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Archive for the ‘Wordpess’ Category

Optimised WordPress Hosting: Hype or Real Benefit?

09 Nov

In many ways WordPress has had a revolutionary influence on the Internet. Starting life as a humble blogging tool, the popular application soon evolved features common to those found in many specialist CMS applications, but without the steep learning curve.

The result has been explosive growth in the number of websites and the diversity of people able to publish them. Where previously technical skills had been required to create a website, now it is within reach of just about anyone.

On the positive side, the Web has become an even more democratic place for publication than ever before. The downside, for those who care about such things, is that many websites have become homogenized in their appearance, and not always for the better.

Whether we choose to look on the bright side or not, the simple fact is that WordPress is here to stay. For those lacking the technical ability to develop websites manually and lacking the financial resources to pay a skilled developer to do the job for them, it remains a viable means of self-expression.

Skilled developers may find the limitations and overheads of WordPress to be somewhat frustrating, but it does provide a safe way to hand over editorial control to clients who don’t wish to pay for ongoing site management.

Having decided that you want to go ahead with using WordPress, you then come to the important decision of how and where you’ll host the site.
The choices for hosting type include:
• Optimised WordPress hosting
• Standard hosting with WordPress installed

Optimised WordPress Hosting – Hype or Real Benefits

Advantages of Optimised WordPress hosting
Dedicated Optimised WordPress hosting is the quickest and simplest way to get a WordPress website up and running. This is suitable where you only will be hosting one site from a specific server location.
If you’re scratching your head in confusion at that statement, it’s probably not a matter that’s going to affect you. The fact is, you can host more than one site from a single server location, and there are certain circumstances where that may offer advantages. With optimised WP hosting, that option is off the table.
A notable exception is Hosting Ireland which does allow multiple sites to be hosted from a single account, making it ideal for web developers and resellers looking for an inexpensive way to provide fully developed WordPress sites to their customers.
The main thing in this case is that everything is already installed and ready to go, with none of the distractions found with regular hosting.
Optimised hosting can also give you a little more security from attacks, though it’s not going to necessarily be able to fend off all attacks. The other side of it is that optimised hosting makes it a little less easy to do investigative work on your own if your site security does get compromised. You’ll have to rely on tech support to do that for you.
You also typically won’t need to worry about keeping your WordPress installation up to date, as the hosting provider may take care of these things for you.
There have been some situations where updates have produced negative results, such as if you have plug-ins that are not compatible with the latest version of WordPress, but usually a call to tech support can resolve the problem for you.
One of the biggest advantages is that 100 percent of your hosting allocation is dedicated to your WordPress hosting, so if that’s all you’re intending to use your server space for, you don’t have other things taking up space and resources when you won’t be using them.
Optimised WP hosting also usually comes with technology called Litespeed caching, a PHP based caching system that is faster than others and will boost the speed of your optimised WordPress site and make it work more efficiently.

Disadvantages of Optimised WordPress hosting
Remarkably, even though optimised hosting imposes greater restrictions and is less flexible, it is usually offered at premium rates. Presumably the slightly higher price is due to the configuration work performed by technicians when the site is initially set up for you, and the greater dependency on tech support that is expected.
Apart from cost, the main disadvantage is that there’s less flexibility. You’re locked into using WordPress, even if you later change your mind about wanting to. You can only realistically host a single site from your server space, and you don’t have access to the tools you’d find in a regular hosting set up such as those found in cPanel.
For novices who have no intention to use advanced features, this won’t be a major problem as these features aren’t necessarily ones you’ll want to access.
Another potential drawback is probably that you don’t have direct access to the MySQL database that the site uses, but that may be considered an advantage by some users, particularly those who need to work on a collaborative basis.
You’re better off with optimised dedicated WordPress hosting solutions when you have a high traffic site and you don’t have time to take care of the administrative side. It’s the kind of hosting you need when you prefer to call tech support for help with problems instead of rolling up your sleeves and hunting for the solution yourself.

Advantages of regular hosting
Regular hosting is the most flexible option, because you can do anything you want with your allocated server space, including installing WordPress. If that’s all you’re going to do with it, then you may prefer the simplicity of optimised WP hosting, though there are still some reasons to consider regular hosting.
With regular hosting you can easily create databases manually, and you have access to a vast array of website tools. It depends on the server software you’re running, but most sites are running in a cPanel environment installed on Apache servers.
You’re also able to install and test many different kinds of CMS or other software, and you can host multiple sites, subdomains and so on very easily.
Another advantage is that it’s usually cheaper, but money isn’t always the top consideration for all customers.

Disadvantages of regular hosting
Regular hosting is best for people who are confident in using web technology, and who dislike working with tech support. They see tech support as an unnecessary delay in getting problems solved instead of a welcome helping hand.
That’s the main difference between people who are likely to choose regular hosting instead of optimised hosting when their chosen publishing environment is WordPress.
When you don’t have optimised hosting, you have to do a lot more yourself. You can contact tech support when something goes wrong, but you’ll first have to experience something going wrong.
You will be responsible for installing and hardening WordPress yourself, and you’ll have to keep it updated yourself.
Where to get optimised WP hosting in Ireland

There are a lot of different businesses offering optimised WordPress hosting in Ireland, but of course they’re not all equal. Among the most popular and best offerings are:
Hosting Ireland WordPress plans start at 5.99 euros per month, with unlimited bandwidth, 10GB of space (2 extra euros per month for 5GB extra if you should need it), and more extras than we can list. You also get 2 months free with annual subscriptions.
WP Engine has a pricier option with plans starting at around 19 euros per month. These plans don’t have unlimited bandwidth, but what is offered is still fairly generous. This is the right choice for those who prefer to deal with giant global corporations rather than local businesses.
WordPlace is aimed squarely at complete beginners. Their paid plans start at just 5.99 euros per month, and come with 1GB of disk space and 10GB of bandwidth. They do offer a free SSL certificate, but not every site will need one, and the quality of the certificate is entirely up to the provider.

