• When Should You Choose Our Hosting And What Do You Get If Do

    PUBLICATION DATE: 19 Apr 2019 | AUTHOR: Johan van Seijen | CATEGORY: , Hosting,

  • Quick Summary: While we started out years ago as a premium theme supplier, we've long since moved into hosting as well. For each of our WordPress we offer the hosted version. In this article I'm going to explain why we've chosen to add hosting to our services, when to choose our hosting, and what you get when you buy it.

  • Why hosting?

    We've been in the WordPress theme business since 2012. The reason we still exist today is that we very quickly started to focus on making theme solutions for business owners. Our entire catalogue of themes consist of products that are meant to create a business website. Plumbers, roofers, hairstylists, yoga instructors, construction companies, contractors, electricians, you name it we've got a theme for it.

    We thought we went a long way in being able to help people get a website for their business. After all, our products are easy to use with the integrated front-end editor and the themes incorporate content that really speeds up the building of the business specific website. We even sell the licensed stockphotos.

    And a lot of you agreed, building beautiful websites. A great portion of our audience are web designers and some of them have bought dozens, sometimes even over a hundred of our themes.

    However, a theme does not exist in isolation. You need a domain name, a web server, WordPress and you're also probably going to use a slew of WordPress plugins. And it's in all of those other areas where the bulk of support questions we receive come from. A lot of support is related to hosting, to WordPress, to WordPress plugins. Areas we feel we cannot take responsibility for. This has lead to angry clients, and refunds.

    We came to the conclusion that a WordPress theme isn't enough. The chances of people running into problems with a WordPress site, without them being aware of it, is enormous. And since we're don't want to be in a position where we're at the wrong end of the stick, being asked for support of website components we have zero control over, we decided to move into hosting.

    Your challenges, our solution

    So that's the reason why we moved into hosting. But what challenges do we see business owners and small web designers have and how does our hosting solve those challenges? Let's find out.

    Theme activation and installation

    We sell WordPress themes and the hosted version of our themes. If you buy a loose theme you have to get hosting with WordPress yourself and also have to install and activate the theme yourself. If you buy the hosted version we take control of both the hosting, WordPress and make sure the theme is installed and activated automatically.

    This trinity of hosting, WordPress and theme needs to be configured in such a way that they are compatible with each other. If this isn't the case theme will either not be installed, or it will be installed but during activation something goes wrong. Either way, you're left with a website that doesn't work.

    Does that happen? Yes.

    Do we get people asking for support to help them get the theme up and running? Yes.

    Do we go in onto a web server, we haven't configured, login to a WordPress installation we haven't installed, to fix a theme installation or activation issue? No.

    Why not? If you pick up one end of the stick you have to pick up the other end as well. We understand that you might want to host somewhere else. In doing so you take a risk. Especially since the choice to host the theme with us is available. It's not that there's no other option available than to do the hosting yourself. We know things can go wrong during this initial phase of getting started. That's exactly the reason we've created the hosted version of our theme, where we can absolutely guarantee theme installation and activation issues never occur. So, if they do on your hosting, you're on your own.

    Domains and DNS configuration

    A domain name is can be had easily enough. Connecting a domain to a website, making sure that the site is visible to the general public involves a number of highly technical actions related to Domain Name Servers (DNS) configurations. If you're not in the web design business you should have no idea what that means. As part of the domain name setup, you also usually make sure that both "www" and "non-www" version of the domain name each display the same site, with the help of a URL redirect.

    Do issues occur with domain names? The fact that this seemingly innocent subject of a domain name has such a heavy technical undertone obviously leads to issues for some website owners.

    Do we get people asking for support to help them get their website online and configure the DNS records and redirects for them? If they even know the issue is related to their domain name and have heard of DNS configurations and redirects, the answer is yes.

    Do we go in onto another hosting provider's panel to configure the DNS records and redirects for the site owner? No

    Why not? The domain name is a prime example of something that looks easy enough from the outside; you can buy a domain for a dollar at Godaddy, but getting it to actually work with your website is something else. Again, we know this because we have seen the support questions coming in through the years, and we decided to remove this hurdle altogether by completely taking over the domain name setup for our clients.

    Server updates

    Your hosting provider can decide to update the web server on which your WordPress installation with the theme runs. This can cause very severe problems with websites. It's like somebody else updates the operating system of your computer and suddenly all types of software stop working because of compatibility issues. Or even worse, your computer won't run at all.

    Does that happen? We have seen websites with our themes go completely blank after hosting providers decided to update servers.

    Do we get people asking for support to help them get their website back up and running again? Of course.

    Do we go in onto another hosting provider's web server. A web server we didn't decide to update, that because of that update now causes severe issues with a website that runs our theme, to try and get that site back up and running again? No.

    Why not? The site was running fine before the update. We as a theme supplier didn't ask for the update. The client didn't ask for the update. But because of the hosting supplier's actions, for whatever legit reasons, the site is offline. When the hosting provider decided to pick up one end of the stick: updating the server, he also decided to pick up the other end of the stick: fixing possible issues arizing from that update. Again, this server update issue never arizes when we host the theme. We only run our own products and for obvious reasons make sure that the latest version of our server software is compatible with our themes.

    WordPress updates

    Let's face it, the average website owner does not update anything they have control over updating: WordPress, the WordPress theme and WordPress plugins. So what can happen if you don't update WordPress. Well, if you're hosting provider decides to update their server, you might run an incompatible WordPress installation afterwards. WordPress is the most popular web tool in the world, with a market share of over 30 percent of sites running it. That means it's a prime target for people with bad intentions. The older your WordPress installation the less likely it can be a target for hacking.

