305 – How hosting has changed

305 – How hosting has changed

‘WordPress Business Bootcamp’ with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley

These shows notes are best read in conjunction with the podcast audio.


GoDaddy Pro

Welcome to another in the Business Bootcamp series where we relearn everything we know about building WP sites and running a web design business from start to finish.

We are on season 5, episode 3, which is the last in this Bootcamp series and is about what happens after the website build.

Today we are talking about ‘How hosting has changed’.


We are taking contrasting approaches to getting our new businesses running and our first client’s site built. She is a new lawyer with no previous site 

Email hosting?

Do we just stay out of this altogether? We’ve heard some claim it can be up to 90% of the support queries.

I used to do this on my own server, but now I don’t – at all ever! I started pointing people to other services, like Google Workspace.

Nathan

Hosting has changed so much…  and this is only speeding up!

The person who got me started with client websites began in 2000, working with a guy who ran the sites on their own server (I think a computer in their home that had to be permanently on).

We moved to renting cloud servers (to run Lamp stacks) and increasingly moving to severless… and more recently Edge Functions (being able to do dynamic stuff in the nearest CDN server). In theory, we are getting close to solving latency issues.

Then we have other CDNs – some just for images and video.

Headless WordPress is gaining popularity, but there are easier way for most of us to make WordPress static.

David

WP Builds Black Friday Deals Page

Links in with general changes of how companies get their computing power.

  • Companies build their own infrastructure and managed the security (early 2000s)
  • They got is from the cloud and it was elastic (late 2000s)
  • Now you pay for functionally for the running of codes as used (AWS Lambda from 2014 worth a mention)

Managed hosting (shared/VPN cloud)

  • Popular (GoDaddy, Bluehost, Hostgator)
  • Specialist (WP Engine, Flywheel, Kinsta, Pressable)
  • White labelling options to clients

Unmanaged

  • Digital Ocean (droplets) / Vultr /Linode/ Google/
  • Services for managing – Server pilot/ Runcloud
  • Cloudways – easy way in with less control
  • Server Avatar
  • SpinupWP

Serverless/ CDNS

  • Netlify / Vercel / Amazon / Digital Ocean / Cloudflare
  • HardyPress

Example of a site David turned static and hosted for free on Netlify (could have used Vercel, Cloudflare Pages or other Jamstack options).

He used this plugin:

https://wordpress.org/plugins/simply-static/ (this is gaining in popularity).

See here:

https://incomparable-kitten-cefcbf.netlify.app/index.html (this link might stop working at some point!)

https://speedvitals.com/report/incomparable-kitten-cefcbf.netlify.app/vcJ1T1/  – US

https://speedvitals.com/report/incomparable-kitten-cefcbf.netlify.app/nMObZz/ – Aus

https://speedvitals.com/report/incomparable-kitten-cefcbf.netlify.app/IuQJs1/ – India

Compare the two sites:

1. Regular hosting:

https://speedvitals.com/ttfb-test?url=https://simplerevolutions.design/

Performance Grade: D

Performance Score: 48%

Average TTFB Worldwide: 607 ms

2. Static Site:

https://speedvitals.com/ttfb-test?url=https://speedvitals.com/report/incomparable-kitten-cefcbf.netlify.app/IuQJs1/

Performance Grade: B

Performance Score: 84%

Average TTFB Worldwide: 222 ms

This is probably my route forward. WordPress as the building tool, on a local server (WP Local, Bitmami, Laragon, Wamp). There are some issue with that such as some plugins (Shortpixel / WP Migrate) not working on local installs.

Going static with Formspark and other services doing forms. AWS Cloudfront doing images and Netlify doing the HTML / CSS.

A Jamstack approach but avoiding the SSGs until that settles more.

David

Other services which we ought to have mentioned…

https://infiniteuploads.com/

https://www.dealify.com/formspark/

https://patrickposner.dev/plugins/simply-static/

Nathan Wrigley

Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social.

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you this week by…

GoDaddy Pro

The home of Managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain, SSL, and 24/7 support. Bundle that with the Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients, and get 30% off new purchases! Find out more at go.me/wpbuilds.

AND

The WP Builds Deals Page

It’s like Black Friday, but every day of the year! Searchable, filterable list of WordPress products, with exclusive pricing for WP Builds listeners!

