A Year of SiteGround in 2018

Hosting Design Shack with SiteGround has been a great move for us. We’re here to share a quick update on how things are going, alongside some new developments from SiteGround in 2018!

Whether you’re looking for managed WordPress hosting, or something much more custom and complex, SiteGround has you covered.

They’ve released a host of new updates and features (many with WordPress in mind), making it a great choice for hosting a site that runs on this CMS.

What’s New With SiteGround?

Historically, web hosting has been a fairly slow-and-steady industry to evolve. But in recent years, I feel we’re increasingly seeing newer innovations, products, and niche-focused services (for products like WordPress).

Hosting companies are diving into different spaces to offer more than just bandwidth and storage space. And SiteGround is recognized for their unique approach to hosting and crafting in-house tools. Here are a few new developments from them:

The New SG Optimizer Plugin

We’ve long used the SG Optimizer plugin for Design Shack, to add an additional layer of caching and performance enhancement to the site.

The latest version improved the UI of the plugin considerably and also introduced a slew of front-end, caching, and image optimization features—SiteGround’s test reveal that it makes sites between 20% and 500% faster. While we don’t have all these turned on (we have a few custom solutions for these ourselves), these can be a huge benefit to most sites.

Better optimized images and resources are a win for everyone, especially for users on mobile devices or slower connections. Plus, they’re a great SEO win to boot.

The WordPress Starter

SiteGround’s WordPress Starter plugin makes the process of launching a fully-functional site a lot easier and faster. You can choose from a great variety of themes and add important functional features such as calendars, contact forms, an online shop, SEO, and other tools, all of which get automatically installed on your site.

If you’re no web development expert, this can be a great way to get a new project started fast.

The WordPress Migrator

Moving websites around between hosts can be a real pain (and it’s one of the reasons that most customers stick with the same web host for a long time). SiteGround is making it easier to move your website to them with “WordPress Migrator”.

It’s a tool that lets you transfer as many WP installations to SiteGround as you wish in just a few clicks and with no technical skills required. Perfect for taking away some of the headaches of switching to a new host.

Free Let’s Encrypt Wildcard Certificates

Having an SSL certificate for your website and “going HTTPS” is pretty much a basic requirement for any project these days. But there’s no need to be paying through the nose for a certificate anymore.

SiteGround now provides free Let’s Encrypt Wildcard SSL certificates that can be enabled with a few clicks. With Wildcard SSL certificate you can protect your websites and all its subdomains much easier, as they can be encrypted with a single certificate. There’s no longer any excuse not to take the plunge and properly secure your website for all your visitors.

Our Own Experience

Over the last few years, we’ve focused a lot on the performance of Design Shack. We’ve never shared this before, but here’s a graph of our average page load time between 2013 and 2019:

Is Google Analytics an accurate way to track page load speed? Absolutely not! We don’t use this tool for testing anything. But it is an interesting way to look at a long-term trend. And we’re pretty pleased with how far we’ve come.

Moving our hosting to SiteGround was instrumental in helping with this (this happened in early 2017), and lead to significant performance improvements with a faster platform and more advanced caching tools.

So, what else has helped? Removing ads. We now only run ads on around 25% of the pages on Design Shack (and on the other 75%, we don’t load any tracking codes, JavaScript, or anything else).

Upgrade Your Own Hosting In 2019!

There’s never been a better time to look at moving your hosting. It’s easier than ever to switch, most companies have great discounts for new customers, and—if you’ve been with the same company for a long time—there are probably some great performance improvements to be had!

For us, making the move to SiteGround has been a great experience. Almost no downtime, a way faster experience for our readers, and consistently great support team interactions. We give them the thumbs up!

Our thanks to SiteGround for their partnership with Design Shack, and helping to support the site!