We like Managed WordPress Hosting
*Note: this is the TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) version of the article. In these next paragraphs you’ll get all the information you need to determine if this article is worth your time. Or at least enough to move on to other google searches. Certainly you’ll figure out what Managed WordPress Hosting is.
The short version of Managed WordPress Hosting
Managed WordPress Hosting is quite simply, WordPress hosting that allows you to forget about actively managing the different aspects of the technical server side tasks of a WordPress website. When you build a WordPress website, you need to manage content, security, design, plugins, updates, unexpected growth, and all the optimization features and services that are necessary to stay on top of the SEO game. The best Managed WordPress Hosting will address most or all of these concerns at a reasonable cost and with enough support to ensure you can run your web property smoothly.
Why would you want managed WordPress hosting
The less hassle you have to worry about, the easier it is to focus on the non-technical aspects of your website. There are three basic aspects of running a site that are required to make money from your web venture.
- 1. Server side; technical hardware and software.
- 2. Content and Site Design/Management
- 3. Optimization and Conversion
1. Managed WordPress Hosting takes care of all three of those aspects to some degree. From a technical perspective, a great managed WordPress host like Flywheel Hosting handles the big security and server optimization aspects so you can tweak the details at a more specific level, without having to deal with the drama of shared hosting environments. 2. Management of assets on the install are optimized by the environment that Flywheel runs in. 3. Optimization and Conversion requires technical and artistic optimization, and a keen understanding of how to convert viewers into users. When the basic technical aspects are handled properly, you can put more time and effort into the artistic aspects. Without the technical benefits of a true managed environment, the technical aspects become unwieldy and difficult to manage.
Who is the leader for managed WordPress hosting?
Well you got us, this is an article about why Flywheel Hosting makes more sense than any other managed hosting platform. Let’s be transparent though: we are an agency partner with Flywheel hosting. That means we resell their hosting plans on servers we control in their hosting environment.
We also refer buyers directly to flywheel. We think our value add improves upon an already good value proposition given by Flywheel for most websites, because we don’t limit visitors or bandwidth in case of unexpected growth.
Either way, even though we do not ONLY use Flywheel for WordPress hosting (we also use Kinsta, WPEngine, Pagely and others), Flywheel is as good as it gets for 99.9% of the businesses we do business with.
This is the end of the short version of this article
Here is the longer, more specific version of this information.
Managed WordPress Hosting Simplified
Firstly, we must confess, we subscribe to virtually every managed WordPress service available. More than that: we host servers in just about every stack and configuration at more than 20 providers. This is for specific reasons. We test. We test a lot. We test environments, hosts, geolocation, content placement, writing styles. Basically every aspect of the WordPress CMS is a specific test that we have ongoing. This allows us to offer the best possible information and service to our clients and for our premium properties and businesses on the internet. That’s a lot of money to spend for a few tests, right? Not if you make your living on the internet and mostly with WordPress.
Managed WordPress Hosting is a brilliant, albeit somewhat pricey (relative) alternative to regular shared hosting environments. It allows you to focus on what’s most important, and what your expertise focuses on: content and customer experience. In short: you won’t have to deal with any of the hardware or server side concerns that the rest of the internet has to deal with on an ongoing basis. For that you pay a premium to be part of a Managed WordPress environment.
Who are the players in the Managed WordPress game?
We are particularly fond of the following providers of Managed WordPress Hosting:
Flywheel Hosting, obviously. Kinsta (though there is a bit more to the “managed aspects” of their environment”; WP Engine and Pagely, though each of these come with caveats (even our favorite Flywheel). We will explain them later on this page. We have active accounts with each of these companies for various websites we own or host or manage for others.
If you are a very large website and need tons of scalability, you can get into the VIP WordPress Managed environment, hosted by none other than the WordPress Organization. As in, the group that owns the WordPress trademark. Here’s why we don’t recommend them: they are exponentially more expensive than any other offering. Like more than $5k a month pricing. Great service (though we do not have an active account with the service – we have helped to managed a web presence in the past on the platform).