Check out the deals now…

We thanks them for their support of WP Builds.

Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Now, welcome your hosts, David Waumsley and Nathan Wrigley.

Hello there and welcome once again to the WP Builds podcast. You have reached episode number 305 entitled How Hosting Has Changed. It was published on Thursday the 24th of November, 2022. My name's Nathan Wrigley and before I'm joined by my good friend David Walmsley for our podcast chat today. A few bits of house.

The main thing going on in the WordPress world, and indeed the whole world this week is Black Friday because we like to help out. WP Builds have put together a pretty gigantic list of all of the Black Friday deals that we can find in the WordPress space. Currently, that list stands at 270 deals. It's really rather a lot.

You can find it at WP Builds.com/black. That's WP Builds.com/black. And because there's so many on there, we've made it easy for you to filter and search. There's a little yellow button, which you can press, and it enables you to filter by price, by the amount of discount, and of course by the name of the product.

So if you wanna bookmark that and share it out, that would be really helpful. The other thing to say is a lot of the deals just go deep into December, so keep coming back. We've included the dates that the deal begins and the dates that the deal ends. Hopefully, if everything works correctly, all of the expired deals will disappear as the date goes by, so you should only be left with the deals that are still working.

But yeah, once again, WP Builds.com/. Two more things, WP Builds.com/awards. This is a silly awards page. The whole hope of this page is to raise money for big orange chart. You can go to that page, nominate yourself, nominate whoever you like, and you will be guaranteed to win. The only caveat is that you've got to donate at least $20 to big orange chart, but if you know anything about them, I'm sure that you know that's worth.

And the last thing to mention just before we get into the podcast is our Master Don install is [email protected] There's, I think about a hundred or so people. We've had a little bit of an optic because of the stuff that's going on over at Twitter, but if you fancy joining a Master on Install, feel free to join ours, wP Builds.social.

The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro, the home of manage WordPress hosting that includes free domain SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by going to go.me/WPBuilds. That's go.me/WPBuilds. We do thank GoDaddy Pro for their continuing support of the WP Builds podcast.

Okay. As I said at the top of the show, we're on episode number 305 entitled How Hosting Has Changed and it's all about how hosting has changed.

David Waumsley and I chat all about the different possibilities over the years. Going right back to the beginning, maybe you had a server in your office, which you ran yourself, or maybe you ran one in your own home. Then we moved to shared hosting, and now we've got all sorts of incredible things like managed WordPress hosting.

You can go to different providers like Digital Ocean and spin up a little server. Very modest cost. And of course now we're flattening all the WordPress websites with headless options. There's so much to talk about here. I really hope that you enjoy the episode.

[00:04:00] David Waumsley: Hello and welcome to another Indeed Business Bootcamp series where we relearn everything we know about building WordPress sites and run in a web design business from start to finish.

On season five, which is the. Of our bootcamp series, and this is about what happens after a website is built. We are on episode three and today we're talking about how hosting has changed. Nathan and I are taking contrasting approaches in getting our new businesses running in our first client's site built.

She's a new lawyer with no previous site. Nathan. This is I think really on topic for what we were trying to do with this series because we were trying to revisit, wasn't we, how we, how we set up our business and say how we might do that again now. And I think when it comes to hosting, this is, so much has changed in our time.

Yeah,

[00:04:53] Nathan Wrigley: this is interesting for a couple of reasons. The first one is there's really no falling out here, is there, there's no completely agile versus waterfall approach. Doesn't really count here. But you are right. And I really haven't been keeping an. On the hosting scene? Not really. I interact with it where necessary, but you have, especially more recently, you've really been pushing the boundaries and you sent me some videos of the things that you've been playing with and it is remarkable.

If you go back 20 years, it's so different. The landscape now it's be out of all recognition, the things that you can do, the options that are available. It is remark.

[00:05:32] David Waumsley: Yeah, my friend got me into doing client websites and she was, started her business off in the kind of late 1990s, going into 2000.

She was working with a guy who was really just doing the service, like getting these sites up, and he was as I understand it, he was literally running them from his survey and his computer at his home. That's the job he did. And made sure that emails came and you think. Where we are now, which we'll be talking about later, where we're now talking about delivering everything sort of static content to CDNs.

