Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no added cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
We all want our website to load faster, right? It helps create a better user experience, is a known factor for SEO, and can help turn visitors into customers. And there are quite literally dozens of things you can do to help knock a few seconds off your load time, but one of the most simple and commonly recommended solutions is to install a caching plugin.
It’s easy, won’t cost you a fortune, and is proven to make a difference. What a caching plugin does in simple terms is create a static version of your website’s pages, which can be accessed far quicker when your visitors navigate to them. Normally, when a page is loaded, there are lots of steps involved to get that page to appear in front of your eyes, and a caching plugin removes many of those steps.
But which should you choose? Which plugin works the best? Should you go for a free or premium plugin? These are all questions that we tried to address by contacting and talking to over 60 WordPress experts to ask them, “which is the best cache plugin for WordPress in 2019?” These folks use WordPress every day, and most have tried and tested many of the caching plugins available.
Each expert we spoke to was allowed to nominate up to 3 WP caching plugins. Keep reading to find out which plugin came out on top, and equally as important, why.
Best WordPress Caching Plugin: How Our Experts Voted
|Caching Plugin||# of Votes|
|#1. WP Rocket||39 Votes|
|#2. W3 Total Cache||21 Votes|
|#3. WP Super Cache||18 Votes|
|#4. WP Fastest Cache||15 Votes|
|#=5. LiteSpeed Cache||4 Votes|
|#=5. Autoptimize||4 Votes|
|#=6. Breeze||2 Votes|
|#=6. Swift Performance||2 Votes|
|#=6. Hummingbird||2 Votes|
|#=6. Cache Enabler||2 Votes|
|#=7. JCH Optimize||1 Vote|
|#=7. Simple Cache||1 Vote|
|#=7. SG Optimizer||1 Vote|
|#=7. Nginx +FastCGI Caching||1 Vote|
|#=7. Comet Cache||1 Vote|
|#=7. Batcache||1 Vote|
|#=7. WP REST Cache||1 Vote|
As you can see from the table above, although there were quite a few plugins mentioned, most of the votes were shared between just 4 caching plugins: WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache and WP Fastest Cache. So those are the options we’re going to focus on here.
WP Rocket was the clear winner, with just about double the number of experts citing it as one of their preferred WordPress caching plugins. Why was that? We kept hearing the same three things: Ridiculously simple setup, it just works, and a great feature set.
Caching plugins can be notoriously tricky to set up and make sense of, particular for “non-techy” folks. The endless options, the technical jargon; it’s enough to make your head hurt. And that’s where WP Rocket really appeals to a lot of people. Set-up is suuuuuuper simple (in 2 clicks, you can have a basic configuration put to work on your site). Of course, it also backs this up with great performance (numerous experts mentioned seeing massive speed gains literally by just installing the plugin and doing nothing else!).
That’s not to say this plugin can only handle the basics though. It boasts an impressive range of features that you can take advantage of to further speed up your website if you have a little bit of know-how, or are prepared to invest a little time testing. These features include deferred JS loading, lazyload for images, removing query strings from static resources, cache preloading, database optimization, DNS prefetching, HTML minification, Google Fonts optimization, and more.
On top of all of this, for a paid plugin that “does what it says on the tin” and is very well supported (quick to help troubleshoot and solid support documentation), the price they make it available for is very, very reasonable. The fact that there is a licence fee also means that they are able to have a team behind the scenes working to consistently improve the plugin.
W3 Total Cache came in second place, and boasts “veteran” status, having been around far longer than most other caching plugins. There’s always something to be said for longevity, and the support team behind it is pretty responsive when you run into trouble. There is a free version and a paid version of this plugin, and even with the free one, you are equipped with a very extensive feature set, which gives you lots of flexibility. Herein lies the double-edged sword though, as the one criticism that kept cropping up with W3 Total Cache is that it’s not as easy to configure as other options. So if you’re not that tech-savvy, it could be a little frustrating to set-up, and you have to be prepared to invest some time “getting to know” the plugin to really take advantage of what it can do.
In third and fourth were WP Super Cache and WP Fastest Cache, which both have LOTS of active installations (WP Super Cache has over 2 million!), and are both very stable. WP Super Cache is actually produced by the team behind WordPress (Automattic), so you don’t really need to ever worry about waking up to compatibility issues after an update. Both of these plugins have free versions, are very quick and easy to set up, have nice interfaces, but lack some of the more advanced features such as lazyload. WP Fastest Cache does have a premium version that unlocks more features though.
1) If you’re either a non-techie or don’t have lots of time time/desire to invest in configuring a caching plugin, want advanced features to get the best performance and want to see speed gains fast, then the experts would recommend:
2) If money is tight and you want a powerful caching solution that offers a comprehensive suite of features, and don’t mind getting your hands dirty with “some trial and error” testing initially to get it firing, check out this option:
3) If you’re looking for a free plugin that’s easy to setup and navigate, has a solid track record and comes with the basics to improve your site’s loading time, either of these options will work:
Read What The Experts Said
It’d be far easier to just make all of this up, but that’s not what we’re about here at WSTE. We really DID ask 65 WordPress pros for their take on the best WP caching plugins currently available, and below you can read exactly what each of them had to say on the matter. There’s lots of really good advice in there!
This section is really handy if you want to see what was said about a particular plugin. You can use the filters to jump directly to all of the comments about whichever one you’re interested in.
- WP Rocket – “My absolute favorite caching plugin is WP Rocket. I have used it for many years, and it was great from the beginning. The development team improves it consistently. The settings of the plugin are very flexible, and with a little WP expert help, you can achieve really great scores in performance metrics and really improve your site load speed. You can try to set it up by yourself if you have basic WordPress skills.”
- JCH Optimize – “A useful caching plugin with many other options available. Has multi-tier one-click settings available for easy setup. What I like most about this tool is that it can be installed on WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Magento. I have done projects with all 4 of those CMS systems, and having the same tool made it easier to learn and deploy. The pro versions add excellent features such as Kraken image optimization.”
- W3 Total Cache – “In addition to being really popular, it is one of the few caching plugins that offers Fragment Caching: Fragment Caching allows breaking objects into multiple pieces that may be cached and generated with more granularity than Object Caching alone. The idea is that rather than simply caching an entire Object and rebuilding the entire object when a portion of it updates, you can break the object into multiple fragments.”
“Your website speed is one of the major influences for SEO ranking these days. While there are a lot of things you can do for your website, such as image improvement and code tweaks to speed up your site, you may still only get down to a 3 or 4 sec load time. To get that last little bit and load in less than 2.5 sec, you may need caching.
Caching plugins come in all kinds of flavours, from the very basic to insanely crazy to configure ones. If you are looking for caching, you will want something that is easy to get setup, has minimum fuss and provides excellent caching right out of the box.
You will want WP Fastest cache.”
WP Fastest Cache – “WP Fastest Cache is a simple plugin to use and the free version you can get works very well and is easy to set up with just a few check boxes. It takes care of all the issues of updating your .htaccess file, so you don’t have to go in and mess with any code. When ever you post or update a page it automatically clears the cache to prevent issues. If you have special pages you need to be served without caching, you can also block caching on those pages. WP Fastest Cache minifys your HTML and CSS files for you. It also combines your .js and .css files for faster delivery to site visitors by decreasing the number of files and https requests made. It can also be set up to use Gzip and Browser caching. WP Fastest Cache is compatible with CDN networks such as Cloudflare, Photon and Stackpath.
At only $49.99 for the premium version you can extend the abilities and speed of WP Fastest Cache with additional tools to manage your website such as Image Optimization, Minify and combine plus, cache statistics and more.
This plugin was reviewed in Episode 338 of WP Plugin A to Z (you can check it out here)
Overall this has been the best and easiest caching plugin I have tested and used over the years.”
There are two plugins that I prefer to use, WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache.
- WP Rocket – “First of all, I like WP Rocket because it’s effective. It’s user friendly and very easy to configure, the ideal plugin for the “non-tech” people. Most of the time it works out the box or barely needs configuration. Last but not least, I love the “Separate cache files for mobile devices” feature.”
- W3 Total Cache – “On the other hand, W3 Total Cache is effective, but it’s not a plugin for the “non-tech” people. I like it because it has tons of advanced but complicated options that give developers full flexibility, but may be frustrating for the simple website owner. And a bonus point for the mobile support, apparently, it’s very important.”
The cache preloading massively helps with load time and using the caching alone we have seen website speed savings of 5-7 seconds in an instant.
Clearing the cache is easy – There’s the option to clear your whole cache for HTML or CSS/JS or to individually clear pages as and when required.
Highly recommend this plugin that we use on all WordPress websites as absolute standard.”
WP Fastest Cache – “This is always my go-to caching plugin for WordPress, it is by far the easiest plugin to get set up and the results are on par with most premium caching plugins.
WP Rocket – “This is a premium caching plugin that includes a rich feature list. It is ideal for beginners because it is functional after activating the plugin, however, if you would prefer to tweak some settings, there are a huge amount of settings that can be configured to suit the website’s needs.
One popular feature is to lazy load images, so that they are not loaded until the image has scrolled into the viewport. This will decrease page loading times and it will have a positive impact on your Google Page Speed score.”
“In conclusion – WP Fastest Cache is my preferred WordPress caching plugin because of the quick set up, great results and its easy to configure settings. If you want to get even better results from this plugin, you can upgrade to the premium version, which will give you better caching results and additional options such as JS combining and minification.”
WP Fastest Cache – “The WordPress caching plugin that I like the best is the WP Fastest Cache combined with some other techniques. I have tried other caching plugins, but found that the best end effect came from WP Fastest Cache. I will combine it with other plugins and techniques:
1) I use Cloudflare as a CDN to speed delivery and cache some assets.
2) Shortpixel is great at shrinking image sizes to get sites under control.
3) I will use Scripts to Footer in some instances to get render blocking scripts to appear in the bottom of the body.
4) If possible (in terms of time, budget and design), I will convert images into sprites to save on the requests.
5) I like to use SVG images as much as possible, they are small and vector based– two great ways to get a lot more horsepower out of a website.
To assess how well I am doing, I will put key pages through GTMetrix.com to look for weak spots. As I find issues, I return to the site and tweak it more.”
“At first glance, there isn’t really a big difference in cache efficiency between different cache plugins. Using the words “total”, “super”, “fastest”, etc. on its name doesn’t make them the total super fastest plugins. But, as with the most delicate ice cream, there is much more to consider beyond its main functionality of giving you a refreshing feeling. God (and the devil) is in the details.
At the same time you consider a cache system, you have to consider the entire performance of your website. Cache is going to be able to speed up your website load by decreasing your server CPU load, but cache is not going to make your server better, nor reduce the number of resources that your website loads unnecessarily, nor improve your site code or reduce the size of your images. If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, consider talking to a trusted web developer.”
- WP Super Cache – “If you love vanilla ice cream, this would be your vanilla with macadamia nuts flavour. For me this is the go-to option, it’s backed up by Automattic among other amazing developers, and it’s being used for large sites made with WordPress. You can configure it in simple mode (just two clicks for you) or advanced with great features (around 20 clicks and the possibility to do something wrong). This is my must-use cache plugin for multisite. The only thing I miss is a JS and CSS minification and aggregation, for which I combine it with Autoptimize.”
- W3 Total Cache – “This would be you stracciatella with mint, blueberries and marshmallow ice cream. This plugin has everything you can imagine: lots of options, different types of cache and premium features with even more things. I recommend it for websites requiring some special cache configuration with someone who knows what they are doing when configuring it, and whom is able to run tests on the production server. I mean, you can make your site slower if you don’t do it properly.”
- Breeze – “There is a new flavour at the ice cream store and some people are tasting it. This plugin is just simple. You install it and with a couple of clicks it works not knowing how. Although it is recent, it works fine and looks stable. Like others, it has options to go wrong, but this would be one of the easiest plugins to use.”
“Caching is so important for a website, as page speed forms part of the Google search algorithm. I am recommending caching plugins here, but I would also say that there are some great hosting companies who offer top notch caching as part of their package. For example, you don’t need to install anything with WP-Engine to get lightening fast speeds.
You will quickly see that I focus on great caching and ease of use for the website owner. Caching is complex and that needs to be taken care of for you.”
- WP Rocket – “My number one is WP Rocket. It’s absolutely brilliant, so good I use it myself. Whilst there are advanced configurations, you can just install and go and watch your website speed up immediately. It is a fully featured optimsation plugin, so focuses on more of the page load elements than caching alone. It will sort out everything you need, such GZIP compression, reducing file sizes through minification and loading images only as required – when the visitor scrolls. This is a premium plugin though and the cost is $49USD per year. Money well spent as far as I am concerned.”
- WP Super Cache – “Number two is WP Super Cache. This is built by the people behind WordPress, Automattic. This is a free plugin available through the WordPress repository. It’s easy to setup and is great as a caching only plugin. WordPress generally uses PHP to load the page, gathering together all of the data it needs prior to loading, so this can take time. WP Super Cache generates static HTML pages, pretty much a snapshot of a ready loaded page, so these are much smaller and quicker to load. I think for the sake of 5-minutes it is worth installing this if you don’t have a caching plugin, it will give your visitors a much better experience.”
- Hummingbird – “Number three is Hummingbird. The free version of Hummingbird is a very good product. Like WP Rocket it is a fully featured optimisation plugin that compresses files, does the GZIP stuff, optimises file and image loading and provides a complete caching solution. I quite like this one because it lets you know what could be done to speed up your site and offers you one click options to get the best solutions. If you really want a belt and braces solution, you can run this and WP Rocket together. The reason I put this lower down the list is because if you decide to move up to the premium version (which you will need to do if you take all of their suggestions on board) you have to subscribe to the full WPMUDEV package, which is $49/month. Having said that it does give you everything you need to run your site from hosting to marketing and SEO.”
WP Fastest Cache – “In my experience building different corporate sites and ecommerce stores on the WP platform, I would recommend using WP Fastest Cache.
WP Fastest Cache comes in two options – Free and Premium (paid). The free option is great for smaller corporate websites that need basic optimization, including desktop and browser cache, minify HTML/CSS, as well as gZip compression. Really this is more than enough for a small site that doesn’t have much traffic. With the gZip that compresses the files sent from the server, it definitely improves load speed and decreases total page size.
The Premium (paid) version comes with a few more awesome features, that allow you to optimize your images, cleanup your database, minify and combine JS and more. This type of functionality is really helpful for larger sites with more traffic and larger informational infrastucture. The database cleanup feature for example is great when it comes to making a lot of revisions to different pages or posts, as WordPress by default saves all revisions in the database, which can significantly slow down the website.
We always cross-check the site performance through different tools including GtMetrix, Pingdom and Google Page Speed Insights and we see significant improvement with this plugin. Not to mention that it is easy to install and setup, without the need of touching the server htaccess file.”
- WP Rocket – “When it comes to caching plugins my go-to plugin is, undoubtedly, WP Rocket. It is a plugin I’ve been using for years and is one of the best on the market that I’ve found. Relatively easy to configure for a beginner, but with a variety of options for those who want to get into the nitty gritty; it really is a great caching solution. Coupled with their stellar support and pretty competitive pricing when it comes to caching, WP Rocket cannnot be overlooked. Paired up with a Cloudflare CDN and Smush for image compression, WP Rocket will give you all the tools and features you need to get your site humming!”
“Speed is critical for engagement on a website. A site too slow and your bounce rate increases and your customer engagement numbers plummet. A caching plugin allows returning visitors to your website to access your content faster; thus giving your visitors a better user experience. On an ecommerce site this would lead to increased revenue.
I use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) with all of my WordPress websites. A CDN does many things; caching is one part of it. While I believe in using both a caching plugin and a CDN with all of my WordPress sites, because the CDN also does some caching, the overall speed of a standalone caching plugin is not the most important variable to me in deciding which caching plugin to use.”
- Simple Cache – “What is the best caching plugin for WordPress? The caching plugin I personally use and recommend to all my clients is Simple Cache. I have used many other caching plugins in the past. Most of them succeeded at speeding up the website, however there was always some complication; or the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze. Then along came Simple Cache! Like its name suggests, the plugin is very easy to install. Doesn’t over complicate things with unnecessary options. Very important to me and my clients, is it doesn’t break the website. On the install or if you choose upon deletion; no site breakage. This plugin also works great with Redis. It’s also open source software available to anyone on GitHub. he Simple Cache plugin is perfect for beginners and the advanced settings makes it perfect for WordPress developers as well.”
- WP Rocket – “I’ve used WP Rocket for a number of years, & it is still my go to caching plugin, despite my host (SiteGround) having their own solution. What I like about WP Rocket is its integration with external services, like CloudFlare, content delivery networks & being able to take care of things like Heartbeat & database optimisation, all within the one plugin. They also have stellar documentation & support. Being able to cache Facebook Pixel & Google Analytics is also a bonus, so long as you’re not using Google Tag Manager to install those scripts on your site – which is a little frustrating. They do have some pretty stiff competition these days in Swift Performance, but then competition is a good thing. The articles they provide in their newsletter are also fantastic, so I’m sticking with WP Rocket.”
- W3 Total Cache – “There’s something to be said for longevity, and that’s the primary reason I recommend W3 Total Cache. It’s been around longer than most caching plugins, is well supported, and is highly rated. When my team and I add caching to a website, this is the plugin we use 99.9% of the time.”
- WP Rocket – “I’m a big fan of premium plugins where it makes sense. I’m particularly drawn to premium plugins that have a good reputation and a pricing option that includes unlimited websites. WP Rocket checks both those boxes for me, making it a good option for a premium caching plugin when W3 Total Cache just doesn’t fit the bill.”
- WP Super Cache – “It may be that for some reason you’re not a fan of either W3 Total Cache or WP Rocket. In that case, WP Super Cache checks all the boxes of what we look for in a plugin, so I recommend it as a final option. It is updated frequently, has plenty of installations, is well rated, and seems to be well supported based on the Support page on the plugin repository. Also, it’s by the team behind WordPress, Automattic, so that’s a bonus!”
“One of the most common questions we hear from our members at WP101 is, “How do I make my WordPress site load faster?” And that used to be tricky to answer. Maybe if you had more web server resources… a better host… a CDN… a more lightweight theme… or removed all the images from your site… maybe then your WordPress site would load more quickly. Right? But that’s not at all realistic.
Thankfully, today we’ve got a much better answer: WP Rocket.”
WP Rocket – “Most caching plugins are incredibly complicated to install, configure, and troubleshoot. But you can install WP Rocket in just a couple of minutes, and it will immediately start optimizing your WordPress site, automatically applying best practices — even before you’ve enabled a single option.
Of course, you can dive in more deeply and minimize your files, media, or preload pages. You can easily block specific pages from being cached, and even optimize your WordPress database. Best of all, if you run into trouble, their support team is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.
There’s one more important thing to note about WP Rocket. Most Managed WordPress hosts block the use of caching plugins, because they typically interfere with their own caching at the server level. But not WP Rocket. It’s the only caching plugin accepted by the top Managed WordPress hosts, and that’s why today we only recommend one caching plugin for WordPress… WP Rocket.”
“The best caching plugin really depends on your hosting environment. Some WordPress hosts don’t need you to add a caching plugin at all, some have their own that they have created, and others use one of the popular picks to speed up their WordPress websites.”
WP Rocket – “Our current favourite is WP Rocket (https://wp-rocket.me/), it has a ton of options, but is also very easy to use. The best part is that if you run NGINX, you can use RocketNGINX (https://github.com/SatelliteWP/rocket-nginx) and get a huge performance boost on your WordPress website. RocketNGINX basically allows you to bypass WordPress completely and go right from NGINX to the static cached file. Even without that more advanced configuration option, we have seen sites go from eight seconds in loading time to under two seconds just with WP Rocket configured correctly.
One of the big criticisms that I see for WP Rocket is that it is a premium plugin, but if you sell anything on your website or depend on page speed for SEO/brand/marketing growth, then I think the price to value ratio is amazing.
Don’t forget if your server runs Varnish or you are using Cloudflare, to enable the option under add-ons for clearing them as well, it’ll save you so much trouble down the road.”
“With your website’s speed being a major factor for search engine ranking, it’s essential that you have not only fast web hosting but, just as important, a good caching solution in place on your website. I can personally recommend 2 caching plugins for WordPress; a free plugin and a premium/paid plugin.”
W3 Total Cache – “If you have a limited budget or are just looking for a free caching solution, then W3 Total Cache should be your number one go-to. It has an extensive list of features, offers great performance and, best of all, it’s free.
The only downside to W3 Total Cache is that it can be a little overwhelming and complicated for non-technical/end-users to set up.”
WP Rocket – “With pricing starting at just $49/year for a single site license, if you have a little budget to spare then you can’t go wrong with WP Rocket. It’s also the most feature-packed caching plugin including some great additional features to speed up your website such as lazy loading, Google Fonts optimisation, database optimisation.
Best of all, it’s super quick and easy to set up and get it working.on your site – it has a really clear and simple admin interface and the settings are easy to understand and give detailed descriptions of what the settings do. Most importantly, it offers the best site performance from testing that I have done when comparing caching plugins.
If you want to compare the features of the above caching plugins (and a couple more) then there’s a great feature comparison on the WP Rocket website here.
I personally use WP Rocket on my own website but, as above, if you’re on a limited budget then W3 Total Cache is a great caching plugin too!”
LiteSpeed Cache – “Without hesitation, the caching plugin I always recommend is LiteSpeed Cache. Whilst the plugin will work on any Apache or NGiNX server, to make use of the page caching features, you will need to have a web server with either OpenLiteSpeed or the commercial alternative offered by LiteSpeed installed.
Guru web hosting (based in the UK) offer shared hosting with the LiteSpeed web server installed for about a fiver a month. At this price point, you will be blown away by the speed and memory efficiency. LiteSpeed is still compatible with Apache configuration files (htaccess rules stay the same) but it blows vanilla Apache out of the water. I believe many tests have also shown LiteSpeed to be faster than NGiNX too!
Coming back to the plugin itself, it is fully featured, and as far as caching plugins go, fairly easy to set up. The default settings are sensible for many site configurations. The plugin makes the most of the distinct advantage that it knows what kind of web server environment to expect.
If you simply install the plugin into a LiteSpeed environment and go with the default settings, you will notice an enormous performance improvement right off the bat. However, if you’re a tech head like me or you know an experienced web developer, then get them to configure it properly. It will be worth the investment, especially if you run a larger or more sophisticated website.
The plugin also minimises and concatenates JS and CSS and can generate ‘above the fold’ critical CSS to dramatically improve page rendering times. Better yet, the plugin includes lazy loading for images and iframes and will compress your media library using the WebP format. Whilst the interface for compressing and converting images is a bit clunky compared to SmushIt, the plugin can consistently deliver a 60 – 80% reduction in image file sizes — even for images I’ve already compressed using JPEGMini!
I could go on about other killer features, such as the Memcached/Redis object cache integration (for which you’ll need a VPS), but if I haven’t convinced you to give it a go by now, I never will be able to!
I’ll finish my recommendation with a real-life example: after full configuration, one of the sites I moved across from an Apache shared hosting environment to a LiteSpeed shared hosting environment saw a 1000% performance improvement! The best thing was that the plugin is free and the hosting itself didn’t cost any more than what I was already paying!”
“Before you dig into and you start exploring and adding caching plugins, ping your hosting provider, maybe caching plugins are not needed or are simply not allowed. I know for sure on Kinsta, caching is done on the server-level, Pantheon hosting needs no additional caching plugins, and SiteGround offers their wondrous optimization plugin.
Imagine this scenario: user comes to your website and makes a certain request, let’s say opening a new page. That requires a request and processing by that server and a result sent from the server to the user’s browser. Uses see the complete requested page, with all of the elements that make it look the way it does.
That’s where a WordPress caching plugin comes into play!
To put it in simple words, caching reduces the amount of work needed to generate a pageview.
The caching plugin is telling the server to store certain files to a memory or a disk for later use. When a user requests some content that the server has stored, it will be served directly from the cache, which is always faster than generating a new pageview, making your website much, much faster.
With over twelve years of experience in the WordPress ecosystem, I can recommend you three caching plugins in this particular order: W3 Total Cache, WP Rocket, and WP Fastest Cache.”
W3 Total Cache – “I can say this is my favorite caching plugin! Maybe it’s because I’ve been using it since the beginning or maybe it’s just love that I am feeling (Whitesnake fan here 🙂 ), but W3TC has been nothing but a loyal and always a trustworthy tool!
It is true that it is a bit complicated to set it up, but once you passed beyond that, everything is smooth sailing.
Great collection of tools is included in the free version.”
WP Rocket – “Rocket is exactly as it’s advertised: “Make WordPress Load Fast in a Few Clicks.” Simple to set up, easy to use, and it has great support!
It is a premium plugin, but for the toolset – it is affordable!”
WP Fastest Cache – “If you are a fan of checkboxes you should definitely test out this caching plugin. 🙂
The settings page provides explanation boxes making sure you understand what each of the settings does.”
WP Rocket – “I’ve tried a number of different caching and speed improvement plugins over the last few years, and my absolute fave is WP Rocket.
The default WP Rocket install will improve your speed significantly, and then you have plenty of granular control in their options, making it ideal to keep pushing every little improvement in speed.
A case in point – a recent little side project of mine, https://www.softwareguide.com.au/ has a Google PageSpeed score of 97, even with 57 images, totalling over 2mb in size on the homepage! The only caching or speed tool I am using is WP Rocket.”
“As we all know, WordPress is amazing free software, but it can be slow if you have a lot of plugins, large images and a badly coded theme. But luckily you can fix this with a good caching plugin. A caching plugin can make a world of difference in the speed of a WordPress site if it’s set up correctly. These are my 2 recommended caching plugins. Just remember to backup your site first!!”
WP Rocket – “This is really my preferred choice as it is relatively easy to set up. Even for someone who doesn’t have a lot of WordPress skills. And I have never had a site crash with this plugin either! It can make a big difference in the speed of your site. The best speed to aim for is around 3 seconds or less. So keep this in mind!
This is a premium plugin [paid] but worth every cent. WP Rocket have a simple tutorial on their site to guide you through the setup process. Click the link (https://docs.wp-rocket.me/article/59-getting-started) to view the get started tutorial. WP Rocket also provides great support to get you the best speed possible!”
W3 Total Cache – “If WP Rocket doesn’t help much with your speed it could be that your server is not compatible with the plugin. So the next best plugin is W3 Total Cache. The only problem I have found with this plugin is it is quite complex to setup. You really need to find a good tutorial on how to set it up properly, as it can crash certain elements of your site or your whole site entirely! This site has a great tutorial.
My tip for setting this plugin is to check one option at a time only! Then preview your site. If all is ok, then try the next option. And so on and so forth until you get the best speed possible.”
To sum up
“I would definitely try WP Rocket first. Try checking one option at a time. Then use https://gtmetrix.com/ to test the speed of your site from your website location.
Don’t forget to backup your site first before attempting to configure any caching plugin! Good Luck!”
WP Fastest Cache – “I can’t recommend WP Fastest Cache highly enough for both speed optimisation and ease of use. To install you simply go to the settings and tick the boxes (I usually select all), but to get optimal speed results you will need to upgrade to the premium version of the plugin. The plugin also offers image compression.
The results speak for themselves, and to show the difference it made to my own site, I’ve attached some before/after screenshots taken from GTMetrix in 2015 when (I first installed the plugin) to a screenshot taken earlier today.
I first installed the plugin on my own site in Feb 2015 and went from page speed 40%, YSlow grade 68% and a Page load time of 4.03 seconds to a page speed 94%, YSlow grade 82% and a Page load time of 2.12 seconds.
I’ve since added quite a few plugins and bloat to my site which has increased the Fully loaded time to 3.9 seconds but I’m still achieving a page speed score of 97%, YSlow grade 83%.
The speed results you achieve will vary depending on your website and various factors; size of site, number of plugins etc.”
“Caching plugins vary on features, but most these days work fine depending on the size of your site. I also recommend if you plan to use a CDN, that you check that your choice of cache plugin is compatible.”
WP Super Cache – “Supported by Automattic, this caching plugin in my humble opinion, is top of the list. With over 2 Million installations running it, that alone seems validation for its performance in increasing page speed. Which in turn, translates to better SEO.
As with any plugin for caching it’s worth exploring the ratings, and support. WP Super Cache is heavily active for support, and currently has 901 5 star reviews.
Recommended settings for the plugin are:
Don’t cache pages for known users.
Extra homepage checks.”
W3 Total Cache – “With an impressive list of sites using it, its CDN compatible. While not as many installs, just under 1 Million, it’s still a excellent choice. It also has 3,002 5 star reviews, with active development and support. As I mentioned before, a key element for choosing a WordPress cache plugin.
While W3 Total Cache is more complicated to setup to some, it does have (last time I looked) Object Caching. Something that WP Super Cache does not support currently. However, if you’re on a shared host, you may not want object cache active. W3 Total Cache leaves this feature optional and off by default.”
WP Fastest Cache – “One of the caching plugins that you’ll find on WordPress.org that minifies CSS and JS files. It’s still has an impressive amount of installs. With more features than others, WP Fastest Cache has over 1 Million installs, and 2,585 5 star reviews.
It also has CDN support, and much more, such as blocking cache for specific pages or posts with Short Code. Something useful if you are wanting to use marketing software and need to avoid cache for forms.”
“I’ve used tons of caching plugins over the past few years and I can highly recommend the 2 following caching plugins:”
- Cache Enabler – “This is my favorite free caching plugin. It’s very lightweight and doesn’t have tons of confusing options like most of the other caching plugins out there. This plugin simply converts your WordPress pages to static HTML pages and stores them on the server. This means very fast load times! When you combine this plugin with Autoptimize, you will see even more of a performance boost on load times.”
- WP Rocket – “I can also recommend WP Rocket as a paid solution. Similar to Cache Enabler, this plugin isn’t loaded with tons of confusing settings. WP Rocket has some great features built in like lazy loading & minification. They also offer great support.”
“I’ll keep this short and sweet. And I’ll only recommend 1 plugin. Drumroll, please…”
WP Rocket – “Sometimes in the WordPress community, people tend to think that by working in an open-source world you don’t need to buy licenses for anything. While that may be the case for some, you’re probably missing out on some awesome plugins and other WordPress integrations. WP Rocket is one of those plugins.
Our team has built near 1,000 websites, so we’ve had the chance to experiment with a LOT of plugins, many of them performance plugins. But as of 4 years ago, we exclusively use WP Rocket. It works great, the price and licensing options are great, the interface is great, support is great, everything about it is great. Every feature that we need is built into WP Rocket. Some of those features include the basics like caching, minifying, and concatenation. But other not-so-common features include sitemap based cache preloading, database optimization, lazyload for images, deferred JS loading, DNS prefetching, lots of filters, and good support documentation.
I also love that I can log into my WP Rocket dashboard and see every website that is using our current license (which is currently over 400 websites right now). If I see one that should no longer be in our account, I can easily remove it from our account. I’m sure many will have their opinions on other plugins, that’s what makes this community great! But if they didn’t mention WP Rocket then don’t listen to them ?
Thanks for reading!”
WP Rocket – “Our team strictly works in WordPress. In fact, we only build websites for our clients on the Beaver Builder framework. This eliminates the need for many plugins while keeping a nice clean theme. Our customers get what they want, while having a well-built website for their business needs.
Over the last 15 years, we’ve used a number of different caching plugins. I often found them to be hard to use and overly technical. When we tried out WP Rocket there was no doubt that we had found the best caching plugin for our needs. After Google emphasized the need for faster loading websites, we knew that we had to make an investment in a tool that would be easy to set up and maintain.
WP Rocket has not disappointed. Without much tweaking, we find that we can increase our page load speed easily. We love to pair this with ShortPixel for image compression and it makes my clients’ websites scream.”
- LiteSpeed Cache – “This is our first choice because the caching is done at the server level, not at the WordPress level like other plugins. You can be very precise on what you want to cache, minify, exclude… etc. It comes with a suite of tools like images optimization and works fast. No need to add another plugins to reduce the size of the images, plus it does this automatically. LiteSpeed integrates with WordPress seamlessly and we get amazing result on load speed. But, this one is only available via your hosting company so choose one that offers it. We are using a Managed WordPress hosting provider.”
- Swift Performance – “This is the only other caching plugin we will use. We deploy this one on shared server or for any other clients where we don’t handle the hosting for them, but where we need to have a very good caching solution. After you install it, you will run a wizard that will setup it properly according to the resources you have on the server and what technology is being used; no need to guess! It comes with nice features like lazy load for images or smart YouTube embed, which will help with the load speed since it will only load the YouTube assets if the visitor starts the video. It supports CDNs as well.”
WP Rocket – “My vote for the best WordPress caching plugin goes to WP Rocket. During the 12 years I’ve been building WordPress websites, I’ve used many other caching plugins (such as WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache), but WP Rocket is superior on every count… except you need to pay for it! It’s not expensive, at $49 per year for a single site, but it offers so much more than just simple page caching. Features like deferred JS loading, image lazyloading, and removing query strings from static resources help to improve page speed scores from the likes of GTMetrix. Scheduled database optimisations and cache preloading ensure snappy response times, and it’s dead easy to integrate with CDN’s such as Cloudflare and MaxCDN (Stackpath).
It works straight out of the box too, and although there are loads of settings to tweak, you can just install and activate it to get going. Not all WordPress websites are the same, though, and some WP Rocket options may not be suitable for every site, so if you’re going to go for maximum effect (switching all options ‘on’) then you’ll need to set some time aside to test your site afterwards to make sure nothing is broken.
As I look after a lot of client websites, I tend to roll WP Rocket out as a value add to clients, helping them get faster websites and happier, and more engaged, visitors. Although there is an annual fee, it’s great to know there is a team of developers constantly working to improve the product and add new features, and who are happy to support you when you run into difficulties.”
- WP Super Cache – “If I’m honest, I would first see if your host has a caching setup, as generally hosting providers caching would work better than any plugin. However the one plugin I return to more often than not is WP Super Cache. Compared to a lot of other plugins this one is relatively simple, and whilst things can go wrong with caching, this one seems to be a lot more stable than some of the other free or freemium offerings on the market. It’s not as complex, yet does things well.”
“WP. Caching. Questions for reality check and ask yourself as a solution provider just a several simple questions:
1) Do we need it?
2) Do we REALLY need it?
3) Why do you need caching – and what’s wrong with the site you’ve developed?
An honest answer to these questions will save you time. There are just a limited set of options:
- You simply created something slow – and desperately hope that caching will save you and your client. Well – that’s not good and you try to save something – but it’s a bit late.
- Wow – the site you’re going to build will attract more visitors than Google plus YouTube. Really?
- Something is the middle of above. And that’s good ground to start.
As with any caching solution, there are pros and cons. It’s simple to make “a cache”. It’s hard to insure that cache is invalidated properly. As usual, there are no “silver bullets” and in some cases, caching may deliver lots of interesting yet hard to solve issues.”
WP Super Cache – “Well, and anyway, if we’re talking about simple, boring and the most common – and simple case. – there is WP Super Cache. It’s not too smart if you have users who are logged in. Ok. But it’s more than good enough if most of your visitors should not log-in and if they will not return some comments. Sad but true – lots of one-time visitors – and you (of course, the site you develop) should serve them fast.
That’s cool – that’s the most optimal case for us. Simple, fast, pain, widely adopted… oh, and it’s supported by Automatticians… You know – these guys are behind the creation of WordPress and other sites. Well, I can believe these guys do know how to cook WordPress and they are good enough with cache.
More than enough for simple sandbox and 90% of typical clients. And workloads. Simple way for most cases.
“But if you are really going to do something more. Something. Say – 74 billion unique visitors. In an hour. Well, in this case, you’re going to be beyond the limits of this plugin. And if you’d still like to house your site within the WordPress framework, you’ll need a custom caching solution.”
For such cases – we handle this is using our in-house solution. And there is nothing I can really share or recommend. Redis, Varnish. Clusters. Replication and CDNs. Amazon. Just to give you a few pointers…
As I said – there is no silver bullet. For loaded sites – Think. Try. Measure. Think again. Improve. Try something weird. Do something great you may be proud of.”
- Autoptimize – “One of my favorite WordPress caching plugins is Autoptimize. This plugin makes it easy to minimize and combine files, as well as giving you the option to specify which CSS and scripts should be loaded first and which can wait. This plugin offers many functions outside of the standard caching option, and is my go-to plugin when sites need some performance help and owners don’t have the budget for a premium plugin.”
- WP Rocket – “When the budget supports it, my favorite caching and optimization plugin is WP Rocket. This plugin does everything Autoptimize does, with some additional functions, such as locally loading Google Fonts. I recently used this plugin on a client’s site and brought the load time from over 12 seconds down to 4.8 seconds just by enabling the plugin.”
WP Fastest Cache – “My go-to caching plugin for WordPress is WP Fastest Cache. What I like best about this plugin–besides getting incredible speed improvements on my clients’ websites–is that it’s extremely simple to set up and manage. I’ve worked with other popular caching plugins in the past, and found most of them to be overly complicated and frustrating to use. Then a couple of years ago, I found WP Fastest Cache, and I haven’t looked back.
After installing the plugin and selecting a few preferences, WP Fastest Cache takes care of a bunch of the technical “stuff” that’s needed to optimize your website’s speed and performance. Gzip compression, code minification, preloading resources, and the ability to delete cached files via the WordPress admin are just some of what can be done with this plugin, with no coding required. The results are hard to beat, too. I regularly see pages load 2 to 3 times faster just from using WP Fastest Cache alone. WP Fastest Cache is the first tool I use to keep my clients’ websites running fast and smooth for their visitors.”
- LiteSpeed Cache – “Another caching plugin that I’ve had great results from is LightSpeed Cache. Like WPFC, LiteSpeed Cache is quick and easy to set up, and it’s simple to manage. It gets great performance results, and requires little technical knowledge to use. I started using LiteSpeed Cache recently when a client’s web host was being particularly aggressive with server caching. We had made a number of significant changes, and the only way I could get the changes to show up on the live site was by logging on to the server directly, and clearing the cache from there. The only plugin that resolved this issue, and let me manage the cache from the WordPress admin, was LightSpeed Cache, making it the second caching plugin I choose for my clients’ WordPress websites.”
SG Optimizer – “The ONLY caching plugin I use for WordPress is SG Optimizer.
Yes, it only works if your site is hosted on SiteGround. But since all of my sites, and most of my clients’ sites, are on SiteGround, it’s the perfect choice.
The plugin is designed to link with SiteGround’s advanced technical configuration and squeeze every last ounce of speed out of what is already a pretty fast platform.
And because it is tightly coupled with the server setup, it also include intelligent database query caching, which gives an even greater bump in speed.
Even though SiteGround is a fast host to start with, when SG Optimizer is installed and properly configured, the difference is really visible (no need for automated speed tests to prove there is a difference).
And if you’re not on SiteGround? My recommendation would be to move to SiteGround (I wrote a whole article on why it’s the best host out there). Otherwise, check out what some of the other experts are recommending.”
Rory M Heaney
- WP REST Cache – “This has hands down become my favorite caching plugin this past year. If you’re looking to get into headless development with WordPress, then you’ll need this plugin! It has a broad caching scope and offers granular controls through functions (cache all the things, post types, taxonomies and more). You can also just as easily register custom endpoints for caching and/or set specific endpoints not to be cached. It keeps my single-page applications blazing fast without adding excessive overhead to my WordPress installation and performance. I’ve tried numerous other options and this has outperformed them all!”
- WP Super Cache – “It’s hard to say a plugin is essentially 1 size fits all, but WP Super Cache basically is. You set it and forget it (cue cheesy as seen on tv jingle). It has additional settings for a more advanced and granular control (Preloading posts for example) if you’re looking to really customize your experience. If you’re unsure about which plugin to use or even start with when it comes to speeding up your website, you really should try WP Super Cache.”
As a WordPress developer since 2004, I’ve used many caching plugins and they all tend to get the job done, making page load times become quicker so that visitors are attracted to read page content and become customers. I recommend the following two Plugins:
Why? Well, because I can basically install them with very little setup and changes from default settings.
