we had a client’s site that was hacked. The hosting company quarantined all the websites under that account. Instead of helping us block potential threats, they placed our good sites in quarantine and we had to manually bring up the sites on our own. Subscribing to a hosting company base on price and features comparison would not prevent you from such a disaster. It is best to go by the review and recommendation of people who have had years of experience with a hosting company.
3. Security – Your website security is utmost important when you are running an Online School. You would not want your courses and student data be hacked and stolen. It is for this reason, we strongly recommend WP Engine. With a dedicated WordPress security team behind it, WP Engine block 26B attacks a year with proactive threat detection, and automatically run plugin, core, and PHP updates. The security team scans the risk and compliance landscape to ensure your site’s never compromised.
4. Scalability – When you are starting your Online School, you may start off with a simple shared-hosting plan. However, when you have more and more students accessing your site, you will need to ensure that your website can cope with the surge in traffic. This is particularly so for Online School that host a lot of videos and multimedia contents. If you also host a discussion forum or online student community, your traffic will grow substantially. In such cases, cloud hosting will be most suitable. As pricing of many cloud hosting companies are rather complicated, requiring users to understand technically the various components involved in hosting, it can be rather challenging for non-techy startup business people. It is for this reason, we recommend WP Engine where their entire platform sits on Google Cloud while their hosting plan is designed to be easy for non-techy users. When your traffic surge, you can upgrade easily and WP Engine technical team will assist you in the upgrade.
5. Support from Hosting Company – This is extremely important especially when you are starting up with a small team with little technical resource. Having a good hosting company that is behind you to help you troubleshoot and restore your website in the event of any outage is like having your own IT department. Web hosting companies serve customers from all round the globe. Due to resource constraints, not all companies provide 24x7x365 instant live chat support and not all hosting companies provide the same user portal and functionalities. We have tried hosting companies where they do not provide a one-click WordPress install and had to manually set up the database and contents respectively. We have also encountered established hosting companies whose WordPress management software had errors. Having tried many companies, we strongly recommend WP Engine who has a team of WordPress specialists all ready to help you, 24x7x365. When you encounter any technical issues with your WordPress site, they will not be saying “this is not a hosting problem, go check with your other vendors”. While they may not touch your website codes, they will help you identify what is causing the issue so that you can proceed from there to take the necessary corrective actions.
Why we recommend WP Engine?
Having worked with various web hosting companies, we rank WP Engine as the best WordPress hosting platform for companies that are starting up but foresee that their website need to scale substantially as their business grow. In such situation, performance, security and stability are very important factors. The following are the key reasons why we recommend WP Engine:
1. Strong Global Performance – WP Engine build strategic relationships with trusted brands like Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deliver the agility, performance, intelligence, and integrations at scale. All shared plans are created by default on Google Cloud servers in the region closest to your location at signup. Your website can be migrated to another region by Support request. The server location can reduce round-trip time latency for domestic visitors, because the website data is physically closer , the site can load more quickly. As mentioned above, this improvement in performance also helps improve SEO by creating a better user experience. The faster the site loads, the better your website’s SEO and the greater the opportunity to drive conversion. To check out the data center locations, click here.
2. Strong Security Environment – WP Engine’s Digital Experience Platform integrates Cloudflare’s WAF, DDoS mitigation and its global edge network spanning 150+ cities with its intelligence servicing 80,000+ global customers to deliver secure, scalable digital experiences. In partnership with Cloudflare, WP Engine Global Edge Security ensures a protected and performant digital delivery that delights audiences across the globe. Global Edge Security (GES) is WP Engine’s Enterprise-grade performance and security add-on for all WP Engine plans. Learn more about GES here.
3. Real People & Experts supporting you – WP Engine focus on only one type of service, i.e. Managed WordPress hosting. They have a whole team of WordPress specialists, of whom, some sits in volunteer committees within the WordPress organization. Their service commitment is that they will even go the extra mile to help their clients troubleshoot if there is a website issue. They will not make changes to your coding but they will help identify what is causing the problem ( for example, a specific plugin issue). Unlike other hosting companies that may tell you they “did not see any server failure” and leave you to troubleshoot, WP Engine provides excellent customer service to hand hold their clients when there is a WordPress issue. Choosing to host your website/Online School on WP Engine allows you to focus on your business knowing that WP Engine is behind your back supporting you.
4. Strong Corporate Vision to Deliver Values to Customers – To keep their customers and innovations a step ahead, WP Engine is always building strategic relationships with trusted brands like Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deliver the agility, performance, intelligence, and integrations at scale. In 2017, three new data centers opened in London, Frankfurt and Sydney. In 2019, WP Engine acquired Flywheel. In Jun 2022, WP Engine has extended its global presence with the launch of new data centre in Singapore. If you are starting an online business with a dream to grow big like Udemy, Amazon or Facebook but do not have the IT professionals for a start, then WP Engine would be your best choice. When you host your website with WP Engine, you can start with a simple hosting plan and know that as your business grow, you can easily scale with a company that is in the forefront of technology.
5. Pricing and Refund Policy – For the hosting performance and support provided, WP Engine subscription fee of $24 per month (paid annually) for the Startup Plan (for 1 website) delivers good value. With that plan, you get daily auto-backups without having to pay extras. If you make a mistake, it takes only 1-click to restore the website. Although the plan is for 1 website, you can build a staging and a development website as well as a locally hosted website. To setup a WordPress website, it’s only a 1-click install. If you already have a website hosted on another hosting company and you need to migrate it to WP Engine, you can easily migrate it with the WP Engine automated migration plugin.
Some years ago, one of our client wind up their business and we have to close down their website hosted with WP Engine. After we close the account, we were surprised that WP Engine sent us a refund of all the remaining months of hosting fees that we have paid but had not utilise. Most hosting companies charge annual fees but they do not give a refund of the unused months when you close the account. WP Engine is probably the only company that we know does that. It really shows their commitment to client’s satisfaction and they are a company that is always there to help their clients.
Starting with a good hosting platform will prevent you from facing a lot of technical issues when you set up your website. We strongly recommend WP Engine. If you have any questions or would like to have a discussion on how you can set up your online school, click on the WhatsApp chat icon on the bottom right of this web page to get in touch with us.
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