So there's all these latency issues have gone and there's such a big. Change, I think over the history. And to be honest, Nathan, I've always seen you as the person who's was ahead because when I met you, you were doing something that I couldn't even conceive of you actually running your own server. Yeah,

[00:06:26] Nathan Wrigley: that, that's true.

I'll, I'm just gonna rewind a little bit. First, one of my first clients that I ever had, I went into their offices and they employed a local. Computer company, so it wasn't even like an internet company back in the day. They maintained computers, repaired computers, sold computers, and they had installed into the offices In the basement was a computer, and their website was on this computer.

It even then. I thought, that's quirky. That's a, that's an interesting approach. And when I built the website, we dis, I guess they dismantled that computer never to be seen again because that just, everything about that screamed, no, don't do that. It shouldn't be in your own building. The premises.

If it burns to the ground, you're in trouble. There was no backups or anything like that. It was just very quirky. But yeah, I did manage a server. I used to used to rent essentially a rack off o vh, which is, I believe it's a French company, and you had to, go into the command line and install all the different bits and pieces and it really, it.

It was a complete nightmare. There was no there was no joy from that. And I'm glad to be shot of it, frankly, , but, we used to do the hosting of the email and the website and all of it, and occasionally it bit me. Mostly it was fine, but once in a while, the websites would go down and it would be a problem.

There was one time. The data center actually caught fire. It literally burnt down, and we had to, we had to get backups installed onto a new box and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, it was all very fraught. Yeah,

[00:08:20] David Waumsley: I think what we both agreed on that we probably wasn't gonna get involved with clients email hosting.

[00:08:26] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Like I said, I did do that. I had a, an email server and it worked that, that was. That really just was clockwork as far as I know. That never went wrong. The only problem was authenticating. So when clients were authenticating in their email client, cuz this was back in the day when you had a, you had a desktop app, which would.

You'd have to authenticate with. So I remember things like Thunderbird and so on and so forth, because we didn't have a, I don't think we had a certificate, and so there were little workarounds that you had to do to get it to work. And you had to agree to this, that, and the other thing, when prompts came up.

So quite often I had to explain this to clients and say no, click that button now. Click this, now do, and it was a bit fraught, but it worked and it was great. But in the end, It just felt like there was too much mission, excuse me, too much mission critical stuff going in email and with things like GDPR now, there's no way that service would've been something I could have carried on.

[00:09:31] David Waumsley: And certainly in the WP Builds Facebook group, I've heard a couple of people comment about who had done email hosting in the past saying that it was pretty much 90% of all of their support queries, so it was something they were happy to get rid

[00:09:46] Nathan Wrigley: of. Yeah. Interestingly, it never went that way for me.

It was just when things broke and it was very rare, so it took, it ticked along. Really well. I got no complaints from that side of things, but it was just the, it was, how to describe it, sort of Damocles is the way I would describe it. There was this constant thought that something could go wrong at any moment, and if it did go wrong, I can't remember how many sites were on that server, but a few.

The problem is they'd all go wrong at the same time. And so all the emails would arrive at the same time and the frustration and anger would all be arriving at the same time. From every side. And yeah, not something that I wanna deal with.

[00:10:29] David Waumsley: Yeah it's when I first really, came into working with WordPress, I started with what I think most people, and still I would think you, your average person who's DIY and a site would be looking for is some kind of shared hosting with, the big services, like Go Daddy, blue Host and host Gator.

And that was really it. It was about finding the. The best company, the company you most trusted. Then and I, it's interesting, it wasn't long really of doing this professionally where that kind of tripped me up. We recommended a good shared hosting for our clients and As is always happening, I think in their, they getting sold off.

So the company that we had was sold to GoDaddy and sold to somebody and then sold on again to GoDaddy, and the service was affected by that and so will our

[00:11:26] Nathan Wrigley: clients. Yeah, it's interesting, the back in the day, that was the way of doing it, wasn't it? You'd pay a really modest amount of money and, but that they were the options.

That was what you, that was the only approach. There were no kind of managed word. Hosting companies, nothing like that. Yeah, it was just shared hosting and I. Maybe there's more awareness now in terms of the hosting companies, but we were always getting stories of, the insecure sort of uncontained shared hosting where if one site went down, it would take them all down.

