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Shifting WordPress from Manual to Automattic

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Managing WordPress websites can be challenging and exciting. A new category of companies have been launched over the past several years that help WordPress-powered website owners with hosting, fixing, developing and fitting WordPress solutions into existing businesses. Managed WordPress hosts ensure your WordPress websites are reliable, secure and well-maintained. Managed service providers help your business by orchestrating WordPress with other cloud tools, creating new business solutions that help you run your business. Another category of providers provide on-demand, overnight fixes for WordPress problems at an incredibly competitive cost. Finally freelancer sites now specialize in WordPress development on a global scale.

In this presentation, Alex Sirota (@alexsirota), Director of NewPath Consulting (@newpathtech) and Robin Macrae (@robin_macrae) will describe the different types of WordPress management service available on the market today.

This will be a non-vendor biased presentation that will help web developers, designers and their customers understand the value proposition of the myriad of WordPress-centric services. These services can help you shift your website management from manual to automatic. We spelled “Automattic” correctly in the title of this presentation. It is a humorous reference to Automattic, the for-profit company that helps to manage the WordPress ecosystem and provides an array of managed services we will cover in the presentation.

Alex Sirota, Director of NewPath Consulting, is a pioneer in orchestrating cloud-based systems to meet the needs of small and medium sized business (SMBs). NewPath Consulting provides technology advice, services and training to educate and enable SMBs to optimize business activities through the cloud. NewPath curates and integrates a suite of cloud-based products that transform businesses into more productive and profitable organizations. Alex is an organizer of the Toronto WordPress Group Meetup and leads the Toronto WordPress Group Meetup | North Edition launched in January 2016.
@alexsirota, @newpathtech, http://www.newpathconsulting.com

Robin Macrae works with NewPath in several roles. He is a content strategy and development consultant with a background in information architecture, content management, software development and marketing. He has been a thought leader in professional systems and digital work methodologies for many years. He has been a WordPress consultant and a member the Toronto WordPress Group Meetup since its inception in 2010 and a speaker at WordPress, SharePoint and content management events throughout North America.
@Robin_Macrae, https://www.linkedin.com/in/robinmacrae, http://workspacebuilders.com/

Note: Alex Sirota presented an early version of this talk at WordCamp Toronto 2015.

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Shifting WordPress from Manual to Automattic

