Managed WordPress

Every day I see more and more companies, projects, places where we talk about Managed WordPress, but in reality they are not, and I would like to give a point of view of what I think should be clarified, especially in the face of users and owners of sites made with WordPress.

To begin with, let’s look a little at the different elements that a WordPress is made of: domain and DNS, web hosting, base software, and plugins. These are the top 4 elements a site has, and yes, we can go into adding or disaggregating more, but I think this comes to summing it up.

To start at the beginning, let’s talk about what a domain is. I’m not going to explain in itself, but what it represents: the domain is your brand your name, you. And as “YOU” that it is, it’s something you should NEVER let anyone control. You must have absolute control of the domain. This means that the domains must be completely in your name, and in an official registrar that allows you to fully and transparently manage their management. Mastery is the main thing about a project because if you lose it, there is no way to regain control (at least easily) of anything, or you can be fucked up. So, NEVER let anyone register the domain for you or manage it, or be in control. The domain must be in your name, with your email, with that of no one else.

Once you have control of the domain, the possibilities begin. For example, DNS. I don’t care where or who manages them, although it is always simpler, in my case for example, to manage them the same company where the web hosting is, and where you can have the mail or similar. If you are going to have it distributed, another interesting option is to put it already at higher levels, type Route 53, Hurricane Electric or similar. This part must be controlled, but always sharing its use with the technical manager, since it requires some maintenance. Still, so far, if you have minimal technical knowledge, you can manage it. Otherwise, it is highly recommended that someone who knows the subject gives you a look, which by default many companies put shit that is not worth having and can generate problems. A bad DNS configuration can annoy your SEO and generate security problems.

Web hosting is the next point. It is clear that making a decision about web hosting is not easy, although there are platforms that for 1 euro per month give you hosting … at what cost? Web hosting is like a dwelling. There are houses, flats, penthouses, bigger, smaller, with more noise, with less, with elevator, with terrace. From here, imagine that you are going to set up a fest, and you want it to be a very successful party. Therefore, you will have to know how many guests will come, how much food you will have to give, if you are going to be the host, if you are going to have catering… Well, now you take this to hosting, and disk space, CPU, RAM, bandwidth… all that is what will allow you the “success of the party”. If it is something familiar, personal and only one or two people are going to come to the party, and they come and go, then you will only be able to manage it, but if you want many people to come, it is likely that you hire a catering company. Okay, that’s it.

When we talk about the arrangement, we also talk about its maintenance. The same as in a house there are things that wear out, pipes that break down, taps that leak… or it is simply not spoiled but “from so much partying the paint gets dirty” it is very likely that you will have to hire a handyman to paint the floor. Can you do it? Yes, of course, but if you are not a painter, it will remain as it will be.

Nowadays, you have to be careful that the infrastructure is adequate, allows you the perfect speed and capacity for the capacity you need, and also everything related to the performance of PHP and its versions, the same with the MySQL or MariaDB database, the updates… we’re talking about software and hardware. The same thing that you have the Windows Update and that every X time you have to improve your laptop “because it starts to go wrong” because with the websites, the same thing happens. The difference is that it is not you who mainly use the site, but your visitors.

What does it mean for a web hosting/hosting to be managed? Well, on the one hand, that they are doing the maintenance of the infrastructure part, that they adapt you or suggest and recommend the necessary infrastructure improvements, that they inform you that you need to update the PHP or the database… In the same way you should not worry about backups because your accommodation must take care of it automatically and easily has to allow you to restore or get them.

With regard to the base software and plugins, that is, WordPress, things change. A hosting company is not going to worry about the maintenance of your WordPress. You can worry about automatically updating the core because it can be automated, but who cares about the rest? WordPress is the sum of the core, themes, plugins, translations, backups, cache, etc.

Returning to the example of housing, it is as if the door of the street begins to loosen. First the lid of the peephole falls off, but you do not realize it, although from the outside they can peek out and, in a strange way, look. Or as if you get used to not throwing the key and someone tries to pass an X-ray to see if the latch opens… Maintaining a website is the same as maintaining your home. I am sure that the key to your house is one of those ultra security and not one of 100 years ago of iron with only two options, that you have a security alarm or certain systems to prevent them from entering (come on, you live in a house with a door and not open like a cabin) such as a small firewall or a login screen…

For better or worse, not everyone knows about technology (just as I don’t know about open-heart operations, or launching rockets to the moon, or simply putting bricks to build a wall) and on many occasions we complain of professional intrusion. This is the same thing. Just as there are people who simply want to manage their website, its contents, and make small tweaks, you should consider whether your website is important enough for someone who knows WordPress to care about their well-being.

These last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to explain the process of updating to WordPress 5.0, with all the drama (false drama) that has been created in its environment. When it appeared, I updated more than 50 WordPress in less than an hour without them having any problems. Subsequently, WordPress, with more complex configurations, were updated together with its owners and with a series of extra measures.

Why was I sure those updates would work properly? Very simple: I had previously reviewed each of the themes and plugins, checking that they were up-to-date, that they were compatible with the block editor or with WordPress 5, that all the licensed extensions had their license up to date or were in their latest version, that everything was updated from at least the last 6 months and that no element had disappeared from the face of the Internet (yes, there are plugins that are being removed for various reasons). Have you done all that before upgrading? Maybe your hosting provider updated your WordPress automatically without even asking… what if it had broken, what? What cost would it have cost you?

The same happens with those who make extensions (themes, plugins, I don’t care) at a custom level, and that’s it. Versions and updates are happening, and nobody worries that those custom-made themes have to add or maintain certain changes to work with the new versions. Have you contracted with your developer a maintenance, which can be cheap, so that every time a version of WooCommerce or WordPress comes out, a “major” version, he makes the corresponding adjustments?

And now a bit of self-hype. Both as a freelancer and in some of the companies in which I am, we give WordPress maintenance services, even backups. Maintaining a website is something undervalued, until you get hacked, until something happens, until someone starts crying for going to know what. For now, all the companies and people who have asked me for a security consultancy of their websites with WordPress have taken bugs, even in some cases, serious. Why don’t people care about your websites? They already say that “cheap is expensive”, and it is one of the rules that I usually see a lot.

A basic phrase in life that I have had to find, on one side and the other of the table:

Hire the best and let them do what they know. If not, hire the cheapest ones and let them do what you say.

Warren Buffet

Well, if you are not sure, look for someone who does it, who is professionally dedicated to it, and you will avoid yourself a lot.

About this document

This document is regulated by the EUPL v1.2 license, published in WP SysAdmin and created by Javier Casares. Please, if you use this content in your website, your presentation or any material you distribute, remember to mention this site or its author, and having to put the material you create under EUPL license.