In the last few years, podcasts have evolved. Once a niche interest, the most popular podcasts are listened to by millions of people. Anyone with an internet connection, a microphone, and something to say can publish a podcast. Businesses use podcasts as part of their content marketing strategy. Popular podcasts attract a significant amount of advertising money, largely because their niche appeal allows for targeted advertising.
But once a podcast has been recorded, it needs to be hosted online. Unlike a blog post, a podcast can’t just be uploaded to a site — that’s a hosted audio file, not a podcast. Before taking a look at the role WordPress plays in podcast hosting, let’s discuss the various components that make up a podcast.
The anatomy of a podcast
Of course, the audio file is the most important part of a podcast. The audio file can be hosted on the same server as a WordPress site, but most podcasters choose to use external file hosting designed for that purpose. Podcast files are large and they can burn through a WordPress hosting account’s bandwidth.
Although a traditional website isn’t strictly necessary for a podcast, most podcasts have a site. It is used to promote the podcast, to display show notes, and a site is necessary if the podcast is to be discoverable by Google and other search engines.
Next is the RSS feed. Just like a blog, a podcast has an RSS feed. But unlike a blog, the feed is an essential part of a podcast. It is unusual for podcast listeners to visit a podcast’s website to listen, instead they use a podcast app’s search tools, which provide results from a podcast directory.
Podcasts are submitted to directories via the RSS feed. Without an RSS feed, there is no directory listing. The RSS feed is also used by podcast apps to list episodes, discover new episodes, and download the podcast’s file.
WordPress provides two of the important parts of a podcast: the website and the RSS feed — three if you also want to host the podcast audio files on a WordPress server.
WordPress and podcasts
The RSS feed for a podcast is a little different to the RSS feed used by a blog: it contains an “enclosure” for the audio file and additional information that isn’t part of the standard feed. Not so long ago, creating a podcast RSS feed was a bit of a pain, but today there are excellent WordPress plugins that will take care of it.
Seriously Simple Podcasting (SSP) is one of the most full-featured podcasting solutions available for WordPress. It makes it easy to create a podcast feed suitable for submission to podcast directories, including iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. It also includes a media player, should people want to listen via your WordPress site. The media files can be hosted on any third-party hosting platform or on the site itself. SSP has its own plugin ecosystem, which includes useful additions such as podcast analytics.
WordPress, combined with performance-optimized WordPress hosting and the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin, provides everything you need to publish your podcasts.
As the cause of lag, latency is public enemy #1 in eCommerce. Nothing is better at killing an online experience and driving users away from a site, possibly never to return. Most of us probably assume it’s an issue with bandwidth, but often the problem can be traced back to high latency.
Read on to learn more about what causes latency and how web hosts like Hostdedi use Internet Exchanges to reduce it.
What Is Latency?
Latency refers to how long data takes to travel between the device requesting the data and the device providing it. Usually, the distance between these two points requires the use of other devices along the way. Each additional device, or hop, has the potential to increase latency. Indirect routes have more hops and are therefore undesirable.
How Does an Internet Exchange Work?
Local Network Service Providers (NSP, but also known as Internet Service Providers or ISP) typically have an inefficient infrastructure and do not reliably provide the most direct route. For example, a user in Detroit, MI attempts to contact a network in Ann Arbor, MI, but the NSP routes the traffic through Chicago, IL. This indirect path pushes traffic through multiple routers and hundreds more miles of fiber optic cable. Typically, each additional mile increases latency by about 9 microseconds due to the light in those cables having to travel farther.
Reputable web hosting companies are well aware of this problem, and even though they may be in competition with one another, their solution is cooperation. This cooperation is known in the industry as an Internet Exchange (IX) and provides a more direct path by eliminating the need for ISPs to carry local traffic.
By allowing companies to directly peer with one another and exchange traffic in a more direct path, there are less hops. This, in turn, generally means lower network latency.
At Hostdedi, we minimize latency for our clients by participating in the Detroit Internet Exchange (DET-IX).