- WP Rocket – “This is our team’s favourite plugin. We have been using this for more than 5 years now. It is the simplest and easy to configure plugin I have ever found in the market. It’s no brainer to configure. It basically does most of the things by default. And most importantly, it makes your website a lot faster. It has a variety of speed-boosting features for your WordPress website. It also doesn’t conflict with other server’s caching functionality like WP Engine so that’s a big upside. The only downside is it’s paid plugin.”
- W3 Total Cache – “We have used this plugin for hundreds of websites. First thing, it’s free for everyone and it works like magic. It is a very effective plugin to optimise and get the website speed up to the mark. It is not supported by some of the web hosting providers, which have their own caching functionality. It’s very popular and saves a lot of your server resources by reducing the page load time. It also offers Google’s AMP and SSL support.”
- WP Fastest Cache – “The main reason we love this plugin is for simplicity. It’s simple to configure. It has got both a free and premium version for professional users. The main upside is it has very few steps for the configuration and still works like a magic. It’s also available in WP plugin repository and really popular among WordPress users.”
WP Rocket – “For clients not on a managed WordPress hosting plan, I always recommend the premium WP Rocket plugin for caching. It starts caching your site from the moment the plugin is activated – no setup required and that’s what most clients are after.
WP Super Cache – “It’s free and it works like a charm! Minimal setup required and your site is running faster already. Maintained by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, you will not have any compatibility issues between WordPress core and this plugin.
The interface is super easy, with an expert mode if you think you know what you’re doing.”
Nginx +FastCGI Caching – “What the frak is that!!?? Nginx is an alternative to the popular Apache web server. The setup works just like the caching plugins above by storing already compiled PHP to HTML files in memory at the web server (hardware) level, pumping them out as static HTML files at lightning speed. Yes, this is a level up in skillset, but damn will it make your website zoom at warp speed without having to install any WordPress caching plugin. Win!”
“I’ve been using various caching plugins with mixed results. Every caching plugin works differently depending on the theme, website configuration and a number of other factors. The only way to find out is to try different ones and see which plugin works better on your website.
I mostly stick with WP Rocket, WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache plugins.”
- WP Rocket – “If you’re willing to pay, WP Rocket is probably the best option to consider. It’s user-friendly and is extremely easy to set up and use. I also found WP Rocket performance to be superior compared to the other caching plugins. WP Rocket helped me improve the Google Speed Test Score more than any other plugin.”
- WP Super Cache / W3 Total Cache – “If you want a free plugin and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache are good alternatives. Out of the box, these plugins might not be as effective, but if you’re willing to experiment and play around with settings, you will definitely be able to improve the performance of your website.”
- W3 Total Cache – “I settled on W3 Total Cache a long time ago and haven’t changed since. There are many things to look at performance-wise: a good host; a lean, well-coded theme; a good CDN; image optimisation, and a good caching plugin. And I’ve always found W3 Total Cache works well with a bit of tweaking. I’ve heard great things about WP Rocket too, but haven’t gotten around to checking it out. The free version of W3TC always does the job!”
“With the ever changing landscape of the internet and the devices on which users consume content, it is now more than ever critical that your website is optimised for the fastest download times possible. I can recommend two WordPress plugins that are suitable for novices and professionals.”
WP Rocket – “A premium plugin that comes in at $49 a year, around £40 UK, WP Rocket is an easy to use and configure plugin that does a great job at reducing page load times. Has all the things you’d expect; file optimisation, Gzip compression and a free image optimisation plugin called Imagify. There are more options for the more advanced user, including connecting to a CDN (Content Delivery Network). Tech support is quick and helpful. Updates regularly with a host of new features and performance tweaks. I think it’s well worth the £40 a year. I have the Infinite Package at £200 a year. I add it to every new website I develop.”
- WP Fastest Cache – “If you don’t want to part with £40 a year, an excellent free WordPress caching plugin is WP Fastest Cache. Not as customisable etc as WP Rocket, unless you upgrade to the premium version, but very easy to set up and can significantly reduce page load times.”
“There are many caching plugins available. But according to my experience and opinion I like the following sequence.”
“Pros: Easy to install and configure without expert knowledge. Chances of installation error are almost 0 and provides best performance in terms of loading time.
Cons: Only one issue a few webmasters might face is that it’s a paid plugin. But if you can afford licensing cost of 49USD, it’s the best.”
“Pros: It’s a free plugin, is simple and easy to install, and no installation errors so far
Cons: In terms of performance, it it’s not at the same level as WP Rocket.”
“Pros: It’s a free plugin and is the most installed plugin so far with maximum customer ratings.
Cons: Might be little complicated to configure in terms of options, so you need a little technical knowledge before using it.”
“I would suggest to go with the above options, in that order, and if the above 3 options don’t work, then go with WP Fastest Cache.”
Hummingbird – “If you’re looking for a caching plugin, I would recommend trying out Hummingbird. Hummingbird Is a relatively new product on the market, when compared to plugins that have been around for over 10+ years (W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache). But it’s being actively developed with new features added almost every release.
Hummingbird focuses on providing the user with easy to use tools to optimise website performance. The caching module is split up into four sub modules (page caching, browser caching, gravatar and rss caching), allowing you to easily customise what should and should not be cached on the server.
Page caching module will give your site a major performance boost. It’s a one-click solution that can be customised to fit any website. Hummingbird has a close integration with the most popular hosting platforms and server-side caching tools (OpCache, Varnish, Mamcache). Mobile caching, cache preloading, compressing cached files, exclusion rules, integration with Gutenberg and many other features will make your site running super fast.”
“Which caching plugin is the best is a funny question. Actually, a much more important question may lay behind it. For example, how do I make my website as fast and smooth as possible for my visitors? How do I save on server costs? After all, these questions may vary, depending on the size of your company, your audience and business targets.
So before selecting a caching plugin, think hard. Think hard about what is your question behind this question? What are your criteria for selecting a caching plugin? Why do I want it?
But even before a caching plugin comes hosting. Hosting has a major effect on how your caching plugins ultimately will perform. The best thing would be to have a hosting party with servers close to your visitors. And obviously, a well-reviewed one. A hosting party that already arranged all caching on the server level. So you do not even need a caching plugin – just a plugin for minification of scripts and styles. Kinsta, for example, is a solid one.
That having said, let’s look what caching plugins I’d recommend.”
WP Rocket – “WP Rocket is the way to go for beginners. Although it is a paid plugin, it is one of the easiest plugins to set-up. Moreover, it incorporates all essential features for caching and speed optimization, such as page caching, lazy loading of images and minification of files and scripts (yup, that makes your website smaller, thus loading faster!). Essentially, you have everything you need and it’s easy to set-up. And it works with most themes and plugins out there.
WP Rocket is the way to go for beginners. Although it is a paid plugin, it is one of the easiest plugins to set-up. Moreover, it incorporates all essential features for caching and speed optimization, such as page caching, lazy loading of images and minification of files and scripts (yup, that makes your website smaller, thus loading faster!). Essentially, you have everything you need and it’s easy to set-up. And it works with most themes and plugins out there.
Don’t you fancy a paid plugin? A combination of the plugins Cache Enabler, Autoptimize and a3 Lazy Load brings you close to WP Rocket’s performance. But as you may have noticed, you will be using three plugins.
The only downside of WP Rocket is the more advanced stuff. Beware! For example, it does not support serving cached pages from the memory (using Redis or Memcached), nor does it support object caching.”
- W3 Total Cache – “W3 Total Cache – Advanced (Total Control). Over the years, W3 Total Cache has grown infamous for its varying effects on performance. It allows you to control almost every aspect of caching, so the first time round, it is quite hard to get to grips with. Still, it is a powerful suite for cranking out great performance. It works great with hosts that use Varnish, Memcached/NGINX FastCGI in combination with Redis for object caching. Moreover, it allows granular control on how to minify styles and sheets in combination with HTTP2 Push of assets. Once you know what settings offer the greatest impact on performance, it’s quite easy to use actually. Moreover, it supports object caching and the basic version is free. In my testing of hosting providers, I get consistently fast performance with W3 Total Cache.”
WP Super Cache – “I’m a big fan of WP Super Cache by Automattic. Using this plugin on client sites helps me sleep well at night. I know that when WordPress updates, this plugin has a high probably of working well because it is maintained by WordPress’ “home office”, Automattic.
What I love about this plugin is that is operates in multiple modes depending on the user level.
It can be simply configured for beginners, in a kind of “set it and forget it” mode. Simple mode just serves static files with PHP and this works well.
Expert mode is the fastest method and bypasses PHP. This is called Expert mode, but really doesn’t require any deep knowledge of server technology. Of course, for developers and geeks, Automattic includes the potential for making API calls and configuring a CDN.
For users of the plugin who need a little help with installation and configuration, Automattic includes a 30-point troubleshooting list of helpful measures written in a user-friendly manner.
When used with the amazing Autoptimize plugin, most WordPress websites will load blazingly fast and will score well with PageSpeed and YSlow. Caching is wonderful, but if a page still loads 35 different CSS and JS files, then the DNS lookups and additional overhead of loading those separate files will impact load time. Autoptimize combines the CSS and the JS and also minifies HTML to make all pages, cached and uncached, load a lot faster.
Autoptimize also works hand-in-hand with several caching plugins as outlined below.”
If you consider performance important, you really should use one of the many caching plugins to do page caching. Some good candidates to complement Autoptimize that way are e.g. WP Super Cache, HyperCache, Comet Cache or KeyCDN’s Cache Enabler.
WP Super Cache – “WP Super Cache is one of the most popular caching plugins for WordPress, with over two million active installs. The plugin is created by Automattic, the same team that created WordPress.com, JetPack, Akismet and WooCommerce. WP Super Cache helps you generate static HTML files instead of the heavy WordPress PHP scripts. It offers three caching modes, which can be used by both amateur and professional users. The huge advantage of WP Super Cache is that it’s open-source and free of charge for everyone.”
“Before managed (WordPress specific) hosting became affordable and was as widely available as it is today, everyone using WordPress was using a caching plugin of some kind. Mostly W3 Total Cache. But its settings were a lot of hassle, especially when you weren’t as involved in DevOps related tasks, and moving from development to production caused a lot of headaches.
Nowadays we like to work with managed hosting partners that really know how to set up a caching layer server side to run WordPress as smoothly as possible. NginX together with Varnish seems to be the go-to setup, and honestly that works great for most of our clients. Without any additional caching plugin!”
- WP Rocket – “When we sometimes do feel the need to experiment or just want to get that extra layer of caching going, we’ll fire up WP Rocket. It just works. And we love not having too many options that can mess things up and cause unexpected behaviour.”
WP Rocket – “WP Rocket is hands down my favourite caching plugin for WordPress. I resisted buying it for ages, but I’m glad I finally gave it a try.
I like how it’s pretty much set and forget. It plays well with Cloudflare and other plugins. And as it’s a premium plugin, I have the confidence that the developers are going to be around for awhile.”
W3 Total Cache – “W3 Total Cache was my goto caching plugin for years. If I can’t use WP Rocket on a particular website for some reason, I’ll use W3 Total Cache.
The major benefits are that it’s free and has all the features you’d expect. It’s been stable for years. When there have been issues with the plugin, the developers have been pretty quick to fix it. It generally plays well with other plugins.
The only real downside to W3 Total Cache, in my experience, is that it has so many options that you just don’t use, or options for which you can only use the default.
W3 Total Cache can be a bit quirky and take a bit to get used to. It’s probably normal to get a little frustrated at how it handles minifying. But it’s worth hanging in there and getting to know it.”
“As a web designer, my goal is to create sites that are fast and secure. So I routinely run performance benchmarks on client sites to ensure they are optimized for speed. I use and highly recommend WP-Rocket or WP-Fastest-Cache (free or premium version).”
WP Rocket – “I have been an avid fan of WP-Rocket for 3 years. I currently have the Infinite license, which allows 1 year of support and updates for unlimited websites. It has boosted speed on every site I’ve installed it on.
PROs: It’s an excellent caching plugin with great support. It generally improves performance right out-of-the box and includes a lazy load feature, which is great for image-rich pages and posts.
CONs: Annual charge”
WP Fastest Cache – “Earlier this year I ran into some performance issues with an e-commerce site that just wasn’t getting the speed we needed with WP-Rocket. So I spent considerable time testing WP-Rocket against the free version of WP-Fastest-Cache. I was amazed to find that the free version of WP-Fastest-Cache performed as well as WP-Rocket on the e-commerce site.
PROs: Free and it works great!
CONs: No lazy load option in free version.”
WP-Fastest-Cache (Premium) – “As part of another site redesign, I decided to swap out WP-Rocket for WP-Fastest-Cache and was thrilled to see consistently equal or better page load times of under 2 seconds. By upgrading to WP-Fastest-Cache premium, we achieved even faster load times per the major online testers including Google Page Speed Insights, GTMetrix, and WebPageTest.
PROs: Rivals and exceeds the best caching plugins out there, including WP-Rocket. Includes lazy load option. One-time charge.
CONs: The license is good for only one site. You need to keep both the free and premium version installed, updated, and active on your site.”
Batcache – “Batcache is a single file caching solution that works on some of the largest WordPress sites around. It is a developer focused plugin, it has no admin UI or settings page. It requires WordPress to have an object cache (such as memcache) installed and running.
Because Batcache uses the object cache, it is more suitable for our large projects because a lot of caching plugins write files to disk, which is not possible on large multi server environments. It also works in harmony with the rest of our setups which include nginx page caching and CloudFlare caching.”
WP Fastest Cache – “Easy to use, mostly straightforward. Free version does quite a bit of out of the box, which provides significant performance increases. We’ve used on multiple sites with noticeable performance increases. Free version also does more out of the box than the other big caching plugins.
The premium version isn’t crazy expensive. It unlocks additional features like mobile caching, image compression, lazy load, and further minifying of html, css, and JS (removal of spaces, comments, etc).”
“I recently had to research a caching plugin for one of my client’s web sites and the process I used was pretty straightforward.
4 areas I considered before making the choice for the Best Caching Plugin for WordPress?
- Popularity and Support – are others downloading it, what if you get an issue?
- Results – Does it actually work, what are others saying?
- Cost – budgets are low, free is good.
- Has to Work with the latest WordPress version 5.2.2
Using the above process there were a choice of 3 caching plugins I shortlisted and they are probably the 3 most on here will mention.”
- WP Super Cache – “This plugin by By Automattic is just as good as W3 TC in pretty much all areas. It’s easier to setup, so many will prefer this option if you want less control and more instant setup. I’ve used it once before, and it worked seamlessly in a similar way to W3. I felt it was a little limited if you want to tweak under the bonnet. Having said that it is free, has 2+ million downloads and it gets 4.5 stars. The plugin is constantly updated. What concerned me was the lack of answers to support queries. Support Issues resolved in last two months: 3 out of 45, that’s a concern if things go wrong. The caching results when I tested this plugin were as good as W3TC. So if you have this as a preference, I wouldn’t hesitate to support that choice.”
- WP Rocket – “It claims to be the fastest and most impressive and the stats i read seem to agree. But it has no free version sadly, so there is a leap of faith required. WP Rocket caching plugin starts from $49. Recognized as the most powerful caching plugin. I came across this when I was optimising images and started using the imagify plugin made by the same people behind WP Rocket. This is the easiest and pretty smart plugin for caching, so why is it not my #1 choice? It does have a cost that puts clients off. It’s not a lot, but it is a constant running cost. If you want simplicity of configuration then it justifies the cost. You get full support for 1 website for 1 year for $49. They also gladly provide a refund if it’s requested within 14 days of purchase. It’s not as popular as the 2 above, probably because there is no free version, but it still has an impressive 829,000+ websites using WP Rocket. When I tested the plugin it was superb.”
“So in conclusion, all 3 when tested will dramatically speed up the loading of your WordPress website. They are all very current and work well on the latest version of WordPress. If it’s down to ease and cost isn’t an issue, then go for WP Rocket. If you want free and great control, go for W3 Total Cache. Yet if you want free and easy setup, then your middle man WP Super Cache is a good choice.”
“I LOVE WordPress! I believe it’s the best, most affordable option for small to large businesses with good theme support for smaller budgets, and offers great affordability to built-in options for larger budgets. It’s also easy to find a developer to work with on your new or existing project.
There are many great plugins to extend your options, and caching plugins are one of those great features we can add to any WordPress website.”
- WP Super Cache – “This is a popular option among WordPress website owners with over 2 million active installs! This plugin is simple and easy to go through and set up for your website.”
- W3 Total Cache – “This is another great plugin that we run into all of the time. There are more options and features, but is better suited to advanced users.”
- WP Engine Page Cache™ – “I recommend WP Engine to my clients because of its high speed, security, daily backups, and having an intuitive staging system that allows you to test your changes before moving them to live at the click of a button (literally). WP Engine also features server-level caching – no plugin needed. This, combined with the built-in CDN will bring your website to the fastest speeds we have seen for WordPress websites.”
LiteSpeed Cache – “Without a doubt is our winner in this category. Even with its basic settings, out of the box, you’ll notice a huge speed increase – and its basic settings are suitable for most websites. So you’re a pro with caches? Litespeed gives you tonnes of options to play with – such as excluding certain pages or queries by URI, minification and combination of JS and CSS, and loads of fine tuning options (it even plays nicely with CDNS). Litespeed is also compatible with WooCommerce, which is a huge requirement in our line of work (we’ve all had nasty issues before with the basket caching with other plugins!)
The downside? Your server has to run Litespeed as a replacement for Apache or NGINX. We use Guru for our managed hosting requirements, and we seriously recommend them.
So, you can’t host your site on a Litespeed server? That sucks, but there are still some other options….”
Autoptimize – “Autoptimize minifies and compresses HTML, CSS and JS – so it can dramatically reduce the size of your site, and help to please that pesky Google Page speed test by reducing the amount of JS and CSS files your site loads. Be careful though, blindly enabling these options can cause problems, especially with plugins that don’t enqueue JS or CSS in the WordPress way. Autoptimize also allows some other cool features such as deferring scripts to the footer, and can integrate with CDNs (although we haven’t tested this).”
WP Super Cache – “So, this is our fallback (sorry guys) when we can’t host a client’s site on a Litespeed server. It has some great options, and works usually just as well as Litespeed with one main downside – it doesn’t handle the caching of private or dynamic content very well in our opinion (see comment above about cached shopping carts). WP Super Cache encourages the use of JS for dynamic data, and provides developers with a filter to use, but this isn’t always what you want to hear when you’ve spent months developing a site, to have to make last minute changes to make it compatible with a cache. The only other downside is it doesn’t offer minification or lazy load (that Litespeed does), and so we use it in conjunction with Autoptimize above.”
- WP Fastest Cache – “The plugin our team default to when optimising a website is WP Fastest Cache (premium). We have tested a few, but this plugin consistently produces a fantastic result. Another big consideration is that this plugin rarely produces conflicts or any other errors. We work with a wide range of websites built by other developers and so occasional issues and conflicts occur, but this plugin runs into far fewer issues than others. It is also extremely easy to set up, with easy to follow instructions and documentation. Another advantage is the one-time fee of $50 making this a very affordable premium plugin.”
- Breeze – “Our second choice is Breeze (free). This produces a fantastic speed improvement for a free plugin. It is not as powerful as premium plugins and has fewer features (as you’d expect), but it is very easy to use and you’ll see a significant speed improvement. It integrates well with Varnish server caching, but unfortunately we often need to turn that feature off as it can cause conflicts with Beaver Page builder, which we use a lot.”
- WP Rocket – “Finally, I would recommend WP Rocket (premium). This is a more expensive premium caching plugin. It is feature-rich and can produce great speed improvements. It is a little more technical (but not as technical as W3TC), it has a recurring fee (which gives trust of ongoing support). This plugin can occasionally have conflicts with some themes, especially the minification feature.”
There is extensive API available to enable you to tailor Autoptimize to each and every site’s specific needs.
Every site is different and Autoptimize does take a little tinkering to get the settings right. My suggestion is to make 1 change then check for js errors, and run it through GT Metrix.”
“I also like the following in terms of speeding up your WordPress site:
Smush Image Compression and Optimization
Smush allows you to resize, optimize and compress all of your images. It is best to upload this before theme customization and set it to automatically smush all images on upload.
Asset CleanUp: Page Speed Booster
Asset Clean up scans your pages and detects all the assets that are being loaded and easily allows the exclusion of scripts on a page per page basis.
This plugin is good for 2 different uses. One, if you do not have a custom-built WordPress theme and are not able to properly wp dequeue scripts via PHP, then you can easily exclude scripts and style sheets on a page per page basis. This way scripts that run the slideshow on the home page, do not load slideshow scripts on pages that do not have a slideshow.
The second use is for developers and helps to easily determine the handles of all the scripts being loaded on each page. Now simply dequeue scripts and styles using is_page() conditional statements in your functions.php file.”
WP Rocket – “At Lightning Sites we use WP Rocket to support over 500 of our client WordPress websites. Over the years we have tried many plugins including WP Super Cache, and W3 Total Cache, but we have found that WP Rocket has delivered the best consistent results for our clients. We host all of our websites on AWS Cloud Hosting and so our sites can often achieve sub 4 second load speeds right out of the box without caching. But once caching and server tuning is complete, we often find speeds cut by 1 to 1.5 seconds.
Aside from the uplift in speed, we have found that WP Rocket has a lot better customisation options for tweaking the performance of the plugin. Often times, caching plugins brag about their ability to cut sites speeds, but they do so at the detriment of other areas of performance. For example, breaking page layouts or other website integrations by their over-optimisation of CSS and other onpage code. Instead, WP Rocket has great options for toggling on or off and dialling back certain settings to make sure you get the speed uplift you want, without the negative effects on the rest of your site’s performance.
A single-site license for WP Rocket costs $49, a three-site license $99, and an unlimited license can be yours for $249.”
“The biggest bottleneck when it comes to scaling WordPress is most cases is the database. Every interaction with the website will most likely result in either a read or a write from the database. On a clean WordPress install running the twentynineteen, the queries can be in the low 20s! Quickly though, with the help of custom designs with relational content and a few plugins, this balloons past 100 and sometimes higher. Whilst there might be optimisations that could be made to reduce the queries, it will most likely not have as big an impact as implementing a front end caching strategy.
Our first recommendation is to choose a host that implements server side caching. Varnish and LiteSpeed are the two most common implementations. By utilising server side caching, the first time a request is made for a page, WordPress will go through its standard process of making database calls and generating the page, but with server side caching, the request for the page never makes it to WordPress, thus removing the slowest part of the website.
Managed WordPress hosts such as WPEngine, Kinsta and Flywheel all implement server side caching, and all behind the scenes so there is no configuration (most providers install a plugin to give you the ability to clear the cache too). Cloud hosting providers such as Cloudways support Varnish as well.”
WP Rocket – “Our second recommendation is only for when server side caching is not available. The WordPress community over time has attempted to address the performance problem by implementing caching solutions similar to server side caching but in the form of plugins. The first time a request is made, WordPress will go through the full process of generating the page, but instead of just sending it to the browser, it stores it for next time. Whilst this offers a performance improvement, it still requires WordPress to start up and made requests.
WP Rocket is our recommended caching plugin, as it is simple and effective. It’s simplicity makes it quick and easy to set up without too many confusing options or jargon that are common in other caching plugins. It also includes nice features to improve performance beyond the minimum expected of a caching plugin. These include pre-caching, meaning that the cache is generated before a real user hits the page, compression of HTML, CSS and JS files and lazy loading of images to further improve page load times and user experience. WP Rocket delivers the biggest performance boost with the least hassle.”
“Caching is a way of saving your web content so that your website loads faster. Slow pages can lead to high bounce rates, page abandonment, and lower conversion rates. Any one of these negative outcomes will lower your site’s search engine ranking. While Google and other search engines value good content, they also like a quick page – especially on mobile!”
W3 Total Cache – “W3 Total Cache is a robust – and popular – caching plugin with over three thousand 5-star reviews in the WordPress repository. Here are a few of my favorite W3TC features:
*Works out-of-the-box with minimal setup
*Robust customization options with a fairly straightforward interface (this can be intimidating to the uninitiated, thus my first favorite feature)
*Mobile-specific caching options
*Quick access to clear the current page cache, as well as site-wide cache
*Content Delivery Network (CDN) integration (more on this below)
*”Web host agnostic” (to date, I’ve used W3TC successfully on 5 hosting platforms ranging from fully managed commercial WordPress hosting to an internally managed Linux environment)
W3 Total Cache has been available for more than 10 years, and has over 1 million installs. At the time of this writing, the W3TC support team has resolved 118 out of 128 open support tickets in the last two months – and this is a free plugin. That’s a good track record!”
“Cloudflare is a Content Deliver Network (CDN) that brings content closer to your users by caching static web content on its network. Dynamic WordPress content is compressed and routed on the fastest, least congested path to the end-user. Because cached content is stored on the CF network, your server’s traffic load is greatly reduced. Like W3TC, CF allows you to clear your entire site cache at the push of a button, or you can manually clear one or more specific resources (this is very helpful when making changes to your CSS!).
In addition to their caching features, Cloudflare provides multiple SSL implementation options, as well as DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) protection.”
W3 Total Cache and Cloudflare Combined
“Combining the W3TC plugin and Cloudflare frees up your server(s) for more immediate tasks and it provides a faster, more efficient website experience to site visitors. Highly recommend!”
WP Rocket – “We host lots of WordPress websites and it’s important we make sure that they’re snappy when they’re browsed. We’re always playing the battle between keeping a WordPress site fast to load and useful for our clients to edit, and WP Rocket lets us do exactly that very effectively.
It allows us to configure everything in one place. In the past, we’d use W3 Total Cache along with Autoptimize and a few others and sometimes they’d clash or you’d forget to clear one or the other. WP Rocket allows us to clear the cache quickly and easily. Combined with Nginx, we can configure it so that WordPress is bypassed completely if a cached version exists.
It’s reasonably priced as well, especially for when you’ve got a lot of websites. Use it!”
“For starters, my preference is always no caching or only adding caching after other items are addressed first. Especially image sizes. Optimizing your images for web and sizing them correctly can really give you a speed boost without the need to add another plugin.”
- WP Rocket – “My first caching plugin would be WP Rocket. It’s a paid plugin, but worth it in my opinion. The plugin covers everything from lazy loading for images to minifying HTML. It also helps you optimizing deferring of scripts and has warnings built-in for the items that might break your website. Following their tips will help even a beginner optimize a website.”
- WP Super Cache – “WP Super Cache is my number 2 choice. I’ve always liked the user interface and how easy it was to turn on different caching items. It also doesn’t break as often as W3 Total Cache. It’s a pretty easy plugin to maintain. Fairly easy setup and low maintenance were pretty big factors for why I used this plugin for so long.”
- Comet Cache – “Comet Cache is my third option. I used this plugin for years, and the best thing is its a hassle-free plugin. If you don’t want to tweak a bunch of options, this has one large button. It’s an on-off switch that does a pretty good job. If you’re techy and want to go in and adjust the settings, you still can.”
WP Rocket – “I’ve tried a few different caching plugins, but my favourite by far and preferred option is WP Rocket. I installed it recently on a site and immediately noticed it was much faster! Most of the speed improvements work right out of the box. The remaining settings are simple to enable, though you might need to do a bit of tweaking to check you haven’t broken anything. WP Rocket’s friendly support staff are knowledgeable about other services that impact site speed, like the HTTP/2 protocol and Cloudflare (which has an integration with WP Rocket).
WP Rocket has database optimization and heartbeat control built-in, so you don’t need separate plugins for managing those things.”
- W3 Total Cache – “For smaller budget sites, I use W3 Total Cache, which is good for a free plugin, but I find it trickier to configure.”
Recently I’ve been experimenting with the Perfmatters plugin, which fine-tunes what loads across a site, so you’re not loading your contact form scripts and styles on every web page!
Looking forward – this is still a useful plugin if you are on HTTP/2.
And finally, I’m really looking forward to trying out their partner plugin with criticalcss.com to automatically identify and inline critical CSS to improve page render time.”
W3 Total Cache – “For my premium customers I always use W3 Total Cache. The daddy of caching plugins. The plugin is thorough and has an extensive settings section, which can be daunting to the beginner. However, once you have done some groundwork, you’ll find the options available to you through this plugin will take care of most of your caching and performance concerns.
My best recommendation regarding W3 Total Cache, is that once you have finely tuned your project, through the many settings available to you, download a backup of of your settings. This settings backup file can then be imported into future projects, thus speeding up your setup time. You can then do the customisation required to tailor each install to its environment. The caching options here are vast. W3 Total Cache will also take care of browser caching and database object caching. The support for search results is also excellent. Finally, don’t worry, CDN integration is seamless and I’ve never had a conflict issue here.”
WP Rocket – “For years now, I’ve been recommending WP Rocket as an alternative to the free caching plugins available, and the most important reason is simple … the plugin is as simple as they come! Activate it and it’s already running with a basic configuration, providing immediate results.
Of course, you may enable additional features to gain even more performance. And in doubt, WP Rocket’s documentation is thorough, their tech support is top-notch and they’re taking a proactive stance in ensuring their plugin is tested and compatible with all major hosting providers.
The money spent on this plugin will easily save you hours of works, while providing extreme performance painlessly!”
WP Super Cache – “What’s not to like with WP Super Cache : it’s free, it works very well and it’s from Automattic, the company behind WordPress, so you know it’ll always be compatible with WordPress.
It offers a few modes to choose from, supports CDN and advanced configurations, but the Simple Mode lets you get an instant boost with minimal risk. Highly Recommended.”
Which caching plugin you should choose highly depends on your hosting provider and your website setup. For example, Cloudways has a really good free caching plugin called Breeze – I tend to use that a lot. Siteground has their own caching plugin as well.
If possible, I advocate to first try the hosting-specific caching plugin if there is any. Those are, if well built like Breeze, deeply integrated into your hosting architecture and can sometimes lead to faster website speed than generic caching plugins.
- WP Rocket – “If you ask me for the best paid caching plugin, I’d vote for WP Rocket. Many of the websites my team maintains run with WP Rocket and they fly. It’s a very comprehensive plugin and supports not just plain blogs, but also more taxing requirements like eCommerce, integrating CDNs, and lazy loading for media files. The ease of use makes it easy to configure and it runs stable.”
- Swift Performance – “My team also likes Swift Performance for caching. Their lite version is pretty good for the basics. But to get to a level close to WP Rocket, you’ll have to upgrade to the paid version Swift Performance Pro.”
So, my recommendations are: hosting-specific plugins should be tried first, then compared to WP Rocket, and lastly to Swift Performance Pro.
- WP Fastest Cache – “I have been using this plugin for the last 3 years, and it’s one of the simplest plugins for caching, with a huge impact on performance. The plugin comes with a few simple configuration settings that almost anyone could set, even if you’re not an expert.”
- W3 Total Cache – “One of the most advanced plugins for caching in WordPress. I love this plugin, but it’s too complicated to set up, and I don’t like it for small projects. In addition, while it supports nGinx, it requires extra configuration to make it work properly.”
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no added cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Generating targeted leads is vitally important for practically any business and landing pages play a major part in the process. The difference a well optimized landing page that is perfectly designed for your target audience can have on your company’s revenue can be staggering!
Now managing and optimizing landing pages used to be reaaaally tedious. You’d have to code the page from scratch, and 3rd party analysis tools were rudimentary at best, so optimizing was more guesswork than anything. But thankfully this is 2019, not 2003. You no longer need to be a coding wizard or be crazy talented at design (although it does help!), as there are now lots of different solutions available that allow you to deploy battle tested, attractive landing pages extremely quickly (sometimes within minutes), and then provide you with the toolset to analyze how your audience engages with them.
Anyhow, it’s that fact that you have “all these options” nowadays that leads us on to the question that we’re addressing in this post…what is the best landing page builder in 2019? Now I’m no expert on building landing pages, so I got in touch with over 60 PPC and SEM pros that are. They build and optimize landing pages pretty much every day, and have been doing so for years. We asked each of them to recommend the best landing page software they’ve come across, allowing them to put forward up to 3 options, and we’ve published the results and what they had to say below.
So whether you’re a novice looking to create your very first landing page or you’re an experienced paid traffic marketer thinking of jumping ship, then this article should give you a number of very good options to investigate further.
Top Landing Page Builders in 2019: How Our Experts Voted
|Landing Page Builder||# of Votes|
|#1. Unbounce||40 Votes|
|#2. Instapage||17 Votes|
|#3. Leadpages||13 Votes|
|#4. ClickFunnels||11 Votes|
|#5. Thrive Architect||8 Votes|
|#6. WordPress||6 Votes|
|#7. Elementor||5 Votes|
|#=8. HubSpot||3 Votes|
|#=8. Wix||3 Votes|
|#=9. Wishpond||2 Votes|
|#=9. Lander||2 Votes|
|#=9. Convertri||2 Votes|
|#=9. Beaver Builder||2 Votes|
|#=10. MailChimp||1 Vote|
|#=10. Divi Builder||1 Vote|
|#=10. Visual Composer||1 Vote|
|#=10. Landingi||1 Vote|
|#=10. Weebly||1 Vote|
|#=10. Kartra||1 Vote|
|#=10. Google Site Builder||1 Vote|
In total there were 20 different landing page builders mentioned during the course of our survey, but as you’ll see from the table above, Unbounce, Instapage, Leadpages, ClickFunnels and Thrive Architect took home most of the votes between them. So they’re the LP solutions that we’re going to hone in on.
If this were a race, Unbounce would have won it with more than a few lengths to spare. It got over double the amount of votes compared to its nearest rival. Why was that? Well fact that Unbounce has been around since 2009 should tell you something. I don’t know about you, but it always gives me that extra bit of reassurance from the get-go when something has stood the test of time like that. Also, given how many extra votes it got, you might be surprised to learn that it’s by no means one of the cheaper landing page builders either, but as they say, you get what you pay for. With this product you get access to a lot of professional, heavily tested templates, an intuitive drag and drop editor, solid A/B testing – all the standard stuff you’d expect – plus a few really cool features like dynamic insertion to increase relevancy (great for conversions), AMP pages for speed (not on the base plan though!) and a fabulous customer service team and community that is proactive rather than reactive. If you’ve got the budget, you won’t go far wrong here.
Instapage was the next most recommended LP builder and it’s all about ease of use and speed. The interface is super simple and there’s virtually no learning curve unlike with Unbounce, making it a suitable choice for small business owners and novice marketers alike. While it doesn’t offer the same robust feature set (popups are a noteworthy omission) or level of customization as Unbounce, you won’t have to write a single line of code and can setup and deploy stunning landing pages using one of the many attractive templates quicker than it takes you to finish a cup of coffee.
Leadpages was another option that received strong support, and is another LP software that has a more lightweight setup (compared to Unbounce), but is easy to get acquainted with, and has one very attractive feature: its price point. A basic plan can be nabbed for as cheap as $17/month, representing great value for money, and a solid choice if your landing page needs are pretty basic.
Now ClickFunnels is a somewhat different beast in that it’s not a dedicated landing page software. As the name suggests it can be used to setup complete sales funnels in addition to your landing pages, and offers you access to a whole world of possibilities, such as upsells, downsells, onetime offers and much more. In terms of creating landing pages it’s very easy. Drag and drop. It just makes sense and won’t take long to pick up. Having said that, a few experts mentioned lack of customization being a weakness, and if you don’t need to create sales funnels, all of those extra features are just bloat that you’ll be paying extra for every month.
Finally, if you’re using WordPress then Thrive Architect is a plugin you might want to investigate. It’s the only one of our top 5 landing page builders that isn’t a subscription based product, costing a onetime fee that’s cheaper than the price of just one month for most of the other options we’ve spoken about. That’s a big plus if you’re counting the pennies, but still want to create great landing pages. It offers you lots of templates, works great on mobile, and when combined with other plugins produced by Thrive Themes makes for a pretty powerful marketing suite.
1) If you have at least some experience with landing page builders, need access to a superior feature set to optimize for conversions, and are prepared to pay a little more (this is not the cheapest option), this is what our experts recommend:
3) If you’re on a budget and need to make your money go as far as possible, these are two affordable options that represent great value for money (Leadpages is a cheaper monthly subscription than most, and Thrive Architect is a WordPress landing page builder this is available for a one-off fee):
4) If you need to create sales funnels in addition to your landing pages or are likely to in the near future, check out this one:
Read What The Experts Said
Below you can read exactly what each expert had to say when we reached out to them to ask for their top landing page builder recommendations. They each explain their choices, some in great detail, and share a lot of really valuable insights into this software. We hope you find it helpful!
If you already have one or two options in mind and want to read what industry pros are saying about them, use the filters below to easily jump to the relevant content.
- Unbounce – “I’m a strong advocate of Unbounce for landing page creation and testing. It may feel a little complex to start with, but once you have the mindset it becomes quick and easy to use. The template gallery of tried and tested landing pages is very useful, as is the ability to share and send your landing page designs. The drag and drop facility is simple, and you can create your own branded templates to work from. Unbounce can be integrated with a wealth of other platforms, including WordPress in one click, and your own domain, using your URL. The fast, mobile-friendly pages are well optimised for search. Unbounce is a great platform for any size business, unlike many landing page platforms which are aimed at only the biggest in their field. Unbounce also offers a 14 day free trial, competitive pricing and great customer service.”
- Instapage – “This is the ideal landing page solution for small businesses – especially those without a tech expert on the payroll. You can design incredibly effective landing pages in no time and publish them to your website without any particular coding expertise. It integrates directly with WordPress, builds great mobile pages, and has a decent analytics suite to assist you in bettering your performance. All in all, it’s the best bet for those looking to create custom landing pages without paying a developer.”
- Unbounce – “While Instapage may be easier to use – particularly for those without an in-house developer – Unbounce is still the landing page builder that we use for our own agency clients. Unbounce seamlessly integrates with most of the tools you’re already using and delivers outstanding results for a very fair price. If you’re serious about search marketing then Unbounce is the landing page builder for you.”
Wishpond makes it simple to get more leads and customers from your landing page. There are over 100 mobile-responsive landing page templates to choose from – so there’s bound to be a design and style that suits your brand.
It’s a seamless drag-and-drop editor, there’s no need for design or programming knowledge. You can add popups, welcome mats, slide-in pop-ups and opt-in bars with ease so you can maximise your conversions.
Price: $49 – $199 a month”
Unbounce – “Recommended for intermediate marketers.
Arguably one of the best landing page builders in the game, Unbounce has been designed with one purpose alone: to generate conversions.
It’s designed to enable marketers to launch customised and branded landing pages which maximise conversions. The tool features a highly responsive drag-and-drop editor, an array of stylish templates, valuable A/B testing and CRM integration.
It’s one of the best all-round builders. You pay more to get more – the advanced customisation is great.
Price: $79 – $399+ a month”
HubSpot – “Recommended for advanced marketers.
You’re probably not shocked to see HubSpot on the list. HubSpot is an inbound marketing and sales software that supports businesses in attracting traffic, generating conversions and turning those conversions into customers.
You can choose from their built-in library of mobile responsive templates that are optimised to push conversions, or you can build your own page from scratch. Add forms optimised for completion in just one click and automatically alter content based on the visitor who is viewing your page.
In terms of advanced features, HubSpot is certainly one of the very best landing page builders you can find. But the price does reflect the complex nature of the software.
Price: depends on what model you go for, expect to pay around $655 a month.”
This article is not about goal setting & integration, but those play a huge part in picking a landing page tool. So before you go choosing one, you need to know 2 things…
? 1. Know the specific kind of actions, goals, outcome you want to achieve.
? 2. Have a list of your business tools, so you know if they integrate well with the landing page tool.
Are you looking to:
? – Drive ebook downloads?
? – Collect more email addresses?
? – Warm up traffic for an Ecommerce sale?
?? – Educate or sell your traffic with a sales funnel?
Then, once you know your goals, take a look at your stack of business tools:
? – How or does it integrate with your CRM?
? – How or does it work with your Email tool?