And if there was one hack over on a, on an adjacent website, if you like, then your site could be affected. And obviously, things like SEO were beginning to be important. So those kind of things seem. Evaporated now, and I think even modest shared hosting these days I say will have, I don't actually know, but I'm assuming that they've taken care of a lot of those problems and compartmentalized the websites from one another so that, that kind of thing is less likely to happen.

But like I say I don't really look at that bit of the market anymore, so I don't really know what's going on down there at the very cheap end of. Yeah,

[00:12:45] David Waumsley: It's quite interesting. I think we talked about this before. It was the dig effect we were talking about. That was when I first came into making websites that was affecting people.

If you got a surge of traffic to a particular site that was on one of these shared hosted services, because they didn't have, I think they called it a grid system. I dunno if GoDaddy were one of the first, but they were actually the. Hosting company I went with was GoDaddy. And then they implemented this thing, so it would protect your resources for your particular site.

But up until that point, if there was a bad player or somebody got a lot of traffic on your shared server, you went down with them.

[00:13:26] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. And I guess there was no real way of knowing any of that information as well. The adjacent website could have been really popular and you're all consuming the same resources.

So it might be that your experience was always bad because their website was always busy. Yeah. It was definitely a bit of the wild West, but I guess at the same time it was simply because this was all new and these companies were trying to work out how to make a profit at the same time as really trying to drive the prices.

And I think

[00:14:01] David Waumsley: the other side of the managed hosting or the shared hosting that you've got, we've seen, oh, quite recently, really I think relatively all these specialist services like Flywheel, Kinta, WP Engine, pressable, all of those that have been, I dunno, specifically catering to the needs of WordPress.

[00:14:26] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, this is a really fascinating development, isn't it? The idea that a CMS is so popular that companies can spring up on the back of it which are specifically designed to deal with that cms. Maybe there are services. Out there for other CMSs that offer, a similar promise, but you've just listed, I think you went through four.

I bet there's more. There's probably some, underdogs that we haven't heard of. There's probably dozens in fact. But big businesses, really big. You go to like word camps and there they are. Just right there. Yeah. Occupying the big sponsorship booth. So it's, it is big business and they do, they abstract a lot.

Stuff that you might have had to have worried about. They take it away. They've got really. Bespoke dashboards. They do as much as they can to make your WordPress experience as good as possible. To be perfectly honest with you, I don't know, even a 20th of what they're doing on the back end to make that happen. I'm just trusting in most cases the promises that they're offering, but they, yeah incredible that there are so many specialist companies dealing with managed WordPress. It was really

[00:15:43] David Waumsley: interesting for me cuz I was, trying to provide hosting as a way of generating some income for me.

So I take care of, which I discovered from the early days when I sent people off to their kind of shared hosting that they really couldn't do that. They did need some sort of aftercare. And because the average client isn't gonna have a clue about when they might need to update the PHP version and how to do that with their shared hosting and that kind of stuff.

So that allowed me to provide something, but there would be no profit for the type of client that I would have to go for these specialists hosts, at WP Engine that I couldn't add on top of that anything. So that's really what moved me into the kind of next. Which is the kind of unmanaged hosting where you could rent out your server or droplet, in my case with Digital Ocean and manage it yourself.

And that's. Given me a stable income sense, and I think it's been useful to clients. But I, one, one thing I did find interesting though was there were some clients who had already, paid a bit more and had their own hosting who I did some work for on things like Flywell and I got to experience the extra work that they did.

So with something like Flywheel, it. A lot of protection. As soon as you put your site up there, it was already reading some scripts, which were limiting the amount of updates that it was stor in your database and doing all sorts of security checks for you on your behalf. It's almost like.

It was loaded in plugins on your

[00:17:24] Nathan Wrigley: behalf? Yeah, in many cases there were, I haven't used most of these companies, so I can't really speak too much about it, but the limitations on things like the plugins that you can put in there because they conflict with the tech stack that they've got. I can't really think of a solid example at the minute, but I definitely remember reading lists of band plugins if you like, but also the fact that.

These companies inject things into the ui. They've got their own kind of menu items inside a WordPress, which take you to, I don't know, dashboards, which might show you analytics, statistics, or, something like that, whatever it might be. So when you bring your word WordPress website in, or.