Cage Match: DET-IX Versus NSP
IX participants are connected in a shared network with other members, allowing them to communicate locally and bypass the NSP. Using a tool like My traceroute (MTR), we can compare latency between DET-IX and NSP.
The IP addresses show traffic leaving our network in Southfield, MI and then traveling through Cleveland, OH before finally reaching https://cloudflare.com in Toronto. While a better route, this is still similar to the pathway described above, where a user Detroit, MI attempts to contact a network in Ann Arbor, MI.
In the industry, the effect of indirect paths backtracking over their own route is often known as “tromboning” and it is universally viewed as unfavorable for latency.
These extra hops through the network add latency as the traffic passes through each router. As shown in the last entry in the Last column, the average response time of 10.4ms. This is good, but it can be improved.
Traffic again leaves our network in Southfield, but through DET-IX where Cloudflare is also participating. The path uses three less hops, avoids tromboning, and improves the average response time for 100 packets to 0.5 ms, nearly a 10ms reduction.
In eCommerce, faster is almost always better. Shoppers have nearly no patience for lag, the modern-day equivalent of long lines. Fast stores sell more than slow stores, and better page-load times elevate your ranking on Google search engine results pages (SERPs), driving more traffic to your site.
Good and Getting Better!
This shared network relies on Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to exchange routing and reachability information, and we use technology that both allow their use and accommodates future expansion. As DET-IX participation continues to grow, so does our ability to accept routes from new members.
Andrew has been working at Hostdedi for six years. He started out with the Data Center Operations department before making the leap to Network Operations. Andrew has eight Juniper Networks certifications, with the highest level achieved being JNCIP-DC.
The fact that WordPress is open source and has such a huge, vibrant developer community is great. For the most part, the huge number of plugins available come with the security afforded by millions of downloads, high ratings, and reliable developers who have worked hard to become known figures in the community.
Almost all of the most popular plugins in the official repository are perfectly safe. Plugins with many thousands of users are intensely scrutinized and problems come to light quickly. But there are tens of thousands of WordPress plugins and it’s wise to be vigilant.
The best way to find out if a plugin is safe is to check the code, but it isn’t reasonable to expect that of most WordPress hosting clients. This article looks at how you can identify unsafe WordPress plugins without looking at the code, by identifying the top red flags for knowing what to avoid.
1. Is The Plugin From A Reputable Source?
To be safe, you should install plugins from the official repository or from the website of a developer with a good reputation in the community. Google the name of the developer to find out what has been written about their plugins. If you find mostly negative commentary or no information at all, you may want to find an alternative.
2. Has It Been Updated Recently?
Abandoned plugins don’t get security updates and may be incompatible with your version of WordPress. Even if a plugin has not been abandoned, infrequent updates are a bad sign.
The plugin’s page on the official repository will tell you when it was last updated and which versions of WordPress it is compatible with. Avoid plugins that haven’t been updated in the last few months. Even if an old plugin seems to work properly, there may be hidden issues.
3. Does It Have Ongoing Support?
Check the support section of the plugin page on WordPress to see if the plugin has continuous and active support. You’ll be able to see how many issues have been identified and how many have been solved by the developer community within the last few months. Moreover, by clicking “view support forum”, you’ll be able to see how active the plugin community has been and how much support it has from other users.
4. Is It A “Free” Premium Plugin?
Many developers of premium plugins also release a free version with limited functionality. It is perfectly fine to use these plugins. But if you find a fully functional premium plugin offered for free, do not install it. Plugin pirates install malware in these so-called “nulled” plugins.
5. Did The Plugin Recently Change Owners?
This isn’t always an indication of a problem: developers sell or transfer plugins for many reasons. But in recent months there have been incidents of popular plugins ending up in the hands of unscrupulous developers.
6. Does the Developer Have a Bad Reputation?
Before installing the plugin, it can be a good idea to check up on the reputation of the developer. A quick google search of their name can merit a lot of results here. Similarly, it can merit nothing at all. This, in itself, can be a red flag and suggest the developer is either new to the WordPress scene or isn’t trusted.
