Domain Management, DNS, WordPress Hosting, SSL & Email – The Complete Guide
For the past decade we’ve been evaluating various domain management, DNS and WordPress hosting environments. Our goal has always been to find the best setup for independence, reliability, performance and security. Recently, we’ve been able to utilize new tools that have come into the marketplace and combine those with some existing services to create the perfect environment.
Complete Website Environment
- Domain – physical url brand asset
- DNS Management – routing from domain to hosting
- WordPress Hosting – actual code & content of site
- SSL Security – layer of encryption vital to modern web
- Email provider – to create custom domain email addresses
- Payment Gateway – to accept payments online
Our Choice: dnsimple.com (you should always manage this)
It’s best to always keep control of your domain. You should have a godaddy.com or dnsimple.com (or something similar) account with your domain in it. That way, even if your web designer or IT company changes over time, you always have access to this important brand asset. This is an important element to help maintain your independence while developing relationships with contractors and service providers.
2. DNS Management
A domain needs to point to a hosting account in order for you to actually see a website. DNS is the “routing” that gets your website from point a (the domain) to point b (hosting account). Your web designer and IT team will need access to this routing for a variety of reasons. The best option is to allow cloudflare.com to manage your DNS. You will also get the benefits of DDoS Protection and Super-Fast DNS resolution. This also allows you to keep your domain name in your own account, while giving permissions to the person who will either be managing your website or IT. They can manage routes on your domain, but they can’t actually delete or take control of your domain.
3. WordPress Hosting
Our Choice: let us manage it for you
Now that you are easily able to “route” your domain using DNS, now you need a place for all the code and content that makes up your site to live. This is called your hosting account. This may be one of the most important decisions when it comes to performance and reliability. We’ve spent a lot of time in Amazon EC2, Various Godaddy Setups, HostGator, Bluehost and many more different hosting platforms. We’ve finally settled on what we feel is the very best hosting environment for small – large size WordPress websites and it’s WP Engine. WP Engine is the absolute best choice because it offers the following non-negotiables.
Five non-negotiables in hosting:
- Automatic backups happening every day
- Staging and a live environment with super simple, fast deployment from staging to live
- An easy way to attach an SSL to your site
- Ability to create access for developers and IT without having to give up your master password
- Site needs to be fast, so that means things like advanced caching and CDN’s need to be available
Web hosting is an ongoing activity that needs your attention. Manage it or find someone to manage it for you.
Just about anything can happen online. If your business depends on your site being online, fast, and working at 100%, then you need skills that only time and experience can provide. That’s why we offer managed WordPress hosting. We’ll take care of all the ongoing activity related to your website hosting so you can focus on your business. We have a WP Engine developer account which allows us to give you access to features at discounts to their single site price.
4. SSL Security
Our Choice: let us manage it for you
An SSL Security layer on your website is now a crucial element to having better results with your search engine optimization (SEO). You know a site has a SSL when the url uses https instead of http and usually has a lock in the browser window. Our site is on a SSL if you look in the browser window. Google has decided that SSL websites will get a boost in the rankings, so your site needs it now! SSL’s are also required for any sites that maintain sensitive user data like eCommerce websites. With our WordPress Hosting and Ongoing Support service, we will take care of the entire SSL setup, domain routing and Certificate renewal process.
5. Email Provider
Gmail is one of the most popular and user-friendly email platforms on the planet, and with Google Apps, you can have a custom email address at your domain name. You also get access to Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides and a lot more. You can easily share documents within your organization privately or publicly with clients and vendors.
6. Payment Gateway
Our Choice: stripe.com (you should always manage this)
In order to accept payments online, you will need to use an established payment gateway. There are many available, but Stripe is by far the best choice for online payments. The Stripe API is extremely developer friendly and can be customized so that you can create custom purchase and subscription options on your website. We are big fans of the Stripe dashboard and it’s ease of use.
Based on current recommendations