Spin it up on their platform. It is a instance of WordPress, but it's a special instance of WordPress with other things already built in. And I think sometimes they they bring along plugins for the ride as well. I think that's an curious debate to have is if you go to some of these companies, I do wonder, I wonder what.

Collaborations they've got with other companies, shall we say. Let's say for example, you go to company A, the hosting company, and you start their managed WordPress hosting. I've seen examples where they bring along three or four commercial plugins. They put the free version in there, so you experience all the adverts and all of the upsells and all of that kind of stuff.

And really it's that's strange because you are paying for that service and yet they've made a decision that they're gonna put plugins in there on your behalf, which in my case, every time I would just uninstall. But you do wonder how successful that is because, They're obviously still doing it.

The hosting company are probably getting a kickback from the plugin company. Plugin company are turning a proportion of those users into paid customers. So from their point of view, it's probably a bit of a win-win. But from the WordPress user's point of view I don't know if it's such a win.

With our

[00:19:28] David Waumsley: client. I imaginary miss a client. Do you think she would be a simple website like us? We decided it was simple and largely static. Would she have been better, do you think, on some kind of shared hosting that the kind of blue host gator type thing, or do you think she would need specialist WordPress hosting?

[00:19:50] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah I'm imagining, and we never talked about this really, did we? I don't think, but I'm imagining that. A client has got a homepage and about page , maybe some sort of testimonial page, a few pages outlining the areas of work that she covers in law, and then probably some sort of contact form.

There might be a blog on there, but I, if there was, I'm not anticipating that it's ever gonna be used. So you put, maybe put some sort of functionality in there and keep the post option available, but probably it'll never get used. So what I'm basically saying is what we've got here is a five page brochure site, and whilst we could go onto the managed WordPress hosting, I don't think this website would necessarily.

[00:20:35] David Waumsley: Yeah, if she's low on plugins that we've got on her site, so it's fairly lightweight. WebPress install, I guess you could get away with a fairly cheap lamp stack hosting setup, so probably wouldn't need something as. As expensive and probably as powerful as WP Engine. Not that I've got any personal experience of those, but, yeah,

[00:21:03] Nathan Wrigley: Honestly, I'm imagining that it's an, it's a ver, it's the latest version of WordPress with some kind of SMTP plugin so that emails can come out, some kind of forms plug in free or paid, I don't really know, maybe a page builder.

That's kind of it, I think, isn't it? So there's gonna be very little going on. So I think yeah, you could totally go for the affordable end of the hosting. I guess if it was doing other things, if she suddenly decided she wanted to sell t-shirts and you stick Woo commerce in there, then maybe not.

Maybe you need to look elsewhere.

[00:21:38] David Waumsley: I think it, with all the unmanaged cloud hosting options, which are now become available to us, probably the best known is Cloud Ways, is making that accessible to a lot of people because it's quite an easy way into. Managing your own server, A rented server, even though there's a little bit less control of say, using that with some of the other options out there.

Server, pilot, run, cloud and all. There's a whole host of those, but that's an easy way in. But it's interesting cuz I think I managed to jump on that quite early on. I just You did, thanks. Yeah, you did. Yeah, but it's not due to me, it's just happens to be, I. Beaver Builder Group where there was one of the guys who I followed quite a lot who just got into it himself.

But looking back now, I think it actually goes in line with probably a big global change because I think, when we look at computers just with their computer power anyway for their services, that there's been this move, I think. Things like Amazon's Lambda was something that wasn't around until 2014.

And it's the same as I think the sort of cloud hosting that we've jumped on. Things like digital Ocean and Volter, I think's come a little bit later. They just didn't exist before, did they? And that's the new. Wave. And you've jumped on it as well, haven't you as well? Yeah I've got

[00:23:03] Nathan Wrigley: quite a few digital lotion, droplets, on, usually on the affordable end, $5, $10 a month, and a few pet projects on there.

And they, it ticks off, ticks on. It's like it's never missed a beat as far as I know. We've had basically no downtime. Again, I really do think that you got into that early and maybe you got some advice from somebody else, but nevertheless, you were talking about all of this kind of stuff and it was complete Dutch to me.

I hadn't the faintest idea what you were talking about, and, but now it does feel like a significant proportion of people. Are doing this because, the people that are listening to this podcast, the majority of them are probably technical, fairly technical, I would imagine. And so getting into the weeds of all of that is completely fine, and then you've got, as you said, companies like cloud ways who even strip away more.