7. Is It Popular With WordPress Users?
Plugins with few users are more likely to cause problems. There are millions of WordPress sites, so if only a handful of WordPress users have installed a plugin, you should be cautious. There are a couple of possibilities: the plugin targets a narrow niche or it is being avoided by other WordPress users. It may also be a brand new plugin, but that should be a red flag too.
As a rule, stick to plugins that are installed on lots of WordPress sites: problems are more likely to have been noticed and ironed out.
8. Is It Compatible With the Latest WordPress Version?
Checking for updated compatibility is a good step towards being able to judge the reliability and safety of a plugin. The “Requires WordPress Version” will let you know how far back you need to go in order to have the plugin properly work with your website. Making sure you have the latest version is as much about security as it is about optimizing your WordPress site for performance.
Finally, if you happen to see the message above, it’s definitely not a good idea to install the plugin. There’s a reason why the developer hasn’t updated it, and it’s probably not one you want to know.
The WordPress Community Is, In General, Reliable
There are thousands of honest, competent, and generous plugin developers. But there are some bad apples, as there are in any large community. Before installing a plugin, run through these seven simple checks to keep your WordPress site safe.
Looking to get started with WordPress Gutenberg? Learn how to use it with our Guide to Gutenberg. We’ll take you through the entire process of setting up your first page with blocks.
When your website or eCommerce store is slow and your hosting provider has no solution, it is time to think about migrating to a new hosting platform. Unhappy hosting clients have lots of options to choose from: traditional shared hosting, dedicated server hosting, virtual server hosting, and more.
But many choose cloud migration to a modern hosting platform that combines the benefits of traditionally managed hosting with the flexibility and scalability of virtualization.
Just like shared hosting, cloud application hosting is a multi-tenant platform – more than one clients’ site is hosted on each server. But that is where the similarity ends. Cloud hosting uses virtualization and orchestration software to join many servers together into a large pool of compute and storage resources. Each site uses a slice of the resources in the pool.
What does that mean for hosting clients? The “pool of resources” model is more flexible than shared hosting or a dedicated server. When a site migrates to cloud hosting it gains superpowers. It can, for example, be given more resources whenever it needs them. When a site hosted on the Hostdedi Cloud is under heavy load, we can give it a bigger slice of the pool automatically.
Let’s look at some other ways a cloud migration could improve your hosting experience.
When a site that starts life on shared hosting or a dedicated server grows too big, it has to be migrated to a different platform or more powerful server. In contrast, the cloud makes it easy to scale from small to enormous without migrating. A cloud hosting account has resource limits, but they can be increased indefinitely as the site grows. In the cloud, you will never experience a site that slows to a crawl because it is too successful.
Reliable, Redundant, and Fast
Reliability, redundancy, and performance are difficult for even the largest online businesses to achieve. For smaller businesses without a large IT department, a reliable, redundant, and fast hosting platform is too complex and expensive to build from scratch. But after a site is migrated to cloud hosting, it gains enterprise-grade reliability, redundancy, and performance for “free” – it’s baked right into the platform.
A well-engineered cloud platform makes it easier to build and maintain a secure site. The Hostdedi Cloud includes security features such as web application firewalls, a PCI-compliant hosting environment, and security hardening at deployment.
A new website or eCommerce store can be launched onto a cloud platform in seconds. Large and complex deployments may take a couple of hours, but that is much faster than other types of hosting, which can take days to be ready for migration. Rapid setup has other advantages too. It is quicker and easier to deploy testing and development sites on the cloud. Click a button and your new testing site will be ready and waiting.
Migrating your WordPress site or Magento store to a modern cloud platform is the solution to your hosting reliability, scalability, and performance issues – now and in the future.
Slow-loading pages and unresponsive interface elements are kryptonite for online stores. Shoppers expect a pleasant experience, and there is nothing pleasant about looking at a loading indicator for ten seconds or trudging through a multi-step checkout process that takes what seems like forever to load each page.