Nowadays, landing page tools have out-of-the-box integrations for big-name applications like Salesforce, Zoho, MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, Slack, etc. However, you’d be surprised sometimes. So don’t get caught off-guard by assuming an integration is available.
Now that we’ve gotten past that, here are my top recommendations:
Unbounce – “…for the all-around win. ?
To anyone in the CRO & PPC space, Unbounce is a household name. The company is a landing page optimization leader and pioneer that’s helped marketers convert traffic better since 2009.
Overall, Unbounce does exactly what you’d expect from a top-tier landing page builder:
Makes building great landing pages fast & stupid simple to do – and you don’t have to touch any code. Like other tools, it is a drag-and-drop builder which makes it incredibly simple to place what you want, wherever you want. ?
They also have tons of beautifully designed templates to pick from for inspiration in all kinds of industries too. ? Also, they include the ability to run A/B tests. ??
When you need to check integrations, Unbounce has you covered. Just search their library and find out if they connect to your favorite tools. So far I have not yet run into something I cannot connect directly to or use Zapier for.
Because Unbounce is the best tool out there, it isn’t the cheapest. But it doesn’t break the bank either. Plans start at $79-99/month and go up from there. They also have a 30-day free trial to try it out.
If you’re an agency that manages multiple clients as we do…Unbounce was built with you in mind! They’ve made managing multiple clients very easy – as an agency you can create client sub-accounts with their own integrations and subdomains. If you ever part ways from a client, it’s easy to export the Unbounce landing page and send it to them ~as well they can use~*to be used* in their own account. It’s also a bonus to the client because it cuts a cost to them by doing business with you.
Other than that…
There are other great tools out there; they just pale in comparison to Unbounce when we’ve tried them out.”
- Unbounce – “I’ve used Unbounce on many occasions to create landing pages. It isn’t really built for beginners, but if you have any experience working with website content editors, I’m sure you’ll pick it up pretty quick. There are plenty of templates to use or at least start from, so you’re not having to build anything from scratch. I love the A/B testing features and the ability to track form fills and clicks — because if you don’t have the juicy data to support your campaign then what’s the point?”
Unbounce – “Having used a number of SaaS providers over the years, I was somewhat sceptical about trying another web builder tool. Online page builders are great if you’re happy to select an option that looks and behaves a certain way and are not too fussy about detail. Select a template from a library, change the copy and images and you’re good to go. They definitely have a place.
Where it gets tricky with these online tools and templates is if you want to dig a bit deeper, maybe apply your own UX and Brand. One can end up spending hours and hours reworking or hacking someone else’s code to fit your requirements, only to be frustrated by the end result. You’ll wish you’d started from scratch with your own code and design or employed an expert to do it for you.
Having been disappointed by other providers, we’ve consistently had our basic needs met by Unbounce.
- Drag and Drop interface
- Simple to set up
- Good documentation (although you do need to sign up separately to your account)
- Easy to set up desktop and mobile viewports
- Lots of 3rd party integrations to plugin to (we used Zapier)
- Custom fonts
- Builder interface is responsive
- Custom domain
- Easy to set up A/B testing
*This is a big pro. Being able to add custom code raises the bar as it allows the creator to bring the page to life and is only limited by their imagination.
- Preview can be quite slow
- Initial dashboard is quite busy
- Form confirmation can be a bit clunky
Overall I was quite pleased with Unbounce. It’s intuitive and quite customisable. From a design/dev/UX point of view, I’d definitely recommend it.”
Thrive Architect – “Thrive Architect is a powerful and highly intuitive WYSIWYG WordPress editor plugin. Whatever type of page you want to make, from product pages and lead generation pages, this software can achieve it. It has a brilliant user interface and a host of great features, from flexible layout options to hotkeys for when you want quicker actions. Thrive Architect also has device-specific styling for greater customisation to your pages and you can view the responsive designs in the builder itself, whether it’s a tablet or mobile view.
The beauty of Thrive Architect is that you can create any type of page using drag and drop, making it easy to design impactful landing pages, but without the need for a designer to build your pages for you. These elements don’t need to be contained as there are no sections, so it provides more flexibility than some other builders. The downside, however, is that it doesn’t come with any free options, so it’s probably not the best option for budget-conscious marketers. But it’s still cheaper than a lot of page builders on the market and the value it provides more than offsets the cost.
Thrive Architect is a must-have landing page builder that replaces the need for dozens of different plugins by providing conversion-focused elements which are in-built. From countdown timers to customisable buttons and lead generation forms, there are plenty of elements that are designed to increase growth within your business and get more leads. For anyone who’s serious about building profitable pages, Thrive Architect is one of the best tools for achieving online success.
- Inline text editing
- Device-specific responsive views
- Incredibly flexible in terms of layout options
- The properties panel is overcrowded and not as well-organised as it could be
- Can on occasion be a little buggy”
ClickFunnels – “The goal of ClickFunnels is to save marketers time and to achieve what would otherwise require a lot of technical skill or a range of third-party applications. In that regard, it’s a brilliant piece of software to have in your arsenal. ClickFunnels brings all of your marketing tools into one place, making it the easiest way of selling practically anything. Gone are the days of using multiple tools – you can think of this as more than just a sales funnel and landing page builder, but also as an e-commerce platform.
It has a great selection of features including template editors, reporting and organisation tools, and integration functionality. There’s also no need for a website, as the landing pages are hosted on ClickFunnels’ servers but it’s easy enough to insert them into your own site if you want to. Using this software removes the need for plugins and provides marketers with a professional-looking landing page that enables clear focus on guiding prospects through a multi-step journey. One of the main benefits of using this tool is that it includes sales funnel templates that allow you to pick the funnel that best matches your requirements, whether that’s selling an e-book or marketing a subscription service, to accelerate success. What’s more, you know they’ve been thoroughly tested for best results, so you remove the trial and error element of building a page.
This intuitive software gives you everything you need to sell and promote products online, but without the need for various tools and hiring developers. The templates in ClickFunnels are positioned in sections so the elements can be dragged and dropped wherever you need them to be – while there are other landing page editors that are more flexible, ClickFunnels still allows you to achieve virtually any design and is a useful tool to have on hand once you have mastered the interface.
- Great community support for users
- Wide range of features
- Intuitive and easy to use
- Some of the features may feel a little superfluous
- Hosted on ClickFunnels’ servers, so if they go down, so does your page”
- Unbounce – “Unbounce has been around for quite some time and is fairly easy to setup and integrate into a site. They have plenty of templates with a drag and drop interface, making it mostly painless to build pages. However, this simple interface can be limiting so more advanced edits will require more time. Additionally, we have noticed that Google Ads does not like Unbounce and that Quality Scores suffer, despite the page loading fast and being as relevant as you can get. Regardless, this is a good solution for those wanting to get up and running with A/B split tests quickly.”
- WordPress – “There is a universe of options to choose from when it comes to WordPress, allowing you to choose what works best for you. Not only do you have the built-in page builder, but there are a number of plugins that you can choose from. The best part is your landing pages will perform great in Google Ads (from a Quality Score perspective, if done right) and can even gain some Organic footing. We by default recommend WordPress for our SEO clients.”
- Custom Built – “Sometimes the best route is to have it done internally. The reason being is that you control it 100% and have essentially no limitations. This can be a time/resource drain, but in the long run can prove the most useful as you will have control of the pages and they will be “independent” of anything going on with your site (or you can integrate them and make them a part of your site structure to add content and relevancy to your site).”
“Just remember that the whole point of a landing page is to help grow and improve your business, so don’t let the decision of what and how impede that. Pick something that works best for you and test it, gain some data, and adjust if necessary.”
We have also found that Unbounce’s dynamic insertion features are great for hacking paid media quality scores and increasing landing page conversion rates. We will often time leverage the location data or service level data to dynamically optimize the landing page content with a URL parameter that will insert the intent variables. This allows us to turn as a headline like “LLC Registration” into “LLC Registration in California”
Additionally, Thrive Architect is by default mobile first (so you don’t have to worry about responsiveness, and can easily edit both dekstop and mobile versions), it has one of the best customer support teams I’ve seen in the business (they solve every issue within hours), and it has nearly 300 landing page templates that you can easily customize to your own liking.
And finally, it is affordable! At only $67 (one time payment), you get more than you get from other overpriced builders. If you choose to also grab all of their other powerful plugins, it’s still a mere $228/year membership fee (again… NOTHING in this industry…).
Combine it with Thrive Leads, and Thrive Optimize, and you’ll have a beast of a tool for almost nothing!”
HubSpot – “Hubspot is a content influencer/leader so nobody will be surprised to see them as one of my choices.
You can build a landing page in minutes by using the easy drag and drop tool. You can also build contact forms. A/B testing is easy, create smart content and get detailed analytics from your marketing campaigns.
Hubspot is a powerful landing page builder in terms of the advanced features you get. As such, the price is higher in comparison to other landing page builders.”
Lander – “Lander is great for beginners, again utilizing a simple drag and drop editor, you can create great looking landing pages in minutes.
The simple layouts are clean and useful, and like other great landing page builders, it offers A/B testing and integration with other marketing tools.”
Instapage – “The interface is by far I feel the most user-friendly, and again utilizes a drag and drop feature. You can again build great pages in minutes. The templates are fantastic, and they offer something fantastic for any type of page.
Like the other tools, you also get advanced analytics, split testing and integration with other marketing platforms.”
WordPress – “It is a powerful CMS that you can build a landing page, website, magazine or ecommerce website. You can use WordPress for free on wordpress.com or invest a small amount of money and buy a domain name and hosting.
The new version of WordPress comes with the Gutenberg builder https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/ (easy to use WordPress content editor). In case you want to amplify the webpage features you can install a custom theme or plugins for free or you can buy premium ones. WordPress is a really good and flexible platform but you will need some technical skills to be able to make use of all its features.”
Google Site Builder – “This is the perfect solution for people without any technical experience. There are a bunch of free templates that you can manage with a drag-and-drop creator in real time. All templates are mobile friendly.
Also, you can easily integrate google products to the webpage (documents, analytics, maps and etc.) You can use it for free with a Google account or you can buy your own domain name.”
- Wix – “This is one more platform to create a stylish landing page without any technical skills. There are over 30 free templates. You can manage the content though its “drag-and-drop feature. All landing pages are mobile friendly. You can use it for free or subscribe to a paid plan (prices start at 4.50 euro/month)”
Unbounce – “Starting my landing page experience with unBounce, much like the other landing page builders, it offers simple creation of the pages. You can create great looking landing pages using templates with simple modifications, and yet there’s a lot of flexibility for adding more advanced features or such as multi form call to action pages. If you’re a PPC expert and understand the value of the Google quality score, one unique feature you’ll like is dynamic keyword insertion (not of the ads but on the landing page itself). This feature alone, has saved my clients lots of money on their ad spend. They have an ideal balance between simplicity and full feature web page development tools, and you can even create a micro website that is SEO friendly.
One other feature I’ve really enjoyed is their annual call to action marketing conference held in Vancouver, Canada. A great conference that will generate new ideas on ways to expand your ideas.”
Instapage – “Much like unBounce, Instapage offers a starting service that is ideal for building landing pages for both simple and complex needs. They do offer a more enterprise option for landing pages experts who have come to realize it’s not just a simple page creation, but a solution to understanding to addressing a customer journey. For example, you can have complete customized information blocks where the web copy, imagery and experience is customized based on the actual customer segment.
If you see yourself as being a landing page design firm in the future with advanced capabilities, this could be a great option for your organization.”
Leadpages – “ Another important feature set that all of these landing page builders have is A/B testing. And the ability to integrate with email or CRM systems. Since Leadpages is a well established solution in this area, they have extensive and well tested integration capabilities there.
An important aspect to remember about landing pages, is that the information just doesn’t stop after the visitor hits the submit button; a successful strategy is integration with other marketing automation tools..”
Instapage – “Instapage is my go-to platform to build quick and easy landing pages.
Instapage provides hundreds of templates that you can use to build your page. You can also create a page from scratch. The drag and drop function makes it easy to create sections on your page and add your own personal content.”
“There are also a couple of other tools I’d recommend. These aren’t landing page builder, but rather focus on the optimization side of things.”
- Optimizely – “Optimizely is more of a landing page testing tool, which is great if you want to test different landing pages that mainly get organic traffic. It allows you to set up different goals and see how well your variations are performing across all of them. You can also set up multi-page testing, which might come in handy if you want to include several steps of your funnel into 1 single test.”
- Google Optimize – “Google Optimize works quite similar to Optimizely. The standard version of the platform is even free! As it’s a Google product, it seamlessly integrates with Google Analytics and Google Ads.”
- Instapage – “The ease of use here was a huge plus. I found this to be the easiest to work with in terms of layout, adding/removing elements, even using custom html, this was a better performer. I believe this has been put together by Wix so expect a good UI and simplicity – which it does deliver. A good one for novice users.”
- Leadpages – “Leadpages was one that was chosen for its pricing and also features. This at the time of using Leadpages was one of the only ones that used dynamic text replacement features, which were needed by me. It was also the best in terms of the number of sessions that you pay for. A nice library of templates. Using the system was a little clumsy at times. Setting up subdomains was a bit of a pain. That being said it was a good cost based solution. There is a WordPress plugin, which makes publishing a little easier, however if you aren’t using WordPress, publishing is a bit of a pain.”
- Thrive Architect – “Used specifically for WordPress installations, I found this to be much better than some of the other WordPress page builders. There is a nice library of templates. Playing around with elements on different devices is a piece of cake. This plugin also allows for dynamic text insertion, which is a very powerful feature, especially for PPC landing pages.”
Instapage – “Instapage is an end-to-end solution for building personalized post-click landing pages at scale. Build. Personalize. Experiment. Win.
They have the most comprehensive suite of tools available for fast landing page implantation for small or large projects. You can A/B test potions of your page, create personalized experiences and really build around your audience segments. This is the tool I use almost exclusively.”
The set-up is easy, even for non-technical people. The design interface is intuitive and allows anyone to create a serviceable landing page, choosing from a vast number of customizable templates in the platform. For our landing pages, we worked with our designer and we were all very pleased with what he was able to do to take our design further. He gave positive feedback on the design environment as well.
The Unbounce solution resides on a subdomain of your site, so it’s not locally hosted, which allows you to link Unbounce to virtually any CMS you run. All in, it’s an affordable and easy solution when you need landing pages outside of your main site/CMS.”
Unbounce – “Without a doubt, Unbounce is the best landing page builder, hands down….
I’ve been using Unbounce for the past 5 years for all of our clients. It’s powerful, easy to use and packed with powerful features. The ability to A/B test on the fly with confidence levels pre-calculated is essential for Conversion Rate Optimization efforts. All of that is great, but as an agency the ultimate reason we stick with Unbounce is their support staff and active community. You’ll never be left in the dark when asking questions or if you require additional development support..
Unlike other builders, Unbounce allows you to create pages beyond what you can do with most drag and drop design platforms. The pages have full CSS stylesheet capabilities and rather robust scripting abilities. Their team is always rolling out new stuff too! A few key features I can think of are sticky bars, pop ups, AMP pages, script manager and so on.
An example of the platform’s more advanced design capabilities would be Rollovers, or images that change based on browser interaction.
Here’s an example of a Roll Over effect we created for one of our clients.
Of course, if you’re not a designer there are tons of templates to choose from as well as more to be purchased!
We’ve built some beautiful custom landing pages on Unbounce for our clients too, just see for yourself below.”
Juic Wireless Charger – Landing Page Preview:
Coast Flight School – RTP Landing Page Preview:
Unbounce – “I really like the flexibility that Unbounce provides in their landing page builder. You have many options of A/B-split-testing the designs.
One of my favorite features is that you can create dynamic headlines from URL parameters. This makes it possible for you to change the headline by adding parameters like ?h=Add+Your+Headline+Here.
From working with Google Ads (AdWords) for the past 8 years, I’ve used this quite often. It helps me split-test different USP’s – and even more important – to optimize the Quality Scores, get cheaper clicks and more bang for the buck.”
Unbounce – “Unbounce was one of the first landing page builders that I got to experiment with and I have to say this is my first choice when looking to build PPC landing pages.
The software has a simple interface using drag and drop features, built in support for Google fonts and can be integrated with a large number of apps.
Reasons why I love Unbounce…
- Nicely designed templates
- AMP ready
- Works with WordPress via the Unbounce plugin
- Can add video backgrounds
- Speed orientated so you can get good speed scores in Google
- Huge support community, if you need to find the answer to something, chances are it’s there!”
Landingi – “Landingi has a well thought out interface, easy to drag and drop elements onto the page. Moving multiple items is no problem as multiple selection is available.
Reasons why Landingi rocks!
- Over 200 templates
- Icon library, reducing the need to import your own icons
- Great reporting dashboard for leads
- Competitive pricing compared to other page builders”
As a digital marketer, when visiting a website, I look for three main things: user navigation, clear steps to conversion and a great experience. Building an engaging website is the core of driving sales through a website. Before mentioning my top 3 landing page builders, I’d list the features that I’m usually looking for when choosing a platform to build my website. My clients often don’t have any developer skills, yet there is still a way to create an astonishing website, which will help them engage the visitors with easy user navigation panels, as well as impressive animations, menus and forms, which won’t cost them a fortune.
The criteria I have selected in order to choose the best landing page builders I am recommending to my customers are the following:
- A variety of templates available for any type of business
- Extra tools for creating animations, images, shapes
- App centre or plugins to help with any other type of activity I’d like to offer my visitors – such as a service calculator, price list, location map, forms for submission, pop-ups
- From a digital marketing perspective, analytics tracking is a must for any landing page builder I use
- Automatically adjusting the desktop version to a mobile-friendly version
All 3 landing page builders I’ve selected fulfill the criteria mentioned above. They also are very easy to use offering a drag and drop interface, where all elements are editable.
- Wix – “Offering more than 500 different themes with professional designs and layouts, suitable for any type and size of business. It also has available a lot of widgets and apps to integrate within the website interface. Wix is extremely easy to use and the customer support is very reliable for anything that you might struggle with. The drag and drop interface helps to create a website very fast and it is also automatically adjusted for mobile devices.”
- Weebly – “Recommended for small businesses predominantly, Weebly offers a tidy interface, which really helps to create your website faster. It is the easiest landing page builder, which non-tech savvy people would find it best for. Only 70 themes are available. However, while Wix has focused on the volume of themes, Weebly’s focus is on the quality of those. Weebly offers many more apps to integrate, although there is no browser option to search by type and name.”
- WordPress – “WordPress offers the best variety of features, plugins and themes for people with some coding skills. But even if you’re not tech savvy, WordPress could still be a good choice. It may require some technical know-how in order to use its full potential, but this is not a must whatsoever. You can still work with pre-existing themes, there are plenty of those that you can use and easily adjust to your needs. After all, let’s not forget that this platform is the most popular CMS. With more than 50,000 plugins, WordPress is the number one CMS to use for websites and landing pages that are more complex.”
- WordPress – “My favorite landing page builder is a little old school and can be more complicated, however I love using WordPress landing pages with a custom built theme. You can really match the look and feel of the site and customize every aspect of it to fully suit you.”
- Unbounce – “Unbounce was great fun to use and was easy to implement. I loved how it had readymade styles / templates which you could change to suit you. Alternatively you could start from the ground up and really make the pages your own.”
- Instapage – “Instapage has great integration features, however the available styles / themes were not as extensive as Unbounce, in my opinion.”
My favourite landing page builder is Clickfunnels, which I switched over to a few months ago and highly recommend. I also recommend Unbounce, but really it depends on what you’re using it for and your experience with building landing pages.
ClickFunnels – “ClickFunnels to me is really easy to use and if you’re a landing page novice, then it will take you no time at all to become familiar with it. Templates are really simple and it’s hard to go wrong really… the only thing that does irritate me is that you can’t click an “undo” button if you make an error! (ClickFunnels please add this feature if you happen to be reading this 😉 !) It’s also super easy to integrate with other apps and CRM’s.
If you’re a little more advanced and need a lot of customisation then Clickfunnels may not be the best option for you.”
- Unbounce – “This was one of the OG’s in the landing page builder world, and is arguably still one of the best. It’s pretty intuitive to use, has an easy drag and drop editor and is great for A/B testing. One of the only downsides to Unbounce is that it’s quite expensive for the more premium plans, but I would still highly recommend it.”
Having spent more than 10 years helping clients (ranging from multinational corporations to small webshops) with SEO, Adwords, Google Analytics and Conversion Rate Optimization, one thing I have found that is very important for the success of a client’s digital marketing campaign, is their landing pages.
A good Landing Page Builder is therefore something worth considering, when you have to look at ways to improve the conversion rate of your digital marketing campaigns.
- Unbounce – “One of the best Landing Page Builders I have come across is Unbounce. The Landing Page Builder from Unbounce has a ton of great features. You get 100+ great (and modern) looking and stylish landing page designs, sticky bars and various pop-ups. I can definitely recommend Unbounce if you are more serious about building a great landing page. The price is not on the low end, but you pay for a quality product, which is worth the investment.”
- Instapage – “Another great Landing Page Builder is Instapage. The price for Instapage isn’t high, when you look at all the great features you get. It is definitely a great investment, if you are looking for a serious Landing Page Builder. You get more than 200 templates for great looking landing pages, and lot of very useful features. Another great thing about both Unbounce and Instapage is, that you don’t need any software developer skills to build great looking landing pages.”
There are many other Landing Page Builders on the market, even free ones, so when you select one, it is important, that you first look at your needs. Both Unbounce and Instapage are not free products. But you get great value for the money, and most important of all, you get something that works really well and is very easy to use.
Unbounce – “Which landing page builder is best for you is going to depend a lot on what type of business you have and what you’re looking to accomplish. That being said my favorite by far is Unbounce.
Unbounce is extremely easy to use, cost-effective, and is great for creating custom landing pages to send your paid traffic to. It has a simple drag-and-drop editor, integrates with most email providers, and gives you the ability to fully optimize for mobile.
One of the biggest things Unbounce did for our internal team was save our designer’s time by not having them handle requests to make small changes on our landing pages. With Unbounce (instead of custom builds in WordPress), our paid media team could make most changes themselves and only go to our designers for larger projects.
There’s a few other landing page builders out there that offer similar features, but I haven’t found any of them to offer the same level of design quality and flexibility of Unbounce.”
- Unbounce – “I’ve used a handful of landing page tools for clients, but have found one of the easiest is Unbounce. The platform is fairly intuitive and user friendly, which means that someone such as myself (who is not spectacularly gifted at design) can whip up new landing page iterations quickly. Tracking implementation can be a bit tricky for some clients, but in my experience the customer service team has been helpful for times when we’ve become stuck trying to resolve an issue.”
I got my start in digital marketing as an affiliate marketer. Which back in 2011 meant that I needed to learn how to code to be able to put up simple landing pages to collect data.
(Be thankful you don’t have to go through that now)
Depending on your tech skill level I have 3 of the best landing page builders you could ever need in your life.
- ClickFunnels – “If you’re a complete newbie and have no idea what you’re doing I HIGHLY recommend clickfunnels. Russel and his team have created so much content around how to properly build out landing pages, it’s ridiculous. Anyone from no experience to all the experience in the world can benefit from clickfunnel’s simplicity.”
- Elementor – “Now this is actually one of my favorite page builders if you have a WordPress CMS. Super simple to play around with if you are familiar with a tech background. Maybe take some CSS classes before hopping on this plugin.”
- Instapage – “Super useful tool that lets you create on-brand landing pages. Integration to your website is seamless since it requires no code. Not my favorite, but it works.”
I have my Top 3 Landing Page Builders preferences below.
- WordPress – “This is just my preference, but custom WordPress templates are most ideal for me when building out a website. If you already have pages that continue to rank and convert well, I feel like these are ideal pages to have a template page within WordPress (or whatever CMS you use). There are a number of tools out there that can help you create a custom page from scratch very quickly. Using a tool to customize content page by page is great when it is needed. However, when global updates or redesigns are in the works, it might make it difficult to streamline a website that made every other page unique. It may also give an inconstant user experience if you go overboard. In extreme circumstances you might feel like you are visiting a different website every time you visit a new page. ”
- Instapage – “If you need a page created quickly, a custom WordPress template isn’t always the best option. Using a tool like Instapage is one of my next favorite choices. This can help to quickly launch a quality landing page in a short amount of time for a reasonable cost. If the page converts well, you might want to consider building out a custom WordPress template that can then be used for new pages. The best part about a tool like Instapage is the template option. I recommend choosing a template that is as close to what you want then to start customizing rather than beginning from scratch. This will save you time and help to ensure that your layout and design flows. ”
- Unbounce – “In my opinion Unbounce has similar features to Instapage, but the template options look more professional/polished. It is a bit more expensive, but there are conversion features such as pop-ups and A/B testing that give them a competitive advantage over a number of other tools. Unbounce also integrates with WordPress, Zapier, and I imagine several other platforms.”
- Leadpages – “Personally, I use Leadpages almost exclusively simply because it meets my clients’ needs (most of them just need simple funnels with a lead magnet and opt-in form). I recommend most people try Leadpages first because it’s cheaper than Clickfunnels and you can always switch to Clickfunnels later if you find that you need the extra bells and whistles.”
- ClickFunnels – “The only reason Clickfunnels isn’t at #1 is that, while it IS a great landing page builder, not everyone needs to build full multi-page funnels. To me, it doesn’t make sense to have a bunch of features unless you’re actually USING them. The drag and drop builder is a little more intuitive than Leadpages, but not significantly.”
“If you have a limited budget: Go with Leadpages first and switch to Clickfunnels if you need more features.
If you have a bit more money OR need a fancier and more complex funnel: Go with Clickfunnels”
Few digital marketing campaigns are complete without a well-crafted landing page.
It’s the “what’s next” for your prospects when they visit you. It addresses why they chose you and what you will do to solve their problem. It’s key for conversions and turning clicks into customers.
Web pages can, however, be time-consuming to build with no shortage of bells and whistles to include in them. There’s also no shortage of landing page builders out there too and the options can frankly be overwhelming.
As a digital marketing agency, we’ve compiled a short list of some of the top ones and why we feel anyone can use them with little fuss right out of the box.
- Unbounce – “These guys are one of the industry leaders for a reason. It’s just so easy and intuitive to build a stellar landing page with it. They have tons of templates to pick and choose from, and has one of the best A/B testing tools in the market, which is HUGE! It’s loaded with lots of integration, features, and add-ons. The only downsides are the price and learning curve. While not the cheapest option out there, it is one of the best. You’ll need a little bit of time to get used to it, but once you do, you’ll marvel at the full features you have at your fingertips. Even large agencies use them which says a lot. ”
- Instapage – “Sometimes you just want a landing page up and going without having to figure too much out. That’s where Instapages can be your savior. It’s all about instant use. Fast loading pages that can be set up and run in as little as a few minutes. Amazing for beginners and small business owners with great and easy to read analytics reports to see how it’s running. Now for the downsides… Because of its emphasis on instant pages, they don’t have as many features as the rest. There are also no pop-up options and A/B testing isn’t included in their basic package. If you just need a simple landing page builder to get things up as quick and simple as possible, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better.”
- Lander – “Let’s face it. Price can often time be the deciding factor when choosing anything and that’s why Lander made our list. Their prices are very low, but they still have some rich features. All packages include standard A/B testing (did we mention how HUGE that is?), Facebook landing pages, easy drag-and-drop creation, CRM and email integration. Sure, it may not be the best editor around or have the most features, but it’s still a bargain for the price.”
“You really can’t go wrong with either one of these options. Just always keep in mind your user experience and conversion flow first. Now go and convert those leads!”
HubSpot – “While landing pages are only a component of the suite of marketing tools integrated into the HubSpot marketing platform, it’s the ability to utilize the additional tools that make their landing pages effective. For users that have been identified by having their devices cookied it allows for dynamic content to be delivered based on a variety of user behavior and demographics to target the most effective message to the user.
The platform also has robust measurement tools to track submission rates and traffic volumes to compare various landing pages across your site as well as the ability to A/B test variations in one landing page.
The design tools are easy to use as well to build landing pages quickly and a Hubspot subscription comes with Shutterstock built into the dashboard for ease in selecting image assets for your project. HubSpot also has a vibrant community of designers and developers in their marketplace, making it easy to find professional templates for most landing pages at low-cost options including many free versions.”
- Leadpages – “For a low-cost option Leadpages is a powerful platform for building landing pages and progressive forms. With over 200 templates and a number of integrations to connect to your CRM and other marketing tools, it is a great platform to build off of. The platform also has a Facebook and Instagram ad builder to combine your landing pages into a seamless social media campaign.”
- Beaver Builder – “We love Beaver Builder on WordPress. It’s easy to use and priced right. Depending on your use-case, likely at least half the price of something like Unbounce or LeadPages. Both of which are totally solid products by all means. But if you’re working in WordPress, Beaver Builder is really just a joy.”
- Visual Composer – “Visual Composer is also solid. Especially because you can swap out headers and footers. Which can be really important for PPC landing pages, where we frequently want to reduce or remove navigation options.”
Sometimes we need a bunch of landing pages or tons of variations, or something really custom for a project. These guys are really great as a full-service, ‘we’ll build your landing pages for you’ option: landingpageguys.com. We’ve also used them for custom landing pages built on Drupal or other less common CMS platforms.
Having used a range of landing page builders for clients with hugely contrasting budgets, I’ve been fairly well-exposed to the challenges of choosing a landing page builder.
My view is that there are a lot of terrible free and cheap platforms, a small handful of fairly average platforms and perhaps 2 or 3 extremely good platforms. The one that I will always come back to and keep using is Unbounce.
Another favoured platform is Instapages – again, very easy to use; in fact, I actually prefer the UI of Instapages to Unbounce. I also think some of the templates are better than Unbounce.
However, Instapages can’t compete with Unbounce’s customer service, which is second to none – they once sent me a bunch of free Unbounce t-shirts, purely because they liked the humour of one of my client’s pages – and Unbounce also has a number of integrations that are ridiculously easy to implement and make it so much easier to manage whole campaigns with accurate results tracking and automation.
So to summarise, if you like free t-shirts, a decent UI, flexibility of design, ease-of-use and nice clean templates, use Unbounce.”
Lisa Cash Hanson
“There are three landing page builders that I love. Any one of these landing page builders would do a great job for your business. I will differentiate one, however, based on the community that is behind it. It’s vital to remember that a landing page does one thing well: focuses visitors’ attention on what you’re promoting, with a single call to action (CTA) that brings money or leads right to you. Your landing page is like your salesperson. A shoddy salesperson means a lack of sales. It’s the same with your landing page.
Here are my three top options:”
- ClickFunnels – “I love ClickFunnels primarily because of the community behind it, the brilliant templates they offer it and also all the training that Russell Brunson provides. If you love marketing there is a lot you can learn using ClickFunnels. They also provide a huge range of funnels already preset for you to drag and drop. It’s fairly simple.”
- Instapage – “Super user-friendly and very easy to design. They offer pricing that anyone can afford.”
- Leadpages – “I like them for the same reason I like Instapage. User-friendly and very cost effective.”
“All three landing pages offer free trials so I would try them out and just see which platform you prefer. But I’ll leave you with this: No landing page will make money for you if you don’t build it 🙂 So go build that page today an let me know when it’s live! To your success xoxo Lisa”
Landing page builders are perfect for marketers who need to maximise the performance of their websites as quickly as possible. The drag and drop interfaces and templates of landing page builders means that marketers with minimal technical skills can easily build great looking conversion focused web pages. Furthermore, most have built in A/B split testing functionality, plus integration with other marketing software such as email services, CRMs, and marketing automation solutions like Hubspot and Marketo.
Most landing page builders are SAAS services and whilst they fundamentally do the same thing, there are certainly differences in price, the range of features provided, ease of use and the number of integrations available.
- Unbounce – “Personally, I like Unbounce which is has some pretty sophisticated features and is easy to use. However, a drawback is that it’s comparatively expensive compared to other services such as Leadpages.”
- Thrive Architect – “Landing page builders like Unbounce, Leadpages and Instapage are SAAS services, meaning they have ongoing subscription fees which can get very expensive over time. For that reason, an alternative I’m a big fan of is Thrive Architect for owners of WordPress websites. This premium WordPress plugin is a drag and drop page builder that makes building web pages very easy for people without design or coding skills. And like those SAAS service it includes conversion-focused landing page templates, which can be easily customised. Simple A/B testing can be done using the Thrive Optimize plugin. Whilst it’s by far the easiest WordPress editor I’ve used, it’s not as easy to use as most SAAS landing page builders. That said, it’s way cheaper and unlike SAAS services, the pages built with it won’t disappear the way they will if you cancel your SAAS subscription.”
Unbounce – “Without a shadow of a doubt, the landing page builder of choice that’s our go-to is ‘Unbounce’. It may not be the cheapest, but with PPC competition increasing all the time, I think it’s imperative not to skimp on arguably the most important part of any digital campaign; the landing page.
I have found the drag and drop functionality remarkably easy to use, which considering I am to design what Piers Morgan is to rational, respectful discourse is no mean feat. For those who are even less impressive with their design skills, there’s a plethora of templates to choose from.
The best thing about it for me is the ease with which you can duplicate and edit pages. This makes absolutely acing PPC when it comes to reducing CPC’s and improving account performance a doddle.
I prefer having a landing page for each specific keyword I am targeting, this way the relevancy of the ad and keyword match up fantastically. As you can imagine, with some accounts having hundreds of keywords, this could become a nightmare. By duplicating and amending the pages slightly, you can continue that relevancy throughout the journey.”
“I’ll start off by looking at the top landing page builders from my personal choice.
With these three landing page builders, you will be able to create all kinds of pages such as; sales pages, squeeze pages, membership pages, webinar pages, course pages, confirmation pages, and much more. Most importantly, with minimal time and coding skills required.”
- Thrive Architect – “Thrive Architect is a landing page plugin that allows you to build and customize conversion focused pages – fast. You get landing page templates at your fingertips so you can build out new pages very easily. These templates are designed in themed sets, so you can build out an entire sales funnel that fits together visually. Integrates with major email CRMs.”
- Unbounce – “One of the early adopters of landing pages. Unbounce offers one of the easiest ways to build and test custom landing pages, website popups and sticky bars. Improve your post-click conversion rates and launch more campaigns, fast.”
- ClickFunnels – “Great tools for designing simple landing and sales funnels, easy 1 click “up-sells” feature and much more with support from a great community. Only problem is that customisation is really limited.”
Unbounce – “In short, we have tried multiple landing page builders & as an agency that heavily relies on landing pages – we’ve found unbounce.com to work best for our needs.
We love unbounce due to very simple reasons:
- Their UX is very user friendly, so implementing design files into a landing page format is pretty easy
- No matter what type of a landing page we create, google’s pagespeed insights has never been lower than 90/100 for mobile (nearly 100/100 for desktop every time)
- They have a very large community that experiments with their code, so finding scripts to make landers more interactive is very easy
- They have an insanely fast response time on customer support & the CS is not just there to take notes, but they, for the most part, are able to find answers for you instantly
- Last, but not least – they allow you to create client sub-accounts
>> While we usually don’t give our clients access to their landing pages due to several reasons, we do have cases where we work with companies that are very technically inclined & they want to set up webhooks / email / CRM integrations on their own, so this is very convenient.
I know, I’m talking Unbounce up like it’s the best thing since sliced bread; but while it’s a great tool – there are still a few flaws in their system:
- While the tool analytics sections shows landing page form submissions & conversion rates – that is a VERY vague insight on the actual test results. The analytics does not reflect results based on device type; there is only 1 goal available, aka – they offer very limited data insights. To conquer this issue – we build each landing page on a different URL, and then we implement optimize.google.com redirect tests to paint the full picture based on Google Analytics data.
- There is only 1 time zone available in the whole account, and it can’t be changed.
- Mass script implementation is available, but it’s based on domains – not specific pages you’ve created.
As you can see – if you’re ok with saving some serious development time coding the pages, but understand that there will be far more work to do as far as setting up tests, analyzing data, etc…. This is the right tool for you!”
Vincent Iachetta Jr
“If you love PPC like me then your favorite part of a campaign is the moment you “flip the switch”, turn on the traffic and flood the funnel you built with fresh users.
“It’s alive, It’s ALIVVVEEE!!!”.
Really what we want to know is, “Did all that damn time and energy we invested researching, developing and building our crazy funnel creation pay off?” The faster we can build and test a landing page or funnel the faster we can hit pay dirt. Like John C. Maxwell said, “Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.” And I agree.
For me, one of the things that always slows me down is building landing pages. Do we need a landing page? What’s a landing page? Well, it’s a single website page built with one goal in mind. Some of the most common goals for landing pages are filling out a form, making a phone call or purchasing a product. They each have their challenges, but for local clients such as the law firms we manage, we more often than not are simply trying to get the user to either call or fill out a form.
The difficulty of building landing pages might be obvious, but it is two-fold (Design & Coding). I’m not saying I can’t do both, I’m just very particular with high expectations, and while I have experience working with design and code I’d prefer to spend my time as we mentioned earlier; testing the final product. So if you’ve ever gotten stuck and spent hours trying to position an element exactly where you want on the page across multiple screen sizes then you can relate and I feel your pain.
“Nobody’s got time for that!”
With that said here are my top 3 landing page builders that will help you speed up the process so you can “flip that switch” and bring your funnel to life!”
- ClickFunnels – “This is my first choice when it comes to quickly getting up a landing page that you plan on building out into a full funnel by integrating with One Time Offers, Upsells, Downsells, Email Marketing Automation and more. Even though many people think of CF as only a “Funnel” building tool, the visual builder that is used to create the pages is pretty user-friendly and not as restrictive as some other builders that limit access and functionality control. With CF you have access to the header and footer code to add scripts such as a “Dynamic Keyword Insertion” script or “Dynamic Number Insertion” script from Call Rail. On top of all that, the marketplace has some great funnel templates that you can buy and start sending traffic to in minutes with only minimal customization required.”
- Leadpages – “I’d argue this is my second choice. You get a lot for what you pay and their lowest plan is quite affordable. I also really enjoy their user interface. It’s clean, simple and surprisingly fast. It has a ton of templates you can use and modify as you see fit, and some ability to integrate with 3rd party tools. The downside is it does have limited functionality and if you were looking to convert to a funnel at some point, it would be difficult. But for throwing up quick lead gen style pages that you can split test fast and for a good price, then try Leadpages.”
- Elementor + Google Optimize – “Elementor has been making waves as a visual builder, and it’s my favorite visual builder. It’s available for a very reasonable yearly fee, runs on everyone’s favorite CMS in WordPress and is constantly being improved upon. It has a good number of templates built in, the UI is great and the responsiveness is fast when making visual edits. What is missing is the ability to split test natively in the inside of the software like the other builders. That’s easily overcome with something like Google Optimize. Google Optimize is free, built and recommended by “Big G” itself. When these are combined they could be a solid 1-2 punch for your PPC campaigns.”
Looking for a game changing Landing page builder for your current project? Here are a few things that you maybe trying to accomplish with your LP:
- Conversion focused LP to convert PAID traffic
- You are looking to use this as a static web page and wish to earn traffic
- You are looking to put your first web page up and start learning the online world
This are the 3 main reasons that we are ripping around online routing through the gazillions of Page builders trying to make sense, yet the more you look the more you lose hope…I know!
- Unbounce – “Looking for a conversion monster then Unbounce is your best bet. Oli Gardner and his team have been ROI focused for over a decade. They understand conversion and assist in better conquest acquisition. Pros – Great pop ups, Templates and A/B testing.”
- WordPress – “You are looking to use this as a static web page and wish to earn traffic. This is where I see too many mistakes made! If you are looking for a page that will build authority and stand the test of time then page builders are not the way to go… Page builder = Wigetized Short code that translates into a web page that uses a drag and drop editor. These are not the best solution these days when it comes to crawl-ability. They actually drive Google nuts for the most part. Also the fact that you pay monthly makes this choice wrong for the “pay-as-you-go” page builder. If you want to rank, go with a modern CMS like WordPress… This way it may cost a bit up front yet you eliminate the monthly and you are in a better machine to compete in your space.”