  1. 1. Alex Sirota, Director NewPath Consulting @alexsirota Shifting WordPress from Manual to Automattic Podcamp Toronto 2016 February 20 and 21 Copy of this presentation is available online. Robin Macrae @robin_macrae
  2. 2. About Alex and Robin Alex Sirota, Director of NewPath Consulting, is a pioneer in orchestrating cloud-based systems to meet the needs of small and medium sized business (SMBs). NewPath Consulting provides technology advice, services and training to educate and enable SMBs to optimize business activities through the cloud. NewPath curates and integrates a suite of cloud-based products that transform businesses into more productive and profitable organizations. Alex is an organizer of the Toronto WordPress Group Meetup and leads the Toronto WordPress Group Meetup | North Edition launched in January 2016. @alexsirota, @newpathtech, http://www.newpathconsulting.com Robin Macrae works with NewPath Consulting in several roles. He is a content strategy and development consultant with a background in information architecture, content management, software development and marketing. He has been a thought leader in professional systems and digital work methodologies for many years. He has been a WordPress consultant and a member the Toronto WordPress Group Meetup since its inception in 2010 and a speaker at WordPress, SharePoint and content management events throughout North America. @Robin_Macrae, https://www.linkedin.com/in/robinmacrae, http://workspacebuilders.com/ 2
  3. 3. What we will talk about ● Building and managing WordPress websites can be a challenge. There is a lot to know. ● Things can go wrong, and we will show a few examples of how. ● There are several different ways you can go about managing your website ○ Do it yourself (DIY) ○ Managed hosting and support ○ Agencies ○ Digital Workplace ● We will discuss each and detail and describe technical and business benefits of each approach. 3
  4. 4. WordPress is awesome, but it can become a headache. ● You started on shared hosting, installed WordPress, read some DIY articles and thought: “WordPress is so easy! Anyone can do this!” ● To run WordPress well, you should know about ○ security and corrective measures ○ performance issues ○ disaster recovery ○ development best practices 4 R
  5. 5. 5
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  7. 7. A thought exercise Don’t update WordPress — several months pass. Watch it get hacked. Tip: Set the admin account’s password to admin or password Call your shared hosting company and ask them to fix it. Rebuild your site from scratch. 7 R
  8. 8. How much does this 1 page website cost to build and maintain? 8
  9. 9. WordPress management options 9 Managed Hosting Agencies Managed Support DIY Management Digital Workplace R
  10. 10. The new WordPress ecosystem 10 Third party (3p) plugins, themes and services (DIY) use the WordPress plugin directory and 3rd party plugin vendor’s website to choose, install and manage them Managed hosting scalable hosting, backend management (security, etc.) Managed support monthly subscription service for minor maintenance, fixes, updates Agencies Use WordPress to build sales, marketing and operational capabilities for your business Digital workplace Use WordPress as part of a business platform along with business advice and training R
  11. 11. ● Self-trained configuration of hosting environment ○ (nginx vs Apache vs IIS, PHP 5.x/7, HHVM, VPS) ● Plugins ● Web Services ● Freelance markets Some DIY management recommendations 11 R
  12. 12. Plugins ● Caching WP Rocket, WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache (resource) ● Backup: Backup Buddy (resource) ● Security plugins: WordFence, iThemes Security (resource) 12
  13. 13. Web Services ● Backup: Vault Press (resource) ● Security: Sucuri.net (resource) ● Security/Load Balancing: CloudFlare.com 13
  14. 14. Freelance Marketplaces ● Envato Studio: find talent, supply brief, manage job online, approve job ● Upwork (formerly eLance) ● WordPress theme design at 99designs.ca - $679 - $2799 for a design competition ● Guru - over 87,000 “WordPress” resources, 400 in Toronto 14 R
  15. 15. Managed hosting 15 Build your own car ($-$$) Public transit ($) Uber for Hosting ($$-$$$$) Host specific implementation R
  16. 16. WordPress hosting options Shared ● GoDaddy Hosting ● 1and1 ● BlueHost ● DreamHost ● Hostgator ● Thousands more Virtual private server ● Many major shared hosts offer VPS options ● Digital Ocean ● Amazon Web Services ● Linode ● 100s more Managed WordPress ● 20+ options available today (⅓+ of managed WordPress Hosts are shared hosts as well) ● Really just a marketing term ● We will look closer at 3 hosts, all quite different 16 R