A fast WooCommerce store depends on dozens of hardware and software components firing in the same direction. Performance-optimized WooCommerce hosting provides the store’s main engine, but configuration mistakes and software bugs can throw sand into every page load and user interaction.
This article looks at why load testing can help to keep your WooCommerce store optimized, by finding areas for improvement and change.
What Is WooCommerce Performance and Load Testing?
Performance testing measures how a WooCommerce store performs on an ordinary day. How quickly do the home and product pages load? How long does it take for the shopping cart to be displayed after the user clicks the checkout button? Performance testing provides a baseline answer to these questions.
Load testing looks at performance under pressure. It answers questions such as these: How many concurrent users can a WooCommerce store support before performance becomes unacceptably slow? How does the store perform when traffic peaks during a sale? Load testing provides information about how your store performs under real-world conditions.
Why Performance and Load Test WooCommerce?
Performance and load testing put a WooCommerce store through its paces, revealing opportunities for streamlining and performance improvements.
By testing your WooCommerce site, you’re able to see how your hosting environment, application, and any plugins you have installed will work under pressure. You’ll then be able to see what areas need improvement – if any.
How to Performance Test a WooCommerce Store
An example page speed waterfall in Chrome.
The simplest way to load test a WooCommerce site is to time how long important pages take to load. The Google Chrome browser — and other browsers — include several tools to time page-loads and identify the causes of latency.
To do this in Chrome, head to the “More Tools” entry of the Chrome menu and choose “Developer Tools”. There are a couple of interesting tabs in this interface: Performance and Audits.
The Performance tab provides load-time measurements and a waterfall diagram that displays the page’s components and how long they take to load. This can give you a clear indication of what page elements can be optimized to increase your WooCommerce store’s performance.
In the Audit tab, you will find Lighthouse, a comprehensive performance testing tool that provides a wealth of information, including performance optimization suggestions. Once you’ve navigated to this tab, simply click “Perform an audit” to start the test. You will be given results in relation to four categories.
Progressive Web app
Under each category, you will be provided with a list of audits you have failed and audits you have passed. This gives you a great springboard for implementing more advanced page optimizations.
Alternate Tools for Testing WooCommerce
If you would prefer not to use a tool from Google that requires the Chrome browser, take a look at Pingdom tools, WebPageTest, or GTMetrix. With these tools, you can change the location you want page requests to come from. This allows you to test the speed of your site worldwide. You can also add advanced testing conditions, such as the number of tests to run, the browser the page is rendered in, and more.
Load Testing A WooCommerce Store
Loading pages individually is useful, but it doesn’t capture the full shopping experience. To do so, a test must simulate several page loads, putting items into the shopping cart, checking out, and more. Lots of tests should run concurrently to determine how the store performs under real-world traffic conditions.
Load testing is more complex than performance testing and will typically require help from a developer who can automate the process. There are several web services that make load testing easier by allowing site owners to run simulated shopping trips from the service’s cloud infrastructure.
Load Impact is one of the most popular load testing services. It allows WooCommerce retailers to record a typical shopping trip using a Chrome extension and then run the same trip multiple times simultaneously.
Cloud load testing can be expensive, but it’s possible to build DIY load testing infrastructure using cloud or dedicated servers and open source software — that’s how we load test our performance-optimized WooCommercehosting plans.
Recently started your first WooCommerce store or looking to expand functionality? Explore these eight WooCommerce plugins we think you should know about.
They say that moving home is one of the most stressful events in our lives. Migrating a website to new hosting can be pretty stressful too, especially if you aren’t well prepared. In our last cloud migration article, we talked about why you should migrate your site to a cloud platform. In this article, we look at the challenges you may face on your cloud migration journey.
In a properly planned migration, the site starts the day on one hosting platform and ends it in the cloud with minimal downtime or disruption. But it’s good to be aware of what could go wrong and what you can do to help the migration run smoothly.
What Cloud Migration?