We have not mentioned the other (15 or so) “Managed WordPress Hosts” that we work with because it’s beyond the scope of this article. We may make a blog post about this in the future.
There are others that play in the arena that we don’t work with but know well: Synthesis; MediaTemple and Pressable.
We do not have active accounts with these players and won’t bash them, but severed our relationships with them as hosting providers for one or more reasons. We will list them briefly in this article to help you avoid making a mistake. You may find you get better results with the companies than we did, and we will list only the specific issues we had with them, not opine on their current offerings.
Why is Flywheel the best in class for managed hosting?
Flywheel first of all, is not perfect. But for the vast majority of the internet that uses WordPress effectively, we think they are as good as it gets. Note that their customer service is not geared towards beginners. They can help; they are helpful and they will try their best, but you must understand a bit about what you are doing. Suffice it to say our one caveat with Flywheel is that they aren’t built for the very beginner WordPress user. Although it’s not 100% necessary, we recommend that you use an agency partner like us if you plan to work with Flywheel as a beginner.
Flywheel offers the best mix of server side optimization tools for the majority of business websites that use a mainstream theme setup. That is to say: a non-custom coded website. Take for example Avada, or any number of popular WordPress themes you can buy on Themeforest. You get fast Google Pagespeed insights scores without having to try; caching that offers better results than most custom solutions and the most robust staging and development tools on the internet.
Now, most of these don’t matter if you are utilizing our firm to access Flywheel Managed Environment.
Here is what you get with our hosting plan on the Flywheel platform:
- Unlimited growth potential for a fixed price.
- Quick page loads as well as top tier pagespeed scored by google and GTMetrix.
- WordPress core, theme package and plugin updates on a weekly basis.
- The best security in the industry with our solutions in harmony with the Flywheel native security solutions
Flywheel has the following features, whether you work through our agency relationship or through them directly:
- In house analytics and traffic data from server resources
- Staging areas for web development
- One click installs with email notification for site setup
- A demo site area
- Managed updates of core WordPress files
- Collaboration tools for multiple partners like graphic designers, etc. to plug into the staging and webdev projects
- Data backups on the server
- Optimized plugin environment and a list of no-go plugins which can simplify your installs
- Malware and Brute force protection
- easy billing transfers and client separation for billing
- Blueprints – Exact replicas of websites complete with themes and plugins for easy site creation for future installs
- Seriously low downtime
- Re-imagined SFTP for secure, easy to use access to site assets
- FREE SSL support
- FREE migrations
- Bill is payable with PayPal
- Super solid WordPress ONLY environment
One more minor issue with Flywheel that needs exploration: they do not offer email hosting. This is not a problem in our opinion however, as Google for business and other providers offer service that goes far beyond the standard shared environment email solutions, and has none of the same security flaws and in-roads. We prefer that we control email. Yes, it means there may be additional costs, but for legitimate business needs, it makes things more secure, smoother and more professional.
Why we no longer use the following company offerings:
WordPress managed environment on Synthesis
They were cocky. They were too tied to specific architectures and ideas that didn’t seem like they cared about consumer experience, but rather: to be right. It was not nearly the customer service experience we anticipated. They are also expensive. Partly because they try to be everything to everyone, and they are out of their league on a few offerings. Specifically, the social media and content integration features which were neither useful for optimization, nor helpful for web management. Their simplistic take on a complex concern (SEO and optimization) makes their credibility a bit suspect in our view. We like some things they are doing, and might explore them in the future, but for now we aren’t using them. They require you to pay for migration. They are impressive on technical aspects, but they are also expensive as noted earlier. If we ever found their attitude to have changed, we might consider re-upping a contract with them due to a lot of likable tech features of the platform.
WordPress managed environment on MediaTemple
It’s paired with GoDaddy who owns it. That alone makes us a bit squeamish with the platform, but it’s a simple lack of capability, poor support capabilities/knowledge and difficulty in setting up the platform makes this basically just a shared environment with a few plug and play options in our opinion. Even their most heavily optimized, single client only server setups are poor performers relative to our current providers almost across the board. MediaTemple is expensive, basically offers a shared environment and has allowed a large amount of security concerns to cause problems on our sites in the past.