  17. 17. Deep dive on managed WordPress Cost + support ● Diverse customers (SMBs, Agencies, Development shops) ● Support varies from light configuration to development ● Very competitive market and you do get what you pay for! Architecture The architecture affects: ● level of caching and optimization ● workflow ● security Great custom UI make complex processes user friendly. No cPanel. Bells & whistles ● Migration support (free to fantastic) ● Pre-packaged proprietary plugins and themes (e.g. Genesis comes free with WebSynthesis, 5-minute quickstart on GoDaddy Pro) 17 20 min
  18. 18. 3 approaches to managed WordPress hosting 18
  19. 19. GoDaddy Managed WordPress cheap ‘n cheerful 19
  20. 20. Go Pro with GoDaddy ● Super user-friendly including automatic migration from most WordPress installations, simple DNS configuration ● Premium support available through GoDaddy Pro ● Free “GoDaddy Get Started” plugin to build a site in less than 5 minutes, start with 5 domains + 5 staging sites ● Staging -> production deployment for a complex WordPress site can be finicky ● Improving all the time 20
  21. 21. Simple migration user interface... 21
  22. 22. 22
  23. 23. WP Engine 5+ year WordPress pioneer and performance champion 23
  24. 24. WP Engine ● Focus on WordPress for 5+ years, a pioneer ● Technical support is exceptional for large scale, complex projects ● A “labs team” researches performance improvements (eg HHVM, geoIP, Steven Word gets paid by WP engine to contribute to WordPress core) ● Innovated early to create staging->production workflow, proprietary caching can handle tremendous loads, especially peaks ● In March 2015, WP Engine received investment of $23M, can upgrade to WordPress VIP ● Saucal testimonial from January 2016 ● No trial available 24
  25. 25. Backup interface. Note backups before and after WordPress core upgrades. 25
  26. 26. Cloning/Templating Interface 26
  27. 27. Pantheon a DevOps dream 27
  28. 28. Pantheon ● DevOps-for-hire for organizations without a DevOps team ● Dev->staging->production workflow ● Uses existing Linux container technology (like Google App Engine, Heroku), your SLA = largest Customer SLA ● Free developer sites, pay only for production ● Began with Drupal, added WordPress, runs PHP execution engines, HHVM available 28
  29. 29. What could go wrong? 29 From Josh Koening’s Workflow is a Dance presentation (Pantheon).
  30. 30. Multidev: an innovation for DevOps 30 5 things you can stop dealing with now: - “It worked on my machine.” - Wrangling with local dev tools - Praying new feature will scale - Reconciling out-of-sync development databases - Delaying sign-off because there wasn’t a stable environment for review
  31. 31. Public managed WordPress survey http://bit.ly/wpsidebyside The survey was conducted February 2015 with feedback from WordPress Hosting Group on Facebook (>2,000 hosting experts across the world). Join today! https://www.facebook.com/groups/wphosting/ 31 Scope: Only managed Wordpress (cached, tuned, automatic backups, auto-updated core) hosting
  32. 32. Managed support WPMU DEV reviewed 7 managed support services providers. Their typical services included: ○ custom development including complex design changes as well as tweaks ○ updates to WordPress core, themes, and plugins ○ backups ○ security ○ performance optimization ○ website monitoring ○ site migration 32
  33. 33. Examples of managed support companies ● WP Tweaks: $50-$190/month, 3 month minimum commitment, 30 minute “tweaks” on just about any improvement or fix, one time tweak $50 ● WP Maintainer: $99 per month for security, backups and updates. $99/hour for customizations. ○ Interesting Q&A: What happens if my site breaks when you update WordPress or my plugin(s)/theme(s)? We will spend up to one (1) hour of time fixing/troubleshooting the issue – if we cannot fix within that time, we will give you a time/cost estimate and let you decide if you’d like us to move forward. ● WP Site Care: $99 and $349/month ○ $349 plan offers core managed services plus priority support, uptime monitori staging environment, performance optimization, CDN and SEO Audit 33
  34. 34. Examples of managed support services ● WP Curve has 39 staff in 8 countries and ~800 customers (Feb 2016) ○ $79 unlimited 30 minute jobs, 1 request at a time ○ $99 includes unlimited jobs plus upgrade, backup and security ○ $199 includes up to 3 jobs at the same time, Quality Assurance review, 4 hour turn around ● WP Butler offers customized service plans from $40 - 150 / month ● Automattic’s WordPress VIP’s services provide support/hosting for high volume sites from $1,200 - 5,000 per month 34
  35. 35. Examples of managed support service providers ● WP Curve & WP Site Care considered leaders in this space ● WPUP.co is a new Toronto-based company with 6 staff in 3 countries. ○ $97 for unlimited small tasks (30 mins or less) plus proactive backup, plugin and theme updates, and security. ○ Agency-friendly - brings bigger jobs back to the agencies. ○ Average turnaround time is less than 3 hours. ○ Team evaluated on clients' satisfaction instead of number of tickets or speed of completion. ○ Plans start from $47/mo. ● Devrix.com’s support plans from $210 - 1,400 per month ● WebDev Studios maintenance plans priced by customer 35