Cloud migration can have unforeseen side effects if the people working on the site aren’t informed in advance. Discuss the migration plans with stakeholders to minimize disruption. It would be unwise of your marketing department to launch a new campaign on the day of the migration, or for developers to roll out major site changes just as you’re about to move the site to a new hosting platform.
Discussing the migration with stakeholders allows them to raise concerns: perhaps the marketing department is running tracking scripts that may break during the migration – if stakeholders know what’s coming, they have time to prepare.
Choose a Cloud Platform That Aligns With Your Objectives
There are many different types of cloud platform. Some, like the Hostdedi Cloud, are engineered to provide the best possible hosting for selected applications. Others are general server hosting platforms that require more work and technical knowledge to achieve the same result. Many provide minimal support. Your cloud migration will be less disruptive if you know what to expect from the cloud vendor.
Plan to Avoid Downtime
A well-planned cloud migration should cause minimal downtime. Some factors can’t be controlled, such as the time it takes for changes to DNS records to propagate, but with careful preparation and implementation, disruption can be kept to a minimum.
Search Engine Optimization
A badly executed site migration can negatively impact SEO. Cloud migration without a domain name change should not cause SEO problems. Migration can be more tricky if the site is moved to a new domain. A detailed discussion of domain name changes is beyond the scope of this article, but you should be aware of the potential for disruption if redirects and DNS record changes are not handled properly.
Planning is the best way to avoid the issues we have discussed. In the next article in our series on cloud migration, we will discuss how to build a successful migration plan.
Each year, half a billion dollars is lost to slow websites after users abandon shopping carts and content pages. The reason? Insufficient hosting support, undefined expectations, and hosting provider marketing that doesn’t line up with reality.
It’s for this reason that it’s important to know what your hosting provider means when they refer to uptime, support, control, and performance.
This article covers the questions you should be asking your hosting provider, so you can make sure you get the best hosting solution for your business.
Choosing a hosting provider is a complex task, made more so by convoluted rhetoric and sales pitches designed to confuse. For first time buyers, the mountain of options available can sometimes seem insurmountable. Luckily, we’re here to help with a simple breakdown of the questions and answers surrounding web hosting.
First, it’s important for you to ask yourself the question: what do you want from web hosting? To do that, you need to identify the attributes of your business and its website. This includes:
Each website has a unique set of requirements designed around specifications set by you: the owner. When choosing web hosting, it’s important to set your expectations from the outset. If you will require increased capacity during sales events, make that clear. If you will likely need help during the migration process, let your sales rep know.
Hostdedi offers free migrations as standard, complete with a dedicated migration team to assist.
We have broken this article into five sections, each covering an area of importance. For our full breakdown of web hosting questions and answers, download our eBook.
1. Disaster Recovery
Disaster recovery should be one of the first things you ask. Even the most well-prepared and secured data center facility can experience a problem. Asking about disaster recovery will let you know what your provider will do about them.
54% of businesses experience a downtime event lasting eight hours or longer.
More than half of companies experience a downtime event that lasts for longer than eight hours. Several studies place a day of downtime as costing businesses around $20k. The events themselves may be unavoidable, but the amount of attributable downtime is.
A deeper look at the threats to a data center reveals three primary categories of risk.
Data backup and storage
In order to minimize the damage from any of the risks above, most hosting providers create what are known as disaster recovery plans. These proprietary strategies are a vital piece of the puzzle for maintaining uptime across all services. They cover how to reduce and remove downtime, how to get services back online as quickly as possible, and the expected scope of damage.
It’s important to understand and ask your data center about risk – especially if you host in an area prone to natural disasters. For a deeper dive into data center risk, check our expanded article on Data Center Risk and Recovery and see exactly what you should be asking your data center about.
2. Data Center Types
The second question you should be asking is what type of hosting infrastructure your provider is offering.
In modern hosting, opting for a provider doesn’t mean you will necessarily be using their data center. Several hosting providers don’t have their own facilities, instead opting to resell or collocate in third-party facilities.
