Managed WordPress hosting has only been around for a few years and is just now becoming the go-to option for serious WordPress site owners who mean business.
The footwear style that we know as cowboy boots, on the other hand, has been around for centuries, and it’s long been a go-to option for people desiring comfort, durability, and a certain swashbuckling swagger.
So what in the world does WordPress hosting have in common with the cowboy boot?
Nothing. And everything. All at once.
No, WordPress hosting cannot help you herd cattle, two step, or impress the beautiful belle eying you at the saloon.
And no, cowboy boots will not help you run a website that is fast, secure, and flexible.
But when it comes to choosing a WordPress host or a cowboy boot, and how to assess “the competition,” they are one in the same.
Let me explain why.
Actually, scratch that. Let one of the world’s most legendary cowboy boot makers explain why.
The ‘Final Truth’ About Cowboy Boots (and WordPress Hosting)
In 1883 at the ripe old age of 20, just three years after coming to the United States, Sam Lucchese Sr. started the Lucchese Boot Company.
It succeeded because of the Lucchese family’s dedication to its customers and to the intricate craft of bootmaking.
In 1960, the design of the Lucchese boot was taken to the next level by Lucchese’s grandson and namesake.
Sam Lucchese Jr. is renowned as one of the world’s finest bootmakers. His design — the current Lucchese boot design — is like no other and is beloved the world over because of its extraordinary comfort, quality, and fit.
The foundation of this unique and uncompromising design is Lucchese’s keen understanding of the human foot, developed over a lifetime in a bootmaking family.
As the Lucchese website explains:
Our boot designs may demand more money, time and skill, but when you slip your foot into a Lucchese boot, you’ll know why we insist on only the finest.
And no one said it better than Sam Lucchese Jr. himself:
The final truth is that throughout the whole boot factory, the quality chain is no stronger than its weakest link.
Lucchese isn’t the only company still hand making their boots.
Tim’s Boots came on the scene a century later and was culmination of other El Paso, TX industry insiders who shared the passion for hand made boots. Their Black Jack line rivals Lucchese in every aspect.
This is where the parallel between cowboy boots and WordPress hosting lies:
Yes, there is a higher price tag for a premium boot like a Lucchese or a Black Jack, but you get what you pay for. It is no different than choosing between a premium WordPress-only host and general commodity hosting.
For example, a plain goat skin Black Jack boot can set a consumer back $340 whereas a factory produced equivalent can be purchased for $225. Typically, a boot is good for 10 years.
If you do the math, it is a difference in acquisition cost of $.06 versus $.09 per day. That is not a lot of money considering how much the average human walks on a daily basis.
For $.03 more a day, the handmade product spares no expense in ensuring fit, comfort, and quality, whereas the wrong choice in mass production footwear could lead to a life of bunions and blisters.
The hosting equivalent would be poor performance, massive security holes, and slow customer service.
Your website is part of the “factory” of your business. Sam Lucchese Jr. would probably tell you that commodity hosting makes your site the weakest link in your quality chain.
And for what? To save a few pennies a day?
This realization is why so many WordPress site owners are giving their non-WP-specific hosting the boot. (Pun intended).
What To Look For In a WordPress Host
You’re a serious site owner and your hosting is a serious decision, so let’s step outside of our boot analogy here for a moment and get into some nitty-gritty WP-specific conversation.
The competitive landscape in the WordPress hosting arena should clearly be divided into two subsections:
1. Those who are truly committed to evolving and improving WordPress in production environments.
2. The larger, more general hosting companies who are simply riding the WordPress wave with broad brushstroke marketing that plays on overused buzzwords in the industry.
More specifically, as you evaluate your WordPress hosting options, here is a short checklist of questions to answer:
- Is the host dedicated to WordPress-only hosting or is WordPress one of many content management systems they support?
- Do they offer WordPress-specific support in addition to generic hosting support?
- Is their stack tailored to WordPress, with strategies for caching, performance, and security?
- Does their staff regularly interact with the WordPress community through both knowledge and GPL software contributions?
- Do they appear to be truly dedicated to evolving their own offers as WordPress itself evolves and grows in the CMS world?
Serious site owners who conduct business online do not choose hosts that answer “No” to any of the above questions.
The WordPress-only hosts that are most often discussed and debated answer “Yes” to all of the above questions and more.
So how do you choose between them?
It’s time to re-enter the world of boots.
Parsing The Premium Competition
In the premium boot industry — as in the premium WordPress hosting industry — the debate rages: who is the best?
Once you have made the smart decision to put your pennies per day towards premium, you want to make the best choice possible.
The answer is not obviously one or the other. It depends.
The Two Elements of Choosing a WordPress Host
For WordPress hosting and cowboy boots, it’s all about style and fit.
One bootmaker favors larger quills on their ostrich product. Another is better known for their snakeskin selection.
One WordPress host has a slant toward performance where as another might balance performance with more upfront proactive security. Another uses a cloud based architecture and another favors a more traditional approach.
The key is that you, the consumer, see the value in a host that specializes in WordPress and you simply have to hone in on the one that is right for you and your site’s needs.
When it comes to choosing between premium WordPress-only hosts, heed the advice of Jay Pink, the manager of Pink’s Western Wear here in Dallas:
Try them both on. The one that fits you the best and the style that best matches you is the one you should take to the counter.
He was talking specifically about choosing between premium boots, but his point applies to hosting just as well.
This is why all of the top WordPress hosts offer money back guarantees.
You wouldn’t shell out $350+ for a cowboy boot without being able to try on a pair and get a feel for what you’re paying for. The same thought process should apply to hosting.
So take the time to “try on” the different premium WordPress hosts and find the one that best fits the needs of your website and your online business. That’s the one you should ultimately take to the counter.
Oh, and if you decide to add any spurs, by all means choose wisely.