Summing up
Optimised WordPress hosting is the perfect solution for website customers who are planning only to use WordPress in their hosting and who prefer to leave the management to the providers.
As you can see from the three top WordPress hosting companies in Ireland listed above, the pricing for optimised hosting doesn’t have to be off the charts. The unlimited bandwidth offered by Hosting Ireland certainly makes them the most attractive option, but WP Engine has the reliability of a huge corporation and WordPlace has the free SSL option on offer.
Hosting Ireland was also the only one of the three that made optimised WP hosting optional, and the cost for this is only 1.40 euros more than the standard regular hosting plan, so this is further food for thought.

 
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eCommerce Plug-Ins for WordPress

15 Mar


WordPress is the technology driving a significant portion of small business websites, largely due to heavy promotion of the fact that it’s easy to manage and that just about anyone should be able to create a simple functioning website with it.

Hold that thought for a moment, because we’re about to slide into very different territory to anything resembling a simple website. From here we enter the murky waters of eCommerce, a dark and mysterious art that has led many to their doom. Or great prosperity. It’s all a matter of perspective.

The fundamental thing to be aware of is that eCommerce is like jumping in the deep end of the pool. If you’re not totally confident you can swim, you really ought to have somebody with experience watching over you to make sure you don’t go under.

The good news for small business operators is that plug-ins for WordPress do help to make the process of getting into eCommerce a little simpler. It’s still best to get help setting everything up unless you’re prepared to put in a lot of effort to learn techniques that you may only ever employ one time.

But once these items are properly set up, you should be able to manage your website with the same ease that you have always done under WordPress, just with the added benefit that your website can make money for you directly instead of indirectly.

Some of the best eCommerce plug-ins available currently includes:

• Ecwid – This could be one of the simplest to get up and running with, provided your sales environment isn’t overly complex itself. For a simple online store selling a small range of merchandise (either physical or digital), Ecwid fills that need perfectly, and without a steep learning curve to master it.

One thing to be aware of is that the developers of this plug-in have decided to monetise it by limiting how many products you can list on a free version, plus also restricting some features. Then the more you are willing to pay per month, the more features they’ll unlock for you and the more products you can list.

• WooCommerce – This is currently the most popular eCommerce plug-in for WordPress, but before you rush to join the hordes downloading it, hit the brakes and think for a moment. This was never a line in a Spiderman movie, but it should have been: With great popularity comes greater vulnerability.

You do need to be aware that if you use the most popular solutions for your site, there will be more people trying to hack you and greater chance that they will succeed.

Another possible drawback to WooCommerce is that you can’t just plug it into any old template and expect a good result. You really need to either have a template that was designed specifically with WooCommerce already in mind, or else be a template wrangling guru.

On the positive side, you can take some confidence from the fact that a large community of users also means easier access to support if you need it. The interface is also extendable, although that involves extra cost and effort. This is a good choice for eCommerce experts who are confident building their own systems or who regularly set up eCommerce solutions for their clients.

For the complete beginner, WooCommerce may have a little too much on offer, making it difficult to know where to start with it, although the documentation is very good.

• WPEPPA – Or as it is more properly known, WordPress Easy Pay Pay Acceptance is a plug-in that could be described as the polar opposite of WooCommerce.

Where the latter is sprawling, complex, and extendable, this plug-in does just one thing, and that is it makes you able to accept payments via PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, and depending on certain geographical factors, possibly other cards as well.

This plug-in is most suitable for those situations where your needs are simple and you don’t really want to get too fancy. You just want a simple tool that gets the job done, and this is it, provided you don’t mind PayPal’s high fees and tendency to block accounts when they think they smell a rat.

• Easy Digital Downloads – If you mostly sell digital items or things that have no physical existence (like, for example, psychic readings or prayers), the Easy Digital Downloads is a good choice. Just as with WooCommerce, it is extendable, but it’s different too because it’s actually easy to integrate into any WP theme, not just those which have been specially built for it.

While it is a little complex (the “easy” in the name means easy for your customers, not for the person setting up the shop), there is a lot of quality documentation available and for the most part it is quite intuitive. It’s suitable for beginners or experienced users, provided that the product range is essentially non-physical.

If you really know what you’re doing, it’s possible to wrangle it into selling physical goods as well, but why go to all that trouble when WooCommerce already lets you sell both types of products without having to get your hands dirty?

• Cart66 – When you want the most flexible range of payment options and the surety of having full PCI compliance without having to actually put in any of the groundwork, Cart66 is the right choice for you. This isn’t as extendable as many of the others on the list, but there are so many features built right in to the system that you probably wouldn’t find many scenarios where you’d need to extend it even further.

Cart66 deserves to be more popular than it is, but that lack of popularity is also one of its strengths, because as mentioned earlier, more popularity normally equals more vulnerability. There used to be a free version available, but today visiting the website only offers the possibility of a free trial, and thereafter pricing starts from $9.99 per month.

This plug-in is very flexible and can be used just about anywhere. It also is a lot less pedantic than many other eCommerce plug-ins, giving you more freedom to define what you sell and how you sell it.

There are plenty of others to discover
It’s never easy to compile a list of the best products, as people have greatly differing needs and there is a huge range of options out there. With the above list, you have a starting point, but you can certainly explore other options if you find that these don’t quite meet your specific needs.

 
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