Last month, team TechVise decided that it was high time to take this little blog seriously, which meant to the next level and we chose Pantheon.
You want to know how and why we made this choice?
Well, the first step for most blogs is content followed closely by monetisation and of course visitors. Unfortunately, in order for a blog to truly encompass this trifecta, it needs to have:
- Awesome content
- A self hosted WordPress platform
- A really good hosting that scales easily
This is not difficult since we know whats trending and what’s not. All we really need is churn out great content and tell people the various services, apps, tools and devices that are out there. This is very much in our control and is really ours to lose.
Self Hosted WordPress Platform
Self hosted WordPress platform means that we need to have total control over our website; from the site’s theme to the plugins.
Hosting that Scales
Why and How?
Self-Hosting WP means equally good solution for hosting.
Trial & Error
Back in 2010 we had no idea how to host a website and worse yet, we were new to WordPress, so we learned the hard way – trial and error. I looked up hosting at WordPress.org for us and saw BlueHost listed there (just as it is listed today).
Unfortunately for BlueHost, I have extremely low tolerance for slow websites hence, when the time came around to renew our hosting, I moved out and went to GoDaddy who seemed to offer managed WordPress hosting at economical prices which sadly, was no better.
I moved us again in 2012 to Westhost, 6 months later we upgraded to their Managed Cloud (at $50 /month) because the site would become unresponsive if there were some active visitors on the site and content was being uploaded at the back-end. 3 months later we switched to WP.com because that way site visitors would not get hampered and our content creators would not be screaming in frustration.
After 14 months of virtually no problems with hosting we needed a reliable and Pro quality dedicated WordPress hosting from people who knew WordPress inside out and did not pretend to be Gurus at everything under the sun, so we could go back to a self hosted WP platform. WordPress Business is great but is extremely costly and while we hope to be able to afford it one day; that day is not today and wont be next week or month.
The Search for Premium/Specialised WordPress hosting
In the last 2 months, we have actually looked at the likes of WordPress Business, WPEngine, Pressable, Siteground, WebSynthesis and Page.ly. I left out AWS since even though its free for 12 months in Sandbox and great for full time developers, their pricing is complicated and not for everyday users and despite our considerable above average technical skills we do full range web consulting and limited development so we really needed a long term solution not just for us but for our clients. Here’s a high level recap on what we discovered:
WordPress.com Business: Starts at $500/month if you want your own choice of Analytics and Plugins.
WP Engine: Starts at $29/month for 1 site and supports upto 25,000 visits
Pressable: Starts at $25/month for 5 sites and supports upto 15,000 shared pageviews
Siteground: Starts at $3.95 / month and they do WP, Magento and Joomla hosting specialisation
WebSynthesis: Starts at $27/month, supports 75,000 pageviews and built specifically for Genesis Framework. Provides built in SEO and Marketing tools.
Pagely: Starts at $24/month, supports 24,000 visitors. Pro features cost more than others.
During the comparison analysis, we would drop by at Pantheon and wish that they did WP hosting since we’ve been itching to try out their platform but don’t do any Drupal development.
Our stars were finally aligned. Just when we had made a decision to go ahead with Pressable we received an email from Pantheon announcing WordPress support and invitation to signup for Early access.
We filled out the form and received an acknowledgement from Pantheon’s Josh Koenig (their Co Founder and Head of Developer Experience) that we were on the list! Two days later and after a couple of email exchanges with him we had access to Pantheon for WordPress.
We went ahead with Pressable anyway and 2 of our 3 sites are on Pressable and mind you, we are quite happy with the platform, but nothing beats Pantheon for a tech blog such as TechVise (for which we truly started the hunt).
- Separate Dev, Test and Live environments with easy commits, push/pull code functionality with access to cache clearing
- GIT and SFTP support
- Scheduled and manual backups
- PHP error logs
- Environment clones, export, import and ability to wipe clean an environment
In an email, I asked Josh if the pricing for WordPress was the same as for Drupal, here’s what he had to say about it:
The pricing is the same for WordPress and Drupal. We know that makes us more expensive than a lot of WordPress hosting, but we think our service offers a lot more value, and hopefully clients and customers should be able to see that too. If we save one developer hour a month, it should more than pay for itself.
That statement above pretty much sums it for me and others at TechVise (part of QZ Consulting), we don’t want to pay a developer to figure out where the problem is because most issues that we run into derive from small customisations and are generally because of a typo or a missing syntax etc.
We also wanted an environment in the cloud that our customers could see when we wanted them to (Pantheon provides both Public and Private environment access options).
And we want to be able to make changes to the code on the fly and then push them to ‘test‘ environment so the customers could approve.
We get to test out new updates in the dev before pushing them to test and then go live with it.