What hosting features do WordPress professionals need? – Interview

6 min read
Wolf-Dieter Fiege

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems around, so it's crucial that web pros are up to speed.

As part of the WordCamp Europe 2019 in Berlin, GoDaddy spoke to Aaron Campbell about how web professionals can get the most out of WordPress.

Aaron, you are Software Developer and Head of the WordPress Core and Ecosystem at GoDaddy. Could you explain what that involves?

My job really has two parts. First, to focus on the ways that GoDaddy can help benefit the WordPress ecosystem as a whole. This means leading our core contributors as well as working to grow that effort, looking for things that have been developed internally that could be pushed out into the ecosystem to benefit everyone, helping to share our insights and data with the project in ways that can help improve WordPress, and always looking for new ways we can help make WordPress better.

Second, I’m also looking for the things happening in the WordPress ecosystem that GoDaddy should make available to our customers to improve their experience. The WordPress space has some amazing people and companies developing truly awesome products and services, and we want to make sure to offer those things to our customers without them having to go find them on their own.

Some months ago GoDaddy launched a brand new WordPress hosting platform, called Managed WordPress Hosting Pro. What are in your opinion the most exciting features for WordPress professionals?

We have more users on our Managed WordPress than any other host. This means we operate at a larger scale and see more edge cases than anyone else. We've been able to use this insight to innovate in exciting ways that we're working on right now to give customers more performance and reliability than anyone else.

We're also fortunate enough to have acquired companies like Sucuri, ManageWP, WP Curve and CoBlocks which allows us to give our customers more value for their money than anyone else. Expect to see exciting things here.

What were the biggest challenges in the development of GoDaddy's new Managed WordPress Hosting Platform?

Tech is always hard when you're the biggest and the first to encounter new challenges. Challenges of continuing to scale never stop. Thankfully, we have a very talented engineering team that helps us continue to innovate.

You have developed a very cool solution for the integration of SSL certificates. A topic many WordPress users have a problem with. Can you tell us more about it? How does the integration of SSL works on a Managed WordPress Hosting product from GoDaddy, and what does the user have to do?

In short, it's magic! When a domain is added to a site we automatically issue an SSL certificate so the process is fully transparent to the customer.

Let's stay with the topic of security. On which points should a Wordpress user to pay special attention?

Getting the basics right is extremely important. No matter how experienced you are, it’s easy to slip up on the simpler things and that’s when sites get compromised.

First, update, update, update! Make sure WordPress and all your plugins and themes are up to date, but don’t stop there. If you control your server make sure your PHP, webserver, and database software are up to date. Keep your operating system, FTP software, and anything else you use up to date as well. All of these play a role in the security of your site.

Second, passwords are important and you can’t have good password practices if you aren’t using a password manager. Good passwords are Long, twenty characters minimum but you might as well go for fifty; Random, not “I thought of this randomly” but completely randomly generated; and Unique, meaning you never use a password in two places. You can only do this with a password manager, so make sure you’re using one. If you aren’t LastPass and 1Password are good ones to look at.

If you want extra credit, consider setting up two-factor authentication for your site. To do so you’ll need a WordPress plugin like Two-Factor, although most of the security plugins for WordPress do this as well including iThemes Security and Wordfence, and then you’ll need a two factor app for your phone like Authy. After setting it up for your account, when you log in with your username and password you’ll be prompted for a six digit code that the app on your phone generates. This code updates every thirty seconds, making it incredibly hard for hackers to compromise your login! Once you get the hang of this on your WordPress site, you’ll be able to use that same phone app to enable two factor on your hosting account, registrar, Google accounts and more – secure yourself everywhere!

Regular updates and patches of WordPress are very important: but these activities are annoying and time consuming. Many users struggle to update WordPress, as well as WordPress themes and plugins, regularly and in time. How can GoDaddy as a hosting provider help these users to keep their system secure?

With our Managed WordPress solution updates to WordPress itself are handled for you. Most users can also benefit from a tool like ManageWP that can help you easily update themes and plugins on all your WordPress sites.

What "hidden" features of GoDaddy's new Managed WordPress Hosting Platform are your highlights?

Sometimes it’s the hidden things that “just exist” that are the best. For Managed WordPress Hosting at GoDaddy I’d say my personal top three would be free global CDN for all plans, automatic SSL install on Pro plans, and a free Gravity Forms license

What's the future for WordPress and what are the main challenges WordPress devs, agencies and hosters will face in the next few years?

User expectations for their websites are ever growing. That’s completely understandable and even expected, but it means that WordPress and those offering WordPress based solutions or services will need to keep ahead of those expectations. Successful WordPress devs, agencies, and hosts will need to offer complete solutions to users that are competitive in a space, accessible, discoverable, and most of all easy to use. Offering all the power and flexibility that people need in an easy to use way that lessens or eliminates that learning curve, is definitely going to be one of the big struggles over the next couple years.

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