- Wix – “If you are just looking to have fun and see something that you will be proud of then any type of Wix type will make you pull out less hair to get what you want. Just don’t invest to much in the marketing of these sites.”
“Which landing page builder is the best depends of course on what you intentions are.
How familiar are you with WordPress? Are you willing to scale a learning curve in order to save money? Do you already have a website?”
- ClickFunnels – “I would say in general if you need longer funnels that require multiple landing pages, integrated A/B split testing, scarcity count-down timers, webinars and all the bells and whistles at your disposal to maximize your conversions, then ClickFunnels is a good option because it will save you time. With probably the simplest UI and setup on the market, ClickFunnels makes it super easy to setup your funnels without too much fuss. However, starting at $97/month and with a very generous affiliate program (40% recurring commissions!), I am naturally skeptical of anyone who swears by them and think it is a bit overkill if you’re just running traffic to a couple of landing pages for a local business.”
- Leadpages – “If you don’t have your own website, Leadpages is a very easy-to-use alternative. It has a drag and drop editor, hosts your landing pages on its own servers, and handles delivery of digital collateral (e-books, pdf guides).. At their basic level you only pay $37/mo to get unlimited landing pages or you can pay $79/month to get their built-in A/B split tester, one-click list opt-ins and the ability for people to join your lists via text messages.”
- Thrive Architect – “My favorite, the WordPress plugin Thrive Architect is only $67 for lifetime updates + $19/month if you want premium features such as opt-in forms, A/B split testing, Scarcity/CTA’s, integration with all the email automation platforms and a buttload of conversion-focused themes for webinars, squeeze pages, sales pages, course and coming soon pages. Sure, you could just use a free tool like Google Optimize to conduct your split tests but the themes alone make it worth it.”
Regardless of your choice, there will be an initial learning phase to contend with before you get your bearings. If like myself you’re working in an agency-type environment and the business doesn’t already pay for a landing page service, you’ll want to take all of these factors into consideration to get the most possible value for your client’s money.
In any case, whether you’re creating a long-form sales page, setting up a webinar, or building your email list, you can’t go wrong with any of the above options.
Landing Page Builders… Love ’em or hate ’em, they have an essential place in the digital architecture of online marketing. Directing customers with specific needs, to bespoke landing pages highly improves all aspects of the web moment – from visual/brand perception, to time spent on page, right through to interaction rate and convertibility.
The following is a collection of landing page builders we feel stand out above the rest:
Instapage – “Instapage is speed. Speed saves money. Saving money makes money. Yes it is limited in its abilities from the box, but with a creative take on the content this is forgotten. The analytics reports are first class and we would recommend this as a good choice for beginners and middle weight users alike. There are some limitations on the entry level option, such as a/b testing, but this can be forgiven when you consider a page can be live in minutes with the templates provided.
A feature, however, it can’t be forgiven for missing is pop-ups… a necessary evil in the industry; the omission of this is a concern. Overall a great option if volume of pages, and speed are a major factor, but definitely worth spending extra for the higher tier packages if you’re a more experienced user with advanced requirements.”
Wishpond – “Speed does save money… but being cheaper means you never spend it in the first place. The cost of this package is greatly reduced from the other options considered here. Coupled with the fact you can have unlimited pages per subscription. It has all the basic automated marketing features and pop-ups, but lacks in the ability to customise the pages to the same detail as the other two options considered here. Though the editor is basic, it redeems itself by the fact it is more than just a page builder. It is also ideal for social contests & competitions amongst other things – A feature most other landing page builders simply don’t have.
No, its not a dedicated Landing page builder, but when you weigh up the cost and ability with the extra functions and growing network of users… it seems like a great deal for beginners and entry level users.”
Unbounce – “If what you are looking for is a great industry accepted landing page builder, with a/b testing options and a flexible editor, you won’t find a better product that covers these requirements. Reflecting this standard, is the price… being one of the most expensive solutions on the market today, though it reminds us of the old phrase “you get what you pay for”.
Unbounce involves spending a fair bit of time making yourself familiar with the interface, and to be blunt is really not the ideal solution for a beginner or basic user. All in all it still remains the go-to industry standard for this niche.”
To review, the landing page builders listed above are all capable and each is more weighted to a specific user type, marketing style & budget available.
However if you could only pick one, the industry still seems to direct you towards Unbounce. Though if you are a first time user taking this option, be prepared to face a steep learning curve before you can build real confidence with it.
Designing a brand new website, from scratch, is often suggested too easily without considering LP Builders, as typically a new site, re-design or adjusted navigation can, in many cases, solve the need for bespoke landing pages. We feel it’s important to weigh up the options, think ahead for the future, and ensure your decision is a cost effective one, whilst maintaining the integrity of the project/objection.
Unbounce, for us, is the leading and preferred choice when it comes to building high quality custom landing pages geared towards to interaction and quick conversions. At CornellStudios.com we take great pride in producing high quality, beautifully designed, landing pages & websites for clients all across the UK with a real emphasis on conversions.
“When it comes to converting paid media, I think Unbounce and Leadpages are the best tools.”
Unbounce – “I particularly like working with Unbounce as you can scale large campaigns by using Dynamic Text Replacement (DTR). This helps to personalise the content on the page which always boosts your Conversion Rate.
- Leadpages – “If you’re not very technical and want a tool which is easy to use then Leadpages is perfect. The drag and drop feature and range of templates make A/B testing painless.”
Unbounce – “We exclusively use Unbounce to build all of our landing pages and we’d happily recommend it to pretty much everybody. Our main reasons for using their platform are:
Ease of use – You can quickly and efficiently put together any kind of landing page you can imagine. Creating something great looking and functional using the options within the page builder is easy, and if you have a bit more technical know-how the possibilities with JS and CSS are literally endless!
Community & Support – There is an awesome community of Unbounce users, who work together to solve problems and figure out new ways of doing things in the platform. Ask for some feedback on a page you’ve built and you’ll always get loads of really positive and helpful advice. If your issue is account based, the Unbounce support team are always there to help, we’ve never had an issue they couldn’t solve.
A/B Testing – A must for any landing page set up, and the main reason we use Unbounce. Again, Unbounce provides for marketers of all levels, from simple ‘version A vs version B’ testing to ‘what exact percentage of my traffic would I like to go to variant F?’ testing – the capability is there.
We love Unbounce and recommend that you check it out!”
- Unbounce – “I’ve personally had great success with Unbounce, specifically with driving traffic from Google AdWords or Facebook Ads. Two benefits I almost instantly experienced were lower CPCs due to higher landing page relevancy and higher conversion rates. The higher relevancy increased my quality scores which directly affected my CPCs. And as for the conversion rates, I created tested multiple page variants, which enabled me to increase conversion rate over time. I would also recommend Unbounce for the following reasons: built for both DIY marketers and big brands, LP creation is incredibly nimble and quick, and the data you can acquire from A/B testing can drive real results. I will say I saw more success using Unbounce for lead gen than with e-commerce–it was much harder to build pages for e-commerce.”
- Instapage – “This platform is great for PPC marketers. It’s so much better when marketers can have control over the post-click experience which is exactly who Instapage is designed for. It’s the perfect balance between template-based LPs and custom LPs and almost anyone could build a page in 30 minutes or less. One of the coolest features is the dynamic content replacement because it customizes your page’s text and images based on the visitor! With such a personalized experience you’re bound to see an increase in conversion rates, which is why we’re doing all of this, amirite? If you’re building pages for clients I do recommend setting the expectation early that the pages are not 100% customizable and at the end of the day you are limited by what the software can do. This way you’re all on the “same page”–pun definitely intended.”
“Well designed, and conversion optimised landing pages are certainly essential for well executed PPC campaigns (or any marketing campaign for that matter).
The two landing page options we like are:”
- Unbounce – “Easy to use (maybe not as easy as they claim, but easy none the less). There are a few things that are really useful as an agency. Firstly, we can run our own landing pages on a sub-domain so no need to deal with or mess around with a client’s main website. Alternatively, they have a WordPress plugin to load the pages onto a site, which makes implementing them into many client sites very easy. Secondly, we can do split testing very easily. Recently Unbounce has been adding some great new features such as popups, sticky bars and AMP pages for improved page speed.”
- Beaver Builder – “In a former life, I used to be a WordPress Developer and run a web design company. I’ve seen WordPress go through many iterations and tested hundreds of plugins. Without a doubt, Beaver Builder is unparalleled for ease of use as a page builder, enabling you to create and edit landing pages of pretty much any design incredibly quickly. With features such as global rows to share and update certain parts of multiple pages all at the same time, it really is a dream to work with. Admittedly, it does mean you need at least some WordPress competence to get it up and running. Also, it lacks the split testing features of Unbounce and you’ll need another form plugin to capture leads, but really you can build a very capable, easy to use and cheaper landing page solution for your site (and your whole site) if you go this route.”
- ClickFunnels – “Overall I’d recommend ClickFunnels. There is a reason they’re the biggest and most ubiquitously known landing page builder; it’s because they’re the best. Russell and his team know what they’re doing and know what’s going on with regards to online marketing and all its facets, and the software really shows it. Simplicity is one of the first things that comes to mind with this software for me, being able to understand how to use the platform from the get-go is a plus with their drag and drop builder, ready to use templates, and tons of tutorials on how to integrate any possible third party software are reminiscent of using an iPhone for the first time where everything sort of “just made sense”. Another big plus is the ability to split test in real time all variations of pages and entire pages themselves, so you always know what’s working best. The downside of ClickFunnels is it’s pricing, with the cheapest plan costing $97 per month; however you can get a 14 day free trial on its site or from everyone promoting their affiliate link. Consider using ClickFunnels if you have a nuanced funnel to setup as you can go really in depth with this software using upsells and shopping carts and more, rather than just the need for a landing page/optin page to be followed by a basic thank you page. Bonus points for having GDPR ready features for anyone operating in the UK and everywhere else sooner or later. ”
- Elementor – “Next, if you’re on a budget and looking for a free software, I’d recommend using Elementor (if you’re using WordPress). Offering a lot of the same features as companies like ClickFunnels, like pre-designed templates to give your page a professional appearance and drag and drop editor. Some caveats I will include is I have found it can fall short when it comes to support. It can occasionally get finicky with other WordPress plugins, and I’ve had problems before trying to alter tags for SEO purposes. Elementor is a great software if you’re trying to save your pennies, just know you might run into problems here and there.”
- Leadpages – “I would be remiss in not at least mentioning Leadpages in this article. This software comes in a lower price than ClickFunnels at $25 a month, while retaining a lot of the same features, which will satisfy many of the needs of marketers reading this article. With tons of templates that are easy to build and modify, mobile responsiveness, payment processors, webinar integrations, and marketing automations, Leadpages an easy choice for many looking for an in-between.”
All three page builders below will allow you to build:
- Landing Pages
- Squeeze Pages
- Sales Pages
- Video Sales Pages
- Checkout Pages
- Thank You Pages
…plus a lot more too.
ClickFunnels – “ClickFunnels is a great place to start. It has some great points and some not so great points, so, here we go…
Firstly it is really good for beginners. If you have never built a Landing page then ClickFunnels could be the perfect place to start. It has a drag and drop set up that allows you to easily (once you’ve got the hang of it) build a page within a few minutes. You can set up split tests really easily and setting up the flow of your funnel is easy too. You can integrate a lot of other platforms with ClickFunnels and so pretty much any autoresponder you use is there, so you can gather your list quickly and easily. It is a basic system that does work and the biggest selling point for me is the additional training on offer (at a price) from the marketing master Russell Brunson who owns the platform. It has a 14 day free trial and if you go for the lowest cost set-up ($97 per month) then you get the page builder and that’s about it, but if you go the extra mile ($297 per month) then you get an inbuilt (albeit limited usability) email autoresponder and an affiliate platform all built into your account.
Now the downsides. Although ClickFunnels has a huge following, it is mainly down to the marketing skills of Russell and his team. The platform is quite restrictive when wanting to build the page exactly how you want. Although it has templates for you use and get you going, you do need to pay for the top performing ones.
The biggest issues for me though are the number of glitches in the software. Sometimes things don’t save when you want them to. Sometimes the system goes down and the worst thing is the page load time. It. Is. Slow! Which let’s be honest, is a pretty important thing when running traffic to a Landing Page. The other thing is that if you’re looking for a platform with great customer support, look elsewhere.”
- Convertri – “Convertri is my go-to place for building Landing Pages and is the brain child of the genius Andrew Fletcher.
Why is this you may ask and what is Convertri?! Well, Convertri is a page builder very similar in a lot of ways to Clickfunnels and all the rest, however, it does have amazing plus points.
Firstly, as a platform, it is so flexible that sometimes, especially if you are not used to building pages it can be a little too clever in that you can place anything you want, anywhere on the page, a bit like Photoshop. For me, this is great and allows me to build amazing looking, clean pages that convert. Talking of clean pages I once had a client that wanted me to duplicate everything she had in Clickfunnels and build it in Convertri too. Purely by accident, I ended up at some point with both pages together next to each other on one screen and the difference in clarity was astounding! Convertri just looked clearer, crisper, less fuzzy, nicer somehow. It does have it’s annoying bits like the way you add something new on the page, and when you go into mobile view it is all the way at the bottom of the page and you have to shuffle things about a bit. It does not put it in the perfect mobile friendly state, so you have to mess about with that and split testing is not as easy…
But, and this is a massive but, it is quite simply the fastest loading page builder on the planet. End of. It is so fast I couldn’t believe it when I first saw it. Also, it has never, EVER had any downtime at all. None of the others can say this. It is also well priced beating the others with cheaper monthly costs.
Convertri also has a 14-day free trial and then has three price ranges. Standard $53 per month, Pro $58 per month and Agency $166 per month. Customer support is amazing and for the sake of taking a little bit of extra time getting to grips with building pages in it, Convertri is the one I would recommend.”
Kartra – “Kartra is an all-in-one platform and is brought to you by Andy Jenkins and Mike Filsaime of Webinarjam and Everwebinar, and Frank Kern.
As an all in one platform, you can imagine that it does basically everything you need to build out any marketing funnel you can think off. It does email campaigns, it builds pages and funnels, it hosts videos, gives you the ability to have a helpdesk for your funnel and does everything you want to complete the customer journey in one place. But what about the page builder?
Well, you can choose from a lot of templates again and it is a drag and drop platform again. However with Kartra. although the pages look really good, it is not the most intuitive page builder. Once you get the hang of it it is very good and the pages do look great but I thought it had a steep learning curve.
Some of the best bits about it are that it has a lot of functionality that the others simply don’t have such as animations for certain components and very pretty sections that you just don’t get with other platforms. The bottom line is that you can build extremely good looking pages with Kartra if you have the time to learn everything the page builder has to offer. Couple this with the other integral parts of the platform and it is easy to put together pages and tags and triggers that build up a well working funnel.
It has had some bugs though and although I haven’t experienced any major problems myself, I do know people that have.
Kartra pricing starts with a $1 for a 14-day trial and then the packages range from Starter at $89 per month to Diamond at $699 per month. Although this might seem a lot, if you add up all the costs of email autoresponders, video hosting, helpdesks and everything else that Kartra has, then it’s not bad at all.”
“It used to be just a few years ago that page builders were absolutely frowned upon by all developers due to the bloated code and scripts slowing down a website and even breaking other functions. Divi and WP Bakery, formerly known as Visual Composer, were notorious for this. Then came higher-heralded builders such as Beaver Builder, Elementor, being lightweight and much more functional. Now even WordPress itself has a page builder built-in with the Gutenberg editor.”
The widgets you can put into blocks on Elementor and WP Bakery number greater than Gutenberg. However, with Gutenberg block plugins and WordPress bringing them into their own separate repository, that part of the gap may close. One of my favorite things about the Elementor builder is the Google Maps block – with this one all you’ve got to do is type in the name of a place and it gets it correct, no need for iFrame code, address or anything else and shows the exact business.”
- WordPress – “WordPress is obviously much more than just a landing page builder. However, it’s still what we use for most clients because of its ultimate flexibility. The reason you want a landing page is to drive leads or sales, and doing that *well* requires precise visitor tracking and conversion tracking (forms, phone calls, chats, etc.), especially if you’re paying for that traffic, such as through Google Ads. We’ve run into so many problems in the past with various dedicated landing page builder sites not being able to accommodate full visitor and conversion tracking that we’d rather just stick with what works. WordPress always works. In addition, if the client’s site is already built on WordPress (and most are), then this approach leads to landing pages that are fully integrated into the website from the get-go, and that are maintainable through the same interface, without any additional work.”
- Unbounce – “If WordPress isn’t on the cards for some reason, or if you need certain special landing page features, then Unbounce likely has the solution. When using Google Ads, for example, one great feature of Unbounce is the ability to dynamically change certain keyword text on the page depending on which keyword triggers an ad. This can help increase landing page relevance both for the visitor and for Google, which can result in higher Google Ads quality scores. One big downside of Unbounce, and of most landing page builders, is that if you decide you’d like to integrate the landing page into your website platform later there’s extra work required, and sometimes it can be extensive.”
- Unbounce – “I think most web designers know about Unbounce. They have amazing templates, along with plenty of features and tools. The editing tools specifically are probably the best out there. I have recommended Unbounce many times in the past couple of years. It’s not very cheap though, so beginners might want to look elsewhere.”
- Leadpages – “Leadpages is probably the best solution for the money. The starting price is low and the features are still rich. They have a great editor, but certain customizations and templates are not always free. For $25 a month, you can have one of the best drag and drop landing page builders on the market.”
- Instapage – “Instapage is my favorite landing page builder of 2019. Although it’s not as cheap as Leadpages or as robust as Unbounce, this is the best choice for beginners and experts alike. The build process is lightning-fast, and the editor is very easy to use. I also like Instapage templates the most, and they have over 100 of them included in the monthly price.”
- Unbounce – “Arguably a household name when it comes to landing page builders, Unbounce features a user-friendly, point-and-click/drag-and-drop page builder. I think Unbounce is the oldest, original landing page builder. The platform supports split-testing, 100+ integrations, AMP, and more. It doesn’t necessarily have a steep learning curve, but I would say it is an advanced tool and not really for beginners. Unbounce also stresses conversions – the whole point of landing pages – rather than simply just building an attractive page. Perhaps most notably, all these great features come at a cost, as Unbounce is probably the most expensive option in this space, especially if you’re creating a large amount of landing pages or needing sub-accounts. Unbounce is likely more suitable for larger agencies and organizations. Ironically, Unbounce’s entry-level plan is $99/month if you choose monthly billing, but it does not include some crucial features and integrations you’d probably want like AMP, client sub-accounts, Marketo and Salesforce integrations, and more. Their next step up is $199/month if billed monthly or $159/month if billed annually.”
- Instapage – “Instapage would be my second choice, a slight step down from Unbounce. As its name implies, Instapage offers speedy landing page building. Like Unbounce, is has a drag-and-drop builder; it is not quite as robust as Unbounce, but is making leaps and bounds with constant additions and improvements. There’s little to no learning curve for Instapage. Again, it is not as robust or customizable as Unbounce, so naturally it is slightly cheaper. It has about 40 integrations compared to Unbounce’s 100. Be sure to check each for which specific integrations you need. At the time of writing, their “Core” plan is $129/month for monthly billing, $30 more than Unbounce. The price drops to $99/month if you choose annual billing. I would argue Instapage is suitable for both beginners and experts alike, depending on which plan you opt for, particularly individual bloggers and small businesses looking to get some sleek landing pages up in the shortest amount of time.”
Convertri is an incredible page builder for landing pages and sales funnels. It has even built in e-commerce features so it can accept payments directly.
But it excels in two features over almost any competitor out there:
- It is incredibly fast.
- It is optimized for mobile.
We all know what happens when a site takes too long to load or if it is not optimized for viewing on a smartphone. The visitors drop off and the page gets penalized by Google.
The infrastructure and the code that Convertri uses is incredibly fast. Its speed is on par with the biggest e-commerce sites. This is fantastic for conversions, particularly on mobile where every millisecond counts.
These are the results of one of our landing pages. There was no optimization done whatsoever:
Convertri also has hundreds of amazing templates to choose from. This makes things easier when starting out with the website design.
I can recommend Convertri for digital marketers and small/medium companies for building their landing pages. Convertri is also suited to digital agencies that create sales funnels for clients. With Convertri there is no need to get involved in the hassle of hosting and optimizing websites for speed, nor looking after the security.
What Convertri is not ideal for:
- It would be cumbersome to build multi-page websites with Convertri.
- There is no automated menu system with dynamic menus and dropdowns.”
Leadpages – “There are so many options out there when it comes to landing pages, but I now only use and recommend LeadPages.net to my clients.
I am not one for over complicating the issue, so I love how easy Leadpages is to use. Everything is customisable, and it will even pull in the brand colours from your website, so you don’t have to worry about finding hex codes etc.
As a Facebook ads strategist, it’s really important that I can track what’s happening on my landing pages, so being able to add the Facebook pixel is key for me. Leadpages makes it really simple to do that so I can track website visitors and create custom conversions for my ad campaigns.
The ability to add integrations such as Stripe and Zapier is also really important for my clients and Leadpages offers plenty of choice.”
- Unbounce – “Unbounce is probably the most popular landing page builder on the market. It requires little to no coding experience, integration with 3rd party tools (like Google Analytics) very easily, and allows for a/b testing. AMP pages are also available, which shows Unbounce is keeping up with modern best practices. In the past, Unbounce may not have had many templates, but now they’ve expanded to a few dozen, which should be plenty for most teams’ needs. And, the platform is super affordable – you can’t go wrong by starting out with Unbounce!”
- Instapage – “We’ve been so happy with Unbounce, we haven’t explored many other options. One that’s on our radar, though, is Instapage.com. This platform is more enterprise compared to Unbounce, for those who need these features, particularly website user personalization. This may work instead of a tool like HubSpot’s or Marketo’s landing page builder for b2b advertisers, and could also replace the need for Optimizely for all advertisers.”
- Divi Builder – “In my opinion, Divi Builder is the absolute best landing page builder bar-none. Divi gives you the functionality of all other page builders but also allows you to use it to build a beautiful website. With Divi, the possibilities are endless. You can setup funnels, you can build beautiful websites, and you can do so much more! The best part about this? You can do all of this without writing a single line of code. What also separates Divi from the competition is that, when you purchase Divi for WordPress, you don’t have to pay for it on a month by month basis. There’s also lots of plugins that you can integrate Divi with that further enhances the experience you get with it.”
“Some honorable mentions are also: Unbounce and Leadpages. I’m so amazed by Divi though and recommend that everyone use it!”
- Unbounce – “I would recommend only one landing page builder: Unbounce. Unbounce allows you to quickly and easily set up attractive landing pages. The landing pages have in-built A/B testing functionality, are extremely fast loading, and most importantly – they’re very effective at converting visitors into prospective customers!”
“When it comes to lead generation, your landing page is one of the most important components. In my opinion, custom coding is the best option because you have no restrictions. Building landing pages in this manner requires design and development experience, as well as a deep understanding of conversion rate optimization (CRO) best practice. You can/should pair this landing page with CRO platforms such as Visual Website Optimizer, Optimizely, or Google Optimize to run many different tests including, heatmaps, recordings, A/B tests, and multi-variant tests. If you have the resources and traffic volume to combine a custom landing page, as well as CRO this would be my first option.
With that said, many business owners and marketers will not have the time, expertise, or resources to run a custom campaign like this. If that’s you, don’t worry about it. There are many easy to use landing page builders that can/should be used in lead generation. These ‘out of the box’ builders are perfect for those who want to begin their campaigns quickly without having to spend additional time and resources on a custom landing page. Most landing page builders include a drag and drop editor (WYSIWYG) and even come with templates which already incorporate CRO best practice. They are fairly simple to set up on your domain or subdomain and can even connect with common content management systems like WordPress.”
- Unbounce – “My favorite is Unbounce.com for many reasons, but primarily because they are one of the most mature having been in business since 2009 and because they have been doing this for so long, you reap the benefits of their intuitive software, 100+ conversion-focused templates, built in integrations, and the ability to split test variations (among many other things).”
- Unbounce – “As an ad agency, we use Unbounce for all of our landing pages. It is best for groups that run ads on Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and other advertising networks. It allows you to split test landing page variants. It is not ideal if you need navigation on your pages, which is why it is preferred for paid ads only. It can be a little pricey.”
- Leadpages – “If you are an information marketer, coach, consultant, or like linear funnels that get people to incrementally purchase products from you, Lead Pages is for you. It is similar to Unbounce, but tends to be used more by people who do a lot of email or affiliate marketing, as opposed to PPC.”
- WordPress – “If you need landing pages, but you want to preserve your existing website structure, we recommend just using WordPress. You may need to use a theme that is very simple or even install a separate WordPress instance under a sub-directory or sub-domain, but for a lot of people WordPress works fine, and it’s free.”
- Mailchimp’s Landing Page Builder – “If you don’t need to feed your contacts into CRMs or other systems this could be just the beautifully simple, capable landing page builder you’ve been looking for. It has only been out for a couple years, but is an option that should not be overlooked. A free landing page builder coupled with free email automation tools (and free base Mailchimp account even) make this a very powerful platform. MailChimp will also host it for free on an https://mailchi.mp/custom-slug url. Their landing page builder is similar to their email builder and comes naturally. If you want to host it on your own domain you’ll need to fork out $99 / year, which is still a fraction of what most other builders cost. If nothing else, this is a great medium to get your feet wet in email collection and email automation. Learn what you can and expand to a more robust solution if needs be!”
- Leadpages – “Leadpages is an inexpensive option, with monthly plans starting at just $17 per month. This is with a 2-year plan. They also have annual plans and monthly. You can try it for free for 14 days and it has many, if not more, of the same tools, integrations of other landing page builders that cost 5x as much (or more!). Want to run A/B tests on your landing pages? You’re in luck, it’s included. Want to use a pop-up or sticky/announcement banner across the top of your page? Also included. If you need integrations that free landing page builders don’t offer, this is the next option to try.”
- Unbounce – “It seems that every marketer out there has at least heard of Unbounce, if not used it extensively. They are one of the pioneers of standalone landing page builders and have templates that are tried and true many thousand times over. Their robust set of integrations and tools make this one of the best solutions. Paid annually, you can get started for $79 and even run A/B tests. The drag and drop builder is intuitive and quick. They offer a free 14-day trial to see if you’d be interested in continuing. If you want AMP functionality, you’ll have to update to the middle plan which is $159 per month on annual plans.”
When it comes to landing page builders you can either find yourself saving time or ADDING a stack of time if you head down the wrong path. I have 2 favourites.
- ClickFunnels – “If you are looking for do-it-for-you environment you can’t go past clickfunnels.com. The biggest benefit to this service is in its name; it’s not just about the landing page, but about the funnel BEHIND the landing page that will get you most bang for your buck. It’s pretty easy to use (drag and drop) and you can integrate with your favourite email list building tools.”
- Thrive Architect – “My other favourite go-to is Thrive Theme’s Thrive Architect. It is a plugin for WordPress that enables you to transform any theme into a landing page that does EXACTLY what you want it to. Use their templates or design your own, Thrive also have list building tools and conversion elements you can make use of. What I love is that Thrive Architect works seamlessly in the WordPress environment and so can be used with very little additional ongoing cost.”
“There are lots of great landing page builders on the market, but I only like to use ones with ease of use, that provide templates, and have no monthly recurring payment.
The two landing page builders I use every day are:”
- Thrive Architect – “This landing page builder is great because they provide you with enough templates so you don’t need to start from scratch and enough flexibility to create a gorgeous landing page or funnel that converts. Also, it is just a one time fee and then if you want support you can pay for it yearly.”
- Elementor – “If you want free, then I would start with Elementor and use their templates. I don’t think it is as easy to use as Thrive Architect, but is a perfect solution for someone just starting out that wants to build one or a couple of landing pages. They offer front end design so you can see exactly what you are changing as you do it.”
“Either of these options is great so check them out and just get started.”
- Unbounce – “I’m a big fan of the tool Unbounce. The user interface is clean and easy to navigate. The ability to run concurrent experiments really helps improve conversion rates significantly and as quickly as possible. Two thumbs up!”
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no added cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
In the world we live in, a business without a website is like a car without wheels…it’s not going anywhere! Your website provides you with a way to connect with potential clients and convince them that your products or services are just what they need.
If you’re at the point where you’re putting together a website for your company, you’ll no doubt be aware of the importance of choosing the right web hosting provider. The only trouble is, there are literally hundreds all vying for your business. So just how do you pick one over all the others and make sure your website is built upon solid foundations?
We wanted to try and make this decision a little easier for you, so you can spend less time trawling the web and more time running your business. And we did this by reaching out to nearly 100 people that deal with web hosting each and every day…professional web design and development experts. We quizzed each of them about their recommendations for the best web hosting for small business. Each expert was allowed to name up to 3 hosts they think are a good fit.
This article is the result of those conversations, and we’re going to show you which small business web hosting services came out on top, as well as what the experts had to say on the matter. So whether you’re creating your business’s first ever website or your current web host has been a let-down and you’re looking to change provider, the advice on this page should help you to figure out where to start looking.
***Who knew that definitions for “small business” vary so wildly?! For the purpose of this article we defined a small business as “any business that has an annual turnover of $0 – $1.5 million and 1-25 employees.”
Top Small Business Web Hosting Solutions: How Our Experts Voted
|Hosting Provider||# of Votes|
|#1. SiteGround <-- get up to 75% off with this link!||31 Votes|
|#2. WP Engine <-- get 5 months FREE with this link!||24 Votes|
|#3. Flywheel <-- get up to 40% off with this link!||14 Votes|
|#4. GoDaddy||11 Votes|
|#=5. HostGator <-- get up to 70% off with this link!||9 Votes|
|#=5. Bluehost <-- get up to 60% off with this link!||9 Votes|
|#6. DigitalOcean||7 Votes|
|#7. 20i||6 Votes|
|#=8. Amazon Web Services||5 Votes|
|#=8. Cloudways <-- get up to 40% off with this link!||5 Votes|
|#=9. A2 Hosting||4 Votes|
|#=9. Liquid Web||4 Votes|
|#=9. Heart Internet||4 Votes|
|#=10. tsoHost||3 Votes|
|#=10. InMotion Hosting||3 Votes|
|#=10. Pantheon||3 Votes|
|#=10. Rackspace||3 Votes|
|#=11. CloudAccess.net||2 Votes|
|#=11. DreamHost||2 Votes|
|#=11. UKFast||2 Votes|
|#=11. WPX Hosting||2 Votes|
|#=11. 1 & 1 IONOS||2 Votes|
|#=11. WiserHosting||2 Votes|
|#=11. 34SP.com||2 Votes|
|#=11. KnownHost||2 Votes|
|#=11. Vultr||2 Votes|
|#=11. Fasthosts||2 Votes|
|#=11. Kinsta||2 Votes|
|#=12. Big Time Host||1 Vote|
|#=12. VersionPress||1 Vote|
|#=12. Google Sites||1 Vote|
|#=12. HostDime||1 Vote|
|#=12. NameHero||1 Vote|
|#=12. Hostek||1 Vote|
|#=12. Raid Host||1 Vote|
|#=12. NameCheap||1 Vote|
|#=12. FastComet||1 Vote|
|#=12. Nimbus Hosting||1 Vote|
|#=12. catalyst2||1 Vote|
|#=12. Digital River||1 Vote|
|#=12. UK2||1 Vote|
|#=12. zenbox||1 Vote|
|#=12. Blacknight||1 Vote|
|#=12. domainname||1 Vote|
|#=12. GreenGeeks||1 Vote|
|#=12. HostPapa||1 Vote|
|#=12. Media Temple||1 Vote|
|#=12. TMDHosting||1 Vote|
|#=12. Datacentreplus||1 Vote|
|#=12. Krystal||1 Vote|
|#=12. Unlimited Web Hosting||1 Vote|
|#=12. Microsoft Azure||1 Vote|
|#=12. Anchor Hosting||1 Vote|
|#=12. Infomaniak||1 Vote|
|#=12. OVH||1 Vote|
|#=12. Smart Hosting||1 Vote|
|#=12. Atrema Technologies||1 Vote|
|#=12. Wirehive||1 Vote|
What did we say about their being a ton of small business website hosting options to choose from?! There were 58 different hosts mentioned in total by the web design and development experts we surveyed, but if you check out the table above, you’ll notice that just a handful got a majority of the votes. And it’s this small group that we’re going to focus on in this quick summary.
SiteGround was the clear winner, and as an all-round package it would appear to offer everything most small businesses would want in a hosting provider, all for a very attractive price. Fast, reliable servers, coupled with solid security features (free backups, malware scans, updates, SSL certificates), and quality live support (24/7 – primarily via live chat) if you do run into any problems – SiteGround does a lot of the heavy lifting for you. And if like many small businesses, you’re on a budget, but want to make your money go as far as it can, then you won’t go far wrong with the packages offered by SiteGround, with many of our experts saying that they offer the best price-quality ratio they’ve come across.
Beyond SiteGround, two dedicated WordPress hosting services came very highly recommended, in WP Engine and Flywheel. As these hosting providers focus solely on hosting WordPress sites, this has allowed them to really optimize the performance (so expect very good page load speed) of websites built using this platform, which is great for your visitors and, in turn, for SEO. The overall consensus we got from conversations with our experts is that WP Engine is the slightly more heavy hitting of the two (particularly at entry level), and while the base plans are more expensive, you get a lot for your money, with dev/staging environments included, automatic backups, CDN, free restores if you get hacked and premium quality support (WordPress experts available 24/7 over the phone!).
Flywheel is still top drawer though, and entry level plans are quite a bit cheaper than WP Engine’s, so if you want that next-level performance, but need to keep your hosting bill as trim as possible, this is the option you should check out.
If price is your main criteria and you’re on the lookout for affordable web hosting for small business, then GoDaddy, HostGator and Bluehost are some solid options worth checking out. All were recommended by a good number of the experts we asked, and all offer extremely cheap starter plans (less than $3/month if you commit to a longer period). They aren’t likely to match the performance of the hosts we’ve already discussed (at least not on their shared hosting plans), but they offer a trouble free route to getting your business’s website online, without significant expense, which is the important thing.
Rounding out this summary of the results are a couple of powerful options for the more technically able small business owner- DigitalOcean & Amazon Web Services. These options will require you to “get your hands dirty” but they are extremely customizable. Probably overkill for a lot of small businesses, but if you need hosting with significant firepower and virtually endless possibilities, they are worth a closer look.
1) If you have a small to mid-size website and don’t want to pay the big bucks, but still need a package that offers all round solid performance (speed, reliability, security), coupled with decent live support any time you need it, then this really is a great option:
2) If you’re running a more complex website and it’s built on WordPress and you need next-level performance in terms of page speed, security features and hosting support, then check out these options:
3) If you just want to put up a fairly basic website, aren’t bothered about having “best in class” features, and affordability is a priority, then try one of these:
4) If you’re a bit more tech savvy or have a developer on staff, are prepared to be more “hands on” with your web hosting, and need a more flexible, powerful hosting solution that is also affordable, these options may be worth a look:
Read What The Experts Said
Below we’ve posted exactly what each expert had to say when we asked them for their recommendations on the best website hosting for small business. You can check the hosts they nominated, plus why they like these hosting companies. There’s also a whole lot of hints and tips to keep in mind when choosing hosting for your website sprinkled in there too!
And if you’re interested in reading what was said about a specific provider, just use the filters below to quickly jump to them.
- 1 & 1 IONOS
- A2 Hosting
- Amazon Web Services
- Anchor Hosting
- Atrema Technologies
- Big Time Host
- Digital River
- Google Sites
- Heart Internet
- InMotion Hosting
- Liquid Web
- Media Temple
- Microsoft Azure
- Nimbus Hosting
- Raid Host
- Smart Hosting
- Unlimited Web Hosting
- WP Engine
- WPX Hosting
“I’ve utilized dozens of hosting platforms over the years, and worked within many more on host providers that our clients use.”
- Bluehost – “Bluehost is at the top of the list because they have what a good host should have: experience, little/no downtime, a variety of affordable packages, free SSL, Cpanel, and solid support. The free SSL is a big one.”
- Flywheel – “The second host I would recommend, and this is for WordPress only, is Flywheel. It is by far the best host for a WordPress site because it includes CDN capability, automated daily backups, and staging site support. They’ll also migrate your site for free!”
InMotion Hosting – “My company, Sneaker, has been using InMotion hosting since the 4th quarter of 2013, which is unbelievable. Since 2000, we’ve been through many hosting companies to finally arrive at a company that manages their growth and administrates their servers with consistent excellence. We have tried just about every major hosting company, or at least the top 20, in that time frame.
A pattern we always see is that a hosting company starts off with super fast hosting, great support, good internal organization and a lot of enthusiasm. In our world, IT and web companies talk and word of mouth gets these start-up web hosting companies off the ground. Then the hosting company will experience tremendous growth at about 1.5 yrs to 2 yrs after their glorious introduction. That’s when the majority of them take the dive, because they can’t handle the growth. They hire server admins that they shouldn’t have hired, and things get messy. Things don’t work the same anymore. Servers are filled with too many websites.
But InMotion is not that kind of company. They have some internal business goals that have kept them on track. They work with me on my hosting pricing. They help us with Unix/Linux migrations from other hosting companies to their hosting, and their support has worked through every issue we’ve had since we started in 2013. The issues have been rare. We have a Dedicated Server on InMotion, and it’s been very solid, and we run a VPS server at InMotion. We were running 2 VPS accounts, but one of the servers was having some issues. The other one has been steady since we started using it in about 2016. We can perform automated backups through WHM, we have access to SSH to move files quickly within the InMotion network, we can secure access to server and hosting administration with white and black listing of IP’s and subnet masks, etc.”
GoDaddy – “We have a lot of clients on Godaddy. I would recommend getting on a VPS plan. GoDaddy seems to be fairly consistent. The shared hosting plans are sufficient for companies that are just starting out with basic websites and few visitors, but not recommended if you really want your business to be taken seriously. If you go beyond a few visitors and a 10 page site with static content, you need to step up your game and get on a VPS, because at that level, you have a lot more flexibility. It will end up paying for itself if you’ve got a web development company that’s trying access things like the php.ini, or the database. Adminstering websites can be a lot easier through cPanel, with root level access, on a hosting plan that offers SSH and allows php settings to be adjusted. A step further is having control over your versions of PHP and MySQL. If you’re website has a user base, or ecommerce, then you’re probably going to need all of this stuff.
The good thing about GoDaddy is that they’ve been a big company for a long time, so their infrastructure has already been through the trials that smaller hosting companies experience when everyone abandons their web host to migrate to the latest and greatest new hosting company. GoDaddy’s way beyond that. Their support is easily accessible. They will be here tomorrow and the next day. There isn’t a day that goes by that we’re not doing something on Godaddy, and in general, things are easy to do there.”
- Bluehost – “We have a few clients on BlueHost. We’ve never had problems with them. As usual, if you’re on a shared hosting plan, performance, access to hosting management tools, and access to adjust server settings can all be issues. That’s across the board, happening with any shared plan on any hosting company, for the most part. It doesn’t matter what hosting company you’re on, if they are one of the top 20, in general, their shared hosting is going to be slower than VPS or Dedicated, hence the pricing structure. I don’t recommend shared hosting for any serious business. Bluehost has been a pretty solid solution for our clients that have sites hosted by them. We haven’t had any issues with them in the last 3 years.”
- 34SP – “My number one choice would be 34SP.com, a UK Hosting provider based in Manchester. They are not the cheapest, but the service they provide is top notch and value for money. They offer specialist WordPress hosting on fast servers and will make regular platform updates automatically taking away the worry about security. Backups and a secure certificate (a necessity these days) are included. If you want to make changes to your site, you have a staging area where you can test and experiment on a copy before going live. When switching, they will migrate your site over for you and you can talk through setting up your email with a friendly member of staff.”
- SiteGround – “If you have less budget or if you want to host more than one site, then I recommend SiteGround. They offer similar features on their packages, although they don’t have the staging facility. When needing support you can speak to someone on the phone but often ‘chat’ is faster.”
