Once a Presser, always a Presser – as shown by our friend Christian that reached out to us after changing roles at a local marketing agency. He isn’t in a position to make decisions about WordPress or hosting, but still cares about what his company and their clients are going through on a daily basis. His response was to reach out to us for an opportunity to drop some knowledge on the WordPress community, to agencies that build sites with WordPress specifically. He hopes his observations and experiences can help you avoid some of the problems that commonly arise when agencies don’t use a managed WP host.
Before making the switch from self- or general-hosting to managed WordPress hosting, an agency must consider many important points.
When a client trusts your agency to host their website, you must ensure that the host you select will be an extension of your business. Their wins are your wins, but more importantly, the host’s losses are yours, too. Consider the following when looking for a host to represent your agency.
What to Look for in a Managed WordPress Host
Point of Contact
Nothing is scarier than not having a primary point of contact who knows your agency, how you work, and most importantly, your clients. While traditional support will satisfy one-off customers, having a primary point of contact is a must for larger projects.
Features will appeal to your CMO. Technology will appeal your CTO. But don’t forget about the CFO. Using a managed WordPress host vs. internal hosting will almost always be more lucrative.
Saying your customer’s website lives “in the cloud” is not good enough these days. Clients want to know what’s under the hood. Having the ability to accurately describe the environment being used will only increase confidence from your clients.
Long gone are the days where you only had access to the WordPress dashboard and an FTP site. Giving your developers unrestricted access will allow them to feel empowered,not limited—and nothing is worse than an upset developer.
Whether you have one site to move or 100, you’ll want help. Finding a host that will assist in the migration process is mission critical to ensure downtime doesn’t peek it’s ugly head. Trust us, you’re not going to want to do this alone.
Rule number one of development: Never edit your live site! Having staging sites that quickly deploy and show you exactly what that tiny CSS change will look like before deploying is a godsend, trust me. Random “:” will always find a way to turn your perfect code into a down site.
I know what you’re thinking: backups are only for developers that make mistakes, and you’re perfect…99% of the time. For that 1% when you ran out of RedBull and accidently deleted all your content, you’re going to need a host that not only creates daily backups, but makes it easy to restore to a stable state.
Is this still a thing in this industry? Whether you need to change your billing information or ensure that SSH access is working, lacking a friendly and knowledgeable contact can make a mundane task ruin your day. Research ratings and read reviews. Trust me.
Ease of Use
UI. UI! Who doesn’t love CPanel? Navigating through your provider’s panel should be easy. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, how are you going to get anything done? Demand more from your host!
Ah, yes, speed and performance. Don’t trust marketing terms like “99% uptime” or “50% faster,” because we know that 73% of all stats are made up by marketing departments. Try multiple providers. Break something to see how the host fixes it. Ask them a tough question. Remember that you are now a customer and you should expect nothing less than amazing service.
Hosting is important to you and your customers. Relying on a box in a closet or a huge call center where they don’t know your name is a thing of the past. Hosting can be a feature you provide, not a liability or task. But finding a host who isn’t going to match the service you provide to your customers will ultimately cost you more than it saves.
So when looking from a host, make sure that their culture aligns with yours. Make sure that your new partner offers you the same level of service your customers expect from you. And that your host can tick all the boxes above, providing a service that you not only want, but need.