This has created three primary categories of hosting.
Owned and Operated
Each of these has their own advantages and disadvantages. Owned and operated hosting providers tend to provide the best in terms of support and control, while reseller packages are often cheaper.
The third question is a tricky one – and something often marketed as being free by most providers: migrations.
Website migrations are scary. If something goes wrong, there is a lot to lose: SEO rankings, accessibility, data, and performance can all take a hit. These almost always lead to a reduction in visitors; one which can last for months or years and result in a huge loss in revenue.
All the more reason to take a more active role in the migration process. Know what to expect and what your role will be. With some simple preparation, a good website migration is a relatively easy and stress-free experience.
Learn more about how to keep your website migration simple. Remember, all Hostdedi solutions come with a dedicated migrations team to assist with your move for free. We’ll help walk you through the entire process so you know nothing will go wrong.
4. Traffic Spikes
The fourth question you should be asking is about traffic spikes and the capacity of your solution.
Traffic spikes happen. Sometimes it’s a search engine crawler or bot, other times it’s because your website just got a lot more popular and whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it right. Preparing for traffic spikes is an important piece of the website success puzzle.
At Hostdedi, there are three primary ways to prepare for and manage a traffic spike:
Below you’ll find a basic outline of how these different methods compare.
The final question you should have regards one of the most important features of modern managed hosting: support.
Hosting support should be 24/7, including holidays, and you should have a good understanding of the support channels available to you. At a minimum, there should be a ticketing system and a phone number. Check with your provider to see which channels are available and when they are available.
Wouldn’t it be great if all of these questions were explored in more detail in one place? And wouldn’t it be even better if that place contained more detailed questions for an even more in-depth understanding of the hosting solution you’re choosing?
You’re in luck, we’ve put together a detailed guide for you to explore all of the above and save onto your computer. Simply click the link below and you’ll be taken to the download page.
Getting feedback from customers on your WooCommerce store is important. Data, analytics, and split testing are some of the evidence-gathering tools you have at your disposal, but in order to create a complete picture, you should be asking customers what they think directly.
When your WooCommerce store goes live, there are a number of factors potential customers will consider; style, user experience, and interface are only a few. Some of these factors can be researched and managed before release, others require a process of trial, feedback, and improvement.
This article looks at the ways in which you can collect vital feedback on your WooCommerce store and how each of those channels has its own unique advantages.
Try optimized WooCommerce hosting and get the most out of your store. Get Started.
Direct Vs. Indirect Feedback
There are two ways to gather customer experience feedback on your WooCommerce store: directly and indirectly. We often focus on indirect methods, particularly deductions based on measurements and observations. But direct methods — asking customers and paying attention to what they say — can help us to lock down the causes of poor performance faster.
When you observe that shoppers who arrive on a landing page have a higher than average chance of leaving the site immediately, it’s reasonable to develop a hypothesis about why that may be and carry out tests to see if changes to the page reduce the bounce rate. Perhaps you think that the copy on the page is confusing, so you make some changes and test to see what happens.
With enough hypotheses and tests, you will discover the key to reducing bounce rates, but it may take a long time to hit on the right explanation. It’s often quicker to ask a subset of shoppers. You don’t have to accept their answers as the absolute truth, but their input may help you formulate better hypotheses and design more effective tests.
Feedback Collection Channels
There are numerous channels through which you can collect feedback. Each of them offers its own advantages and disadvantages.
Surveys are the most common strategy for eliciting user feedback. This method is great for reaching a large audience directly. WooCommerce retailers can take advantage of plugins such as WPForms to create on-site surveys or use a cloud service such as SurveyMonkey.
Creating surveys is easy, but getting customers to respond can be more of a challenge. You can simply ask customers to fill in a survey after they check out. However, it’s likely you will have better results if you offer a discount, voucher, or free gift in exchange for the shopper’s time.
The information you gather will be more useful and actionable if you ask a small number of specific questions. These results can be tested with an A/B test to see if they do actually improve conversion rate.
