Published on June 17, 2020
Every day, we’re faced with decisions large and small. What to wear, who to marry, whether to skip breakfast, whether to buy life insurance. Each decision then creates more decisions, until your decision tree looks like a map of the New York subway system.
It’s no different when it comes to picking the right WordPress hosting plan for your brand. Even if you’ve designed the coolest website ever, things can go wrong if you select the wrong company to host it. And there are literally thousands of companies to choose from, and hundreds of blog posts advocating for one over the other.
Data science has shown that not all decisions are equal, and nailing this one has outsized import for your brand. Don’t rush into a blunder. Use the power of behavioral economics to think your way to the best decision for your needs.
Free Is Just a Word
The first hurdle to jump over involves a word that has a tremendous pull on the human psyche: free. The number of “free WordPress hosting” companies might exceed the total grains of sand at the beach. Getting something for nothing fulfills an atavistic pleasure our hominid ancestors would have appreciated.
When it comes to hosting your WordPress web pages, however, you will want to rid the word “free” of its primitive emotional response. If you’re a newbie blogger, maybe a free hosting company makes sense. But if you depend on an uptime rate of 99.99%, then these “free” sites can let you down if you have too many visitors per day or month. You also might have to display the company’s banner in your header or footer, which will mar your overall design and UX.
And when these companies start to upsell you added features, you’ll discover that free isn’t necessarily free for long. Thus, perhaps you should consider a shared hosting environment that costs a few dollars per month rather than the lure of “free.”
A better option is to go with a managed hosting environment. Flywheel has a Tiny plan that starts at $15 per month and will provide the uptime results you demand.
A Loss Hurts More Than a Win
Human beings by default tend to be risk-averse, which can sometimes be detrimental from an investment standpoint. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained. But when it comes to the security of your WordPress website, a breach can really sting. Free and shared hosting companies are often the target of hackers for the simple reason that these companies don’t invest in cybersecurity upgrades.
Earlier this year, over 2,000 WordPress sites were hacked as part of a scam that took visitors to unwanted notification subscriptions, fake surveys, giveaways, and even fake Adobe Flash downloads. Similarly, last year hackers used a popular WordPress SEO plugin to launch a malware injection attack that added HTML code in theme files that redirected visitors to spam sites. Talk about a poor UX.
One reason these free or shared hosting companies are vulnerable is that many are owned by the same parent company, meaning the same weaknesses persist across dozens of different brands. But there are alternatives.
Liquid Web offers a managed hosting plan that relies on its own data centers, which in turn provides extra layers of protection for your WordPress web site, without the constant drumbeat of upselling that mars free and shared plans.
The Wisdom of Crowds
One paradox of humanity seems to be that as a group, we’re better at solving complex problems compared to an expert working alone. The so-called “wisdom of crowds” has been measured in many fields, and when it comes to a WordPress hosting plan that’s right for you, the best situation is a crowd of experts working on your behalf.
If your business is growing, you’ll want to consider going with a managed WordPress hosting company. Most have a variety of pricing options to meet your specific demands. WP Engine, for example, has plans that start as low as $22 per month (one site and 25,000 monthly visits) but scale up to mission-critical large businesses that get millions of monthly visitors. No matter what the plan, their WordPress Digital Experience Platform is backed by a team of experts available around the clock. No waiting on the phone if your web site crashes. Customer support is built into the managed WP hosting ecosystem and is a factor you need to weigh heavily as you decide how to proceed.
Plus, a managed hosting plan will give you daily backups and much faster load times. WP Engine boasts of a 27% increase in speed, which studies show directly translates into better e-commerce conversion rates. If you host your WP page with a free plan and load up with plugins, your load speed will crawl and your bounce rate will balloon.
Think, Don’t Feel
As the Nobel Prize winning economist Daniel Kahneman reminds us, bias often gets in the way of rational thought. Our brains trick us into making snap decisions based on ancient neural pathways that worked when mastodons roamed the earth. Don’t get fooled by the siren song of “free” and always plan for the worst to happen. A managed WP hosting company is the smartest way to maintain a high-quality web footprint for your brand.
Because there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
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This post was last updated on June 22, 2020