- Datacentreplus – “Naturally web-hosting is a technical subject, and as such is rather a daunting prospect for many small businesses. The reason we like to work with DataCentrePlus is that they clearly understand this position, with great straight-talking support; so-much-so in fact that we have total confidence in them handling client issues, therefore we don’t need to get involved in hosting issues at all, letting the experts do their jobs.”
- Krystal – “If it’s affordable, simple hosting you’re after – which many start-ups and small businesses are – then Krystal do a great job. UK-based and perfectly reliable, and they’ll help with things like email setup, SSL certificate installation and WordPress optimisation.”
- Flywheel – “My top recommendation for website hosting for small businesses would be Flywheel (www.getflywheel.com). Flywheel offers high-quality managed WordPress hosting. My experience has been that Flywheel is easy to use, reliable, has a good feature set, and is backed by a high-quality support team. You might pay a bit more than some other companies, but I feel it’s worth every penny. Features like staging for site redesigns, easy SSL certificates, managed WP updates, etc. are very useful. I will say from time to time the interface has been slightly buggy, but that’s to be expected with any web interface and it’s always been quickly remedied. For small businesses looking for a WordPress host, I would start your search with Flywheel.”
- SiteGround – “Amazing customer support, very reliable. SiteGround has a monthly limit for visitors, so if people build high traffic sites, they might be better looking at WPX. For local businesses, SiteGround is a great option.”
- WPX Hosting – “WPX is probably my number #1 choice with great customer service and no traffic limit.”
- DigitalOcean – “Buy a $10 per month VPS and host your site on it. It’s more technical to setup and people need to understand what they are doing. You will have to do most of the things on your own by using this option.”
- Fasthosts – “As a small business owner, the importance of reliability and flexibility cannot be overstated. This is the reason we recommend Fasthosts to all our potential web clients. I have been using their different packages for over 10 years. Their customer support is second to none. I have spent many hours on calls with their dedicated support team, but never longer than 5 minutes in a queue. They offer great, low price packages perfect for service based businesses requiring a simple, static website right up to dedicated servers capable of supporting multiple sites and large ecommerce stores. They also offer a great, cloud solution for businesses who experience fluctuations in traffic due to seasonal shopping, events or other factors. You can easily adjust the memory and disk space to accommodate the extra traffic and reduce it back down after with no need to pay for a larger package all the time.”
- SiteGround – “If you are using, or planning to use, WordPress or WooCommerce for your website then you should be looking at SiteGround. Recommended by WordPress themselves, they offer three great value, managed hosting solutions. All three include an automated WordPress installer and setup to help you get up and running faster or if you already have a site, you can make use of their free migration plugin. We once had an issue with the plugin; the site we were working on was very large, and they manually transferred the site for us. The primary benefit of their managed hosting is that they automatically take care of the security and updates of your site for you at server level. Knowing your site is secure is a massive stress reliever for any small business.”
“If you are a startup or small business, price will always be a concern when looking for web hosting services, but it shouldn’t be your only concern. Looking for a host company can be very confusing when you don’t know what to look for in a provider. Some hosting providers may have some of the best marketing out there to get your business, but they aren’t always the best option. On a typical monthly subscription, pricing plans can be as low as single figures or reach as high as triple digits, depending on the hosting plan you need.
The 3 most important factors you should consider when choosing a host company are speed (how long it takes a site to load), uptime (needs to be at least 99.94%), and customer support.
Two great host companies are:”
A2 provides a few helpful, preventative measures to keep hackers out of your site with HackScan; a free service that includes virus scanning, 24/7 security monitoring, and a brute force defense.
A2 Hosting offer very fast, high performance web hosting services suitable for websites of all sizes.
On average, A2 Hosting’s prices are slightly higher than what you’ll find from other companies, they come in around the middle of the pack, but worth it because they offer good value for your money and have package plans that work with your budget.”
SiteGround takes pride in their customer support; their knowledgeable support staff is available 24/7/365.
All SiteGround servers are highly optimized for speed and are super-fast.
Worried about getting hacked? (it happens all the time) Another great feature, SiteGround sets all of your websites to auto-update so that you no longer have to worry about installing the latest patches or software updates.
SiteGround’s pricing is also a bit more than the average, but well worth the price. The best pricing you receive is when you first sign up, so sign up for the 3 year plan. However, with no hidden fees, the price is actually significantly less than companies like GoDaddy.”
When it comes to hosting providers A2 Hosting and SiteGround are 2 of the best companies; they both have blazing fast hosting with amazing uptime and great support.
“There are literally hundreds of web hosting providers nowadays. So much so that it can be daunting to figure out how to even begin to choose the “right” one.
It is often a good idea to ask yourself what kind of website you are hoping to have. Is it going to be on WordPress? Is it going to use a specific language (I use a lot of PHP for example); you need to make the sure that the host you are going to use can support your preferred method of building a website. Not all web hosts support all coding languages.”
500 MB Disk Space
20 GB Monthly Bandwidth
10 Mailboxes POP3/IMAP
10 MySQL Databases
5 FTP Users
This would be more than enough for a first website and can be upgraded fairly easily if the need arises. Questions and support are answered promptly. Downtime is virtually non-existent; it has happened once in the last 7 years U+I have been using them, and this only lasted 4 hours.
The downside to this web plodder is that you do need to be able to code. The file and folders you create need to be in a computing language (at the very least HTML); if you are not a coder and want to build your own website, this is not the web host for you.”
The downside is that the website will not be bespoke to you. The templates are pre-made and are equally available to everyone. You will not get the bespoke site of a web developer. Also beware of costs. The introductory prices are just that, and after that the price can go up considerably. If you are using the website builder it would be £12 PER MONTH.
Even if you just wanted to use the hosting, this goes up to £5 per MONTH. This excludes VAT at 20%. A lot higher than the prices of Wiserhosting”
“SO beware. Read carefully (especially the small print) on what a web host can provide before signing up. Make sure how long you are committing to (can you change providers easily?) How much support do you need / want and does the web hosting service support the language you want to use. Cheapest is not necessarily the best!”
- SiteGround – “Currently, I’m using SiteGround for my business clients – a rollover from a previous company that closed and I inherited the clients. But I’ve been extremely happy with SiteGround. Their hosting is affordable, easily scalable, and reliable. Their customer support is always quick and helpful.”
- WP Engine – “A handful of clients are using WPEngine, which I absolutely love. I was fixing to move 20+ clients to an Enterprise solution with WPEngine, but the cost was too much of a barrier for me (it would have been in the neighborhood of $600/mo). But the services WPEngine offers are top-notch (assuming you can host email elsewhere). I love the ease of their production, staging and development environments. Plus, their support staff is always immediately available.”
- TMDHosting – “I’ve been using TMDHosting for a few small personal sites. After Bluehost was acquired by EIG and the service went south, I was looking for a very cheap but US-based service that had no intentions on joining EIG. TMD has performed well, all things considering. Support can be a bit slow, and not always US-based, but for the needs of my personal, low-traffic website… it’s fine.”
“The only other thing that I mention to EVERY potential client I speak with, is to avoid any EIG-owned hosting company. I’ve worked with several in the past, and always been disappointed. I had accounts with both Bluehost and Site5 before they were acquired by EIG, and watched the service and support nosedive a few months after the acquisition. These are things no business owner wants or needs to deal with, and as a result I pretty much exclusively recommend either SiteGround or WPEngine for hosting.”
Brian G. Bearden
I have many clients that host with GoDaddy because they are reliable and very affordable. I recommend that you purchase the domain name and hosting under your name with your credit card. This way, you own everything in your name. Don’t let your website design company register your domain or hosting under their name. Again, you need to own everything under your name.”
Like GoDaddy they have additional services that can be added on, but unless you have a unique website, I would recommend discussing these additional services with your webmaster or web design company before purchasing any of them. I have experience with their support team and they have been quite responsive to my needs.”
I’m not that familiar with their customer service personnel because I have not had any issues that made me need to contact them.”
“Depending on the company’s budget & or their outsourcing web partner competencies I would recommend one of these 3 solutions:”
- OVH –
OVH with their Cloud Web hosting service. Why? Good speed thanks to the SSD disk combined with the simplicity of managed hosting & a relatively low price. For whom? Best for beginners with almost zero knowledge about hosting & people looking for a good but cheap service.
Again OVH with their Cloud SSD VPS. Why? Great in terms of value for money. My personal favorite is the VPS SSD 3 because of the 2 vCore processor and 8GB RAM. It will give you a much, much better performance than any standard hosting service. However, you must have the server configuration done by someone who knows how to do it in order to benefit from this. For whom? Businesses that are looking for high quality, but want to keep their costs down.”
- Infomaniak –
Managed Cloud Server from Infomaniak. Why? Great powerful and fast servers that can be easily upgraded according to your needs and much better than OVH for customer support. For whom? Businesses that are looking for the best quality even if you have to pay for it.”
“I highly recommend using a premium hosting solution that takes care of security and performance (site speed). A lot of businesses treat their hosting like an afterthought, going for the cheapest solution such as GoDaddy. Isn’t your business worth the $30-60/ mo investment? Most people spend more than that on their personal cell phone.”
- WP Engine – “WpEngine.com , for WordPress are the absolute best solution for WordPress security, performance and specialize in WordPress websites only. Their support is 24/7 – you can call them up any time and a WordPress expert will pick up the call. I’ve called at 2am in the past to test this out. That is huge! Not only will they pick up the phone, but they will get your technical problem solved usually doing it for you. They will restore your site free of charge if it gets hacked. Site speed/ performance is top notch – best I’ve seen in my 10 years of WordPress work. Lastly their staging environment, a copy of the live site for testing, is a great asset for professional management of your website and testing software updates.”
- Flywheel – “Flywheel is the next best solution for WordPress. Price is a little better than WP Engine, but it’s not as good imo ($28/mo personal plan vs. wp engine $35/mo). They offer a staging environment as well, great collaboration tool for all the stakeholders. Their support isn’t as great; still 24/7, but chat only and not as good technical staff. CDN is extra vs free with WP Engine, and they won’t restore your site free of charge if you get hacked. But outside of that, it’s similar to wpengine.com.”
- SiteGround – “More of a general hosting solution, but they do WordPress hosting really well and are recommended by WordPress.org. They offer similar features like daily backups, staging, but also include email hosting. The downside is that the support is not nearly as good as the two above. Yes they offer 24/7, but you have to submit a ticket or chat online. You have to wait and wait and wait. The staff isn’t nearly as knowledgeable about WordPress, and less willing to help “just do it for you.”
Their Cpanel dashboard is a bit out of date and not as intuitive as WP Engine or Flywheel, but the price is far less at $11.95/ mo. for the GoGeek solution.”
“Hosting is no longer simple as it once was. A growing business needs stability, security and the ability to grow with their business. From personal experience I would recommend Amazon Web Services, Digital Ocean and Vultr in that order. Each one offers great selection of worldwide data centres, once click app installs and additional cloud services on which you can grow and expand your business.”
- Amazon Web Services – “I’m picking Amazon Web Services as number one because nowadays it is not just about having a web presentation anymore. Growing business needs a reliable, secure and scalable platform of technologies and AWS offers just that. The sheer choice of services could be overwhelming at first with a steep learning curve, but once you establish your business goals, AWS can definitely help you achieve them. I mean just think about it, AWS now has 166 Points of Presence and support in 69 cities in 29 countries. That’s insane! You can even implement machine learning and AI into your business; everything is there and ready for you. Imagine that next year you introduce a new service or product to your customers, and you discover your business has new requirements and AWS is there with vast range of services to support it. Everything is integrated together and building your business therefore has virtually no limits – that’s why companies like Netflix and Airbnb use AWS. We often have clients that require such flexibility, to create new rich features for their business and if you want this level of flexibility then definitely pick Amazon Web Services.”
- DigitalOcean – “Digital Ocean would be my personal choice for number two because it offers more transparent costing than AWS and offers a much smaller selection of services. You can still choose from a wide range of data centres, such as London for the UK or when your business expands you can get closer to the client and set up new operations in their regions. Digital Ocean focuses more on the “hosting” part of cloud services and storage and they do this really well. But you can forget server-less services for example. There is an object storage service available now too, but at the time of writing it still does not support bucket DNS endpoint – a feature readily available on AWS for almost a decade.”
- Vultr – “Vultr would be third and the smallest of them all and offers a very similar service set as Digital Ocean, but is considerably cheaper, and arguably offers better performance than Digital Ocean on some servers. Vultr runs a transparent costing model just like Digital Ocean and focuses on servers only. So if you only want to configure and run your server without any other services, then Vultr could be the right fit.”
- HostPapa – “The web hosting provider that I constantly recommend to my clients is HostPapa. I have been using HostPapa for my own business for over 8 years and I have always been impressed at their competitive prices, great customer service and impressive hosting package options. A huge bonus for my Canadian clients, is that HostPapa are a proudly Canadian company who base their servers in Toronto, Canada, rather than in the U.S.A.”
- SiteGround – “SiteGround is one of the larger Canadian web hosting providers. In my opinion, they are a great web hosting provider for small businesses looking for an ultra-fast and highly secure hosting plan. They provide some awesome packages at very reasonable prices including dedicated web hosting and cloud hosting options.”
- GreenGeeks – “GreenGeeks was recommended to me recently and I have to say, they look like an impressive web hosting provider option. GreenGeeks servers are in Canada, the U.S and Europe and they claim a 99.9% uptime! Why “Green” Geeks? If you care for the environment, you’ll love the fact that they buy wind energy credits to make up for the energy they use to power your website. With pricing a little higher than other providers, I would still recommend GreenGeeks over some of the larger, highly advertised U.S. hosting companies.”
The hosting package I have provides a strong, flexible chunk of fast, reliable, non-shared server power, but I don’t need to worry about server updates, security, management, and so on. This works very well for me!
SiteGround also have excellent customer service and have helped several times with specific, technical questions – unlike other providers who simply send links to (unhelpful) articles, their support staff have investigated and worked on my actual issues and reported back their findings in a useful and informative way.
While the Siteground package doesn’t provide everything – for example, I can’t run Python/Django, which I was exploring for a project recently – I feel that compared to other providers, a couple of small downsides are outweighed by largely problem-free hosting.”
“Not all hosting companies are made equal and in my experience you do get what you pay for. If your website is critical to your business, which it most likely is, then hosting is not something you want to scrimp on!”
They are at the higher end of the hosting price spectrum as their WordPress hosting is fully containerised for maximum security and performance. But they are not unaffordable for small businesses. Their customer service is great too – their team are always happy to help, restore backups or even migrate your website for you. They have clearly taken their time to create a simple, clean and easy to use dashboard for your hosting accounts – something which is often overlooked by cheaper hosting companies. 34sp are the go-to-guys for WordPress hosting, no other recommendations necessary!”
- KnownHost – “I run multiple websites, so service and support is important to me. I have been using KnownHost for 2 years and the experience has been great. The hosting they offer is top of the line and their service and support is great. I’ve never had to wait more than a few minutes to hear from their support team. I like that they aren’t as big as some of the other companies because I feel they offer more personal attention.”
“I come at this problem from the point of view of someone who LOVES WordPress, and believes it’s the best possible option for small business. #1 because it’s extremely easy to find a developer to work on your WordPress project (even if your former developer goes AWOL), and #2 because there are so many great extensions (plugins) to WordPress allowing you to use open source awesomeness to help with SEO, image optimization, and thousands more things – Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and Webs aren’t open source, so they could never create all of these tools for their platform.”
- WP Engine – “Wp Engine is our #1 recommended hosting platform because of its emphasis on security, daily backups, and having a super intuitive staging system, that allows you to test your changes before moving them to live. We love how simple WP Engine makes everything, and that it saves us time!”
- GoDaddy – “Mainly for its extremely helpful customer service, I think GoDaddy still deserves props for its commitment to hosting, and domain registration. It’s upped its game to compete with the likes of WP Engine with Managed WordPress Hosting, and is a solid option for hosting in my opinion.”
- Flywheel – “A fast follower of WP Engine, Flywheel allows you to create ‘blueprints’ or basic setups of starter theme, and plugins so you don’t have to start from scratch every time with your WordPress instances. I think Flywheel is an excellent third option, particularly for WordPress.”
“I help sales professionals by providing website tools and pre-made websites to help them automate their lead generation. After selling thousands of tools, typically the next question I get is, “Where should I host my website?” I’m happy to share my recommendation not only based on my own experience of hosting websites since 1996, but also based on the feedback of my 5,000+ clients to date.
My strong recommendation is to only use a hosting company that offers cPanel support. It is widely used and most website managers will know how to use it. Among other features, it will help you setup emails, view website logs and run backups. The most important feature in my opinion, is the ability to download the websites and settings, and easily move your hosting to another company. In fact, migrating your website between cPanel hosting is so easy, many companies will offer migration for you. It’s a small effort on their part to gain a new client.”
- Namecheap – “If you are an absolute startup and want the cheapest way to get started, I’d recommend Namecheap.com. As of today, their cheapest shared hosting is $2.88 per month for up to 3 websites or $4.88 per month for unlimited websites. They offer email support and I’ve had most of my issues resolved in a few hours. After you signup, it takes a little bit of effort to get access to your cPanel account, but once you do, everything works the same with namecheap.com as it does with any other hosting company. If you are starting your first website and looking for a solid hosting company and dirt cheap prices, this is the way to go.”
Another nice feature of a2hosting.com is they offer FREE SSL certificates, which are recommended for all websites by Google. While other companies may be a bit cheaper per month for hosting, when you include the SSL certificate cost, the prices may be cheaper with a2hosting.com in the end.
A2hosting.com also offers reseller packages, which is the primary reason why I use them. If you want to host websites for your clients or become a website wholesaler, these reseller packages will allow you to set up separate cPanel accounts for each client. Their cheapest reseller account is $30 / month and will allow you to create up to 40 cPanel accounts.”
- Liquid Web – “For high volume websites or websites that require HIPAA certification, I’d recommend liquidweb.com for hosting. They are known for their support and guarantee you can reach support within 59 seconds. My experience is that I can reach support within 15 seconds typically, and most issues are resolved within a few minutes. Their hosting starts at around $60 per month and they offer hosting for: Managed WordPress, HIPAA compliant Servers, Dedicated Servers, VPS (Virtual Private Servers), Multiple Server Configurations with Failover for 100% guaranteed website uptime and more. They also offer a SLA (Service Level Agreement) so that if your website is down for even an hour, you will get a credit for the entire month. In the 8 years that I hosted with them, I only experienced one outage of a few minutes. By the time I had reached their technical support, their monitors had already discovered the issue and were in the process of fixing it.”
“While there are hundreds of hosting companies that may work for you or your business, these are the 3 hosting companies I would recommend without hesitation. I have experienced multi-day outages with some other well-known companies, so along with shopping for price, I would also do research into their technical support, service level agreements, and average time to resolve an issue.
My recommendation is to stick with cPanel hosting and backup your websites before and after any major updates are done to your account. You will want to back up your account before any major updates because if your website designer makes a major goof, you can restore the last good working version of your website on your own.
My other recommendation is to use Godaddy or another domain name registrar to register your domain name. If you register your domain at the same place you host your website, the hosting company may hold your domain name hostage to continue hosting your account.
In short, if you are working on a bare-minimum budget, namecheap.com is the cheapest way to start. For 80% of companies that are looking for an affordable price and solid support, a2hosting.com is the way to go. If your business is making a significant income on your website, want your own server and need the best support available, liquidweb.com is the place to go!”
I built my first website in 1997, and I have worked with many website hosting companies over the interceding 22 years. I’ve dealt with GoDaddy, Network Solutions, 1&1, WPEngine, and Media Temple on behalf of my clients and found they all have strengths and weaknesses.
Whenever I’ve had opportunities to recommend hosting to my clients, I often suggested Directnic, based near New Orleans, LA, starting in about 2005. They have a solid platform, and are renowned for having gotten their service back up in 45 minutes following the devastating blow from Hurricane Katrina. I moved away from Directnic due to their limited call-in tech support hours (9am – 6pm CST, M-F). They have added chat since I left and operate it along with tickets now, 24×7.
I recommended Bluehost to my clients and hosted my own websites there for years, but I feel the company has grown too fast. I have gotten erroneous and conflicting support information, and honestly, have found my new love, SiteGround, superior across the board.
What’s so great about SiteGround? They are geared beautifully for small- and medium-sized businesses, and their support is simply fantastic. You rarely have to wait more than a few seconds for a chat or phone call to be picked up, and their friendly, courteous technicians will stick with you until your questions are answered or your issue is resolved. Want to try a suggested solution while they wait? No problem. Want a transcript of your chat? You got it. Want to file a ticket instead? Go ahead … and expect an answer in about 15 minutes. They honestly act like you’re one of just a few hundred clients; many of their techs, however, have served tens of thousands of clients.
SiteGround delivers fast-loading websites from ultra-modern servers with solid state storage, positioned on three continents, utilizing a free content delivery network (CDN). They provide terrific security consisting of anti-hack systems, pushed auto-updates, free daily backups and an anti-spam application called SPAM Experts that works great protecting your email.
They specialize in WordPress websites with one-click installs, a free migration tool (or they’ll migrate your website for you for free on the GrowBig plan and above). As if all of this wasn’t enough, they offer domain registration as well. Ask in any online website design community what hosting provider designers and developers prefer, and SiteGround will come up over and over.
In my book, and looking back over 22 years of building websites and working with various web hosting companies, SiteGround is tops!”
- Bluehost – “This is now my “go to” web hosting company for any smaller projects I’m working on. My business web site is hosted through bluehost.com and all of my more recent personal web site projects have been hosted through bluehost. They have great customer service, an easy to navigate cPanel, SMTP servers, email servers, domain names, PHPMyAdmin, and much more. They also offer WordPress as a pre-installed option, which really makes setting up your small business web site super easy. They even have dedicated hosting servers for more large scale web sites which garner lots of traffic. These dedicated servers do cost significantly more money, however. All in all, Bluehost is a great option for a small business web site.”
- VersionPress – “For any small business web site running on WordPress, Versionpress is a great hosting option. They offer unlimited test sites, and a one click deployment option to push code changes to the production instance of your web site. I was very impressed with how user friendly Versionpress is, and they offer git like diffing functionality which really helps when resolving code conflicts, and merging from a test instance and ultimately deploying to your production instance. The only drawback I found is that not all WordPress plugins have full support within Versionpress, so you will need to do some research before choosing them as your hosting provider.”
“I have used a few hosting providers over the years, some I really haven’t liked and others have been good for a while, but then seem to stand still when a competitor comes along with a more advanced service at a better value.”
The crux of the swap was 20i provide more advanced tools, which are really easy to use. Discounts for resellers on most services and excellent technical support. The added bonus was 20i were also 30% cheaper than my last supplier. I have recently also taken on a VPS with 20i too and had had no issues at all.”
- Heart Internet – “If I had to give a second-place supplier it would be my last supplier, Heart Internet. If 20i hadn’t come along, I would have been happy to stay with Heart Internet and had been with them for about 8 years. It is just a shame they don’t seem to have kept up with advances in tools and competitors’ pricing.”
- SiteGround – “GoGeek package is a good starting place for hosting a large amount of small traffic/requirement websites. The cost is good and yearly deals are often available. There is room to grow and standard optimisations which mean that you can have performance websites without too much work. I would NOT recommend using them for the mailing accounts, as there was no end of problems and inconveniences encountered with the configuration of the mail servers. Nor would I recommend their “upgrade” to the business cloud. If you need more space for small sites, simply purchase another GoGeek account. Support is quick, but very variable in terms of quality.”
- Kinsta – “For our busiest e-commerce site we use Kinsta, which is a fully WordPress optimised and managed hosting service. It is more expensive on a monthly basis, but we have found the support to be very quick, personal and the information and advice is always spot on. Night and day in comparison to SiteGround! The extra money is well worth it for a higher value site.”
- Cloudways – “For those who have the technical skills in house to manage a server without a cPanel, cloudways is an excellent option to explore. Performance and price are fantastic!”
SiteGround also offers free security certificates by Let’s Encrypt. Whether you have one website or are a serial entrepreneur, having a cost-effective security certificate for every domain is important for the credibility of your visitors and Google’s algorithm.”
- SiteGround – “This would be my first recommendation just because I have so much experience using them and is always the first one I recommend to someone needing an affordable but quality host. Have been using them for years and have had nothing but a good experience with them.”
- Bluehost – “Another very reputable company that has great uptimes and an affordable rate for small businesses. Have only worked on one site hosted here in the past, but was a smooth experience.”
- DigitalOcean – “Wanted to include something a little different rather than just list another of the many hosting companies out there. This is a newer player in the game and might be a little more targeted towards developers. It is cloud based, so it is able to grow with you while being reliable and affordable.”
“Hosting is a critical factor for any website that wants to perform well for its visitors and in search. It is often overlooked and budget hosting will cost you more than you think.
Page and site speed are very important factors for both user experience and a Google ranking factor. For example, the retail giant, Amazon, recently calculated that a one-second delay in page load speed could cost them $1.6 billion in sales each year. People will abandon carts and even never return to a site again if it’s slow. Especially for those users on mobile devices, speed matters. If a high-quality hosting provider is used, then we see a direct impact of increased rankings, traffic and lower bounce rate.
We have tried many companies and currently recommend these two hosting providers:”
- WP Engine – “These super dudes make hosting a WordPress site a breeze, with unparalleled support. It seems any issue is never too much hassle. Hosting of this quality helps me sleep at night with their hack protection guarantee. They are a little more money than others, but you get what you pay for.”
- SiteGround – “SiteGround is a great budget option. It is robust and much faster than your other typical shared hosting providers. Support is via chat, but they are quick to respond and often quick to find a solution, unlike many other providers. SiteGround seems to be proactive in adding features and improving its systems.”
- SiteGround – “We build all of our websites using WordPress and always steer our clients to SiteGround for hosting. They are easy to work with, they backup sites daily, they provide automatic security updates, they provide free SSL Certificates (simply a MUST HAVE for today’s websites!), powerful performance and unlimited free emails. What is not to love about SiteGround?!”
- 20i – “20i.com offer great value, and a superb service ideally suited to smaller businesses (though they can cater for anyone). Their whole process is very simple and straightforward to get started, and their hosting control panel is easy to use if you’re familiar with cPanel, Plesk etc. I moved everything of mine to them last year, and haven’t looked back.”
- Rackspace – “I used Rackspace to set up an entire hosting environment for a design agency I previously worked at. While perhaps a little more involved in getting setting up, their support is second to none, and the performance is outstanding. They’re quite expensive compared to most other hosting providers, but I’d say the cost is worth it if you’re looking for a very powerful hosting environment.”
- tsoHost – “I used tsoHost for years, and was one of their earliest customers around 10 years ago. Their standard web hosting options are great, and they offer classic cPanel hosting, as well as their own proprietary platform.”
I cannot recommend 20i enough. They offer a cutting-edge service using state of the art load-balancing servers and super-fast response time with SSD drives on all servers. The support cannot be beaten. The techs at 20i are patient, knowledgeable and extremely helpful, often replying within 10 minutes and always within the hour.
They have an excellent website and email migration tool. That makes migrating from your current host to 20i seamless and painless. You migrate a copy and when you’re completely satisfied all is well, you then update the DNS and it’s done with virtually no downtime.”
I’ve testing many hosting solutions out over the years and have finally found one that is perfectly designed to host WordPress sites. WP-Engine has so many features for WordPress users; Backup points, each WP site gets a dedicated IP address, CDN (Content Delivery Network), Free SSL Certificates, Staging & Production environments, site migration, environment stats, redirect rules, GIT push and many more great tools specifically designed for WordPress sites.
Just note that this is not the cheapest hosting option out there, but you get what you pay for and WP Engine makes sure all of my 50+ client WordPress sites are always running fast and smooth!”
- GoDaddy – “This is my second choice based purely on the great support they provide. I’ve used GoDaddy several times in the past for cheap, easy to use, shared web hosting and email. If you have simple HTML5 websites, this is the hosting company for you. However, if you’re running complex WordPress themes, for multiple clients, I would only advise using GoDaddy if you’re trying to get your business off the ground and don’t have a huge budget. As with any cheap, shared hosting packages, you can’t expect your websites to be lightning quick, but with GoDaddy they have a decent back-end with access to everything you need (cPanel, SQL’s, Backups, Installation etc).”
- tsoHost – “Very similar to my number two pick in price and options, although they do not have the same level of support as some of the other hosting companies. On the plus side they do have a simple and intuitive backend for hosting multiple domains, hosting accounts and email accounts. Navigating your way around software installers to custom DNS settings is a breeze.”
- WiserHosting – “I have been using Wiser Hosting for about 15 years and they are my go-to web hosting company. Their prices start at £24 + VAT for a year’s hosting, which is extremely affordable. I have hundreds of clients using their services who I believe are all very happy. If there are problems, I am able to email and get a prompt response. There is also a contact phone number and I know that some of my clients have spoken to them direct.”
- WP Engine – “WP Engine is a relative newcomer in the world of WordPress hosting. I have heard a lot about WP Engine and have seen flawless performance from WP Engine working with clients who hosted their sites with them. Their recent acquisition of StudioPress allows them to offer super-premium themes built on the Genesis framework as a perk of their hosting packages. They are not the cheapest hosting option, but they are great value for the money. “
- SiteGround – “SiteGround is another boutique hosting company offering hosting platforms for WordPress, WooCommerce, Magento, Joomla, and Drupal. How good is their hosting? SiteGround is one of the three web hosting companies officially recommended at WordPress.org. Competitive pricing also makes SiteGround one of my web hosting recommendations for small business.”
- Bluehost – “Bluehost is the largest of my recommendations powering approximately 2% of websites on the Internet. Bluehost is also recommended by WordPress.org. Extremely competitive pricing is one of the perks of working with Bluehost. You’ll also enjoy 24/7 telephone support, free SSL certificates, and free domain name registration for the first year. If you are starting a new WordPress site or starting a new business, I recommend Bluehost as one of your options.”
- CloudAccess.net – “My number one choice for small business web hosting is the lesser known, but highly capable CloudAccess.net. This US-based host specialises in Joomla and WordPress hosting and is currently the provider of the official Joomla demo site. A potential problem for small businesses websites that are powered by a content management system (CMS) is who to contact when things go wrong. It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of the CMS project blaming the web host and the web host blaming the CMS. That doesn’t happen with CloudAccess.net because, in addition to their normal support, they also support the CMS (on their Standard and Business plans). One particular standout feature is their choice of email hosting platform called CloudMail. The interface and anti-spam/anti-virus features are far superior to what you’ll find from other hosts. Your website is the front door of your business, so pay a little more and entrust it to the experts.”
- SiteGround – “It took me a long time before I was comfortable enough to recommend a budget web host who provides a quality service suitable for small businesses. SiteGround ticks all the boxes and they have established a reputation for providing fast service and a rich set of features, even on their cheapest plan. By using their free staging site feature, you can experiment making changes to a copy of your website, rather than risk messing up your live site. As with the other providers in this list, they also include free SSL certificates, which these days are an essential feature. On the downside, their customer support can be a bit hit and miss. Although their response time is extremely fast, it can take some time for them to understand the exact nature of your problem. The better you can communicate the problem, the faster it will get resolved. If price is your number one priority, then SiteGround is worth a look.”
- Cloudways – “There are now several platforms offering powerful and versatile hosting solutions that ensure websites load quickly, are well protected and can be easily scaled up as necessary. However, their platform essentially just provides the infrastructure – all the setup and management is left to you. You need significant technical experience to operate these sites which is often beyond the scope of the typical small business. That’s where Cloudways comes in. They provide a user-friendly interface to these platforms making it far easier to deploy and manage a website. Despite this, it is a more technically demanding solution and it’s likely that you’ll need someone on your team with some hosting experience to get you going. Should things go wrong, technical support will only get you so far, so Cloudways hosting is best suited for a business that has one or more IT people on the team.”
- Rackspace – “I really recommend Rackspace. I’ve had servers with them for about 12 years — both dedicated and cloud. The servers are fairly priced and reliable, but this is not a do-it-yourself solution for the uninitiated. I would say you need someone with an IT background to configure and manage the servers, unless you opt for their full service option, which is expensive. Their service is outstanding, though expensive. If you can do some basic Linux administration then I think you can manage your own cloud server and forgo their full service option. Even so, whenever you call them you get a real person and quick resolution to any problems. Not the cheapest hosting solution, but they are a pleasure to do business with.”
- Liquid Web – “I’ve been working with different hosting providers for almost twenty years and Liquid Web is the best I’ve ever worked with. I know a lot about servers and can usually handle most things on my own, so when I have a problem that stumps me, I need to be able to talk to someone who really knows their stuff. Liquid Web has solved every crazy issue I’ve ever thrown at them (which is quite a few since my team and I manage a lot of websites). You can get in touch with a knowledgeable and friendly technician in a very short period of time, which is extremely rare in the hosting business. Great products and solutions at affordable prices with the best support team in the industry makes this my #1 recommendation by far.”
- Flywheel – “While a lot of hosting companies focus on an “any type of server you can imagine” business model, Flywheel is hyper focused on creating the best platform specifically for WordPress websites. With lots of built-in features like free SSL certificates, nightly backups, and server-side caching, Flywheel takes all the effort out of hosting for WordPress. They’re also reasonably priced for what you get, and have great plans for hosting just a single site or for agencies like mine that host a lot of different clients and projects. There are a million reasons to be using WordPress for your small business website and Flywheel takes all of the stress out of WordPress hosting.”
- SiteGround – “Simple, reliable and extremely affordable. SiteGround is an excellent choice for any small business and especially those on a budget. They have both basic and easy-to-setup options, as well as a “geeky” options for developers like WP-CLI and Git integration. They also have a friendly and helpful support team, which is pretty much everything you need for a small business hosting solution.”
- Raid Host – “I used to host all my websites with a major player for website hosting, but discovered this company through Team Treehouse when they had a special offer on for members. Having tested the water with the company, I think their customer service is second to none. Always on hand, always helpful and always more than willing to go above and beyond. I also like the fact the company is based in the UK, so if I do have an issue, I can phone them quite easily.”
- HostGator – “Before moving to raidhost, I used hostgator for all of my website and found their service to also be excellent, particularly as a global hosting provider. The advice on how to do certain aspects of server management and hosting was useful, particularly as I was new to the industry. The expertise can be very useful when you are a solo designer.”
- Amazon Web Services – “AWS offers shared hosting plans for great prices. You’ll need to have your own back-end developer that can handle the setup and maintenance, but it’s what most ad agencies are using for large corporate projects. You get plenty of space and lots of control.”
- GoDaddy – “For non-developers that want to use a WordPress theme, I recommend WordPress for business. It’s a fairly low monthly cost and you get access to Go Daddy support nearly 24/7. You can easily create staging environments and push those changes up to your live production site. They also have built-in backups. It’s as simple as choosing which date you want the site backed up to and it will do it through your hosting, not in the WordPress dashboard.”
- WP Engine – “WP Engine has emerged as one of the best hosting solutions for WordPress. Their plans include separate enviroments for development, staging and live sites, malware scanning and removal, and an easy-to-use backup system. Their page-load times are pretty much unparalleled, and for the most part, their customer service is fast, knowledgeable and helpful. There are cheaper alternatives out there, but WPE truly offers a great value for your money.”
- DigitalOcean – “For those with some Unix skills, Digital Ocean offers a fantastic value for anyone wanting to set up their own servers. They have consistently added to their offerings, so there are very few limitations to what you can build or host on their infrastructure. Their documentation is really robust, which allows even those with just basic Unix skills to get started. Based on my own experience, the barrier of entry is much lower than with AWS, and therefore maybe more suitable for smaller operations. Digital Ocean is also very affordable, which makes it a strong contender.”
I have dealt with a number of hosting companies and I find some are just server mills, employing less informed support and unable to help when more technical issues arise. I have never experienced that with Hostek.
They have standard shared plans for entry level, VPS and Dedicated Servers for more advanced needs. They also offer Optimized WordPress plans. They have multiple Data Center locations in the USA and UK, as well as providing CDN services for faster website performance. The control panel is standard fare and allows for easy management of your site.”
- HostGator – “I have had a couple customers who hosted with HostGator. The experience dealing with the host was good. We have never had any major problems and support has been responsive. They have good prices and a nice control panel to manage the site. Although there have been issues here and there, the HostGator support team has been pretty good about resolving them quickly.”
Their support is fairly minimal, based on a knowledgebase system rather than direct support, but their documentation is extremely extensive (in fact their articles on systems administration are some of the best guides around) and anyone with a basic grasp of the command line should be able to get a server set up in a few hours.”
- Cloudways – “For those who feel a little intimidated by the terminal, Cloudways offers a friendlier interface for DigitalOcean (and several other VPS providers). Not strictly a hosting provider in the standard sense, Cloudways acts as a fluffy “wrapper” for your VPS and provides thing like a “proper” command panel, 24/7 expert support, stack optimisation and super-fast caching that may otherwise take you hours of valuable time to put into place. It’s a great option for those a little less technically minded and the pricing is very competitive.”
- Flywheel – “For those who need a more managed solution, Flywheel is an excellent option. Specialising in WordPress hosting enables Flywheel to do this one thing extremely well. Offering priority support, a 99.95% uptime guarantee and ongoing technical account management to proactively assist you through every stage of a project, Flywheel can help your site progress and build with your business.”
Whereas other shared hosting providers often charge for items such as large mailboxes, SSL etc., 20i allow very generous resources right from the off. HTTPS wildcard certificates are offered as standard within packages and these pass all necessary browser tests for everyday websites. This is a great saving for you and your clients if you wish to have a secure website – really a must for most websites.
Support is very important when hosting sites, and knowing that you will get highly responsive, helpful and top-notch support staff really makes a difference when issues arise, as they inevitably do.”
- KnownHost – “KnownHost.com is my pick of the litter, especially for Managed VPS boxes. Great price and truly amazing support. 3 data centers to choose from in the US. Too many other hosts sell “Managed VPS” products that aren’t well managed at all. KnownHost support and responsiveness on any server issues that I run into are what really set them apart. I’ve heard good things about Liquid Web in this regard as well, but their prices are quite a bit more than KnownHost’s.”
- Vultr – “For unmanaged server space for development purposes or temporary hosting I like vultr.com quite a bit.”
- WP Engine – “For pure WordPress hosting where the client wants their own hosting and I don’t have to worry about leaving them with a subpar host, wpengine.com is the way to go.”
“Hosting companies offer similar solutions. However, hosting companies are NOT the same. The difference lies simply in service.
When you have a problem, which is inevitable, do you want a helpful, courteous and knowledgable person on the phone? A person who can get your website issue resolved in a matter of minutes or hours? Or do you want to be routed across the ocean, talk to multiple reps who don’t understand your problem, and spend 2 days fixing that same problem?
I don’t have time for the games, so I have two go-to hosting recommendations.”
- GoDaddy – “The first is GoDaddy.com. They have 24/7 service. They are extremely knowledgeable about their own services (not always a given with other host companies!) and they’ll even go above and beyond by helping you with your own website at times. Their prices are the lowest, or close, in all scenarios. They also offer both Windows and Linux hosting.”
- Your Web Design Agency – “The second is to use a small, independent “web guy” such as services I offer. The reason is, we usually not only host the site, but update it, including the CMS (software), plug-ins, and other technology. Those updates help avoid spam and hacking, and we can always “roll back” the site to a back-up that we have happening on a daily basis. So you can never ruin your website with an update.”
“Small businesses need website hosting providers that are capable of running a CMS or e-commerce platform safely and securely for both themselves and their customers. Platforms which feature simple, intuitive layouts and HTTPS hosting are ideal for small business owners.”
- InMotion Hosting – “InMotion Hosting gets my vote for best website host. Unlike some of their competitors, InMotion is all about hosting, and their packages are catered to just that. All of their small business hosting packages include an SSL certificate, which is essential for HTTPS. Finally, they have glowing reviews, and provide some of the best customer support available.”
