It's Friday, so it's time for us to give Props to vendors we love. In our 20+ years of business, we have used or are using at least 10 different hosting companies for our sites and our clients' sites. Without naming every one of them, we have used Bluehost, Modwest, FatCow, MDD Hosting, GoDaddy, Hawkhost, Innohosting, Sharkspace, Crucial Paradigm, Hostnine, Hostgator, HTTPME, and Siteground. Some of these providers, we still use. Some may no longer be in business. Some were flat out awful, and some just didn't fit our needs. By and far, our favorite and most trusted website host is Lightningbase.
We came across Lightningbase on some website hosting forums where you can get sucked down a rabbit hole of good advice and paid endorsements. I stumbled upon a blog reviewing some of the premier WordPress specialty website hosts. Lightningbase wasn't listed in the top 5, but upon reading some comments, I saw a recommendation and thought it was worth further exploration.
I started researching them by reviews and other forums. We asked around seeking opinions from other web developers. It was time to send an exploratory pre-sales email to see what kind of response we would get. I highly recommend doing this with any new product or venture you might consider. It's an indication of what kind of service you might get as a customer. Not always, but it's usually an insight. In no time, we heard back from the owner of Lightningbase.
He was thoughtful and very articulate in his replies. He was confident of their services but not pushing the sale — unusal for webhosts.
We went over everything I could think of, even bulk rates for multiple sites, future upgrades, and overages. There was nothing left out of his replies.
So, we sat on it for a while. Eventually, being fed up with another reseller’s slow performance and even slower support, it was time to give Lightningbase a try. Six years and counting, we're still using them for many of our websites. Most small businesses don't have time to try out new products and services. Most of us are loyal to providers that are reliable, trustworthy, and responsive. Lightningbase is all of that and more. They know your name.
Speed, security, and performance from a webhost is paramount for an effective website
Lightningbase is fast. They specialize in WordPress hosting. That's something we'll blog about another time. From all indications, further reviews, and people more knowledgable than me, security at Lightningbase is top-tier. We have never experienced downtime or those annoying "500" or "wordpress error establishing a database connection" error. Their cache-ing is phenomenal. On a rare occasion, when we have seen a downtime instance, it's been because of an outtage upstream. It can happen even with redundancy.
If you're going to be with any provider for a period of time, support will become an equally important part of that relationship. This is truly my favorite part of using Lightningbase as a webhost. Tickets are responded to usually within 15-20 minutes, sometimes sooner and occasionally longer. While we all want instant replies, I've found a thoughtful and helpful 30-minute reply is better than an immediate, "we don't know what's going on, we'll look into it." Sometimes, we've waited a day or more for resolution. Not with Lightningbase. Many times, the owner replies to tickets. I don't know how many customers they have, but they know my name, they know my company's name, and to top it off they are familiar with all our clients' sites.
Lightningbase doesn't offer phone or chat support
That bothers some web designers and developers. One provider we've used had phone support that they bragged about. After waiting about 5-10 minutes one time, someone finally picked up. It was so noisy in the background, I couldn't tell what my tech was advising me. We've experienced equally lackluster support from some chat support of larger webhosts. Not Lightningbase. Their ticket system works perfectly and the quality of replies, suggestions, and fixes from the support team have answered all our needs.
They're not huge. To my knowledge, they operate solely in the United States. With some of the larger webhosts, you can get more resources, more support options, and more plan options for your hosting. Lightningbase offers 4 basic plans. They're very reasonably priced though not nearly as inexpensive as some of the monster webhosts out there. You get what you pay for.
If you want the comfort of a company managing servers around the globe with thousands of staff, look elsewhere. If you want to pay $3 a month for website hosting from a “reseller," you should probably look elsewhere. Lightningbase provides top quality, trustworthy, managed WordPress hosting.
The adage "time is money" is true in all aspects of business. The allure of shiny webhosts with all the glitter had has often ended up wasting both time and money. One of the worst things any webdesign or web development company has to report to a client is that the server has crashed, or the host is trying to fix it, or we don't know what the problem is.
I've saved the more egregious emails from my previous hosts and someday maybe I'll write a book about it. With Lightningbase, I haven't had to do that.
As a managed WordPress host, they know their plugins
They've bailed us out many times with plugins that don't play nice. They know how their system integrates well or poorly with certain plugins. They know LMS, Gravity Forms, Contact Forms, Ninja Forms, Paid Memberships Pro, and Beaver Builder. They know ecommerce and gateway providers. Obviously, they know all things WordPress. The coolest thing about Lightningbase, is that on top of all that, they know us and that is good enough!