Of the technical burden. And you essentially just filling out forms and clicking buttons and paying money and you're off to the races. But I imagine quite a lot of the people listening to this are capable of doing it. Digital lotion, vault, lin node, there's a whole bunch more Amazon light sale, all of this kind of stuff.

Yeah. Yeah, it's really incredible. Incredibly afford. I know that's the,

[00:24:24] David Waumsley: The power you get for your book is amazing. It was the scariest thing in the world because I think you are more comfortable with using something like Command Line than me. So for me to jump in on this and then offer it out to clients was a really scary thing.

Over seven years on, I've not had an incident yet. .

[00:24:46] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. And I bet back in the day when you were setting it up, it was really like you are in the command line, you're doing it all there. But now, like you, you described things like cloud ways. Various other companies. You just press a button and wait three minutes and there's a WordPress website and you log in and it's all done.

They set up a preconfigured version of WordPress, you're good to go. It really is amazing.

[00:25:12] David Waumsley: Yeah, the only irks, something about it is that the actual power, the server that you're renting is quite cheap, but they, the services to manage that, to make it, usable, which I started with server pilot one of the first, not.

Probably one of the most popular now, but it made it easy, but you're paying them almost as much as you're paying for the actual server use as well. Yeah.

[00:25:38] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. That's interesting. Yeah. There is a that is a good point. I came across a product, I don't know if it's still on, on offer, but there's one called Server avatar, which I think you ended up getting as well.

That was on a lifetime deal at one point, which seemed like a good thing. I've, I think I've still got a few bits and pieces over in there as well. Yeah, ,

[00:26:00] David Waumsley: there, there was another lifetime deal actually called Bunny Shell, which I still yet to use, but it's not WordPress friendly. It doesn't spin you out a WordPress site, but it's it's, yeah, it gives you all the power so it.

But server avatar. Yeah, that's been quite good with me. For some reason, I don't get it to work quite as well as I have done cause I've got some cloud ways. I've got server pilot running and I've got server avatar for some of my personal ones. For some reason, server avatar seems to use up more resources, I think.

Interesting. I need more power. I dunno why that is, but no. I don't know.

[00:26:36] Nathan Wrigley: Have you ever used, oh, what a deal have you ever used spin up w. No, see, that's another service and I've not used it directly, but a friend of mine has used it directly and there does seem to be the speed of that basic website, which is on a basic affordable plan on the server side.

Does it, is blisteringly fast. So I do wonder what it is that they're doing, what tech they're implementing, what things they're not implementing. In order to make it work quite so fast. But it, yeah, that's another one to look at. Spin up wp. Yeah. It's by the guys at Delicious Brains.

[00:27:18] David Waumsley: Shall we talk about what's been really exciting me recently?

[00:27:21] Nathan Wrigley: Oh my goodness, this, excuse me. This is so impenetrable to me, but so fascinating and I'm really glad that you are getting into the weeds of this cuz you are genuinely excited about what you've been tinkering with.

[00:27:33] David Waumsley: Yeah, it follows on from our discussion was having some episodes back where we were talking about my new love for this Jams stack thing.

This kind of movement with this idea that we should be serving up more static content, if you like, not using such the WordPress lamp stack so much. It's more of a ineffective way of getting stuff for performance to people. So this kind of new wave of technology is pretty much about.

Serving up two CDNs static content and finding some way of being able to shove via JavaScript, the dynamic stuff to the edge of the network. If you like , and this has led me onto all of this, so this is the whole. Move towards serverless hosting using effectively CDNs out there. So we have this with the Jam Stack thing.

This whole wave of new services out there, which aren't. Digital Ocean or Amazon stuff where they have their own servers, they're bothering them from the likes of those people. But services like Netlify, or Versai and Amazon are offering this as well as digital Ocean and cloud fair, this serverless approach where if you can send up your static sites, it's gonna send it out to the server where it's closest to your users to get.

So I've been interested in turning. WordPress into a static form and using these services. It really

[00:29:08] Nathan Wrigley: is. It, you've just described it in broad brushstrokes, but it really is incredible the, what you've been doing. It's wonderful. So do you actually want to go into the whole local and how it's connected and all of that?

