How to choose the right hosting platform for your WordPress site.

Let’s say that you’ve had a good month at work, and you decide to treat yourself a little: you buy yourself a Maserati MC20 with your avocado money. Would you park your lovely new car on a busy but narrow road, next to a nightclub, under a tree full of nesting pigeons? Of course you wouldn’t. And yet, so many people choose to throw their website up on the first web host they find, without giving it any further thought.

Your website’s design and build may get all the accolades, but it’s only as good as the infrastructure that supports it. Performance, security and scalability are all dependent on your site’s hosting environment. Where to host your website is not something to decide lightly. Understanding your goals, priorities and requirements can help you make a more informed decision, which will pay off in the long run.

What is web hosting?

Before people can visit your website, you first need to store it on a server somewhere on the Internet. You can then set up a domain name to point to it. Only at this point can users enter your domain name into their web browser and access your website.

Web hosting is the name given to the server environment where your website lives. Websites are made up of files: platform code, templates, images and other assets. Some sites – including ones built in WordPress – also have a database containing settings and text content.

Your hosting environment includes factors like server speed, storage capacity and security measures. Reliable hosting helps ensure that your site stays online, loads fast and handles traffic without crashing or slowing down. Choosing the right web hosting is crucial to ensure it performs well and delivers a great user experience.

Types of WordPress hosting

WordPress has comparatively low requirements, meaning that it runs on almost any hosting. This is one of WordPress’s great strengths, but it can also make life difficult. There are so many WordPress hosting options that it can be a challenge to work out how different platforms compare with each other.

There are several main types of hosting available, at varying levels of performance, control, ease-of-use and cost.

Shared hosting

The most budget-friendly option. With shared hosting, your website shares resources with other sites stored on the same server. The main advantage of shared hosting is price: with many sites on the same server, web hosts can keep prices low. This makes shared hosting by far the cheapest way to host a website.

The downside is that hosts usually configure servers using a one-size-fits-all approach. This doesn’t perform as well as an environment configured especially for your website. Performance also depends on how many websites the provider decides to store on the same server.

Pros: Cheap
Cons: Lower, more variable performance

Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting

VPS hosting is half way between a dedicated server and shared hosting. The hosting company partitions a server into separate virtual machines. While the server is still shared among multiple users, individual sites are separate. This gives site owners more control over their hosting, without having to rent an expensive dedicated server.

Pros: More features of dedicated hosting, but lower cost
Cons: More complicated to manage; Only limited control; Still sharing resources with other sites

Managed WordPress hosting

A premium option in which the web host takes care of the technical aspects of running your site. Typically, areas like backups, updates and security. This leaves you free to focus on things with a direct business impact, such as posting content, without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure of your site.

Managed WordPress hosting services are designed and optimised specifically for WordPress sites. As such, the performance and security is better than you can achieve on shared hosting. Many managed hosting services also come with access to expert developer support.

Pros: Expert support; Automatic updates; Enhanced security
Cons: Higher cost than traditional hosting; some providers might have limitations on certain plugins or customisation options

Dedicated hosting

An entire server to yourself, without the need to share it with anyone else. Dedicated hosting offers the most flexibility and performance, but at much greater cost.

With dedicated hosting, you have full control over the server environment. You can choose hardware, software, and can configure everything to your exact requirements. However, for most WordPress sites, this level of hosting is overkill. Some large enterprise organisations need a dedicated hosting environment to meet specific technical, security or regulatory requirements. For the majority of smaller sites, one of the other hosting options is likely to offer better value.

Pros: Full control over your hosting environment
Cons: Expensive; Requires a professional to manage

Hosting considerations

Choosing the best hosting for your WordPress site is about finding a balance. Start with the business goals your site has to meet, and what hosting level meets those needs. Then consider any compromises that are needed due to things like budget considerations.

1. Performance and Speed

Your hosting environment can have a direct impact on the speed of your site. Shared environments often offer quite variable performance. The number, performance and traffic levels of other sites on the server can have an impact on your site. Imagine your site slowing down to a crawl because another site has a traffic spike. Other types of hosting protect your site from the influence of other sites that are out of your control.

WordPress specific hosts often include features like server-level caching and CDN integrations. These can offer a dramatic improvement over standard hosting features.

2. Security and Updates

The web can be a dangerous place. An undefended website won’t last long before it falls victim to malware, or other forms of attack. It’s vital to protect your site against security breaches and data loss. Regular backups, updates and malware scans are a vital part of keeping your website safe.

Even standard hosting usually offers some basic security measures. However, specialised hosts often provide more advanced features tailored to WordPress’s specific vulnerabilities. These may include automatic backups, updates, enhanced firewalls, malware detection, and proactive threat monitoring.

3. Customer Support and WordPress Expertise

Support levels often vary greatly between hosting providers. Shared hosting typically offers only basic support with server-related issues. If you are likely to need specialised WordPress expertise, you may have to look elsewhere.

VPS hosts usually provide more extensive support, including server management and troubleshooting. Unfortunately, WordPress-specific support may still be limited.

Managed WordPress hosting is likely to offer the best support levels. After all, this is the main purpose of this kind of hosting. Most managed hosts have experts who can help with everything from setup to optimisation. Hands-on developer support is often available with bug fixes, maintenance, and malware removal. To find out more about Push to Dev’s WordPress management options, get in touch.

4. Scalability and Growth

If you want your website to grow, you need to make sure your hosting solution is flexible enough to grow with you. This might include coping with unexpected traffic spikes, or simply having the capacity to manage increased load.

The nature of shared hosting means it usually comes with significant resource limitations. As such, it may struggle to accommodate increases in traffic.

VPS hosts typically scale by letting you easily upgrade to higher-tier plans with more resources as needed. This is fine if you know in advance to expect an increase in traffic. However, it might be an issue if such a spike happens unexpectedly.

If growth and scalability are a priority, managed hosts are usually the best option. They provide automatic resource allocation to handle spikes in traffic without compromising performance. They also offer advanced caching mechanisms and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), to optimise website speed and responsiveness during periods of high demand.

5. Price Point and Budget Considerations

Like it or not, budget is often one of the most important factors when choosing web hosting. If it wasn’t, every site would live on its own dedicated server, managed by a team of developers whose sole responsibility was keeping it running smoothly. Unfortunately, in the real world, compromise is often necessary.

Deciding what to prioritise is crucial for getting the most value out of your investment. Start by identifying your website’s most critical needs. If performance is paramount, look for hosting providers that offer optimised server configurations and caching mechanisms, even if they come at a higher cost. If budget is your primary concern, shared hosting may be the most suitable option, even though it might come with limitations on performance and scalability.

One oft-overlooked factor is the level of support provided. It’s worth doing your research here, as reliable customer assistance can be invaluable. A consistent, proactive web support team more than pays for itself in the long run.

Ultimately, try to strike a balance between budget constraints and your website’s requirements. Focus on the features that will have the biggest impact on your website’s success and try to get the most for your money.

6. Ease of Use and Management Tools

Think about how you will set the site up on your hosting environment, and who will be responsible.

If you have access to a development team, you may not have to worry too much about ease-of-use. But if you will be managing your website yourself, it might be a more pressing concern. Look for platforms that advertise user-friendly features like intuitive dashboards, management tools and one-click installs.

Alternatively, consider delegating the work to a specialised managed WordPress host. The hosting provider will be able to migrate your site to their platform, and look after it once it’s there. It’s the next best thing to an in-house development team.

If you’re looking for proactive, developer-backed WordPress hosting and maintenance, you should get in touch.

* indicates required fields

What kind of organisation are you?*
What kind of support do you need?*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.