I’m sure most of you are aware of the stark differences in pricing between hosting providers. There are hosting providers that offer “unlimited hosting, disk space, and bandwidth” for only $1.99 a month, while there are hosting providers that provide business-level plans that appear to offer the same benefits for $249 a month.
Even though it is tempting, we strongly discourage you from going with the “shared hosting” solutions provided at bargain bin rates. Even with the promises of “unlimited” everything, there are many things that are important to keep in mind when choosing the best hosting option for your law firm. The three most important factors when choosing a hosting provider are site uptime, performance, and support.
Site uptime is an extremely important factor to consider when choosing a hosting provider. Anything below 99 percent is unacceptable for most businesses, as this would allow over 7.2 hours of downtime for your site each month. Imagine being unable to reach out to clients or work for them for practically one whole business day each month! One thing you will never see promised with cheaper hosting providers is a very high guaranteed uptime percentage.
Even if you are guaranteed a higher site uptime, you still have to look at the fine print. For example, an uptime of 99.9 percent guaranteed by webhosts such as GoDaddy & Hostgator are better options than the value hosting packages that are out there, as ideally this would only allow 45 minutes of downtime each month; however, server maintenance isn’t always accounted for in the fine print of these guarantees, and your site may go down longer than expected.
Based on our experience, we can vouch that WP Engine maintains on average a 99.99 percent site uptime. In an average month that is live for 43,200 minutes, this limits downtime to approximately five minutes a month, which is an incredible track record. The key word here is “maintain.” Where GoDaddy and other webhosts may promise a similar uptime, they have not delivered on that promise in our experience. While there will always be some server outages that unfortunately can never be fully eliminated, our site uptime has steadily risen since we have switched to WP Engine. Since we use their “Hot Standby” plan, we also have the added benefit of a backup server for maintenance, which helps reduce site downtime even more.
Each hosting provider offers various plans depending on the amount of monthly traffic your site expects to see and the number of websites you have. Your site’s performance is affected tremendously by your choice in plan. Some are best suited for school projects and one-page non-commercial sites, due to extremely long load times and server downtime as well as generally weaker performance. Other plans allow for sites to have over 5+ million views while still maintaining high performance in regards to bandwidth and page load speeds. In addition to key metrics such as bounce rate and click-through rate, Google also takes page load speed into consideration when ranking your site in the search results. If you are using a slower, value hosting plan, even from a reputable hosting provider, you will have a much harder time gaining impressions in search or conversions from your website.
We strongly recommend that you don’t skimp on your hosting plan. Even though there are hosting plans available for $9.99 a month, it doesn’t mean your business should use them. More and more people are finding law firms online and through organic search, and your website is the first impression of your practice to your potential clients. Having a website that loads slow, or fails to load at all due to server overload on value plans, is equivalent to leaving your front door locked during business hours.
For our clients, we use an enterprise-level plan with WP Engine that allows us to optimize each site’s performance based on the number of visits that client receives. While most legal websites aren’t getting as much traffic as online retail stores such as Amazon, it’s still a good idea to have a server that will allow you to grow your traffic without potential performance issues.
When all else fails, your hosting provider’s support team is your lifeline to get your website back up and running ASAP. A good support team makes the difference between average and amazing.
At some point, the odds are greatly stacked that you will experience some website downtime. When your site is down, and your customers are unable to contact you through the web, you need help and fast. The availability and efficiency of your support team provided by the hosting provider are the two most important factors in great support. Having only one of these characteristics isn’t enough if you’re serious about your web presence. A lot of websites provide chat only, or support ticket only service, and can take days to respond. Each minute that your site is down, you are losing business. And when you aren’t being compensated for the monetary loss of your website being down, this can add up very quickly.
For customers with a business plan or higher, WP Engine offers phone service, a chat service, and email ticket support, ensuring that you can always get a quick answer, no matter how severe the issue.
GET A DISCOUNT ON YOUR FIRST MONTH WITH WP ENGINE
At GNGF, we use WP Engine as our clients’ hosting solution. We believe it offers the best site uptime, performance, and support of all the managed WordPress hosts out there. We are excited to offer our newsletter readers a discount on the first month with WP Engine. All you have to do is sign up through our link, gngf.com/wpe.