    That being said, updating WordPress is easy enough. I believe it's literally one click of a button in the WordPress interface. Fixing things if the update goes wrong is beyond the skillset of the average site owner, and web designer for that matter. And it's nice that you've learnt that updating WordPress is a good thing and are a willing site owner to undertake the endeavour. But WordPress is not your website. The server, WordPress, the theme and plugins make up your site. And EVERYTHING should work together. But does it? Do all of your plugins work with the latest version of WordPress? Does your theme work with the latest version of WordPress? And what if they don't..?

    Does updating or not updating WordPress cause issues? Oh you better believe it!

    Do we get people asking for support when issues arise because of WordPress compatibility issues? Sure

    Do we go in onto a WordPress environment with known issues to try to figure out what can be wrong and fix it for the unfortunate site owner? Provided we can even login to WordPress, sometimes the site is so broken that the entire login functionality shows up nothing but a blank screen, the answer is no.

    Why not? We know people don't update WordPress. We get that. They have a business to run, the website after it's finished is usually an afterthought they expect to work till kingdom come. It doesn't. And even if they do update WordPress, troubleshooting WordPress issues always involve a web expert with a high level skillset and experience fixing these issues. So business owners are caught between a rock and a hard place. Updating vs not updating. Business owners and web designers without the required troubleshooting skills should not be in that place. That's why our hosting obviously is a "managed solution" where we take care of critical WordPress updates and have the necessary testing procedures to streamline this for all of our clients.

    Theme updates

    The exact same thing that applies to WordPress updates applies to theme updates. The average business owner never updates their theme. And where WordPress is free our theme updates are not. When you become our client you get access to theme updates for one year. After that you have to renew your paid license. Updating a theme takes time and money, that's a fact. And the person who wants to make use of the expertise that keeps our products up-to-date have to pay for it. It's that simple.

    The reality is that even more than with WordPress updates, site owners don't update their (premium) themes since this costs money. The general argument not to do so is: "my site's working now, why buy a fix for something that isn't broken?" Of course a statement that something works now is not a guarantee it will do so forever. This leads to support questions from people running into issues with themes that are never updated. Sometimes not for years.

    Does not updating the WordPress theme cause issues? Always in the long run

    Do we get people asking for support when issues arise because of an out-of-date Nexus WordPress theme? Yes

    Do we go in onto a web server, we haven't configured, login to a WordPress installation we haven't installed, to perform a theme installation or activation issue? Even provided we can even login the answer is no.

    Why not? See the "Theme activation and installation" section earlier.

    WordPress plugins

    Plugins are a nightmare for any theme supplier and / or hosting provider. In the article " WordPress plugins: how many is too many? you can find the recommendation to never install over 20 plugins. Site owners install them to their hearts content. However, each plugin introduces new risks to security, performance, and site stability. And just as with WordPress and themes, you have to update them... or not.

    In all honesty, we don't have a clear answer how to streamline the usage of plugins for our hosting. People want to use them, they can create issues and we don't provide support. Our way of dealing with them is that we provide automated backups, so site owners always have the ability to revert their website to a state before the issue occurred. Or we can easily go in, since we do the hosting and deactivate the plugin.

    Do WordPress plugins cause issues? Yes

    Do we get people asking for support fixing plugin issues related to performance, hacked sites and sites not working? Definitely

    Do we login to a WordPress site on another hosting provider to fix issues related to plugins we have not developed and which causes unwanted effects on a website? No

    Why not? As of this writing there are 50.000 WordPress plugins you can download for free. Any of those 50.000 plugins can cause issues, and many of them do. Of course you want to use every plugin you think you need and ask us to troubleshoot possible issues that arise. That's what I would want as well. But we simply cannot run a sustainable business where we take on the role of your custom web designer without being paid for it. And we don't want to get paid for being a web designer, because that's not the business where in.

    FTP access

    A lot of hosting providers give access to the server on which WordPress is installed. That's necessary if you just buy hosting and need to do the WordPress installation yourself. Also installing themes and plugins can be done using {{149"]: a way for your computer to transfer files to a server.

    You can think of having FTP access as being able to open up the hood of the car to get to the engine. Some people want to be able to change the oil of their car themselves, some want to swap out the entire engine.

    Does providing site owners FTP access cause issues? If they have no business being on a web server and tamper with their site's configuration incorrectly the answer is yes.

    Do we get people asking for support fixing their site's installation after they have incorrectly edited it? Yes

    Do we login to another hosting provider's web server to fix changes to a site installation gone wrong for a website running our theme? No

    Why not? A site owner should not concern themselves with anything related to their web server. If they do they are obviously more sophisticated site owners or knowledgeable web designers with the necessary skills. But if the latter is the case you also know what you're doing and can fix possible issues yourself if they occus. If that's not the case you have tampered with something you shouldn't have and should bear the financial consequences of hiring a web designer to fix the issue. Your theme supplier (us) will view the web server as out of scope of support and as a hosting provider we don't provide access to the web server, since people who do want that do not fall into our target audience.

  • About the Author

    Johan van Seijen

    Co-founder

    Johan van Seijen is co-founder of Nexus Themes and our lead designer. After gaining a Master's Degree in Information Science he decided to try his luck in the illustration industry, working for clients as Avantgarde, Cosmopolitan and Glamour. With the return to the software industry grew the desire to create something to be truly proud of and which could spearhead his ambition of having his own company. And this company is what followed. He lives with his wife and daughter in Amsterdam.