WordPress managed environment on Pressable
Very specific architecture can cause havoc with different theming and plugin needs. For a robust business website, it seemed a bit too vanilla for us. It did not allow for the type of customization we like. Relative to some providers you get a lot for what you pay (Flywheel is somewhat similar to this offering). Again, we found it finicky for our needs. We would however reconsider, if we desired more diversification in the future. We don’t have a ton of bad things to say about the platform for an individual end user, but for an agency it didn’t make as much sense.
The other players in the Managed WordPress Arena
Managed WordPress Hosting by Kinsta
Kinsta is a best in class provider, but for the sake of this article it’s more than you will ever need, and it’s more like a Ferrari than a BMW. Where the Flywheel platform is a BMW, a daily driver with all the creature comforts, the Kinsta platform is a pure thoroughbred. Excellent performance, but not easy for the majority of users; difficult to harmonize with some mainstream builds; and more than most need. Very pricey for anyone who needs more than a single install. Pricey for any single install. Excellent hosting environment and WordPress dedicated, Kinsta is a classy choice but is pure muscle and not as easy to use for those not already considered power users on WordPress. We use them and love them, but we use them ONLY for our own sites and for clients who do not interface with the Server side of things.
Managed WordPress Hosting by WP Engine
WPEngine is pretty good at what it does, but that said, it’s just not as good as Flywheel. As close to a direct competitor to Flywheel hosting as exists, WPEngine is just a shade less competitive on all aspects. It costs slightly more than Flywheel; offers a bit less speed and lower scores on pagespeed insights and GTMetrix. It has pretty good customer service help, but it still requires some knowledge of WP to operate efficiently. The list of plugins that are disallowed is larger than Flywheel and that makes it therefore, less usable and expandable. We like it but it’s not the top choice for most of our clients. It may be slightly better suited to extreme beginners without a ton of WordPress experience or knowledge; it was built with customer service for that very purpose according to the earliest iterations of the company’s website. We mostly agree with that concept.
Managed WordPress Hosting by Pagely
Unless you are a WordPress power user, you won’t be able to harness the power of certain aspects of this platform. It’s great. We love it, but it’s not nearly as intuitive as Flywheel for most users. It’s about 150% more expensive because it’s built on an Amazon AWS backbone, that gives it good scalability, but that aspect might be overplayed slightly. The type of traffic spike that most businesses will be experiencing, even those who hit it big on SharkTank or some other viral way, won’t need some of the platform that Pagely builds into its environment, and therefore it’s slightly pricey. You’ll need to be fairly well versed in how to administer WordPress to run it here, but the customer service is very good. Their value proposition is prone to some marketing hype, like HIPAA compliance (which is an operational aspect of the content/data and the protections in place; not just on the server side). It makes it seem a bit sales-y. Nevertheless, we like them.
Some non-technical aspects of the Flywheel hosting experience
Some final notes about the Flywheel Managed WordPress Hosting Platform. There are intangibles that always factor into the value of a relationship. Like the time when I spent an hour and a half on the phone with one of the company founders the week after he was married, and he helped me to understand the platform. Or the time when Flywheel reminded me of perks that I was entitled to by virtue of my business relationship with them. Or that time when they basically gave me a refund of my overdue balance to ensure my experience with them was satisfactory (it was, notwithstanding). Or that time where they went above and beyond to impress a client on my behalf to show their loyalty to our relationship.
Flywheel Managed WordPress Hosting is essentially a best in class, all things considered. It is not the fastest hosting we have ever seen. It doesn’t have some of the big guns that others do, and it requires a bit of knowledge to utilize it most efficiently. But if you factor in the technical aspects and the intangibles, there is not a single WordPress Managed environment we would rather have our clients affiliated with. It’s good to know that if I or my management team were killed in a horrible accident or otherwise unable to service our clients, that Flywheel would be the one picking up the pieces. We count on Flywheel as a service provider and they do not disappoint. We are proud users on this site and dozens more of this hosting service by Flywheel.