- 1 & 1 IONOS – “1and1 Ionos provides extremely reliable and cost-effective website hosting services to small businesses. Their prices start as low as $1 per month for website hosting, so you can keep your overhead as low as possible for your online store. However, packages don’t include SSL certificates, so domains won’t be secured initially. But for companies just starting out, 1and1 is a great option.”
- GoDaddy – “GoDaddy is one of the world’s largest domain registrars and web hosting providers. Their website is simple and intuitive, and their small business packages include the SSL certificate required to be HTTPS. As the largest of the three, GoDaddy is less capable of providing customer support, which is why it’s #3 in my list.”
Best if you’re a little bit tech-savvy or work with someone who is, as they don’t have the 24/7 chat/tech support that some larger companies offer. True story: I developed a site on a BigTimeHost server, then published it to the client’s old host to replace their live site. Their GTMetrix score showed a page load time of nearly 8 seconds when on their old host. On the development site – the exact same site – loaded in 2.3 seconds. They quickly moved to Big Time Host.”
The only thing I am not that fond of (this was a recent change), is that a WordPress database is set up for you before you even have a chance to install one yourself. If you’re moving a site to their server, the pre-installation can cause headaches. Their setup comes with nasty junk pre-installed such as JetPack, best to be avoided if you want a clean, fast site without software bloat. If you have no technical skills at all and need a lot of assistance, they are there for you.”
“The majority of my clients take advantage of the free hosting that comes with my WordPress Maintenance Plans. On the occasion that they do prefer to go out on their own, I recommend one of 2 places: SiteGround or WP Engine (these are the same hosting providers I use for my maintenance clients).”
- SiteGround – “I tend to recommend SiteGround for small to medium websites that don’t include complex functionality or ecommerce. Their entry level hosting for 1 site is less than $150 for the year. They also include their SG Optimizer plugin for WordPRess with every install. I’ve found it to be one of the easier to use speed optimization plugins available. Customer service has always been top notch as well.”
- WP Engine – “For more complex sites & ecommerce sites I recommend WP Engine. They only host WordPress sites, so all of their servers are fine-tuned to get the best performance possible from the platform. On top of that, the user interface is very simple to use, but does keep some of the more esoteric settings hidden from the user. However their customer support has always been quick in helping make any tweaks you might need for your site. This does come at a price, as it is 2-3 times more expensive than SiteGround.”
- DigitalOcean – “If you are a fairly technically-savvy business owner or you have people on your team with technical skills, Digital Ocean is a terrific hosting company to consider. The pricing is very hard to beat, and the performance you will get for the cost is truly impressive. You will get a hosting environment that you can completely customize and tailor to your specific needs.”
- Liquid Web – “I like LiquidWeb because they have a variety of hosting types (dedicated servers and cloudsites are the most useful) and their service is excellent. Live chat is available 24/7 and they respond very quickly to concerns and questions you may have. LiquidWeb can support a wide variety of website types.”
- Pantheon – “If you have a WordPress website to host, consider Pantheon. They are not the cheapest solution, but the performance you will get is truly awesome. They have a unique approach to hosting that provides you development and test environments already included, along with a process for pushing code updates from dev -> test and from test -> live. This methodology enforces good code editing practices. It’s very easy to migrate to Pantheon as well; you simply install a plugin on your WordPress website and they pretty much take care of the rest. Finally, the live chat support is extremely responsive and helpful.”
- SiteGround – “Finding SiteGround was a bit of a revelation. I build sites on WordPress and some hosts can struggle to serve it up fast. Not SiteGround, lightning fast, especially when using their own optimiser plugin. The live chat support is also second to non. 9/10 times they solve the issue you’re facing there and then on the chat.”
- WP Engine – “For ecommerce sites I use WPEngine in the UK. WordPress specific hosting, really strong security, always looking out for their clients, amazing phone, chat and email support 24×7. Not the cheapest but a great package.”
- catalyst2 – “For information sites I use Catalyst2 in London. The best customer service I have ever come across, phone and email. Always willing to help even when the issue is not hosting related, but a WordPress problem or a DNS problem. I have a VPS with them, but they offer Linux and Windows hosting from £11.99 a year including a free SSL certificate. What’s not to like, exceptional.”
- 20i – “At No3 we have 20i. I use these guys when a client needs multiple email addresses, as their £5.99 a month option gives 100 email accounts. If a client only has 1 or 2 emails, I recommend Catalyst2 and Office 365 or Google Suite. There is no phone support, but good email support.”
“Don’t be fooled by the low prices, unlimited usage or any other sales tactics that competing hosting providers use to gain new clients. You really need to understand what you “need” for your website as most generic, small and inexpensive hosting plans will do for just about any startup website. Mostly because you have no real traffic, so the key here is to start small and have the ability to upgrade as needed.
I’ve personally have been a client of many, many hosting providers and some for a few months to over 15 years. I’m just going to provide you today with the top 3 that I would consider using for my own projects and clients.
When I started my online business offering web design and hosting to my clients, I did not like the idea of keeping all the clients in one datacenter so i decided to use 3 different ones. This way, if one of the services went offline I would not be bombarded with tons of support tickets. Another thing is to have a 4th hosting provider for my own website. Idea here was that if I was hosting my own website on one of the 3 and they crashed.. my own website and ticket system would not work either. Of course nowadays things are different and not an issue for the most part. Simply sharing how it started long ago to show I have lots of experience dealing with various hosting providers.”
- HostDime – “They are absolutely my favorite hosting provider. One of the original 3 that I joined 15 years ago and still with them today. The service is key; they go beyond the typical support and actually take the time to offer solutions, educate as to what is wrong with a website and even at times provide detailed instructions as to what I need to do to resolve the issue quickly. Recently they built their own building with over 75,000 square feet. They are in this for the long haul.”
- NameHero – “Recently joined their re-seller plan and the affiliate program. I’ve interacted with them before via one of my client’s projects as they continue to host with them. I do not mind as I can design a website and host for a client however they like. They do offer unlimited plans as the owner understands that not all the accounts will use up all the space, but if you go over they’ll contact you to upgrade and rightly so. Otherwise, the support is very good and reliable servers.”
- HostGator – “Huge selection of pre-packaged hosting plans, actually so many you should contact the sales department to make sure you select the best fit for your project. They also offer very affordable shared hosting plans that are great for newbie webmasters and site owners that seek to build a website themselves. Good website building software for those who edit via browser without special software. Reliable support and maintain an excellent uptime for all clients big or small, so everyone’s online most of the time.”
Overall it’s important to read the fine print, terms of service and make sure you understand the rules of the road. There are some hosting providers that started charging cycling fee’s. This is mostly a hidden fee, and one that I have had personal experience with in the past with a “now closed provider” – I was paying $80 a month then a shocking invoice came in for 1 month for almost $900 – it was due to one of the websites being hacked. It was using the account for 3 weeks without me even noticing it. But, you know they noticed it and simply let it ride. I fought that bill and won, as they should have provided alert or even reports in my dashboard, but that was “still in development” so they could not even prove it. Thus I was credited the difference and I instantly moved to another provider.
If you’re not happy with your current host.. move to any of the above and you’ll be happy you did!
- DreamHost – “My first suggestion for small businesses would be Dreamhost. The customer service has been excellent and they have multiple packages that can meet almost any small business need. They can start with a simple shared hosting for most small business needs and can scale up to a VPS or dedicated server for those needing more power to run an e-commerce or more complicated site. They also have data centers in most states, so you could have your server host be local to help with local page speeds and more.”
- Cloudways – “Cloudways is also an exceptional hosting option. They are a great solution for smaller businesses that may have more website based needs, as they allow you to choose the type of server setup you need. Cloudways servers can also easily scale and allow for setting up staging sites for testing and site change deployments. Some of their packages also provide managed hosting, which is great for small businesses that need one less thing to worry about. In all the dealings I have had with them, from hosting sites that get a couple thousand views a month to sites that get three million views a month, their customer service has been outstanding.”
Another benefit for WPE is a staging site. Whenever one of our clients needs an overhaul or some testing of a new plugin, we copy the site down to a staging location to make all the changes we want. This way we don’t have to touch the Production site and our developers can safely make the changes they need to without worrying about breaking the live site.
Lastly, WPE has live technical support and the agents will dig into the problem with you and work to find a solution as quickly as possible.”
- HostGator – “If you’re a new business that’s just starting out, you might be ok with basic popular hosting providers like HostGator. I’ve been using HostGator and GoDaddy for many small business clients for years without any major problems. The sites might not be the fastest, but they reliable and offer easy installation and customer support. For many small businesses, this is all they need, especially if the cost is a factor.”
- WPX Hosting – “If you’re looking for slightly more expensive hosting that’s faster, WPX hosting is a good way to go. They’re only slightly higher priced, but from my experience, the sites hosted on WPX tend to load much faster.”
- WP Engine – “Finally, if your budget allows spending more on hosting, WP Engine is always a solid choice. WP Engine offers many benefits including faster loading sites, automatic backup and restore, and includes other great features specifically designed for hosting small business WordPress sites.”
“At Priority Pixels we have always used a range of hosting providers and there aren’t many we haven’t tried out over the years. You may think most hosting is the same, but each host has a slightly different setup, so it’s important you choose the right one for your business.
The core three hosting providers we use are Media Temple, SiteGround and WP Engine, and we use each for slightly different reasons based on the business needs of our clients.”
- Media Temple – “Media Temple is a good solid hosting provider. They have some cheap hosting options available, but more importantly the support is solid. We use the grid hosting platform, which is perfectly adequate for small to medium size websites. The hosting admin area isn’t as user friendly as other hosting providers, but you do have access to everything you need without certain bits being locked down as some hosting companies do.”
- SiteGround – “SiteGround is a step up from Media Temple. Their cloud servers are scalable, so you never need to worry about running out of bandwidth or storage space. We recommend SiteGround to small businesses that need a fast website with good uptime. Their support is top notch too.”
- WP Engine – “WP Engine is the gold standard in our opinion. If SEO is important to your business, then making sure the server your website is on is super fast should be your top priority. A super-fast website will help lower your bounce rate and keep your visitors on your site longer. WP Engine isn’t cheap, but as with everything in life, you get what you pay for.”
“At adchitects, we carry out website and branding projects for companies from around the world. They are companies of all sizes, ranging from one-person startups to corporations working on several continents. Our website designs are based mostly on WordPress CMS.
Very often, the client suggests WordPress as a content management system for their new website in the offer inquiry. The reason they give is understandable – “I had contact with this system before and I do not want to learn a new one (eg Craft CMS)”
Personally, I think WordPress is a great CMS system, especially when we think about the availability of developers, but also about the flexibility in the field of marketing – probably for every tool there is a ready plug-in that you can connect to your WordPress website. Thus, merchants can do what they should and not contact the IT department.
Where “WordPress” appears, there usually appears the statement “And what about security? I heard that it is not a secure system.”
The fact is that WordPress is the most popular CMS on the global internet. Hence, most exploits are written just for this system (it’s logical, right?). But the problem of a non-functioning website does not come from the fact that it is based on CMS WordPress, and that the system owner (or the person responsible for it) simply did not care for it – did not update the main system, plugins did not perform backups, etc.
When it comes to WordPress security, hosting is the key decision. Currently, there are many websites on the market that offer WordPress dedicated hosting. As a result, the entire server configuration is set for this system, including all security features.
Dedicated hosting also gives you plenty of options for automating basic maintenance activities – automatic backups, staging (separate test and production environments), etc.
In most cases, we offer our global clients two solutions – WPengine (www.wpengine.com) and FlyWheel (getflywheel.com). These are dedicated hosting solutions for WordPress. For us – the web-design & development agency – support is very important, which very often helps to fit (of course if possible) to the installation of the client’s system, but also helps to solve problems sometimes occurring between the CMS system configuration and the server. Both support services work very well.”
- WP Engine – “WPengine is probably the biggest hosting provider with WordPress-only solutions. The pricing plan is reasonable (you receive what you pay for). With the most basic plan (Startup – from 35 USD/mo), you receive the possibility to set up 1 website with 3 environments (dev/test/production), 25000 visits/month and 50GB of bandwidth. CDN & SSL is included.”
- Flywheel – “FlyWheel gives you cheaper solutions, but with fewer possibilities. For 14 USD/mo, you get 5000 monthly visits and no staging. But it’s a good solution if you need more bandwidth – you get 250GB of bandwidth/month (5 times more than WPengine).”
Basically, each one is a good solution, but you need to take time and think, what do you (and your site) exactly needs. The best way is to ask the specialist (for example, the agency that develops the site for you).
- zenbox – “To our Polish clients, we recommend a local provider of hosting services dedicated to WordPress – Zenbox (zenbox.pl). It offers interesting hosting plans that increase depending on the UU of your website. The account management panel is not as transparent as in the case of FlyWheel and does not offer staging, but support works quickly and efficiently.”
If I had to choose the best WordPress kit, I would choose:
Domain – GoDaddy.com
CDN – Cloudflare.com
Hosting – WPengine.com
With such a set, every WordPress owner can feel safe (of course remembering about maintenance from time to time 🙂
- Bluehost – “I would recommend Bluehost to any small business owner that has limited technological experience/ knowledge or has a limited marketing budget. Bluehost offers free domain registration for a year to protect your business, as well as a free SSL Certificate to protect your customers. If you like to work at all hours of the day and night like me, you do not have to worry about things going awry with your website because Bluehost provides round-the-clock support services. The WordPress installation and low-budget services should be good enough reason alone to choose Bluehost, as WordPress is essential to the success of any small business.”
- DreamHost – “If you don’t quite know what you are looking for in a hosting provider, I would recommend Dreamhost. With Dreamhost you get more than just web hosting; they offer a wide variety of hosting solutions set to fit any small business need. They also prioritize fast and reliable website loading services, which allows for improved user experience and optimal traffic. From experience, I can confirm Dreamhost is committed to providing their customers with the very best rather than focusing on making a profit, which is something I value in a company.”
- Google Sites – “I know recommending Google may seem cliché, but that is only because Google has proven itself as a superior hosting service time and time again. The digital world is constantly changing, and I am constantly learning new things to provide my clients with the best services I can. The web provider I see changing the most is Google; every day I discover a new plugin, a new update, or a new service. If you are a small business that is looking for a versatile hosting provider, I would highly recommend looking into Google Sites.”
- A2 Hosting – “Having used them for a couple of years I can say that the level of services they offer and the support provided will give peace of mind to any small business. Importantly they provide data centres in Europe, as well as dedicated systems to boost the speed of your website. They use cPanel for shared hosting accounts, which makes it pretty easy to implement various things including email accounts, SSL certificates and sub domains.”
- FastComet – “This list was not placed in any order of preference. These guys are also on the ball when it comes to services they have and their level of customer care. Support staff are always online and attentive (which is really important!); and when they cannot fix the issue immediately the technical department (via the ticket system) are also quick to respond. Servers are located in London, which again is a huge bonus for speed of your website if you’re in the UK. And importantly their prices are competitive too.”
- SiteGround – “Although I have not used them myself – I have heard many positive things about them from others in the industry. Whilst they do make the top lists on various recommendation sites – this company is definitely one to consider. Great speed and coverage, reliable servers, as well as competitive packages.”
When investing in a new website it’s easy for designers, developers and clients to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of the design, features and functionality. However, one element that often gets overlooked, and possibly the most important element, is to find the right hosting solution for the needs of your website.
We’ve seen it time and time again; clients who have amazing websites but are let down by poor quality hosting, resulting in a bad user experience and in some cases, major security issues. There is nothing worse than being contacted by a potential client who informs you of an error with your website!
When looking at website hosting companies there are two main things to consider; fully managed services, where you pay a slight premium, but everything is done for you meaning you can sleep at night knowing your website is safe. Or, a self-managed service, which is often a much cheaper solution, however, you do need to be prepared to get your hands dirty should there be any problems with your website.
As a web studio, we always prefer to manage hosting for our clients rather than letting the client find a hosting provider. If you are going through the process of a new website build or have a company managing your current website, speak to them first about which companies they recommend, as they will often have a good relationship with a a preferred hosting provider.
The only thing you really need to know about hosting…
Web hosting comes in two main forms; shared hosting and dedicated hosting. As the name suggests shared hosting is when your website is shared on a server with lots of other websites. For shared hosting to be commercially viable the servers need to host the maximum number of websites as possible – a bit like how budget airlines cram as many people onto one plane as possible. However, the more people on that plane, the worse the experience will be. Shared hosting works in much the same way, but for your website.
On the other end of the scale is dedicated hosting. Dedicated hosting is when your website is the only site on the server, meaning your website benefits from all the resources that server has to offer. Think of dedicated hosting as a private jet; super fast, amazing experience but it is more expensive than a commercial airline, or in our example – shared hosting.
Just like in the world of air travel, some people need private jets and can justify the cost, however, most of us are just fine on commercial airliners – your website hosting requirements are just the same. At this point if you are unsure whether you need dedicated or shared hosting, we would strongly advise getting the opinion of whoever is building or managing your website.
So on to the recommendations:
20i offer both shared and dedicated hosting, but we’ll focus on their shared platform as this is an amazingly low-cost hosting solution, which gives dedicated hosting provided by other companies a run for their money. What we love about 20i is they have taken the pricing model of mass-market shared hosting, but created a platform which auto scales as and when it needs. Should your website require more resources due to an increase in traffic, more resources will be allocated to ensure it runs as fast as possible. Likewise, when your website has fewer visitors and is idle, the resources are scaled back and made available for other websites on the same platform.
Super Fast Technology
Some other things we really love about 20i is their commitment to not cut corners. Their hosting environment is made up of superfast servers all fitted with solid state hard drives which can deliver data quicker. In addition, their load balancers are constantly working out how and where traffic should be routed to ensure every website runs at its best.
20i have a really nice dashboard which they have designed and built from scratch, which is always evolving with new features being added all the time. You can manage any aspect of your hosting from SSH access, SSL certificates, auto timeline backups, malware scans, and one-click installers for all the popular content management systems and e-commerce shops.
As a reseller with 20i it’s very easy to manage multiple sites and allow clients access to their own website, while restricting some of the things they can and can’t do themselves.
Finally, the support 20i offer is second to none, from basic setup and configuration to advanced requirements and very specific requests, they have always been able to resolve issues fast and keep us updated throughout the process.
If you are looking for a self-managed hosting solution that won’t cost the earth with great support, 20i is the hosting company for you.”
Flywheel has built their hosting network on the top of Digital Ocean, which is one of the world’s leading dedicated server (technically virtual server but we’ll call them dedicated) providers and more recently have partnered with Google Cloud to offer the next level of premium hosting.
Flywheel do all the difficult and technical server configuration, security and caching to ensure super fast, super secure sites. All of which would normally have to be done by the website owner or web agency hosting the site. As managing servers isn’t a skill most designers or developers possess, Flywheel is essentially your in-house server team, taking away the stress and pressure of running an enterprise level website.
Flywheel offers a dashboard with all the tools you need to get a site up and running quickly. However, due to the nature of their service being a ‘managed’ solution, you don’t have all the controls you do with standard shared hosting. This is partly because the platform is optimised and configured so you simply don’t need to make advanced changes, however, if you have specific requirements, they are more than happy to implement them for you. These requirements typically include; advanced server redirects, code that needs to be placed in the ‘htaccess’ file, configuring the wp-config.php file and scheduled tasks (CRON jobs) – all of which are pretty advanced things and not required by most websites.
Flywheel offers a range of packages based on the volume of traffic and space required along with some upgrade options including content delivery network and the ability for the end user to manage billing directly. Considering the speed and performance of websites hosted with Flywheel, the costs are very attractive and we would urge all clients to consider using Flywheel.
As previously mentioned, dedicated hosting provides a much better experience for your users as the page load time will be significantly faster compared to shared hosting. If load time and website speed is important for your website, we would definitely recommend a dedicated solution like Flywheel.”
As you can see the two recommendations are very different, but in our experience and opinion, both offer the best level of service and quality for the solutions they provide.
As a last note, I would always recommend the best hosting you can possibly afford. You will always see a vast performance increase in dedicated hosting compared to shared hosting but for some sites, the additional cost isn’t always justified. When looking for the right hosting company do your research and seek an expert’s opinion on the requirements you need if in doubt.
- CloudAccess.net – “CloudAccess provide excellent services and support at a great price. Their WordPress hosting comes with a free SSL certificate, automated backups and they’re the only provider on my list that offers free email hosting as well.”
- WP Engine – “For WordPress based sites, WP Engine is an industry recognised hosting platform for WordPress sites with various pricing options that can work well and grow with a small business. WP Engine offers a free SSL certificate with each package, along with free backups and their technical support is excellent.”
- WP Engine – “If your website is built in WordPress, this hosting platform is targeted towards optimum performance for WordPress websites.”
- Microsoft Azure – “If your website is an enterprise web system then Azure was created with your developers and your website visitors in mind.”
- Your Web Design Agency – “The hosting environment provided by your web design agency – because they will have ensured that it is set-up to run the website that they have built for you in the most optimized format possible.”
- SiteGround – “For small businesses just getting started, I recommend SiteGround. They offer outstanding service for an affordable price and their support is always helpful and quickly available. Sites load quickly and they scan for malware and hacks regularly. I personally use SiteGround and have many clients using them as well. SiteGround is also supportive of the web development community, and supports conferences and other efforts to bring developers together and help them learn new skills.”
- Pantheon – “Pantheon offers top-notch hosting and support and is super developer-friendly – that means less time and frustration for the web developers you hire to work on your site, which in turn leads to less web development expenses for you. Pantheon has great support and has a track record of being really supportive of the web development community and helping developers learn new skills. Plus, anyone you meet who works at Pantheon is just a really awesome and amazing person. I encourage everyone to support companies that treat their employees well and support the community. This is definitely the host to go to for mission-critical websites.”
- WP Engine – “WP Engine has a team of great people who are friendly and who support the community. They make an effort to send you to the same support person each time, so you get someone who builds up knowledge of you and your business over time, which is really helpful for getting issues resolved quickly. They focus on getting your site to run as fast as possible, which helps keep your customers happy and maximizes your SEO efforts. They also make improvements to their offerings all the time in an effort to make things faster and easier.”
In regards to pricing, Go-Daddy has many easy-to-use and inexpensive hosting options for beginners and small businesses. We especially like their $8.79/month, “Deluxe Web Hosting Plan”, which features unlimited websites, unlimited storage and unlimited subdomains!
Go-Daddy is one of the biggest names in web hosting, which means their online communities are really big too! Have an issue and you don’t want to place a call? You’ll be sure to find a lot of answers on online forums!”
In our experience with BlueHost, their customer service can be a little slower to get on the phone than Go-daddy. However compared to other hosting providers, their customer service is definitely a close second!
As far as user-friendliness goes, BlueHost takes the cake with their extremely user-friendly interface. Whether it’s editing important hosting files in the backend or simply setting up a WordPress website, BlueHost makes it as easy as it gets!”
- HostGator – “HostGator is a very affordable option. They offer cloud hosting and 24/7 customer support like GoDaddy and BlueHost. HostGator is up there in the top tier of web hosting companies, however, their page loading times are not very fast. They also charge for backups.”
- Anchor Hosting – “For a WordPress website, I always highly recommend Anchor Hosting to my clients and network partners. They are local and very knowledgeable and have always done a very good job at troubleshooting and helping me with server related issues when there is a problem. I would rather not work with servers, I’d rather focus my energy at what I do best and enjoy the most: design and development. Managed hosting is not your cheapest option, but using it would eliminate spam, need for backups, WP core and plugin updates, and is always very secure. Don’t waste your own valuable time, let the experts handle these issues.”
- Kinsta – “Kinsta is my number one pick for WordPress hosting. Their infrastructure is built on the Google Cloud Platform and every WordPress site is contained in its own isolated area and is 100% private. Kinsta is blazing fast, developer friendly and known to have great customer support.”
- WP Engine – “WP Engine is a great choice for WordPress hosting. The staging environments are easy to setup. They offer their own caching technology, easy SSL cert installation, automatic backup and restore points and good support.”
If I’ve ever encountered a problem – whether user error or otherwise – Nimbus have always been quick to respond. Their staff regularly go above-and-beyond, and having since met some of the team personally I can say they’re as nice in real life too.
Nimbus understand their customers so well, that they have gone on to create their own ‘STORM’ hosting platform. STORM is great for setting up websites quickly (complete with WordPress installation and database), with plenty of customisation options right at your fingertips.”
TSO’s service is also robust; for years I never experienced a single issue. There was no downtime, and no problems importing databases. Put simply, hosting with TSO just works.
Shortly after moving on to a new role I signed up for my own TSO account. I moved all my personal and client websites across with no fuss whatsoever and have recommended them to several freelancers, individuals and small organisations since. Everyone picks up on the ease of navigating and managing sites through the service.”
- WP Engine – “WP Engine have incredible support, available 24/7. I’m yet to have an issue with them that hasn’t been solved in 15 minutes or less. Their staging server makes doing developments and deployment to your live web hosting a breeze with just 1 click and is often completed within 30 seconds. Being WordPress hosting specialists they are perfect for those smaller websites built on the WordPress platform.”
- Heart Internet – “Heart internet are a solid UK provider. They have great support, are available on the phone and have great packages for smaller businesses that cost less than £120 a year. Their support and live chat are very helpful, they have next to zero downtime and are very flexible with what you can host on their servers. They also have great fully-managed dedicated solutions, so if your business requires a more powerful platform, then Heart have the solution across the board.”
1. Solid performance
2. Reasonable prices
3. Options & ease of use
Many hosts, large and small can stake claim to owning top spots in any of these categories, but I feel that GoDaddy has proven itself enough in each to get my thumbs up.
A recent test of their economy package with a fresh WordPress install yielded 99.96% uptime over a 10-month period with an average load time of 455ms. Each of those results would likely be considered Top 5-ish among major web hosting providers.
Performance aside, GoDaddy’s economy package is still seen as expensive at $7.99 p/mo compared to Bluehost or HostGator, which have economy packages under $3 p/mo and post similar performance metrics. GoDaddy has responded with promotions frequently, such as the current offering at a $2.79 p/mo first year rate with the standard $7.99 renewal. Where it starts to shine, however, is on the Deluxe and above plans where GoDaddy offers unlimited sites, storage and subdomains for a $3.99 p/mo 12-month teaser with a $10.99 renewal, more or less matching the other large providers.
If you take your small business seriously, you probably shouldn’t be on a shared economy plan with any provider. GoDaddy offers an entry-level VPS (Virtual Private Server) business hosting package at $22.99 p/mo, and with unlimited bandwidth, that becomes easy to recommend.
One downfall of GoDaddy is the annoying and often confusing onslaught of upsells during the checkout process. But if you can make it through the cart and figure out all the components you need, the setup and integration of your options should be seamless, even with 3rd party products like Microsoft Office 365. GoDaddy offers their own easy-to-use product user-interfaces along the way, many times eliminating the need to ever log into cPanel. Installing WordPress is an absolute breeze.
Lastly, I give GoDaddy 5 stars in the one area which is often seen as their shortcoming; Support. Ignoring any quantitative or qualitative data about this subject online, I will speak from personal experience. In the dozens, if not hundreds of various contacts I’ve made to GoDaddy support over the years, be it Live Chat, Phone or Email; whether the issue seemed to be on their end or one of my many “Doh!” moments, I have NEVER left the session disappointed.
As a PostScript, I’d also recommend GoDaddy web hosting to small agencies, like mine, where you can become a reseller of virtually all their products. Their domain name registration tools and online ordering are white-boxed, easy to setup and maintain (as well as integrate with your own website) and offer generous revenue shares. While this does not influence my personal review of its service, and certainly won’t make me a millionaire at my level of resale, it is a nice perk for small agencies.
So, in conclusion, there are some hosts out there with better performance. Many with cheaper points of entry. But at the package price point where it matters for small business, the variety and ease of option management and accessible, helpful support make GoDaddy my #1 choice for small business web hosting.”
Although there are times where the customer service could be improved, most of the time, the people I’ve spoken to have been helpful and friendly, and always willing to educate me on how to fix site problems and bugs. Their customer service on the phone is the best too. For example, I had a client whose site I needed to migrate over from another hosting provider, and I was able to reach a representative within minutes. They made it clear what would be required to transfer a website domain, and the breadth of knowledge they had was impressive.
A few months back, I upgraded the hosting on my website to their business plan and saw a massive difference in the performance. For just $16 a month, I get outstanding hosting which has helped my site score in GTMetrix and it loads in less than 2 seconds. I have nothing but glowing words for Hostgator, and would highly recommend them to anyone looking to build a new site for their business. Look into their business hosting, and you’ll be astounded as I was when I made the upgrade.”
So one day, I looked at Flywheel’s site and decided to try out a plan costing roughly $30 a month. This was the perfect solution for my needs, as I was able to transfer the client website onto their platform easily and have a staging environment to still work in. The website speed of my client site was unlike anything I had ever seen. In GTMetrix, a popular site speed measuring tool, the site was able to load in a little over a second! Because their platform doesn’t rely on Apache by default, there’s no need to have as many caching plugins on WordPress. Your code is already minified and compressed, for the most part, so you can focus more on ensuring your site is mobile-friendly, and the on-page search engine optimization is in order.
If you can spare at least $100 a month for Flywheel and have multiple business sites you need hosting for, the platform is entirely worth the price. Their customer service is a cut above the rest. You can even reach out to them on weekends, and they’re there to answer any questions you might have about their hosting and other products.”
“First, talk to your website developer. They’ll know more about your web platform than you do, so talk to them about the capacity, scalability and performance that you’ll need for your business. Developers work with hosting platforms every day, so they’ll know what you need to look for to get the best out of your site.
Second, understand that there’s a difference between personal and professional web hosting. ‘Shared’ hosting, which is what you get for those offers that are less than $10 / month, is slow, has poor uptime and is insecure. Your business is professional, so it should use professional hosting to make sure your potential customers get a snappy, reliable experience.
Lastly, know what you’re looking for in a web host. SSL is vital to avoid alarming ‘insecure’ warnings. A global Content Delivery Network will help your site stay fast wherever in the world someone is accessing it from. Uptime should be at least 99.99%. And your host should be scalable — avoid hosts that cut you off or over-charge you when your website becomes popular, look instead for hosts that let you instantly upgrade your plan to cope with your level of traffic.”
- Amazon Web Services – “Without a doubt, the best performance and reliability we’ve had for our sites is Amazon’s AWS. It’s fast, secure and has excellent uptime. It has an excellent backup system to help you avoid catastrophes. It’s also more scalable than any other host we’ve found, with lots of plan levels that start very cost-effectively and only need to increase once your business is attracting lots of visitors. It supports lots of operating systems and platforms, including WordPress, Magento, Drupal and Joomla.”
- WP Engine – “If you’re using a WordPress site, you won’t go far wrong with WP Engine. They cover all of the professional basics like SSL and CDN, and have generous visitor capacity in their tiers. It also helps deal with some of WordPress’s weaknesses, providing strong backup and caching tools. It’s not the cheapest service out there, but the customer service and added value it offers your business makes it well worth the investment.”
With UKFast, you’re not going to be paying £2.49 a month for your server, but then you’re not
going to be getting that £2.49 service, i.e. you won’t just be a number on a spreadsheet. The servers that your websites will be on will not be crowded or slow, they will be quick, efficient and reliable. You will be able to choose between different operating systems and visual control panels, Plesk or cPanel/WHM. I have an eCloud Public Service with UKFast, giving me control and flexibility to scale the server up as my own business grows and to meet the needs and requirements of my clients.
The account manager (you will be assigned one) will be your point of contact at UKFast for anything relating to your account, your business and even on hand to ensure you’re satisfied with their service. Their support team is on hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and believe me I know that as I have often rang them at 2am in the morning. Yes you did read that right, a support team you can actually ring – no need for a ticket just pick up the phone and call.
What I love about these guys is the fact that they are never too busy to respond to questions, no matter what they are. So whether you’re just setting up a WordPress website or transferring 200 clients over to their eCloud services, they really are the company you need to speak with if you value your website and reputation. For me, ensuring my client websites are online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year is vital.
Whether you’re a small start up business or a company that is large with offices in multiple
locations, before you sign up to any provider give the team at UKFast a call and see what they can do for your business. Honestly you will be surprised.”
I initially joined Hostgator as I, probably, like a lot of young and still wet behind the ears programmers, wanted somewhere cheap with a no frills service whilst I was completing my degree. I can remember paying $4.97 per month back in 2006, and with the £ to $ rate being so amazing I think I ended up paying around £60 for the year as a reseller, which enabled me to make a bit of money on the side for the Student Union Bar.
If you’re a small business and you’re looking for somewhere to just basically put up your website and you’re not too worried about SEO, for me HostGator would be my recommendation. Their servers were reliable, I think there was only 2 or 3 outages that I had, and that was over a 4 year period. They have an online chat service, and their support team and sales team are fantastic. I cannot fault HostGator’s customer service team as they did deliver what they said they would. If my memory serves me correctly you could also manage your billing via a dedicated billing system and the support team was available via a ticket system.
Servers weren’t too shabby, however, I learned over time that some of their servers were rammed with lots of websites, which for me meant the server was a little slower. But as I say, if you’re looking for somewhere to just host a website and you do want a basic, no frills service, then definitely give Hostgator a try.”
- SiteGround – “I highly recommend SiteGround as a hosting provider for small businesses. As a web designer, my reputation is on the line when I endorse hosting providers and I can say with full confidence that SiteGround is one of the only companies I recommend without hesitation. They aren’t the biggest game in town (which makes them more responsive to their customers, in my opinion) but they are highly respected and provide excellent customer service. Their packages are affordable, their servers are able to handle shared hosting challenges and they have enough options that soloprenuers and small companies can find something that works for them.”
“Hosting is not something that should be seen as a cost-saving exercise. You need a reliable hosting provider to ensure your website / shop front is open 24 hours a day. We would recommend Heart Internet, Rackspace and UK 2 NET.
As with most hosting, you will find negative reviews and this can be the result of people purchasing web space and not understanding how to use it. For example, someone will pay for £4.99 a month expecting 24-hour support and someone on the end of the phone to help them figure everything out. This would be £59.88 per year in total which doesn’t cover the average IT hourly rate for 1 hour of support, yet people judge hosting companies negatively for lack of support.”
- Heart Internet – “Heart Internet provides cost-effective web hosting services that are as reliable as they come in the shared world, and then for a little more money you can purchase a VPS server which is going to give you more power and speed. However, with a VPS server you do not get support like you do on shared hosting so be aware.”
- Rackspace – “Rackspace is a solid company to trust and have become a leading name in the hosting world. If you want a server then Rackspace is worth a look, but this comes at a cost.”
- UK2 – “UK 2 NET is another solid choice for hosting and the servers they offer come with varied power options and costs, which are again relatively high, but they offer great support.”
“Chameleon Web Services has servers of all types at many leading hosting providers and also uses hosting provided to us by clients and we feel that often the hosting company reviews do not do the companies justice and most of the websites ranking the best hosting providers are built on a pay more system to be top.”
- Flywheel – “Flywheel is the best web hosting for WordPress sites as it a managed platform with its own caching hardware, which makes your site lightening fast via PHP7.2. They have a great real-time 24 hour support and a live chat facility.”
- Blacknight – “Blacknight is a very established web hosting provider based in Ireland and has customers around the world. They have great customer service and decent prices.”
- domainname – “DomainName.ie is a great platform for sourcing the best .ie or .com domain and affordable hosting for your business. They give great advice on buying the best domain and hosting package to suit businesses of all sizes.”
- Pantheon – “Pantheon is a great hosting option once you’ve outgrown the entry level stuff like GoDaddy. The nice part about Pantheon is that they build in development, staging, and live production environments out of the box. They also include many DevOps (Developer Operations) tools that are normally associated with much more sophisticated hosting operations. And they use containerized and distributed systems to get the best of shared and dedicated cloud hosting paradigms for a fraction of the cost it takes to set up all this infrastructure yourself.”
The infrastructure is designed to be N+2 resilient on hardware, meaning should a server fail, another will automatically take over. They offer a realistic 100% uptime SLA on power and 99.999% on connectivity. If your hosting requirements are pretty straightforward, the sales team provides you the most cost effective and efficient set ups with the ability to scale.
All aspects of the service we have found to be of the highest quality, be it the sales team, server and data centre support, account management or marketing department. They also throw great events from industry seminars to award ceremonies.
Wirehive is for all levels and requirements via AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, dedicated or virtual hosting.”
The only possible downside with them is that you do need to have some technical skills to set up the servers, as there’s no control panel like you’ll find elsewhere, so once you’ve gone through the one-click process of setting up a “droplet”, the rest of the configuration is done using a terminal window with Linux commands. Having said that, their documentation is absolutely fantastic, so you’ll easily find the steps that you need online.”
SiteGround would make a great lower-cost option, but may come at the expense of slower access speeds for site visitors and less control of server components.”
- Bluehost – “My first recommendation is for Bluehost Hosting. They have an enhanced c-panel that is easy to use. Their pricing is fair, and they give you a free domain name with your purchase for a year. Pcmag.com has also given them excellent uptime scores in testing.”
- SiteGround – “My second recommendation is SiteGround. They offer shared hosting, and as you grow, you can migrate to their dedicated hosting plans. They have fast WordPress hosting with easy one-step WordPress installs. And I think they have one of the best records when it comes to customer service – it’s great! This can be very helpful if it is your first website.”
- Flywheel – “My third recommendation is Flywheel Managed WordPress Hosting. I found their prices to be cheaper than WP-Engine; one of the most popular web host sites for professional web developers. I like the way they have laid out their website with an easy to use sign up and payment process. Flywheel offers tools for agencies, regular backups, built-in security features, and one-click staging sites.”
Richard A Marti Jr
“When you look at the success of virtually any small business, it is the relationships of the key people that form the foundation that great businesses are built on. Websites, SEO, Social Media, are just the tools we use to help create and nurture those relationships. We take a comprehensive and integrated approach to traditional and digital marketing, so we can concentrate on those important relationships and build business as a natural result.
If I had to recommend a web hosting provider for small business, it would be Inmotion Hosting for the reasons ill outline next. For this post, I chose three web hosts: Inmotion Hosting, Hostgator and GoDaddy. I feel strongly that running a small business is hard enough. We shouldn’t have to worry about our website. A word salad full of acronyms and bunches of options does not make our choices clearer.
Across the three options that I have experience with, I wanted to concentrate on the 5 key elements for the most worry free solution. The key elements are uptime, speed, customer service, automatic backups and security (including ssl and recovery.) As a bonus, email accounts included are a nice addition.”
For customer service they offer toll free call in number, user support groups, text support, email support and a support ticket system. Their support is from here in the US. If things do go wrong, Inmotion Hosting seems committed to making things work again quickly and easily. Along with easy access customer support, they provide free backups.Just one more thing we can rest easier about.
Security. Protecting our data along with our customers with their included SSL helps our peace of mind. Google pretty much considers that all sites have an ssl certificate to protect visitors. With hack protection, we can rest easier. As a little bonus for those of us that need it, they include a generous email package.”
- HostGator – “Hostgator offers similar specs to Inmotion Hosting with some differences. Uptime is comparable to Inmotion Hosting. Hostgator offers backup and restore as an additional option. There are mixed reviews on their customer support. They do include an SSL certificate. Hostgator offers security with Sitelock to protect against threats. Hostgator does have an email package included.”
- GoDaddy – “Godaddy seems to have a good uptime record. Some people have different experiences depending on the applications they are using. Generally a sites are up within 10 mins. Google site speed is good compared to the other hosting companies, maybe even faster. Customer service is located here is the US, which is helpful. I have found them very helpful. Depending on timing, the wait can be a little long, but they do offer to call you back when a rep is free. Site backup and restore is an additional $2.99 per month. You can get an SSL for free with Godaddy’s Ultimate plan (which can have a significant price increase at renewal time.) Godaddy does include security with their plans but I have not needed to use it.”
- SiteGround – “The best hosting provider I’ve ever done business with is SiteGround. Hands down the best from both a technical standpoint and with regards to customer service. Great host for WordPress. Fast load speeds, etc… But their customer support is amazing. I love dealing with the folks at SiteGround. They always seem to go above and beyond the call of duty in helping me with any issues I may encounter. I strongly recommend them for small businesses.”
