The best WordPress/Divi hosts in 2016

Hosting is taboo in the field of web design. We all know it. There are too many affiliate links, too many know-it-all designers giving their two cents, and too much information to consider when making a long-term choice about the underlying structure of your web presence. However, this is exactly the kind of problem I like to tackle.

A few years ago, I hosted my first WordPress website with Bluehost – back when that was a good choice. But over several years, the quality of their services began to deteriorate, and I needed to transfer elsewhere. After spending an entire weekend reading hosting reviews, I came away with one thought: there is a lot of snake oil on hosting review sites. Put simply, too many websites consolidate testimonials and information, then slap an affiliate link onto the page in order to profit from the sale. It didn’t feel genuine to me, and I didn’t trust them.

I decided to do research myself – finding “the best of the best” WordPress hosts that fit two simple criteria: they needed to be reliable (since I was running an online business that could randomly be featured in community posts) and fast (because I was fed up with waiting 10+ seconds for a simple /wp-admin page to load on Bluehost). And while I only needed those things, I was having trouble finding “the best” hosts for my situation. There was simply too much information and too many affiliates trying to monetize their websites. And also, I didn’t want to make a huge investment of both time and money to wind up in the same place a year later.

After talking with the Divi community, the WordPress community, and trying out hosts for myself, I’d like to recommend two hosting for you. I’ll give you two links for each: an affiliate link (if you want to support this research) and a non-affiliate link (so you know I’m not biased). Even though using an affiliate link won’t affect the price of your purchase, I want you to know I’m being genuine with my recommendations. I use both of these hosts for my websites, and I also recommend them to my clients, my girlfriend (who I helped set up a food blog on WordPress), and even people who ask me about hosting in elevators (which, surprisingly, has happened three times). So without further adieu…

Do you have multiple clients, reliability and speed needs, or a medium-sized budget?

It’s June 2016 as I’m writing this post, and the best host I’ve found for reliability, speed, and service is called Flywheel (referral link/non-referral). They’re made just for WordPress designers, and they feel light years ahead of all the other hosts I’ve looked at. Some highlights are:

  • They automatically back up your website every night.
  • Their management interface is custom-made and ****ing beautiful – no cPanel here.
  • I can transfer billing to my clients while maintaining control of all the technical stuff on the backend.
  • You get free security scans (through Sucuri) with every account, and Flywheel handles the server-side security for you. No security plugins are necessary.
  • If you need to show your work to a client, you can stage a demo site for free for 14 days. You can even keep it under wraps with a password.
  • If you go viral or get featured on Reddit or Product Hunt, your site won’t go down. Their setup holds up perfectly to enormous amounts of traffic. They don’t shut down your site if you’re over bandwidth.
  • They have incredible giveaways (with expensive designer equipment and decor) and free content, like eBooks, on their blog.
  • I feel like I have a small team working with me. I get “concierge-like” email service and feel like a badass when I send out requests.

Example of why I like them: I once had an obscure question about WordPress, and I was like, What the heck? I might as well ask Flywheel’s team, since they work with WordPress all the time. I told them I’d buy them a beer if they could deliver the answer. Less than an hour later, they got back to me, answered my question, and invited me to stop by their office for lunch instead!

I would only recommend you to buy Flywheel (referral link/non-referral) if you fit at least one of the following categories:

  • you need one of the fastest WordPress sites out there, and you don’t mind paying for it
  • you need something that can handle large bursts of traffic (such as Product Hunt, Reddit, television shoutouts)
  • you handle multiple client websites and need an easy solution to manage them all in a single dashboard
  • you (or your client) is comfortable paying $15/month ($180/yr) or more for hosting
  • you want to transition billing to your clients while keeping administrative access to the hosting account
  • you design solely with WordPress (Flywheel is custom-built specifically for WordPress sites)

If you don’t fit into at least one of those categories, then I’d recommend my next choice instead:

Are you a small business owner or a budget-minded designer who needs a reliable solution?

My favorite host for smaller sites and side projects is called Siteground (referral link/non-referral). Siteground is basically everything that Bluehost promises to be (but it actually delivers). Siteground is a cPanel shared hosting solution that allows you to manage multiple domains, host email accounts, and basically do anything else that a cPanel allows. I’d recommend Siteground if:

  • you are a freelancer or small business owner who anticipates having little-to-moderate traffic on your website
  • you want domain registration and email services to come with your hosting
  • you need a solution that is less than $100/year, but is still reliable and fast
  • you need a feature-rich solution for yourself, your projects, or a low-paying client

I’ve put in several support tickets with Siteground, and their team is very helpful and quick to respond. If you need a cheap and reliable host, I don’t think you can go wrong with them (referral link/non-referral). I’ve been hosting with both of these solutions since transferring my sites from Bluehost, and neither have had downtime or technical issues.

Hosts to stay away from

Bluehost used to be one of the best hosts in the industry. That’s why you’ll find so many people who continue to promote their affiliate links – blogs like Smart Passive Income and Pinch of Yum. I can assure you that this is no longer the case. If you were originally interested in choosing Bluehost for your host, I recommend looking at my “regular” option for hosts above, Siteground, which is basically everything Bluehost used to be, and if you have the extra budget and want to get some seriously professional hosting, try Flywheel.

EIG-owned hosting companies, such as Bluehost, HostGator, and A Small Orange, used to be some of the best hosts in the industry. But this was a long time ago. While I was on Bluehost, my loading time (on three entirely separate user accounts) increased from 2-5 seconds to 20+ seconds over several months, and the quality of their support drastically decreased. This being said, I don’t hold anything against EIG’s companies – I just don’t recommend them at this time. Hopefully they’ll be able to fix themselves in the future.

Once more, if you need reliable, fast hosting, try Flywheel (referral link/non-referral). If you have a budget, go with Siteground (referral link/non-referral). They’re both great companies, and after doing a lot of research on the different solutions out there, they’re two of the best.

You have the option to choose both referral and non-referral links in this post. I do this because I’d rather have a good discussion about hosting than try to make a small amount of money from referring people. I’ve used both of the companies I recommended in this post, and I love doing business with them. Hopefully you will too.

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