Another great way to gather customer feedback is to call them and ask questions directly. Calling customers is a great way to engage in high-quality, qualitative data collection and feedback.
However, most WooCommerce customers are not going to opt-in to a long phone discussion. This method can cause your customers to see you as a source of spam and it may stop them from making repeat purchases. Good use of discounts and vouchers can help to increase response rate, but it’s not guaranteed.
It’s important to be careful with who and how often you target customers in this way. One call will be ok for most people, but adding customers to a call list for repetitive questioning when they say they’re too busy, is a quick path to losing an otherwise loyal following.
An active social media account that encourages conversations with customers can be a treasure trove of insights about customer experience and sentiment. You should pay attention to what users are saying in free-form conversations, but it is often more effective to give specific prompts — ask customers what they think.
Social media can be incredibly revealing due to its connection to your buyer’s journey. If you’ve set up your analytics tools correctly, you should be able to track how people are entering your sales funnel and then where they are departing.
In addition to this, social media users represent a particular segment of your market. Data gained from this channel is invaluable for defining this segment and targeting them more effectively.
Both Twitter and Facebook can embed short surveys in their feeds and promote them to particular demographics.
Your support team interacts directly with customers. They handle shoppers’ complaints and questions every day. It’s likely that no employee in the company has a better understanding of the shortcomings of your WooCommerce store and the business it supports.
Have the support team take notes regarding the most common issues customers experience. Then come up with ways of reducing those issues and improving the customer experience.
Unlock the Promise of Your WooCommerce Store
eCommerce distances retailers from their customers, which is why we rely so heavily on data and analytics to make decisions. But customers can help you to understand your business — you just have to ask.
Why did WordPress become so popular? Partly, it is because WordPress is easy to use and because its theme and plugin ecosystems are so large. But just as important are the values that fuel the project: freedom and control. Freedom to use WordPress as you see fit. Control over every aspect of your site.
That ethos of freedom and control was embraced by many other projects, including Magento, WooCommerce, and Craft CMS. If you build a site or store on Hostdedi web hosting with these applications, you have complete control.
There are alternatives to this model. SaaS publishing platforms are designed to hide the technical details of hosting and publishing. They provide a simple interface and an acceptable – if bland and uninspiring – design. But, unlike a WordPress site, this type of publishing platform does not exist to fulfill the needs of creatives and publishers. It exists to serve the needs of the business that owns the platform.
Custom Domains Are Not Optional For Publishers
Last year, a prominent SaaS publisher announced that it would no longer offer custom domains. This announcement came in the wake of others that “sunsetted” the features that attracted publishers to the platform in the first place.
Users with custom domains would be able to use them for the foreseeable future. New accounts would be served from the platform’s domain with the publication’s name demoted to the URL’s path component.
In your day-to-day experience as a publisher and writer it may not seem to matter much. However, a domain is hugely important for branding, for search engine optimization, and for control. Without a domain, you don’t own the name of your site. You can build a business and an audience around your content and have it taken away in an instant. That can’t happen with a properly registered domain.
A domain can be pointed anywhere. If you have control over your site’s domain, you can redirect to any server on the internet. You decide which company hosts the site, and you can change your mind. Without a domain, changing hosting providers means changing the name of your site.
Links move with the domain. Incoming links remain an important part of SEO. Incoming links persist when a site moves only if the site owner can control the domain and any redirects. A publication that builds a link profile on a platform that doesn’t offer custom domains cannot take those links with them when they leave.
The platform’s policies override the publisher’s needs. Without a custom domain, the cost of switching to a new platform or hosting provider is high. That cost may force publishers to stay with a platform as it changes in ways that don’t benefit the publisher.
It is hard to overestimate the importance of a custom domain to site owners. It isn’t an optional perk. It’s a necessity. For these reasons, many publishers and site owners who embraced SaaS publishing platforms are pulling out.
With WordPress and Craft CMS hosted on traditional web hosting or a platform like the Hostdedi Cloud, you will always have complete control over your site, your content, and the business you build on them.