“It can be tempting to look for lower priced options when it comes to hosting your website. Typically these lower plans ($15 a month or less) are what we call “shared hosting.” Shared hosting means your website is hosted on the same machine as thousands if not tens of thousands of other websites — all sharing the same resources. This is how companies can offer such low prices.
The low price comes with a trade off. You’ll experience poor performance and intermittent outages. Your website is too important for that and there is no reason you should spend less on hosting than you would your cell phone.
Look for either “managed hosting” or a VPS. If you’re using a platform like WordPress the best solution is almost always “managed hosting” where the hosting provider helps manage the security, software and performance of your website.”
- WP Engine – “For WordPress managed hosting we recommend WP Engine. They offer excellent performance, support and capabilities.”
- Flywheel – “Flywheel is another dedicated WordPress hosting service we recommend, also providing good features, performance and support.”
- Liquid Web – “If you need more flexibility or aren’t using WordPress, we recommend LiquidWeb. They have a wide range of plans and have hands down the best support we’ve ever encountered.”
- Flywheel – “When we have a mission critical WordPress website that needs lightning fast speeds and 24/7 support that actually like their jobs… we choose Flywheel. The size of site doesn’t matter, but the more important the website – the better it is to trust Flywheel. They also feature an amazing user control panel and a ton of tools that make our lives easier AND more secure. A few great examples are Force-SSL and their built-in inherent website security. A company well worth checking out.”
- Atrema Technologies – “For the majority of our projects we work with a local Canadian partner called Atrema Technologies. Their data centre is located within Canada (for those that do not want their data in the US), and they are a team that is incredibly easy to work with. From WordPress sites to custom servers, I get to talk with a technical expert anytime I need anything. The Atrema team is extremely hands-on; I’ve gotten to talk with and know the team there, and it is just refreshing to work with a company that isn’t so big they don’t really need to care about you. These guys treat every project I bring them with respect.”
- SiteGround – “I like using SiteGround and use it for hosting on almost every website I build. Most of my sites are WordPress, and SiteGround has great servers and a cache system that works great with WordPress. They also give you a free SSL. I don’t have any affiliate deals with any hosting providers and I still always recommend SiteGround. They are a tad bit more expensive than Godaddy, but the fast servers they offer is worth it to me. With all the focus on site speed, SiteGround is my best option. If you aren’t using CDN’s and need a fast hosting service out of the box then SiteGround is for you.”
- GoDaddy – “GoDaddy is ok, but not great. They are a good company for beginners and small business owners who are doing a lot of the website work themselves. GoDaddy can get annoying because they try and sell you on every little thing. They make you pay extra for an SSL and every little add on will cost you. The good thing that they offer is relatively reliable customer service. You can always get hold of them if there’s a problem. I have had some ongoing issues that took me a few calls to resolve. But for the average person they are a good option”
Using their dashboard to manage and customise your account settings will either be very simple for you if you’re somewhat conversant with hosting jargon, or you’ll find that the learning curve will not be very steep if you think that you’re not very tech savvy. These days, we all want something quick and simple that does not require too much thinking time, and Smart Hosting have worked hard to provide that.
They weigh in just as heavy as some other brands when it comes to server uptime, speed and all the other goodies that you could want from website hosting. One of the reasons why they would be so good for your small business is that they have extensive FAQs and articles to help you troubleshoot any niggles that you may encounter, and they do so in such a way where you don’t have to be digesting heaps of info…especially when you already have so much going on when it comes to keeping your business going.
They may not be as well known as some other hosting brands that I could mention, but I can say that they are the most uncomplicated. I think you’ll come to appreciate how they work to keep you updated on changes that they are making to hosting packages, and what your options are to make sure that you are still getting the best value for money.
If I could sing… correction… if I could sing well… I’d be the lead soprano with a praise chorus about Smart Hosting, and how much time they have saved me (for my own personal website and as a reseller) and also my clients. Sometimes the bigger names don’t always have it right as we can be led to believe. Sometimes it’s the smaller names that save the day!”
“As our clients are largely UK based, we only use UK hosting.”
- Unlimited Web Hosting – “I recommend unlimitedwebhosting.co.uk for very small businesses that are arranging their own hosting. Their shared hosting is very reasonably priced and their online support is excellent. They also offer more premium services and reseller accounts. This makes them great for web designers with small clients that do not need a lot of hosting power. Everything you require, including cPanel or Plesk, is available and they work well with WordPress, Joomla, Magneto, OpenCart, Drupal etc. We used to use Unlimited Web Hosting and were happy with their services when our clients were all very small businesses.”
- Fasthosts – “I recommend fasthosts.co.uk for smaller businesses that need good hosting power for faster sites and busy eCommerce etc. With the expansion of my business, we wanted to provide faster hosting and move to dedicated servers. Fasthosts’ pricing is very competitive and their excellent support is a phone call away. They also offer a range of other hosting options if dedicated is not within your budget. They do not offer managed dedicated servers, but they will carry out work for you at a quoted price that is reasonable.”
- SiteGround – “SiteGround has been a preferred partner of mine who I strongly recommend for your business. I’ve been collaborating with them for a number of years now. They offer a variety of add-on features and free tools such as SSLs and CDNs at a very competitive price. They have good performance, fast servers, 24/7 support and security features that you won’t find among other competitors. Support should be a primary factor when making a decision to partner with a 3rd party hosting provider, and SiteGround seems to be on top of their game with their customer support calls and chat. Highly recommend these guys to any business looking for premier hosting at an affordable rate.”
- WP Engine – “WP Engine specializes in WordPress Hosting, and with about 75,000,000 websites powered by WordPress, WPE is a viable option for any small business looking for a flexible solution online. They’ve developed an outstanding reputation for being a premier hosting solution for WordPress sites. I have worked with them on a handful of websites and have found their customer support to be top-notch. WPE offers several features such as CDNs and SSLs at no additional cost. Some small businesses may see WPE as being pricier than their neighbouring competitors, with the most basic plan starting at $35/mo. However, note that WPE’s most basic package also includes a Dev/Stage and Production environment; an important feature that often comes at an additional cost with competitors. This alone makes their solution worth the price – having a very friendly environment and support team for development.”
Cloudways is the perfect balance between affordable shared hosting and Virtual Server. I also like the fact that Cloudways does not provide email hosting. Email hosting is a very different platform than web hosting. Cloudways specializes in web hosting. Clients can set up their email with a business class provider such as Rack Space or Google Suite.”
“I’ve used many hosting providers in my 20+ years and with all of the ups and downs of my experience, I have only 2 that I now recommend to my clients.”
- WP Engine – “My top choice is WPEngine. Their hosting is exceptionally fast, they don’t spread their resources too thin, and their support is second to none. They offer development environments and SSL certificates. They are more expensive than other providers, especially if you have more than one website, but after the first year of discounts with other providers, the difference isn’t nearly as significant.”
- SiteGround – “My close second is SiteGround. I could say all of the same things about SiteGround as I did for WPEngine, but they aren’t quite as fast, spread their resources a bit thinner and do not offer a development environment until you get to the higher packages. However, if your budget is super tight, they are the best choice out there.”
“I’ve used many hosting providers in my 20+ years and with all of the ups and downs of my experience, I have only 2 that I now recommend to my clients.”
“As an experienced web designer, I’ve used many hosting companies over the years, some good, some not so good. They all do things a little differently and obviously the price reflects on this. When it comes down to your website, the main marketing tool that represents your company, brand or organisation online, it is crucial to have a host you can trust, rely on and even get support from, should you need it. This may sound pretty straight forward, but over the years I’ve experienced some of the best and worst, and trust me you do not want to experience the worst (no naming and shaming).”
– Their level of support is like none other I’ve experienced. They claim to answer the support line within 3 rings. When I first heard this I thought, hmmm, that’s quite a bold claim. They answer every time, sometimes it might be 4 rings, but who’s counting. The point is they always answer.
– They care. When you are in need of support this matters a lot. I’ve used the support line several times now, each time usually a different employee, but each and every one of them has dedicated the same level of care into getting any issues resolved ASAP.
– Free events. I’ve been to many ‘free events’ over the years. A lot have a been a waste of time. UKFast host events, which to anyone who doesn’t host with them costs per ticket (I think the last one I attended should have been £75 if I remember rightly). You always learn a lot, they’re useful and feature some big name speakers. They cover hugely relevant topics for online businesses; Cyber Security and eCommerce Live being the last two I attended. Events include free refreshments, food, a free goodie bag and you get to ride the slide out of the event at the end if you wish too – obviously I did!
– I’ve struggled with any cons for UKFast. Some may put the cost down as one, however I wouldn’t – it’s worth every penny.”
– Pound for pound, what you get is very reasonable.
– Servers are UK based. As a UK business it’s beneficial to have a UK based server for search rankings, otherwise Google will read your website as a business based in the country of the server’s origin. I’ve found quite a few other hosting companies that businesses think are UK based, however run a few tests and find out they are based overseas.
– Support is good to a certain level (ticket based)
– Searching for new domain names. When searching for a domain name, I’ve heard others experience a scenario whereby the domain name that was available 24 hours earlier, isn’t available any longer and has been registered by the domain registrar they used for the initial domain search. And you can now buy it from them at an inflated price. Heart Internet do not do this. I’ve never personally experienced it either, but it’s better to be safe that sorry. If you want to be double safe then use http://whois.domaintools.com for any new domain searches.
– Support, although I’ve put it as a pro, it is also a con. It depends what level of support you need. Heart Internet ran a ticket only support system when I was a customer, and as far as I am aware they still do. When something goes wrong, which sometimes it does, sitting waiting for a support ticket reply can be very frustrating. When a reply is received, it generally went along the lines of, ‘This is not something we cover within support, if you want one of our senior technicians to look at this it will cost £xx per hour….’ Not helpful when in the middle of a crisis.”
– Scalability. If you have a business that is scaling fast and you need a hosting provider that can adapt to this promptly and efficiently without any disruption to service, Digital River offer a cloud service which can fully facilitate your growth plan.
– Cost efficiency. This is based on your requirements, so as you grow you can easily upgrade your server, then the cost of the server increases based on your upgrades. The benefit of this is that you’re not paying for a server that that has lots of unused space; just pay for what you need, rather than paying for a server you plan on growing into.
– eCommerce, they hold a wealth of knowledge and experience in the eCommerce hosting sector.
Cons (these are more the cons of cloud based hosting in general not just of Digital River)
– Search engines will typically give higher priority to servers hosted locally with a fixed location compared to cloud based hosting when calculating the page rank.
– Cost. Cloud based hosting tends to be more expensive.
– Vulnerable to attack. In cloud computing, each and every component is potentially accessible through the Internet from anywhere in the world. There isn’t anything connected to the Internet which is completely secure, and this makes it more vulnerable than a fixed location server.”
“Our company designs only WordPress websites so our clients typically are going to be using WordPress specific hosting. With that in mind, the 3 hosting companies I would recommend are going to be Flywheel, WP Engine, and SiteGround.”
- Flywheel – “Flywheel is my favorite host and now includes 24/7 tech support. The biggest difference is they do a great job of getting things right the first time you ask for their help. I’ve used them for 5 years on websites that have very small amounts of traffic, and for websites that have a million visitors a week and they can scale accordingly. We focus more and more on website speed and they are among the best hosts for speed in the tests that we have done. They also offer free SSL licenses, which they make extremely easy to set up. I would say they are relatively easy for newcomers to use.”
- WP Engine – “WP Engine provides great WordPress website hosting. Their price point starts a little bit higher than Flywheel, so usually I would go with Flywheel if it’s a smaller client I’m working with. And by small, I’m talking about the web traffic to the website, which is how both companies set their pricing. WP Engine just started offering a great partnership whereby they provide the entire Genesis WordPress theme framework as part of their regular hosting price. That’s hard to beat. These guys are fairly easy to use as well, but have more technical switches and levers you can pull without asking for help.”
- SiteGround – “Neither of the two options above have the ability to do hosting above and beyond WordPress websites. So for clients that really want us to be able to handle everything in one single location (email addresses, domains, etc.), I can recommend SiteGround. While their support isn’t quite as good as either Flywheel or WP Engine, they do provide a good service and the pricing is very reasonable.”
- SiteGround – “When it comes to web hosting, especially for the average small business owner, I think having great customer support is key. My top recommendation is SiteGround hosting. They have consistently crushed it on the support side of things, and are always working to improve their hosting services as well. The combination of advanced feature set and ease of use makes it a win time and time again. We host the majority of our customers with Siteground and love using them on a daily basis.”
- Amazon Web Services – “If you are looking for a high end solution that scales with your well established business, then I think Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the way to go. I love how reliable their hosting is and the wide variety of features and addons they provide to really help expand a quickly growing business with a larger user base. Efficiently scaling is key to an enterprise level business and AWS provides all the tools and then some to get the job done.”
While the high street is fast becoming a ghost town, ecommerce is booming. More people are buying online than ever before. It’s also never been easier to start selling online. Whereas the #1 question for small businesses used to be “how the hell can I afford to get into ecommerce?” now it’s “which ecom platform would work best for me?” You just need to choose one and away you go, sometimes in as little as a few hours. But how do you decide which one to choose? Which platform can help you take your business to the next level?
If you’re struggling with these questions, fear not. We’ve put together this article to help you “figure it out.” How? Well, we talked to the people that really know about this stuff. We reached out and spoke to 78 ecommerce experts, asking each one a very simple yet crucial question: “In your professional experience, what have you found to be the best ecommerce platform for small business?” We let each expert put forward their top 3, and we’ve posted the results below, as well as what each expert had to say. Warning: Some real knowledge bombs were dropped in the making of this article.
So whether you’re just getting into the world of ecommerce or you run an established small business that is looking to increase its revenues by reaching more customers online, this article should help you to hone in one or two options that are worthy of further investigation.
***Who knew that definitions for “small business” vary so wildly?! For the purpose of this article we defined a small business as “any business that has an annual turnover of $0 – $1.5 million and 1-25 employees.”
Top Ecommerce Solutions for Small Business: How Our Experts Voted
|Platform||# of Votes|
|#1. Shopify||69 Votes|
|#2. Magento||37 Votes|
|#3. WooCommerce||33 Votes|
|#4. BigCommerce||19 Votes|
|#5. Wix||10 Votes|
|#=6. PrestaShop||4 Votes|
|#=6. Miva||4 Votes|
|#7. Squarespace||3 Votes|
|#=8. EKM||2 Votes|
|#=8. Volusion||2 Votes|
|#=9. Shopware||1 Vote|
|#=9. SAP||1 Vote|
|#=9. SuiteSommerce||1 Vote|
|#=9. Adrecom eSuite||1 Vote|
|#=9. ShopyGen||1 Vote|
|#=9. iPage||1 Vote|
|#=9. blueCommerce||1 Vote|
|#=9. Weebly||1 Vote|
|#=9. Bespoke||1 Vote|
|#=9. VTEX||1 Vote|
|#=9. Neto||1 Vote|
|#=9. Kooomo||1 Vote|
|#=9. Brightpearl||1 Vote|
So there you have it! There were 23 different platforms recommended for small business ecommerce during the course of our survey, but as you’ve probably already seen from the table above, there were a small group that kept cropping up time and time again.
No other ecommerce solution was recommended more than Shopify – it was the runaway winner. In fact, it’s hard to have a conversation about selling online these days without mentioning Shopify. They just make ecommerce so accessible, and easy. You don’t need to be a programming whizz or spend thousands of dollars upfront any more. You can have a store set up and running in just a few days, sometimes even in just a few hours. Crazy, right?!
BigCommerce was another solution that was spoken very highly of by our experts and shares many similarities with Shopify, with some suggesting they feel it offers more “out of the box” functionality. And Wix was the other hosted platform that scored well, with its drag and drop interface, user friendliness and ulta-affordable subscription plans making it a great place to get acquainted with ecommerce or use as a testing ground with very little risk.
So in terms of hosted options, Shopify, BigCommerce and Wix are the best ecommerce sites for small business according to our survey and three solid contenders to check out. These are all rather good if you don’t want to get bogged down with the technical side of things yourself.
If you’re looking for a self-hosted ecommerce platform, which generally offer a lot more flexibility and control over both the design elements of your store plus its features, then our poll also turned up a couple of results worthy of your consideration. At #2 on our list, Magento was only beaten on recommendations by Shopify, and ecom pros consistently referred to it as being an extremely powerful platform that has the ability to scale from startup store to an online business turning over millions in revenue per year. It’s feature rich (there’s virtually no functionality you can’t achieve), great for SEO, and very robust. You will likely have to hire a developer though, unless you possess decent programming skills.
The other option if you want to go down the self-hosted route is WooCommerce, which was the 3rd most recommended ecommerce solution overall in our survey. This converts any WordPress site into a fully functioning, very versatile ecommerce platform, and there are thousands of themes and plugins available, making it easier to ensure your store stands out from the crowd and has all of the functionality that you need it to have. It may not be as powerful as Magento overall, but the learning curve isn’t as steep and you only require some basic technical skills to get a standard store set up.
1) If you’re not particularly technically minded and don’t have a developer on staff, you want to get up and running quickly, but you want a platform that offers the features and capability to grow with you, have a look at these:
3) If you want to make something that looks completely unique, need some custom functionality, and have some technical/programming skills or the budget to hire a developer, then these two platforms are likely your best bet:
Read What The Experts Said
Below you can sift through and benefit from the contributions of each expert that collaborated on this article and made it possible (huge thanks to you all!). There is tons of insightful knowledge in there that should go a long way in helping you land on the best ecommerce solution for your small business.
And if you’ve already got a platform in mind and want to see what established industry professionals have to say about it, use the filter to sort the contributions. We hope you find this information of some help!
- WooCommerce – “If you already have a website running on WordPress, Woo Commerce could possibly be the right choice to power your e-commerce site. This free, intuitive plugin integrates very nicely with WordPress, and the plethora of themes available make it an easy and rapid route to a sleek and efficient site to sell your wares. It has become somewhat of a standard, and support is widely available from freelancers who can provide help from installing and configuring the plugin to developing custom code to meet more complex requirements.”
- Shopify – “Shopify is an e-commerce solution provided as Software as a Service; simply choose the plan that is right for you (ranging from 29 USD/month to 299 USD/month depending on the service level) and you’ll be up and running in minutes. Shopify is possibly the easiest platform to learn and it takes much of the complexity of managing e-commerce away. All major platforms are supported and the clear and simple user interface make it easy to learn. Don’t want to configure and manage it yourself? No sweat; help is readily available online on your regular freelancer site. Be aware that Shopify will take a cut between 0.5% and 2% of all of your sales as well as the monthly fee.”
- PrestaShop – “Prestashop is one of the reference e-commerce frameworks which has been out there for more than 10 years now. In a way, PrestaShop is to e-commerce what WordPress is to content management! Like its CMS counterpart, Prestashop benefits from the support of a very wide community and can be enhanced by an impressive number of standardized plugins to do anything from connecting to your warehouse software, managing a specific type of product or boosting your e-commerce SEO. Although the Prestashop code base is free (Open Software Licence), you’ll need to anticipate integration and hosting costs to get your site up running.”
- Shopify – “I’ve had clients on Big Commerce and Magento (free version) and Shopify is easier to use and allows for more functionality at less cost. BigCommerce requires work to enable common ecommerce functionality (e.g. controlling sort order of products on a category page). Magento requires significant custom code.
With Shopify I was able to transition an ecommerce client with significant SKUs to the platform in less than 3 months. There are great plug ins for Shopify that are free. In addition, many of these free plug ins allow start ups and small businesses to execute sophisticated functionality that previously was only available to enterprise companies with enterprise-size budgets.”
- Shopify – “Shopify, as the name suggests was designed to enable you to easily and cheaply create an online shop. There’s even an option to support real-world sales.
Shopify commands an impressive 500,000+ websites on their hosted (or cloud) platform, claiming over a million active users and $62Bn of transactions.
As a platform it is easy to use, even for novice users, with a vast resource of help and plug-ins to deliver almost any ecommerce experience. With extensive configuration options, plus a choice of off-the-shelf or custom themes and integration plug-ins to scalable pricing and a partner network, Shopify really can grow with your business needs. Notably there are no limits to the number of products or customers it supports.
Marketing integrations support almost any channel you wish, with tools for search, social media and even Amazon. Inventory management, blogging and reporting are built-in and they can even manage your payments and send automated fulfilment instructions for you.
It’s worth investigation which version of the software will meet your needs as certain features are only available in the more expensive pricing plans. However with plans starting at just $29 per month, you get a lot of value compared to getting a site custom built. The range of plug-ins provides an easy and cheap way to deal with dynamic business requirements, although you may have to compromise when is comes to the exact functionality you require.
For these reasons, Shopify is my cloud based ecommerce platform of choice. They even offer a 14 day free trial!”
- Magento – “Magento, now owned by Adobe, is the world’s #1 ecommerce platform in terms of revenue with over $100Bn in annual sales. It’s an ideal platform for the more technical business and capable of being customized to individual requirements. Magento is available in both cloud based and self hosted varieties, notably the core open source software itself is freely available. This community option has been a significant contributor to the wide adoption and range of resources for Magento. Support is abundant from self-help online to over 200,000 developers worldwide. There is also an academic version that is suitable for businesses with less than $500,000 in sales.
As their website states, it offers flexibility that many hosted platforms can’t compete with, so if you want custom content, tools or integration, especially with back-office systems, then this may be a better choice for your business. It tends to be the preferred choice for B2B ecommerce.
If you’re hosting the site yourself, you may need to find a development partner unless you have experience in coding already, and although plug in themes and tools are available for most common requirements, it’s advisable to get help with payment solutions from a reputable source if you’ve not done this before.
Due to its PHP heritage, Magento opens up a world of possibilities and enables you to only include the elements you need. This helps to keep your website lean compared to off-the-shelf solutions that may include unwanted capabilities that complicate the configuration or operation of your site.
It’s worth noting that self-hosted platforms can potentially be more expensive to maintain despite the free access to the code. As with most things, if you’re buying in development skills, quality can vary widely, as can hourly rates. By planning your needs carefully you can avoid ad-hoc costs in future, and as a result Magento is a good platform for businesses whose ecommerce requirements are unlikely to change often.
For these reasons Magento is my self-hosted ecommerce platform of choice.”
- Wix – “Don’t get me wrong, Wix has its place as a website tool and many businesses run successfully on this platform. However, Wix is not built for ecommerce, integration with Google merchant center and other marketing platforms is complex or expensive. A modern ecommerce site needs to leverage the key marketing tools that enable businesses to find shoppers.
Its primary focus is to provide a cheap, easy to use environment to build a good looking website, which it does, but since there’s so much more to digital marketing than that, I have to rule it out of my ecommerce options. Interestingly the word marketing only appears on their homepage & feature list for email!
Although on the surface Wix may seem like a simple, cheap option, unfortunately the lack of scalability and integration options mean that Wix is not the right solution for most small business ecommerce needs.”
Mark A. Ramdial
- Shopify – “Absolutely love this platform! This is perfect for small business and even larger businesses. There is virtually no learning curve, if you’ve created an Ebay or Amazon listing before you have the ability to open up your own ecommerce website. There are no hidden costs! No Hosting Fees (usually a separate cost when having an ecommerce website i.e. rackspace) and no development cost – I call Shopify the great equalizer in an ecommerce world dominated by larger solutions like Magento and Demandware. Now a fashion designer can become an ecommerce manager, with their 24/7 customer support (they had support on Christmas day for me!!) to their robust app store – this honestly is your one stop shop for scalability. Clients include MVMT Watches and Kylie Cosmetics.”
- Squarespace – “I would not call Squarespace an E-commerce powerhouse in the space, however their capabilities are solid (depending on what your industry is) if you’re a photographer that is looking to sell some of their art while showcasing your portfolio. I would not recommend Square Space for a high volume store – however, if you some higher value product and you want to show it off with a clean aesthetic and easy to use backend tools, you honestly can’t go wrong with Squarespace. The cost is similar to Shopify too.”
- BigCommerce – “BigCommerce is a solid option as well if you are looking for inexpensive and easy to use ecommerce solutions. The Aesthetic of the B.C. Ecommerce sites defer from the previous 2 that were mentioned and offers a more “traditional” ecommerce experience. Usability is also very easy and it virtually does not have a learning curve. Costs are also in line with Shopify as well. Clients include Camelpak and Skullcandy.”
In the end Shopify wins out as the top choice for small business, the pros heavily outweigh the cons.
1. Ease of use for non-technical users
2. 24/7 support
3. Great App Store for any ecommerce needs you have, just download and done!
4. Cost Effective Pricing and no hidden fees
5. Extremely scalable
6. The themes already have a mobile optimized feel to them, and since most online traffic comes from mobile devices this is a nice feature to have.
1. The App Store could use some stronger players – some of the App Selection is limited.
2. There is virtually no support for a custom theme (a theme that is not available in the Shopify menu of themes – typically created by an agency or developer) so you will always have to go back to your developer or agency in the event you would like to make changes. Also, some apps are a mess to uninstall from the custom theme which could mess up things like checkout.
Another tip for the small business owner. Just remember, that even though you may have the premier E-commerce platform in the industry and you have a [email protected] website, marketing will always be the biggest expense you will potentially run into. So, be savvy with how you market and drive traffic to your website and the rest should be taken care of.
There is not one-size-fits-all eCommerce software platform yet, but WooCommerce and Shopify certainly are the closest thing to that. At ON.marketing we have been involved in hundreds of eCommerce projects for SEO and performance marketing and we had the chance to evaluate each one of them in terms of:
• user interface
• technical requirements
• preinstalled functionality
• how easy is it to expand features using plugins
• maintenance effort.
With these factors in mind and depending the business’s size we recommend the following eCommerce platforms:
1. Shopify: Start selling in 5 minutes! Do not spend time dealing with technical details, just sell now!
2. WooCommerce: The next step after Shopify. You need to grow capabilities, expand, do more things, get better control of everything. Move from Shopify to WooCommerce.
3. Magento: This is when you feel ready to grow from a small business and take everything to the next level. It is an investment into your future.
- Shopify – “This is the easiest way to get started with an eCommerce business, the cost is very small and overall the time to market is very quick. All you need is to create an account, select one of the available themes and start marketing your products. Overall, my experience says that it is 10 times more important to start selling immediately and invest your time, focus, energy and budget in marketing your new business than investing the same resources in the website development. Start working on the product-market fit as soon as possible and ignore all the technical details that just withhold resources from your potential success. It is easier to learn than anything else and support is always available from the platform, you don’t have to go out look for developers and work a business relationship with them (often the biggest, overlooked challenge).”
- WooCommerce – “WooCommerce is a great eCommerce software platform for small businesses ranging from solopreneurs that want to sell their very first product online up to very fast growing eCommerce startups that sell millions of dollars every month, as long as they are comfortable with some technical work. Self-hosting is not easy or that fast or for the faint hearted so it comes into eCommerce business’s life sometime after they get some traction and when they have solid proof that they need to move to the next level.
The first big difference when you move from Shopify to WooCommerce is hosting. Hosting all by itself is a major challenge, you had better expect to pay at least $50 per month for half-decent hosting, and still you will have to worry about uptime, backups and speed (or even more if you really want to invest in speed for SEO & CRO purposes). In order to get things moving, you need to look into payment gateways and how they integrate with WooCommerce, you will soon notice that things are not always that straightforward. The biggest challenge that you have to face before you actually launch: finding the right software development team to help you with all of these tasks and then some more like installing the right plugins, configuring them and then configuring a custom-made theme for your exact requirements. This takes time, cost and does not always work as you would expect, as it involves the most complicated part of business: People.
WooCommerce gives you all the freedom that you need to do proper SEO in your website and you need to do a lot of detailed technical and on-site SEO if you plan to sell more than 5000 products, something that you will find probably impossible to do with Shopify.”
- Magento – “Magento is the next step after WooCommerce, but it is not a necessary step. It is a choice for only very few, those that are happy to invest heavily in technical development for their eCommerce business. It has increased hosting requirements when compared to WooCommerce and it does not benefit from such a large plugin and developer marketplace.
Magento’s biggest benefit is that it allows for even more customizations, more accurate and detailed code implementations that will fit exactly your business model. If you want to have very fine-grained access rights for your team members and integrate your database with other systems such as enterprise ERPs then Magento might be the right solution for you.”
- Shopify – “Shopify is the platform with the most momentum at the moment and is certainly the cool kid on the block in the small business market. Shopify is focused on a lot of small businesses’ biggest challenges through solid offerings in product databases and inventory management system functionality; this gives ease in building channels across multiple websites and marketplaces.
If you’re a business that has lots of inventory (congratulations!) you need a robust platform and Shopify delivers in spades. Consumers spend their time on the front end, but small business operators are in the backend and Shopify excels on the administration front.
Unlike other platforms, Shopify handles payment gateways much more efficiently baking them into the offer without messing around with additional apps. And unlike open-source competitors, Shopify has a dedicated support team that can handle all aspects of the platform.”
- Magento – “Magento has long been the leader in eCommerce platforms built off the open-source nature of the software appealing to developers across the globe. After the recent acquisition by Adobe, Magento now has endless riches sitting in the coffers to stave of competitors who have made up ground in recent years by focusing on user experience.
A big selling point is the Magento Community version that is free and gives small business owners a chance to get their business live and trading at minimal cost compared to many other platforms. As your business grows it is not difficult to upgrade, although you will be needing to shift onto a payment tier and will need to employ a decent agency to assist with the build.
Not that it will be hard to find someone to assist, as Magento has a village of capable partners that will help small businesses grow technically and connect you to a marketplace of third-party integrations that will handle most of what you could ever need.
Magento has a plethora of built-in eCommerce features such as promotional pricing, newsletter management, multi-language support, virtual products, layered navigation, personalized products, etc. that essentially just leaves open source competitors for dead.
Finally, Magento was the first platform to embrace the logistics market partnering with companies such as DHL and FedEx to deliver Magento Shipping, which takes away the pain of shipping for small businesses.”
- WooCommerce – “WooCommerce is competitive with leading enterprise eCommerce applications, but because it’s free, any small business can take advantage of this platform without fear of expensive support contracts or proprietary software licenses.
The modular nature is attractive for any business and especially small businesses where you are learning who you are and may need to pivot at any time. Commitment is hard when you are growing, so knowing that WooCommerce has a raft of developers in the background to dig you out of any situation is comforting.
Plugins can be your friend and WooCommerce has more than you’ll ever need. WooCommerce has WordPress as a parent so you know flexibility and functionality is at the heart of the platform. More than other platforms, WooCommerce has digital sales in its toolbox, so small businesses can theoretically sell anything from Jordan sneakers to digital games and everything in-between.
WooCommerce is made for selling and will give you heaps of advantages. With over a 100 payment gateways that can be setup, shipping capabilities and inventory management, this platform will save you a heap on ‘additional’ requirements that you so often get hit with when you start a business.”
I am a visual person and have used analogies for simplicity all of my life. In the discussion around website platforms, I think that it is much clearer to use the analogy of building a house.
A website is just like a house – it has a foundation (the platform), it has walls (the structure), it has rooms (the pages and categories) and it is fully furnished (with your content and / or products). A little more on that later.
I started my first eCommerce business is 2010 and although it was such a short time ago, it may as well be in the Neolithic Age as far as the resources that were available then to small business.
My initial website cost me north of $20,000, was clunky, was run by a website design agency who were only interested in their monthly proprietary fees and had absolutely no interest in my business, its strategies or its growth. The initial build took me 5 months, I was overwhelmed with “geek-speak”, I couldn’t customise anything as I wished without outlaying literally thousands of dollars more and I had virtually no control over my own website back-end.
This eCommerce startup ended in tears (mine) and I put the whole concept to bed.
Fast forward a couple of years and I began another eCommerce business with the welcome knowledge that a new breed of website templates had been developed by genius techs who understood the pain points of small business – enter BigCommerce and later, Shopify. Both have their subtle differences and I will outline them a little later.
My second, and subsequent eCommerce sites have all cost me less than $80.00 per month, have taken only days from set up to launch, are highly customisable, easy to operate, change and manipulate and I have full control over my own website.
In terms of our house build analogy, these eCommerce and Shopping Cart website platforms are similar to a kit home building company who is happy to provide excellent customisation and support for you as the DIY website builder or your own contract builder and also continue to enhance and develop their systems to ensure your kit home was constantly modernised and up-to-date.
• Made with the DIY business owner in mind
• Can eliminate the need for an external developer or designer
• An all in one eCommerce and shopping cart solution offering seamless integration with inbuilt applications
• Upgrades and changes to the platform are generally included in a monthly fee
• Although not designed by a community, there are many users and developers equipped to expertly use the platforms and therefore help is never far away
• If required, changing from one developer to another is quite seamless
• SEO friendly
• Easily scalable
• Designed for seamless import and export to and from commonly used payment (e.g. PayPal), accounting (e.g. MYOB), newsletter (e.g. Mail Chimp) and database (e.g. excel) programs
• Information on eCommerce and Shopping Cart website platforms and their capabilities is readily and publicly available
• Sophisticated in-built FAQ, reference and help sections
• Assumes a robust level of web savvy for DIY (although there are many companies / developers who can do the work on your behalf)
• Customisation is limited to the applications within the platform (although, in general, these are vast and cover the needs of most website owners)
• Not designed for highly customised websites
Best suited to
• eCommerce businesses on a budget
• Business owners who prefer to control the project and DIY
• Businesses with quantities of physical products
• Depending on the size and scope of your inventory and customer base, fixed monthly charges for eCommerce and Shopping Cart website platforms will generally range from $49.00 to $199.00 +
- BigCommerce – “I love using BigCommerce – the customer service is fantastic, the choice of templates is robust, the BigCommerce community support is incredible and best of all – the fixed monthly fees are just that – fixed; they are not pegged to revenue so I feel completely in control.
The integrations, APIs and the available applications that link with BigCommerce have grown exponentially over the past 2 years especially and many of the “cool kids” are adopting the platform – check out Skull Candy’s website for some inspiration!
When you have a large inventory or number of options and SKUs, I believe that BigCommerce handle the categorisation of products better than any other DIY eCommerce platform. I also believe that their categorisation and optimisation of a combination of retail and wholesale sales on the one site is second to none.
Although, like previously stated, DIY customisation definitely requires some web nous, the platform is relatively easy and user friendly to work with.”
- Shopify – “Shopify is a beautiful eCommerce platform. Although, in my opinion, not as ideal as BigCommerce, it runs a very close second.
I don’t like that monthly fees are pegged to revenue (unless you utilise their comparatively expensive payment gateway) and I don’t like their simplistic treatment of product categories. Of course, high level customisation would circumvent the latter issue but it is simply too complex for my liking.
Other than those two gripes, the Shopify customer service is excellent and their available basic templates are arguable more attractive at first glance than those of BigCommerce”
- Shopify – “Having worked closely with hundreds of retailers, I’ve had the unique opportunity to make recommendations in various capacities including ecommerce. The needs of the smaller retailer generally differ greatly from those larger retailers, mainly because there is not always a dedicated team to handle all the different facets ecommerce demands. Given that, Shopify is an easy recommendation that provides for most ecommerce needs and doesn’t require smaller business owners a huge upfront investment of time or money. Shopify provides hosted carts that are designed to work out of the box. There is not a need to have a dedicated developer on staff to set up and maintain the cart experience. The templated approach allows for easy plug and play and allows the retailer to be up and running quickly (within a few hours). If a retailer is concerned about outgrowing the solution, no worries as Shopify also provides ShopifyPlus – a more robust option for a more sophisticated retailer.
If you are a new retailer, just entering the ecommerce space, Shopify invests a lot of time and money to support you as well. Shopify works to build an ecosystem of experts and encourages such experts (currently near 570,000) to share their pearls of wisdom in their forums as well as Facebook group. Shopify also invests money in annual shows and regular meet ups to further encourage the open communication. One of the major differences I’ve seen at this trade show versus others in the space is that the founder and current CEO, Tobi Lütke is very visible, accessible and open to discussions. This is quite refreshing to me as he candidly shares future plans with the group, making all feel included in the wave. This is one example of the little things that go a long way with Shopify.
One of Shopify’s greatest assets is the marketplace which allows developers and experts to create plug-ins, or extensions that provide additional customizations to meet the ecommerce needs that go beyond the already-robust Shopify solution. Shopify also supports Point of Sale (POS) transaction functionality for those who need to sell in a brick and mortar situation, tying all sales functionality into a single source. There are multiple reporting tools to pull reports and information from the system so that a smaller retailer doesn’t need to invest in additional analytics tools to assess sales trends. All of these details can be pulled from the retailer’s personal phone allowing access anywhere. Shopify truly is an ecommerce solution that provides instant turnkey functionality to a retailer without requiring expertise in multiple areas for deployment. Because of this there are numerous success stories and a network of thriving merchants, developers and consultants all working because of the Shopify ecosystem.”
- Shopify – “Shopify is by far the best solution for SMB. Keep in mind that, at the end of the day, you are not only managing customers’ expectations but also your employees’ expectations. Shopify is a platform that offers a user-friendly interface that only requires basic skills when it comes to creating and designing your website template, integrating your payment solutions or adding any of their hundreds of plug-ins options, which allows you to connect your Google Analytics account and Merchant account or even just to add a promotion planner. Their CMS is simplistic and their customer support is very pro-active. The only downfall is the limitations of working with their own unique code “liquid” which may irritate some programmers along the way. The pricing structure makes it affordable and scalable when your business is growing to the next level.”
- WooCommerce – “For a SMB, WooCommerce would be an interesting solution to look into. They provide great options and features, however, I find their user interface not so friendly. The same goes for their website design tools, which may require a basic understanding of WordPress coding in order to design your website to your taste, although they do have ready-to-go templates. The main difference from Shopify is that WooCommerce is an open source plug-in and every additional option/feature you wish to add has a cost. In the end, Woo Commerce is a reliable affordable eCommerce solution that requires a bit more programming/coding skills.”
- Magento – “I could suggest Magento as a third option. Some may disagree, stating that it is by far one of the most expensive eCommerce platforms on the market, but it is an open source, free to use solution. If you do it right and keep a simple online store, your hosting fee might not be as high as expected. This being said, when you wish to add features, the cost goes up quickly. They have the largest community of users that can provide support, ideas and solutions to your need. However, you need a good programmer or have decent base of coding in order to get your website up and running in a reasonable amount of time.”
- Shopify – “Shopify is the market leader which makes it easy to get up and running quickly if you’re new to the world of Ecommerce. They are the fastest to get up and running and operate on a SAAS model (Software As A Service). They have a huge variety of options to choose from and there is a big community of users out there to help. And also a large number of partners who can help with creating the store and integrating it into your business.”
- Magento – “Magento is free but you have to host it and build it, which is not what most people want to do so many Magento solutions are built by partners who will build it as per your requirements. This can be what many people are looking for to have some experts to hold your hand as you build out the ecommerce business line within your business. Magento does give a bigger range of options and may be better if your requirements are more complex.”
- EKM – “EKM Powershop is a British company that powers over 50,000 shops in the UK and has dedicated UK account managers that can help you. As well as all the features you would expect the functionality is all built natively, so there are no issues with compatibility as you some time get with 3rd party developed apps as platforms change.”
- BigCommerce – “BigCommerce is easy to set up, robust and connects to marketplaces seamlessly. They have been around a long time and are able to grow and scale for SMB’s.”
- Shopify – “Shopify is “stupid simple” to set up as well. It has a very diverse community of developers and plug-ins to make your store mimic many of the things more robust ecommerce platforms have.”
- Miva – “Miva is the platform that has been in the ecommerce space the longest going back to the 90’s. What I love about it, is the flexibility to do anything you can think of. It has a rock solid group of developers in the community and this platform can scale up into the mega millions as you grow. You will not need to jump off as you grow to enterprise level, like you might need to do on the other 2 platforms I mentioned.”
“Shopify would be at the top of my list, as there is very little lift to get off the ground with their standard package. The ability to scale up based on features is great for a small business.
