I’ve been making hosting recommendations to clients for a while now, and it’s honestly been a bit of a journey. With so many options, there are a lot of good paths, and some paths that you just have to go down for a while before you really know. It would probably be useful to list those paths, but I’m going to just focus on the path that has been the most sensible to me.
Some caveats about this recommendation, first. This is for moderately trafficked sites that do not require any special levels of security. I’m also coming at this, naturally, thinking about WordPress. This is my WordPress hosting recommendation, after all. I’m really just sharing my personal perspective based off of past experiences with a variety of popular hosts.
My recommendation for WordPress hosting is Dreamhost. This isn’t a crazy suggestion, WordPress.org itself recommends it. However, I will not say anything about the others on that list, which… um, is still saying something. I have had the best overall experience with Dreamhost, and really appreciate their support of WordPress, from core contributions to community involvement.
Ease of use
WordPress hosting is, for the most part, WordPress hosting. There’s a server, there are files, you point a domain at it. So, as is true with so many things nowadays, the software layer on top is what makes the difference. This is probably the most subjective of all my reasons.
I like the simplicity of the control panel. There’s a sidebar with everything associated with your account, the domain, hosting, databases, SSL certificates, billing, etc. So many other hosts have many different views for all of this, and then change or rearrange things often.
Dreamhost’s WordPress hosting is priced really competitively. Currently, if you sign up for 1 year, it includes a domain and an SSL certificate for $3.95/mo. That’s a great deal for most people.
With Dreamhost, the SSL certificate is included for free. With Let’s Encrypt, the expectation is that these certificates just come out of the box. Somehow, as of writing, GoDaddy is still charging customers $80/year for SSL certificates.
This is one that can be make-or-break for some people. Dreamhost offers no phone support. As an introvert, this is fine with me. I have worked with their support team on a few occasions (don’t often need them!), and they’ve been very prompt and helpful.
There’s an ever-growing market of “Managed WordPress” offerings on the market now, which offer a more streamlined experience, better security and performance, and nice additions like staging sites. In some instances, this kind of package is far more appropriate for the job. Dreamhost has packages for this too, but they don’t seem to rank as often as those from Kinsta, WP Engine, and Flywheel.