Earlier this year when our blog ran into issues with getting indexed in Google, we started seriously looking at our hosting set up. We identified several key issues with our host that had to be resolved if we were to get back on the right track. Our host at the time, was slow and had terrible support – often taking more than 24 hours to respond to a support request. That was the final straw that made us start the daunting task of changing hosting providers.
After reading several reviews and talking with a few other trusted sources, it didn’t take us long to settle on WP Engine as our hosting provider. It’s materially different than a normal shared host – or even a VPS running WordPress which is why it was so attractive to us.
After working with them for several months now, we can honestly say they have built a hosting solution that allows you to use best practices when dealing with your WordPress site. That means fewer headaches, more money, and more time to focus on our business instead of WordPress.
This WP Engine Review will outline the key factors regarding why we decided to make the switch and how it’s been going for us over over the past six months.
Faster WordPress = More Money
WP Engine has engineered a solution that makes our site’s speed the primary focus. They do this through their proprietary caching infrastructure EverCache, which uses 3 level of caching throughout the WordPress stack to deliver pre-rendered pages faster than ever before.
While most WordPress hosts required us to manage caching ourselves, WP Engine takes care of it for us. That helped us spend more time on our business instead of wasting hours upon hours configuring caching plugins.
This made our site MUCH faster by removing the processing burden that WordPress typically requires. And faster sites don’t just load quicker – they convert better and make more money. Site and page speed also effects AdWords quality score, SEO, and more factors. Additionally, with the rise of the mobile internet, page speed is vitally important to ensuring visitors on mobile devices have a good experience.
Their Developer Tools Saved Us Time
Most WordPress sites are deployed using ftp. If multiple people modify the site, then the ftp site becomes the canonical version. If someone doesn’t download the latest changes from the FTP site before publishing their changes, other changes might be overwritten. This has all been fixed with the advent of source control management systems like Git.
Git allows you to store your site’s code in a central location, in addition to locally on your machine. Changes from all developers are easily merged, and a record is kept of who did what. You can work on multiple versions of the site simultaneously, and only push the changes that you want to go live.
Managing changes through source control is the best way to do professional web development today – but most hosts are stuck in the stone ages. However, WP Engine has embraced the modern paradigm of source control and time saving developer tools and allowed us to publish our site using an existing Git repository.
This feature has been amazing for our team – it allows us to simultaneously work on multiple features at a time, and deploy those with one simple command. Using the Git deployment method of WP Engine has other benefits as well.
It checks our PHP syntax to make sure it’s correct so we don’t have the dreaded white screen and not know where to start looking. Now, that code will never make it into production in the first place!
Staging Environment: Making Sure Bad Code Never Sees the Light of Day
Further saving our website from downtime, WP Engine provides staging sites by default which means that we can test out changes to our site quickly and easily. This gives us the opportunity to test new plugins, new themes, and even new content away from our production site – so if something goes wrong, our revenue is never affected.
Then, pushing our staging site live is a snap – simply press “Copy Site from Staging to Live”, and now the development site is now our production site. Piece of cake!
This was huge for us. WP Engine automatically backs up our site every 24 hours. We can also schedule manual backups anytime we want – so we can back up new changes and new posts on the fly.
So now we can make changes, install new things, and even if we push something over from our staging environment and something strange happens, we can easily revert to a backup.
No custom WordPress plugins are needed – it all happens without our intervention. Now we never have to worry if our data is safe after the next announcement of a plugin hack.
Between automatic backups and the WP Engine staging environment, white screen errors, theme problems, problems with plugins, and other technical issues will never see the light of day – and never effect our revenue.
WP Engine automatically updates our WordPress installation as new stable versions are released. This means that our WordPress install is always on the latest version – and thus avoids most of the security issues associated with running an old version of WordPress. I’ve slept better at night ever since making the switch.
Finally, WP Engine support has been extremely quick and helpful in the rare cases that we’ve needed them. Our previous host had a habit of not even responding to support tickets, whereas WP Engine handles our problems in minutes.
Six months into it, we’ve literally had zero down time and it’s been smooth sailing since we made the switch. WP Engine is a new breed of managed WordPress host – and in that space, is the standout amongst the players in the space.
If you’d like to spend your time playing with server settings, go for it. But if you want to focus on content, design, your business – or really anything except being a WordPress systems administrator, WP Engine is for you. You can sign up and check out their plans on their site.