A quick second would be Big Commerce, which also offers very customizable and scalable packages for small businesses.
Another option that is popular with entrepreneurs is WooCommerce, as it is built on the popular WordPress platform. While this does an adequate job of bringing eComm to a blogging platform, it would not be my first choice.”
- Shopify – “Shopify in my experience to be the best “out of box” solution that can also grow with your business and not hinder it. It has intuitive processes to syndicate your product feed and track marketing activities through the cart. I have also found it to be very stable over the years.”
- BigCommerce – “Big Commerce is a strong contender for shops that are poised to grow and want a solution that can enable their growth. While there are entry level packages, a more established store will benefit from the customizations that are available.”
- WooCommerce – “WooCommerce can be helpful if your business is growing out of WordPress, or if you want to explore eCommerce capabilities in addition to other goals. It can be a bit tedious to setup, though no more so than other WP Plug-ins.”
- WooCommerce – “Wordpress is a common platform, currently powering around a quarter of the internet, so familiar to a lot of people both operationally and for other elements such as SEO. Woo is a bolt on plug in that offers some really good e-commerce functionality and therefore is quite good for those businesses that are just starting out, perhaps with a high street presence and want to bring e-commerce in at a later date. That said, WordPress overall can be a bit annoying to use, and is probably now being left behind in terms of the ease of use of it’s CMS.”
- Shopify – “Shopify is a really easy to use platform built around e-commerce. It integrates with payment providers, email platforms and has a good range of add ons. Like WordPress and Magento it’s built using PHP, so a decent developer should be able to get under the skin if needs be. The other advantage is you don’t have to worry about your own hosting, and all the templates (at least the ones I’ve seen) look really good and are fully responsive. On the flip side, there is a small monthly cost – but this isn’t too much and will pay back over WordPress for the ease of use.”
- Magento – “Magento is really the next level up. I’d suggest this for businesses who have ambitions to grow beyond £1.5M. Also if you have back office systems they want to integrate with to send product and stock data into the website, and orders and customer data out. The old v1.9 is due to come to its end of life mid 2020 (a date that has moved previously) and there’s a big push for businesses who need to plan a move to V2. Due to the advances in M2, this isn’t just an upgrade, but effectively a re-platforming project. M2 has loads of cool new features, is easier to use (M1 wasn’t great), and the higher level M2 Commerce and Cloud versions have some good B2B features built in.”
- Shopify – “If I were to launch an ecommerce business, my first choice would be Shopify since it’s very easy to setup and use. The basic front-end and backend UX interfaces on mobile and desktop are very intuitive and straight to the point when it comes to e-commerce. It’s hosted on Shopify’s servers so you can feel good about reliability, speed and security. You have a wide range of themes and apps you can buy to customize your front-end. Their customer service team is known to be awesome! Shopify has different pricing packages starting as low as $29/month and it goes up as you start selling more and need more features.”
- Magento – “Magento Open Source previously known as Magento Community Edition would be my second choice since it’s open source and you can self-host it on your own servers. Magento is widely used in North America and internationally and has a large community of app and module developers to extend the features of your basic site. It’s also a powerful and customizable platform made to support a large quantity of products and orders. You don’t have to pay a monthly plan and transaction fees to Magento. However, you’ll need a Magento professional or a web developer to help with customization, improving performance and service of your e-commerce site.”
- WooCommerce – “WooCommerce would be recommended if you already have a WordPress Site or Blog and you want to turn it into a shoppable platform, since WooCommerce is simply a WP plugin. WooCommerce is also very customizable with the hundreds of themes available on ThemeForest and WordPress.org. There’s also a wide range of paid add-ons to expand on the list of functionalities required. You can’t use WooCommerce without WordPress so you’ll have keep that in mind if you already have a website that is built on another CMS and you want to make it transactional. The WooCommerce plugin itself is also free.”
- Shopify – “Shopify is the number one ecommerce platform we recommend to all ecommerce business owners because it just works, no matter what type of products you sell, what type of business model you use, or what kind of volume you sell at. For most ecommerce entrepreneurs, it will always be the right choice.
Why we recommend Shopify as the ecommerce platform for small businesses is threefold
• Ease of use
• Integrations and apps
• Scalability & flexibility
First off, Shopify is super user-friendly and easy to get started with. You can set up a great-looking and highly-functional store without having to piece it together with code, which means you can get up and running faster and without any technical skills. Shopify is also a hosted platform which is especially ideal for entrepreneurs and small businesses who don’t have the people-power to constantly be keeping an eye on the backend of things to make sure everything is secure and running smoothly. Shopify handles all of that so you can focus on your store.
Secondly, because Shopify is a top player in the industry, it integrates with almost all other relevant tools and services and nearly every app is made for Shopify first before any other ecommerce platform. It’s a priority, so when you sell on Shopify’s platform you have access to all the tools, services, and apps in the industry because everything’s made to be compatible with it.
Finally, Shopify is capable of scaling with your store as you grow and their platform is flexible enough to work with your business no matter what you sell or how you sell it. Even if you’re just starting out and have less than 10 orders per month, Shopify is a great option for you, and if you’re scaling your store and growing to a million orders per month, Shopify can still stick with you every step of the way. They’re built for stores of any size, so you’ll never have to switch to another ecommerce platform. As for flexibility, they offer so many options so you can sell physical products, digital products, product subscriptions, or any combination in between and you can sell on your own store and on social media platforms, in-person, on Amazon, eBay, and more, all through your one Shopify dashboard. This gives you the means to be where your customers are so you’re never limited by what your ecommerce platform is capable of.
In addition to these reasons, Shopify is also very accessible to get started with, price-wise. Back in the day, entrepreneurs had to shell out huge amounts of money to pay for their business venture which, if they financed through a bank, they were taking a huge personal risk. With Shopify, you can start your own small business right here, right now, for monthly payments that are probably lower than your cell phone bill.”
- Shopify – “If you are just getting started with e-commerce I highly recommend looking at a platform like Shopify. There are many things to consider when building a new e-commerce website such as PCI compliance, product and inventory management, and selling on other sales channels like Amazon and Facebook. A platform like Shopify handles all of this for you for a low monthly payment and a per-transaction fee.
You can typically get a website up and running in just a few weeks versus several months on other platforms. The platform provides several starter themes that are easy to customize and align with your company branding.
Shopify does have its limits. The first would be cost of the plugins to provide additional features and functionality. Shopify has many third-party plugins in its marketplace but many of them have a monthly fee, you may find over time it begins to add up as you continue to customize your website and add additional third-party plugins, something to keep in mind.
The second limitation would be if your business model has a complicated sales process that requires significant customization to the traditional e-commerce sales process. For example, a custom sales configurator or the need to integrate with many third-party systems. You may find that it makes more sense to move to a self-hosted platform that provides you more control and flexibility for your business needs.”
- Magento – “Magento is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms with a strong development community and third-party plugin-support. Magento is offered in two options. The first option is a paid solution called “Commerce”, the paid solution can be hosted with Magento on its cloud platform, you can also host it on your own server. The second option is “Open Source”, this is offered free and you can host with any web hosting provider you like. The differences between the two is that the paid version offers additional features with respect to marketing, reporting, and order fullfillment.
Magento’s codebase is completely open source, this means you can customize every aspect of your website to meet your unique business needs. Magento has a strong developer community which means it can be much easier to find a freelance developer or agency that has experience working with the platform. Magento has over 4,000 third-party extensions, the largest by far for any e-commerce platform.
While all that is great with Magento there are of course things to be aware of. When hosting your own e-commerce platform you are responsible for making sure your website is secure and PCI compliant. The costs for web hosting, compliance monitoring, security, and on-going maintenance and upgrades can quickly add up.
Given the higher investment costs for self-hosting, it is wise to consider whether you truly need the ability to customize your e-commerce platform or whether it would be better to conform to a hosted e-commerce platform and invest that money elsewhere in your business.”
- VTEX – “VTEX is probably not an e-commerce platform you’ve heard of but they are one of the fastest growing platforms worldwide. VTEX, headquartered in Brazil, has a strong presence world-wide and is only now entering the North American market.
VTEX is a hosted e-commerce platform. It provides many of the same features and functionality that you would find in any hosted e-commerce platform.
VTEX differentiators would be that is has a much more robust application programming interface (API) that allows you to integrate the website with many different third-party systems very easily.
VTEX is well known for its marketplace feature. A marketplace is a type of e-commerce site where product or service information is provided by multiple third parties, whereas transactions are processed by the marketplace operator. This can particularly popular for B2B website looking to aggregate sales between several partners in a specific industry.
VTEX has also been widely used by mid-size and large corporations looking to provide a presence in a country without paying high-licensing fees with their main e-commerce platform. VTEX charges a fairly low subscription fee with additional per transaction fees.”
- Wix – “They’ve really gone above and beyond with the latest website and eCommerce offering. Even an eCommerce novice can create a slick mobile friendly site using their drag and drop service. It’s great knowing you’re not held at gunpoint by an eCommerce agency when you’re just a small business or a startup. You can now cut out the developers and bring in a digital content creator as a permanent fixture in your team to maintain and style your site. If you outgrow this model and need to bring in a developer for more custom modules/functionality on your site then you’ve at least got an idea of what works and doesn’t before you spend the big bucks.”
- bluCommerce – “They’re a little more costly than a typical startup website, but blubolt (the agency that manages bluCommerce) will manage every aspect of your site… hosting, design, maintenance, support etc so all you have to do is manage the product catalog and content creation moving forward.
They also have some amazing modules for customer retention, personalization, promotions and managing seasonal changes with ease. All can be included in your initial start-up cost or bolted on as your business grows.
They also won’t shy away from unusual/unique warehouse integrations and proactively seek new ways to improve their platform and keep it current. This is all included in your standard monthly retainer! Because they own all aspects of the software they’re completely accountable for when something goes wrong so will deal with it swiftly…. Unlike the Magento’s of the world.”
- Shopify – “Shopify is a extremely good start for small businesses. Especially for those who have little or no technical proficiency. It allows you to start an online business in a very short amount of time and keep your thought focused on merchandising and marketing. It has a lot of apps and themes that you can use to extend the functionality at will. Prices are very affordable. I love it and usually suggest it as the first move in the world of ecommerce.”
- WooCommerce – “Woocommerce has the great value to be free and open source. If you or your team has some php programming skills, WooCommerce it is definitely a choice to take into consideration. It has an incredible number of commercial themes and plugins that can be used to customize it as much as you like. Given the fact that it is based on the well renowned WordPress platform, it is also quite simple to find support from the community for any eventual need.”
- Magento – “Magento has been and still is my preferred choice when the business starts to grow and there is the need to scale rapidly. The only thing to take into consideration is that with this power comes the ownership cost. The platform is extremely powerful and to fully use it, good programmers are needed.”
There are a variety of eCommerce platforms out there for small businesses. I believe due diligence is key for decision making and an organisation’s starting conditions, business objectives, budget and capability must be considered before locking down which path you want to take. I’m recommending 3 platforms as they are likely to cater to the distinctive needs and different type of SME customer.
- Magento – “A highly customizable eCommerce platform that offers secure cloud hosting solutions, integrated order management functionality, decent business intelligence capability and the benefit of a global community of experts and peers that can help you through challenges. In my opinion, Magento Commerce is perhaps more suitable for small businesses with higher levels of maturity and larger starting budgets; more of an aspirational platform to utilise as ecommerce businesses scale and grow.”
- ShopyGen – “A complete turnkey solution, again very affordable and specifically aimed at developing multi-vendor platform capability for small businesses. They have template options available, but can also offer bespoke store designs developed around Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce. The analytical suite is robust enough to help small businesses grow, they offer SEO consultancy and dropship integration solutions if needed, the user interface is very intuitive for backend management and oncall support is fast and efficient.”
- iPage – “One of my personal favourites for startups and solo entrepreneurs! iPage offers everything you need to get started in eCommerce, but this is reflected in the price and you will have to do all the work yourself. Servers are secure, startup costs are super cheap and you can create your own ecommerce website (fully mobile optimised) with free FTP locations and free SSL certificates using WordPress, Weebly or Website Builder. Analytics capability and email marketing tools are basic but adequate for micro companies and they also offer integrated solutions that tap into Mojo Marketplace, Google Adwords and Small Business Funding platforms. The support team is also very responsive and very helpful when called upon. There will be limitations as your business grows and scales, but this is a great starting point that doesn’t cost the earth.”
- Wix – “Differently, from Shopify (who provides, both for small scale and big scale e-shops), WIX is only serving small scale business purposes, and is even more user friendly. It also has hundreds of free themes and templates for you to use, so you can build your simple website very quickly. Other than that, WIX is super affordable, as their highest monthly price is $25. WIX offers a very convenient set of SEO tools – including alt texts, descriptions and customizable page titles, which will help your e-shop rank high in the Google search results. All in all, although WIX does not have as many apps and functions as let’s say Shopify and is more simple in the most ways, if you need something specific that WIX doesn’t provide you can always use a third – party app to compensate.”
- WooCommerce – “Since WOO commerce is built on one of the most popular content management systems – WordPress – WOO powers around 40% of all the shops of the world and it’s no wonder, since with a free plug in you can transform any WordPress page into a fully functioning commerce store, and then build any type of website you wish. WOO is very flexible design wise, and super functional; it beats Shopify and Wix in these categories. It is also easy to use for most of the people who have used and worked with WordPress. Although if you are new to online store setup, it will take some time to master WordPress and WOO plug-in features, as it is not as user -friendly as the two other mentioned sites. WOO also suggests lots of free themes and plug ins, and also is very flexible in expanding and extending functionality, although It is more time consuming updating all the plug -ins than it would be in Shopify, where you have it already fully-managed. However, if and when you have big amounts of products to manage, I’d prefer Shopify over Woo. That’s why overall I grade it my #2.”
- Shopify – “Shopify is one of the most popular business e-commerce sites and rightly so. No wonder it’s also my number 2 recommendation. Its highly user-friendly interface helps small business owners with little skill to build their own trendy and cool online stores. As stated I would not directly recommend it for single product or smaller shops. WOO Commerce is often more suitable for that because of its open structure and plugin functionality options. But when things get big and product collection matters get to be a thing I’d go for Shopify. It is a common step for e-commerce shop owners. You can generate your domain name with Shopify’s tool, design your business logo on their site, use the free library of stock photos or even buy an existing online store, it also provides top-notch themes (most of them are not free though). Shopify also offers 24/7 customer support and a mobile app to track your business, which makes it super convenient. All that said, it delivers the most complete, all-in-one online and multichannel sales solution, with an affordable price.”
My recommendations depend on the type of company, its size and capability of dealing and managing an online store, and the scope and size of the catalogue. Depending on that, I can recommend one of these 3 platforms:
- Shopify – “For me, Shopify is the best choice when you are starting something. As it does not have a high implementation value or high maintenance (if you stick with the basic features), it is the best platform to make a proof of concept and launch easily and quickly. So, if you want to establish your ecommerce business, but are not quite sure if it is going to work, or if you are able to handle it, Shopify allows you to put your ecommerce website online, without a high risk when doing so. Also, the fact that it is cloud based allows you to focus on your business, instead of worrying about hosting your website, and all the necessary precautions to keep your website up. On the other hand, when you are sure of what you want, and need to customize the website or have a lot of additional features, Shopify starts to get limited and costlier.”
- WooCommerce – “After you know exactly what you want to do, you can choose to have your own ecommerce store. So, if you have a store that is not huge in terms of categories and articles, WooCommerce can be the perfect choice. It handles relatively well a store with different product configurations and allows you to be able to focus and optimize for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and UX (User Experience). Also, there is a plethora of available plugins (free or paid) to enhance the platform and build a bulletproof store that does almost anything. The problem with WooCommerce is that when you start to get really professional, and need to have hundreds of categories and thousands of products, and to be able to have different kinds of clients, with different price rates, complex shipping tables or integrations, it might start to be complicated to keep the platform optimized, or keep it cost effective. But if you have a small shop and need to control all the content in an easy and attractive way, WooCommerce is the platform to go with.”
- Magento – “Magento is the most complex and robust of my 3 suggestions. In fact, Magento can be used by a small business, but it can also become an enterprise level solution. The fact is, when you start growing your ecommerce website, you will need to solve some issues that start to happen, when dealing with order management, logistics, or event stock and invoicing integrations. And that’s when you start realising that a simple ecommerce website is not realistic anymore. But you should keep in mind that complex is not equal to complicated. Magento allows you to implement many more features than a simple ecommerce platform and for that reason it has a bigger learning curve. But as you start working with it, it is just a matter of time to realise that you now have a robust tool in your hands that prevents future problems, and even allows you to scale your platform and strategy, considering integrations with Marketo for Marketing Automation, or with the whole Adobe Marketing Cloud, allowing for a completely automated platform, that profiles your users and even creates automated campaigns focused on user behaviour.”
- Shopify – “Shopify is a cloud-based ecommerce platform that can scale with your business. It’s also a great way to test out a business idea before adding the risk of significant investment.
It has a number of free and paid-for themes giving your store a basic look and feel, which can then be customised. Themes are responsive and optimised for tablets and mobile making it easy to get a good-looking and functional store launched quickly.
The Admin tools are pretty straightforward and one of the best things about the platform; together with site configuration these include basic catalogue, product and content management and reporting as well as promotional tools, such as discount vouchers, as standard. There’s also an Admin app which allows you to manage your store from your phone.
In general, Shopify is fairly easy to customise for technically-minded non-developers. There are lots good apps available to extend the functionality of the core platform. Many are free, some requirement a one-off payment or a monthly fee that scales as your demand grows. Even the most expensive are significantly cheaper than paying for the development of new features on other platforms.
Shopify allows you to manage multiple channels from one place including Facebook stores, online marketplaces and provides a POS solution. But if you have multiple online stores selling across a similar catalogue this might not be the best solution.
The platform is pretty fast with a mature CDN solution providing speedy page loads. Many order management systems and helpdesk solutions now come with plugins for Shopify.
Shopify does have limitations. If you have a complex product type it may be tricky to work out the best way to structure these products and having complete control over the customer journey requires more technical knowledge and investment.
For the basic package there are significant limitations on the customisations you can make to the checkout journey. However you can add some branding and configure delivery and payment methods, even adding new payment methods like Amazon Pay, very easily. Shopify handles all security including Level 1 PCI compliance meaning you don’t have to worry about the safety of your customers’ payment data.
The community of store owners and app developers is global and large, which means that new features and apps are in demand and there’s often someone with experience who can help if you get stuck!”
- Magento – “Magento 2 is a flexible platform which comes in many forms. I have only worked on a self-hosted implementation of the Community edition. There are options for cloud-hosting and a more feature-rich Enterprise edition available.
There is a large collection of themes which can be used to provide the framework for your storefront which range in price. These can then be customised to achieve your desired store. Be sure to check the theme is fully responsive and has as many of the features you need as possible.
The Magento platform allows you to control the entire customer experience. It can handle large catalogues and be extended to handle complex product types.
Magento also allows you to easily manage multiple online stores from one place. If you plan to have multiple brands or specific international sites selling similar products this can save you a lot of time.
The admin tools are very powerful and certainly the standard catalogue, product and campaign management tools are pretty advanced. There is basic content management and merchandising management but I’d recommend looking for addons if your site is content-rich and you have non-technical people running it.
There is a large marketplace of addons which allows you to extend the core functionality of the platform. These range significantly in both price and quality so it’s worth doing your homework first. In my experience some addons can be installed by admin users and some need technical support to get running.
The platform uses the PHP framework making it easy to build your own features and integrations if you have a couple of PHP developers to hand, but obviously this is generally more costly, both at implementation and for ongoing maintenance, than purchasing an addon from the marketplace. You should also be careful about how customisations are implemented to ensure that both the platform and theme upgrades can be done without major rework.
I did find site speed performance an issue, but it’s difficult to know if this was down to hosting, configuration or the core platform, so I would definitely look at cloud-hosting for any new stores.”
- Shopify – “Shopify has totally disrupted the eCommerce Platform market over the past few years by reducing complexity, championing usability and reducing time to market for eCommerce builds. Even those with little or no eCommerce experience can setup a stunning eCommerce store in a matter of hours by utilizing one of Shopify’s pre-built themes. The platform also has an excellent library of apps which allows you to add features (Abandon Basket emails for example) with ease. The Shopify online knowledge base is also extensive and, if you do need a helping hand, the Shopify Experts directory will help you source freelance support in no time at all.
However, the real beauty of Shopify is the power under the hood and the platform’s excellent scalability. The solution is absolutely suitable for larger businesses or those planning to scale as it benefits from a large variety of advanced features and extensive customization options which can utilized by developers as a business grows.
Watch out for: Before on-boarding, ensure you understand the fee structure. Unlike some other eCommerce Platforms, Shopify charges a fee per transaction in addition to a monthly service fee. This works well for small businesses as it requires very little capital investment upfront but as sales grow, so do costs.”
- Magento – “Until recent years the opensource version of Magento (Community) was my go-to platform for eCommerce Startups with plans to scale. The core platform is a tried and tested eCommerce engine with a 19.64% of the top 1 million Alexa rated websites (https://pagely.com/blog/top-ecommerce-platforms-2018-compared/). Unlike Shopify, Magento community has no monthly fees attached, but beware, you’ll need to host the platform yourself and will most certainly need support from a developer to help with configuration, customization and integrations.
With the right technical support Magento is super flexible, stable and powerful. Again, the platform comes with an extensive plugin library (tip: these can create security vulnerabilities, always check the suppliers thoroughly before installing) and a robust knowledge base.
Watch out for: The key watch out with Magento is the lack of support and the vulnerabilities a self-hosted environment can present. Ensure you enlist a Magento certified agency or freelance developer before on-boarding to the platform to help mitigate these risks.”
- Magento – “I have been managing eCommerce sites for over 14 Years and the majority of that time has been spend working with Magento. Why I like Magento the most is because it has the widest range of entry into the ecommerce space with the Community Edition (which is free) to an enterprise solution that at one time was owned by eBay and now is owned by Adobe, one of the top software companies in the world. Also, Magento has a wide range of professionals around the world that are available to help implement customizations within your eCommerce business. Additionally there are lots of plugins that can add a lot of great extra functionalities to your ecommerce website, even integrating with a lot of popular business software including QuickBooks. To be honest though, in spite of the robust functionality there are issues with Magento as it is a heavy eCommerce platform that can slow load speeds for the end users (you and your customers). Also it does get a lot of patch updates which is a mixed blessing.”
- Shopify – “Another recommendation if you have limited resources is Shopify; a very popular platform with great features, although you are stuck with their hosting and it’s really hard to transfer the data if you move to more robust solutions.”
- PrestaShop – “If you do want to enter at a lower level with a lot of flexibility, I would suggest PrestaShop. PrestaShop has great plugins and themes, but very limited and the only place I know that really backs their plugins is Presto-Changeo.”
For small businesses, I would always opt for the solutions that require the least manpower and costs to run. That means choosing a hosted solution (SaaS). Thankfully there are many to choose from, however the 3 top recommendations in my opinion would be:
Each provides similar capabilities and will get you off the ground quickly and cost effectively.
- BigCommerce – “BigCommerce is the lesser known of the two platforms (vs Shopify) and has fewer businesses running their software. However, this could be an advantage as a challenger brand always works harder to keep customers happy.
In terms of features and functions, you get pretty much everything out of the box with a lot of features and functions to help you grow your business.”
- Shopify – “My second choice is Shopify. By far the most prevalent ecommerce platform on the market, and used by 100’s of thousands of merchants both big and small.
The 2 main advantages with Shopify are:
a. There are a lot of 3d party agencies and developers who are well versed in the platform and can help you build and scale your business
b. There are a lot of creative templates on the market you can choose from to suit your needs.”
- Squarespace – “The other option I would suggest exploring is Squarespace. This solution may not be a dedicated Ecommerce platform, but it does have some nifty features and designs you can use to launch and grow your store.
It’s by far the easiest one of the 3 to get started on, with little to no 3rd party support needed to get your businesses selling. There are also some really great looking themes to choose from.”
- Shopify – “Perfect for the needs of most small businesses, micro-businesses or individual traders. It’s fuss-free and easy-to-use, which is a key factor for small businesses. No need to spend hours trying to configure a platform or manage complex settings, when you just want to get on with the job. Customisation of the look-and-feel may not be as good as some other platforms, but it’s a small compromise. The Shopify app store is also a great bonus for extending the functionality without breaking the bank.”
- WooCommerce – “Integrates seamlessly with WordPress, so if you’re amongst the millions of WP users, you don’t need to learn a whole new interface. It’s mostly quick and easy to configure, although some elements such as shipping options can be a little head-scratching at times. It’s also easy to customise quite extensively if you have a web developer or know your CSS well. It has many of the features found in much larger eCommerce platforms, without the hefty price tag or the need for an IT team to manage it.”
There are plenty of reviews available for ecommerce platforms comparing functionality in detail. Whilst this is informative, it’s important to understand your own requirements before getting sucked into features. Whenever I’m asked by small businesses for recommendations, I tend to put forward the following considerations:
1. How specific is your business model and operational processes? This will indicate the level of customisation and integrations required for your site.
2. How aggressive is your projected growth trajectory? Scalability for your future success is crucial, both in terms of traffic and new functionality requirements.
3. How digitally mature are you or your team? A realistic plan of how and who is going to manage your site once it is operational is important for gauging the usability.
- Magento – “Magento has to be the top consideration for me given its maturity in the market coupled with rapid delivery on its development roadmap, vital in the constantly evolving landscape of digital commerce. With an open source architecture since its introduction over 10 years ago, and a re-engineered codebase (version 2) 3 years ago, it has the best of both worlds in market ubiquity among web developers and agencies the world over, along with a modern technology stack. What this means for the small business is a marketplace of (approved) extensions larger than other platforms, greater breadth of choice in developers who can build and maintain your site and a greater performance, usability and functionality, as well as experience for your customer.
Magento really stands out for flexibility and customisation and this is the reason that creative brands and businesses with specific requirements favour this platform. It pays to select a developer that understands Magento well to ensure your site is built for performance and with the future in mind, but with a large developer network, there is plenty of choice.
Pricing wise, Magento continues to offer their ‘Open Source’ edition which is free to download and use. This is ideal if you are a lean startup and it can be migrated to the ‘Commerce’ edition later when you need the support and additional functionality.
I’m excited by the acquisition from Adobe earlier this year and looking forward to seeing this market leading commerce platform integrated with best-of-breed marketing and advertising suites for a true customer lifecycle digital experience. I would consider Magento in the majority of instances for my business and particularly if I wanted to stand out from competitors with a compelling experience.”
- BigCommerce – “I like how BC have progressed recently. As a private company with the last of several funding rounds in the bank from earlier this year, they are building out their partner network globally and rapidly enhancing the platform. One of the leading SaaS platforms, they provide the full service with hosting included, and usability is a key strength. They have an open architecture philosophy and growing their integrations with other platforms including CMS platforms, WordPress and Acquia in recent months, which means you can develop your site with both content and commerce.
Where SaaS platforms lack the customisation of Magento, they generally provide a speedy site setup and ease of use. I would consider BigCommerce if my business required little customisation and I wanted as little technical input on decisions as possible.”
- Shopify – “Shopify has had tremendous growth over the last few years, building out their suite of platforms and services, integrations with 3rd parties and a very solid marketing campaign. As another SaaS platform, it has a similar offering to BigCommerce but focuses more on an extended suite of proprietary services (e.g. payment gateway and POS solution). Shopify also has an extensive list of plugins to enhance the functionality, however these can add to the fees considerably so it pays to be aware of the total costs.
Shopify is promoted as a side hustle and I would consider it personally if I had a simple side project to set up with little time available.”
- Shopify – “Shopify takes away all the “technical” parts of running an ecommerce site and allows you to start selling online in no time at all. Shopify has a lot of pros, including no need to worry about hosting, easy WYSIWYG editors and a tonne of integrations to 3rd party solutions.
Shopify is a SaaS solution which means there is a monthly cost, and as you grow, you ultimately use more apps, which will increase this cost.
Shopify is a great solution for startups, SME’s and is even used by ecommerce giants such as GymShark, who use Shopify’s plus program.”
- WooCommerce – “If you focus heavily on marketing, blogging and building your brand’s story, then WooCommerce is the option for you. WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress (a popular open-source blogging platform) which once implemented, changes WordPress into a very versatile ecommerce platform.
WooCommerce has thousands of themes and plugins allowing you the flexibility to create a site with the features you want and additionally, as it is open-source you can really dive into the code and create your own functionality.
If you are planning to create your own WooCommerce site then there is no official support unless using a 3rd party company, and you may have to find your own hosting. But initially, this could work out to be a more affordable and flexible option than SaaS models such as Shopify or BigCommerce in the beginning.”
- Shopware – “Shopware is the no.1 platform in German-speaking locations and has been taking the English speaking countries by storm. In my opinion, this is everything Magento 2 should have been, but better!
It is an open-source platform that provides a free community version. Out of the box, it is feature rich, powerful, easy to use but furthermore, it gives you so much flexibility not just with apps and themes, but also with the possibility to hire a developer.
Much like WooCommerce, if you decide to implement this site yourself there will be a learning curve and you will have to arrange your own hosting. But Shopware has the ability to support a startup all the way to a multisite ecommerce giant.”
Jeroen van Eck
- Shopify – “What I love about Shopify is its simplicity. Everyone can start selling online within seconds. Managing a store-front is easy with a smooth design and user-friendly interface. Setting up and running a store-front doesn’t require any coding. There’s a marketplace available with lots of extensions and integrations with third-party marketing tools to boost your reach, user engagement and performance. But you’ll do fine at first with everything that comes out of the box with Shopify.
Shopify’s target audience are small business owners that are looking for an e-commerce solution that just works. ”
- Magento – “If you’re looking for something that’s more customizable to your specific needs, Magento is probably the go-to e-commerce solution. The platform is available in various configurations, so it facilitates growth. Magento is highly customizable through its development partners all over the world. Some of the largest shops run on Magento, and it’s amazing that as a small business owner you can tap into the same box of e-commerce power.”
- Shopify – “I highly recommend the Shopify platform for anyone looking to start a new eCommerce venture. Although the back end is not particularly intuitive for updating the site, there is a lot of help available, some great add-ons to unlock additional long term value of customers and it is extremely easy to setup payment methods, fulfill orders and update customers. There is also an app that can be downloaded from the Play Store/App Store that is a great tool for modifying inventory, order fulfilment, basic analytics and more. I only wish there was such a low-cost platform available when I started my first venture back in 2007 because an entry point of only $30 USD is affordable and appealing because you aren’t handing all of your client information and business being potentially shut down with little explanation with the likes of being just on a platform like Amazon.”
- Shopify – “This is an obvious choice. It’s the easiest platform to use and the cost of ownership is low because it’s a SaaS product that anyone can learn without a lot of technical knowledge. It is now being used on bigger and bigger sites and is a great fit for most small companies looking to grow with eCommerce. My recommendation is to use a theme and identify the apps you need and you should be able to get started easily even without a lot of third party help.”
- BigCommerce – “BigCommerce is a slightly more enterprise product than Shopify, but is still great for small companies. It also has a low cost of ownership because it’s a SaaS product that anyone can learn without a lot of technical knowledge. This is a great fit for smaller B2B companies and companies that want to scale on a SaaS platform without having to re-platform as they grow. It has a lot of built in features that make it more powerful than Shopify out of the box and apps to grow with.”
- Magento – “I would certainly not suggest a small company to pay for an expensive enterprise license. However, the Magento Open Source edition is designed for smaller companies looking to grow with the power of a leading eCommerce platform without the heavy license cost. I suggest Magento here because it’s actually a good eCommerce platform as opposed to the popular open source alternative, WooCommerce, because it has proven to scale. This is certainly a fit for more technical companies, but I feel it is a better fit than the alternatives, that although might be cheaper, will not get you very far. I see many business struggling with WooCommerce because it’s not really an eCommerce platform first and the plugins can be crippling. If you want to go open source eCommerce, I suggest Magento.”
- WooCommerce – “The architecture is extremely scalable and flexible. You can self-host, which at scale, can save you a lot of money.”
- BigCommerce – “This is a VERY affordable hosted ecommerce solution. Also quite flexible and open, and has nice designs you can implement out of the gate without hard work.”
- Shopify – “This is the Apple of ecommerce SaaS solutions. While not super expensive upfront, costs add up at scale, and limitations start becoming obvious. However, with that said, their designs out of the gate are highly conversion optimized, and their eco-system of apps are unrivalled in the ecommerce world.”
- Shopify – “Shopify is probably your best option if you want to get online quickly, but don’t have the expertise to either handle everything inhouse or manage external parties to build something for you. It’s a hosted solution, which means you pay a monthly subscription fee to have Shopify handle the server, security and various other technical aspects for you. There is a wide range of themes available, and the platform is generally well optimised for SEO.
The only real downsides in my opinion is flexibility/customisation, and the fact you are tied into a monthly subscription model. Over time, this cost builds up, but even if you are selling in relatively low volumes, it’s a low cost to account for each month.”
- WooCommerce – “WooCommerce bolts beautifully into WordPress, allowing you to combine the most popular CMS system in the world, with a powerful, opensource eCommerce platform. Whilst there are many benefits to WooCommerce, I would highlight a few main elements:
1. The core platform is completely free to use, so no ongoing subscription fee to stay operational.
2. The ability to customize the design and functionality is significant, so it’s far easier to produce something truly unique and connected to your brand identity.
3. There is a massive pool of development talent and ‘plug and play’ addons that will enable you to extend functionality with minimum effort and cost.
If you are happy to handle some basic set-up elements and/or manage internal or external developers to help customize and deploy for you, then this is a fantastic option for any small business looking to jump online.”
- Wix – “In a distant 3rd position, and purely for very small operations, you could also consider Wix for handling your eCommerce store. Like Shopify, it’s a hosted solution that offers a cheap monthly subscription package to help you get up and running quickly, but for the price difference, I would really recommend you to pay slightly more and leverage Shopify if you wish to have a hosted solution.”
- WooCommerce – “This is THE combination I would recommend. I’ve been creating eCommerce websites since 1996. I’ve worked for tremendously successful web agencies and over the 22 years I’ve seen some sharp practices.
Agencies using their own bespoke, hand-written code to create an eCommerce CMS will boast about quality, speed, reliability, but in actuality, the customer is heavily played: paying much more for a website than needs be, needing to wait for new features, and each time an idea is needed to be implemented by the client, then barriers are hit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of quality coding, but not at the expense of the client, and certainly not when there are perfectly respectable alternatives.
The combination of WordPress and the shopping cart WooCommerce has proven (for my business and my clients) an excellent tool. If one knows what they are doing, then one can create an effective Roadmap to help clients plan, design, launch, promote, and manage an eCommerce website. Choosing carefully which plugins to use, being extremely careful with the hosting platform, then a client simply won’t see ANY disadvantages from using this platform.
With WordPress, one can easily create stunning designs, implement great CSS, create bespoke designs and user experiences. Websites can be made to work brilliantly on mobiles, tablets, and desktops (remember the difficulties posed by bespoke CMS frameworks in trying to get sites to work well on mobiles – how slow, how costly!).
WordPress and WooCommerce are updated regularly. If an agency knows what it’s doing then ‘off the shelf’ tools can be used to achieve astonishingly complex tasks.
Scalability is not a problem either. If you’re an SME with between £500,000 and £10,000,000 of revenue then this is the solution for you. It’s easy to use and can provide everything needed to make online sales. For example, we’ve recently launched a WordPress eCommerce website with over 90,000 products, from multiple suppliers, with bespoke customer tiered pricing, full stock-control and more.
With Magento this would have cost in excess of £20,000, with a bespoke solution… well, much, much more. But with WordPress, well, let’s just say the client got the deal of the century.
WordPress allows the web agency to use its skills and experience to help get an eCommerce website up and running quickly and to help clients start selling quickly… rather than being stuck in the quagmire of waiting for coders, CSSers, designers, and digital marketers to all complete their work first (and then more than likely be stuck with an out of date platform)!
I cannot shout from the rooftops loudly enough just how effective WordPress is for an SME. Often SME’s don’t have the staff to learn about websites and eCommerce, but they can be taught to manage a website, especially if it’s been built with WordPress. Furthermore, if they get stuck then there’s a plethora of help and advice on the web (the same can’t be said for custom CMS’s can it?).
Finally, if the client gets fed-up with the agency, as WordPress and WooCommerce is Open Source, then the core of the website is Open and GPL Licenced, meaning the website can be zipped up and given to another web agency, instead of being stuck in the hands of a web agency who can all too easily hold a website to ransom.
I fully support the WordPress & WooCommerce combination.”
- Magento – “Magento is good. But boy is it bloated. It takes quite some server resource to run it (it has so many modules, which requires better hosting and that of course means passing on the cost to the client).
It also takes a long time to configure… it’s just not as flexible as WordPress. Yes WordPress isn’t as well thought out when it comes to the database structure, but does this truly matter to the client or their visitors? Certainly not! If the web agency knows what it’s doing then WordPress will beat Magento hands down. Some say Magento is great for reports, this is true, but we’ve managed to arm ourselves with a wide range of tools to help clients drill down through tonnes of data to understand what’s happening on their website(s)… whether it’s connecting to an older Sage Line 50 software, or to a modern Cloud based accounts package, WordPress handles this all too easily.
Bottom line: Magento is good. But, the client will need to be charged more and it will take more time to complete. Why would anyone do that? Probably because they’ve been told that WordPress is the poor relation, but often I find that these comments come from coders who are effectively protecting their own jobs, their own purpose in the world. After-all, if WordPress gets any more popular then these very same coders (if they wish to stay in low-to-mid-level eCommerce development) will need to join the ranks of WordPress proponents or go and work for WordPress themselves!”
A third platform? Not going to suggest one. Oh, WordPress. Have I mentioned WordPress?
- SAP – “I would have to recommend that any business consider what I’ll call the big 4 of eCommerce platforms such as SAP, Oracle, IBM, Salesforce. They have a long heratige in the eCommerce space and have very well developed features and functions with a long list of additional features that can be added via integrations / plugins to other packages. Originally these platforms were only accessible to large businesses, but they have all worked hard to start supporting the SME market with pay as you grow type revenue share models, as well as offering cloud based hosting and support. Don’t just assume they will be too expensive and be careful to evaluate these against the full cost of seemingly cheaper solutions. These platforms tend to leapfrog each other, but all have an unrivalled set of feature and functions which continue to be improved on and added to.”
- BigCommerce – “I’d also recommend looking at the new breed of fully hosted platforms such as BigCommerce and Shopify, which have historically been aimed at very small businesses, but are now capable of supporting larger businesses. They also have the reputation for faster set-up and configuration times than the Big 4, while still offering a feature rich set of functions that can be expanded on using their app store.”
- Magento – “No list would be complete without Magento (now part of Adobe). Magento was the original disruptor with an extensive and expandable feature list and very competitive pricing.”
Euan A Cameron
- Shopify – “Shopify is a brilliant platform for any small business looking to launch an ecommerce site, which not only looks good enough to compete with the big online players, but which also packs in all the essential features. The number of add-ons and baked in integration with the likes of Facebook/Instagram/Google etc. make Shopify my number one choice for any small business looking for a reliable eComms platform. Its also super cost-effective which is important.”
- WooCommerce – “Woocommerce is great if Shopify isn’t your bag, or maybe you already have a WordPress site. It is an incredibly powerful WordPress bolt-on, which enables you to build a fully featured eComms website within a WordPress environment. You won’t get the same level of hand-holding that Shopify provides, and it will take a bit of work with plugins to get tracking etc. but it’s a great alternative option. Plus it can be fun for those who like getting under the hood as the possibilities are endless.”
- Wix – “If you are new to eComms and want a simple drag and drop store in which to sell your products, Wix is a nice option. They provide all the handholding you could ever need. Support is pretty good – not that you will need much, and they also have tracking baked in for Facebook, Adwords and Google Analytics. Its a great stepping stone into the world of eComms, but you will likely outgrow the platform which can cause headaches later on…”