Hosting support is probably the most important factor you overlooked when shopping around for a provider. The promises of unrivaled performance, top-of-the-line uptime, and incredible security probably made you think you wouldn’t need it.
We’re here to tell you that regardless of who you’re hosting with, it’s not if you need support, it’s when. Even the most secure web hosting provider encounters issues outside of their control. A good support team means that when those issues arise, you’ll be able to quickly and effectively negate their effects
This article takes a deeper look at what’s important with regards to a support team and how you can get the most out of them.
Problems Will and Do Happen
Imagine this: you’re hosting with one of the best providers available. You researched for hours to find one that met and exceeded all of your criteria. They boast incredible uptime, talk about amazing page load speed, and they even provide auto scaling for when traffic spikes. Then one day you open your laptop to a refreshed page of… a 404 error. Your site isn’t there and you’re suddenly aware you’re losing money. Who do you call?
No, not the iconic 80’s team of paranormal experts, you need to get in touch with your hosting support team. You search their site frantically but find nothing. Money continues to disappear. Eventually, you stumble across a contact page in a small, dark corner of their website.
You call the number as fast as possible and… you’re told you’re at the back of the queue and will have to wait for an unknown period of time.
The example above is exactly why you should invest time in finding out about the hosting support your provider offers.
The risks to a data center are multiple and include a number of elements outside of the provider’s control. A good support team means that when these risks become a problem, you’ll be able to quickly and effectively negate their effects.
When Can You Contact Support?
Almost all modern hosting providers offer 24/7 support, so the time of day shouldn’t be an issue. What can be an issue is the type of support you receive.
To get a good idea of how accessible and effective your support team will be, here are four areas you should be asking about.
The channels available for accessing support (phone, tickets, email, social, etc)
The support tier team members available
The support team’s knowledge level (including with your application)
Response Time Many hosting providers advertise a quick response time. Ask them to define what that number means. A 15-minute response time doesn’t usually mean the time it takes for them to solve or begin working on your request, but an initial response time.
How Can You Contact Support?
Multiple avenues for contacting your support team are important. Most hosting providers offer a ticketing system through an internal network. This is great for long-form queries and issues but isn’t always the fastest support option available.
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Other support channels can include:
A ticket system
A phone number
An email address
An online chat box
Some issues have to be solved quicker than others. In these cases, phone support is best. Check to see if your hosting provider offers a 24/7 support line by phone and if you have access to that number.
A web hosting knowledge library with how-tos and guides is a great way to judge your provider’s own knowledge level and allows you to have more control over your solution.
Who Is Your Support Team?
Finding more out about your hosting provider’s support team is a great way to predict client experience. The aim is to feel comfortable with the level and type of support provided.
Location: The first question you should be asking is where the support team is located. Is support outsourced to third-party companies in other parts of the world? Outsourced support often leads to lower quality service and adds an extra step to the line of communication. Opt for a hosting provider with in-house support for a better experience. This is best when combined with an owned and operated data center.
Experience: The level of experience and background knowledge between web hosting support teams varies considerably. Some providers only hire top-of-the-line support staff, others opt for cheaper options.
Application Support: If your hosting provider claims to provide support for the application you run (whether that is Magento, WordPress, WooCommerce, ExpressionEngine, Drupal, or something else), ask if they have any application-expert support staff. Not only will this help when you run into application issues, it also lends credibility to claims that their hosting solution is optimized for your application.
Calling your support team isn’t something you should necessarily be doing a lot of, but if you are, then it’s good to know you’re going to be able to reach the right person. Ask about the support tiers available and how easy it is to move between them when required. At Hostdedi, there are three main support tiers:
Tier 1: Basic support
Tier 2: Advanced support that requires a deeper knowledge of applications and/or infrastructure
ESG: (Enterprise Support Group) For enterprise-level clients with more complex requirements
Different support tiers tend to focus on different types of issues. It’s often faster to go to a tier 1 support team for simple issues, and tier 2 for those more complex.