Cuz I think people would be really, Yeah

[00:29:24] David Waumsley: I shared the video with you. I was just showing that the experiments I've been doing, so this isn't headless WordPress, which of course is another thing which is taken off. That's a slightly different thing in the sense that people are using the WordPress REST API to connect up to some static site generator Yeah.

Than to upload that to a cdn. This, what I'm trying to do is, WP Local, it used to be Flywheel Local to spin out my own WordPress site, and then I, a free plugin called Simply Static to flatten those all out into HTML pages. And what I've been able to do with this, with the free version that they have there, the Pro version does allow you to connect up to things.

GitHub, but I've been able to do it with a free one by using desktop GI GitHub and having the file that simply static plugin puts all my files into to watch it, and then I can pull in all of that stuff into my local GitHub and then push it out to. The GitHub, which is hosted, and then that can then be picked up by these new wave of hosting companies like Nety, who will then sweep that up and then make the changes to the various examples of your site over the cdn.

And it's really it's hard to describe in a podcast, but it's quite exciting. To play around

[00:30:51] Nathan Wrigley: with. It's genuinely, it's really interesting. So you've got your local version of WordPress, which you've used local, that you can download that for free. So really the word here is free. That's there's a lot of free going on here.

So you've got your local version of WordPress. Inside of that is this plugin. What's it called again? Simply Static. Yep. That's the free version. So free again what you've made your website, you've saved your changes, published, your post, whatever. Then you click a button inside the plugin, you download a zip file.

You put the zip,

[00:31:24] David Waumsley: Or in my case, I'm actually just putting it into a directory and my local site, so it goes there. Okay. That's watched by Gith. The local version and it picks up on the changes. You say, okay, those are the changes I made. Push that out to GitHub, that's actually live on the site. And then that goes straight onto Nety, in

[00:31:47] Nathan Wrigley: this case, to GitHub, right?

Yeah. And, but that's free, right? The net Fly Nety account that you've got is a free account. What are the constraints around that? How much can you put there

[00:31:59] David Waumsley: for. Yeah, I mean I guess these things are gonna change cuz the whole JAMstack movement is going on, so there's a lot of free that's been offered and presently that they do it by build time, , which is the time that it's needed to.

Kind of generate this new, so grabbing from GitHub and putting it on there is some of the build time. Now presently, my account, I must have done this whole process maybe 50 times now. It's still showing me zero in my month build time. So I've got, I think I've got, I dunno what it is, something like 30 hours or something crazy like that.

I could be wrong, maybe three hours. But I have got a hundred gigabytes of bandwidth to. On these sites. So I, there were a lot of big players who talk about this stuff. There's a guy that, maybe other people following Kevin Powell who does stuff on css and he uses Netlify for his site. Now he has, he must be getting close to a million subscribers, so he must have a lot of traffic going through his site.

He hasn't paid for years at all for Covid in his site. Great. Yeah, exactly. So I think, but of course it's all about how you use it as well. If you had a very complex system, one of these jams, stack ones that were building out really complex JavaScript stuff, then that would use your build time. And if that was then being pushed out onto the CDN and operating there, then it would start to use up your bandwidth.

But doing what I'm doing, basically serving up static pages that I've made with WordPress. It's, I dunno how many sites I'd be able to host. I'd probably be able to host all of the clients I look after for free. But

[00:33:45] Nathan Wrigley: The big thing here though, is when you actually go to the site and how.

Unbelievably fast. It is basically instantaneous because it's presumably it's pushed to the edge. So there's whatever netlify distribution is all throughout the world. I don't know anything about that, but it's it flat files, html, css, whatever. And it's served up completely flat. Near to where you are and it happens in a heartbeat.

You click the bottom and there's the page. It's as simple as that. It's

[00:34:21] David Waumsley: Yeah, and it's quite nice. There's a tool which I use and you use a lot now called Speed Vitals. It's still in beta.com and on that you can, there are other places to do it where you can do a time to first bite test and it will sample different areas around the world to go and visit your URL and say how quickly it connected to it.

And it was quite interesting. So I took one of my sites that I've got hosted in the us and then I made a copy. And then uploaded that to NFI and did a test on that. And it was, it knocked it down by a third the average time to first buy across the world. Wow. It was quite a saving just because it was going straight to a CDN rather than me having it locally.