  36. 36. Agencies ● Agencies may offer managed hosting and/or managed services (usually outsourced) but that’s not their primary value proposition ● WordPress agencies combine marketing/advertising/design agency services with WP configuration, development (as needed) and hosting (as needed) ● Thousands of agencies employ WordPress. Here’s a review of a few well known ones. ○ Saucal is a Canadian design firm that has been doing WordPress for several years. ○ Devrix.com started in 2010 with transparent pricing. ○ In Toronto, Kobayashi.ca and Zeitguys.com ● Agency + Search Engine Tech + Huge Sales Team ○ Advice Interactive Group - local search SEO & SEM, focus on B2C services 36
  37. 37. Paradigm Shift - Building Digital Workplaces Becoming a digital workplace is a business transformation exercise. It uses the advantages and potentials of integration and implementation of new technologies as an opportunity to change existing business models and generate new business potential from technical, functional and user-oriented innovations. The paradigm shift is not about reinventing the wheel, but rather about leveraging the excellent best-practice technology patterns that have been well established and applying business best-practices on a continuous basis. By focusing on the holistic care of the customer, you can transform them into a digital workplace. Your core value proposition is to understand who your customers are, what they need, and what success means to them—then deliver on long-term, intelligent solutions. 37 R
  38. 38. Building Digital Workplaces 38 ● Requires a thorough review of customer’s business model to identify transformation path, not one particular technology solution ● Pricing is pay-as-you-profit, fixed-price monthly service plans ● Use modern software to assemble solutions to business problems (no custom coding) ● Focus on continuous iteration with regular projects over duration of relationship ● Renewals and upgrades is a direct byproduct of customer growth ○ Consequently, a failure to grow can be seen as service provider failure to facilitate transformation into a digital workplace
  39. 39. Conventional Business Models of Agency/Dev Shops 39 ● Business consulting typically an added cost or not available ● Focused on projects over a fixed, pre-determined amount of time, sometimes involving RFPs ● Pricing may be either fixed price contracts or time & materials ● Long-term maintenance plans usually cost extra or require moving to a different vendor
  40. 40. Examples of a digital workplace business model ● Devrix.com offers WordPress development retainers at $2,800/month ○ If you are looking for a simple website running a ThemeForest theme, we are not a good fit for you. If your business doesn’t generate revenue, we can’t help you start from scratch. (s: FAQ) ● Valet.io specializes in “high-end service & support” ○ Provides development services using agile at $10,000 per month ○ Has maintenance plans to support ongoing support efforts ○ Specializes in UX/UI design and WordPress development services including theme and plugin development, if required 40
  41. 41. NewPath Consulting ● NewPath Consulting offers a monthly pay-as-you-profit service providing your small business with expert advice and the best cloud based tools. We tailor a plan to help your business become more productive, powerful and profitable! ● Our team reviews and tests the best and most user-friendly cloud software. Then we design a package of tools and services specifically for your small business. We even do some of the work for you, at no additional cost! ● NewPath Consulting $239 - $1,799 per month for digital workplace platform 41
  42. 42. Let’s recap ● Managing WordPress effectively is difficult and important for everyone. ● Things can go wrong. Managed WordPress service providers are a good choice if you don’t want to the management yourself. ● There is a lot of overlap between the value proposition of each type of managed service provider — the key difference is the orientation and the scope of services. ● You now have the tools and insights to make a sound decision. 42
  43. 43. Treats Review your site’s security profile with SiteCheck by Sucuri and your website’s technical and marketing health with nibbler.silktide.com. You’ll be pleasantly surprised, and maybe somewhat shocked at how much work there is still to do, and what is considered a “well-designed” website. 43 R
  44. 44. Will you shift from manual to automatic? Q&A @alexsirota @newpathtech (888) 781-2539 Visit newpathconsulting. com to find out more about how we help businesses transform into digital workplaces. Please let us know your feedback online. 44 @Robin_Macrae (416) 255-7450

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