Of course, I could have attached a CDN to my site. Anyway, that's in the us, but, If everything's going to the same places altogether, I think it's gonna work more effectively.

[00:35:19] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, it really is amazing. Are you planning to, are you planning to put any materials out there on what you did, making videos so that you can explain what it is to others?

[00:35:31] David Waumsley: I will do that. It's quite a journey, cuz I was talking to you before about my thing with Gems Stack, which was leading me a little bit away from WordPress, but oddly enough that I've gone full circle where I'm in love a bit with a WordPress, certainly as a CMS for building and generating static sites.

So I will definitely do some stuff on this and just show the process on it. Yeah,

[00:35:52] Nathan Wrigley: We should probably mention that there are some companies out there that do Oh yes. Do this as a. We were talking about things like cloud ways a minute ago and Pressable, Kinta, WP Engine and all that kind of stuff.

You can do this with there's a couple that I know of. , there's Hardy Press and there's Strat as well.

[00:36:15] David Waumsley: Yeah. I think with both of those, they. What they're expensive on what you are getting with them is something I believe, which is much more complex. It's the full headless set up.

That's a good point. But in, yeah, but in effect, what you're being served with in the end is what? You can do for free. We setting up. So I'll definitely do some content on that. But yeah, it does open, it's a little bit technical, isn't it? Most people are not gonna feel comfortable setting up local GitHub.

Certainly I wasn't in the first place. I didn't really understand how that worked. But it's it's a wonderful setup, but it does mean. People can start hosting their sites for free, at

[00:36:57] Nathan Wrigley: least at the moment. Yeah, I think it is really much more complicated than almost every, almost anybody who wasn't really into WordPress like you are, it would be complicated because you've got to, you've gotta update the site on a local machine.

Then you've gotta go into the plugin because it's the free version. You've got to click a button to. The, the flattened version of the files, then you've got to have GitHub running and blah, blah, blah. And there's lots of moving parts. It's not straightforward, in fact, it's anything but straightforward, but the end result is very fast and very free.

There must be a couple of catches though, things like how do things like forms work?

[00:37:39] David Waumsley: Oh yeah. Yes, that's it. Anything dynamic that WordPress would take care of if he was just hosting that in a normal way is gone. So yeah, we're limited and really this. I think at least at the moment, only suitable if you have got basically a static site.

We just say a contact form. So we could use it for Miss A and what I would do and I think you'll be buying this soon, I should mention it cuz there's still a lifetime deal. I bought something called Format Spark. I am so

[00:38:09] Nathan Wrigley: delighted you

[00:38:10] David Waumsley: have shown me this. This looks. Yeah, it's I've only used it for testing purposes so far, so none of this is working in the real world, but it's just a service, which when you add its URL to a HTML form that you can create and you can just copy a bit of their script.

If you want to create a form, you'll have to style it yourself on your site, but it will. Do the rest of the work for you. It will take the submission and it will place it on the account there and send it to any email address that you like and it will do some other things if you want. It will connect up to other services.

You'd need something like Zapier to be able to do that. And it will also do things like forward someone who's filled in a form to a page of your choice as well. So if you want 'em to move on. So yeah, it replaces anything that would need in a basic. Forms plugin, right?

[00:39:05] Nathan Wrigley: So just to be clear, this is not a forms plugin for WordPress.

This is something which is just capturing the submission of an HTML form, which you've designed yourself. Excuse me, I've got a frog in my throat. There we go. This is capturing that and then distributing it where you want to go. So it's very, again it's a fairly technical thing, but given that typically you would rely on a WordPress form, That mostly won't work in a flattened site.

I know that some of these services like Strat, they can manage gravity forms and a few others, I think. Yeah. But in this case, you can just put these forms and it is just capturing the result of the submission and then sending it on. But you need to design the form yourself. It's such an elegant and interesting solution.

I love it.

[00:39:52] David Waumsley: There are so many other options for that kind of thing. So we're gonna see, I'm sure we're gonna see more of it because that seems to be the move forward for hosting to try and not as, we normally happen to run a lamp stack all the time and it has to be on, this seems to be the way forward and I can see.

There are so many other people other than Nety and Versai. All of them are starting to jump on ways of making the static site easier. So with Netlify there is an option. They're on the free version of it for it to gather anything you've got in a form. So it will do that for you and put it in your nety.

Account as well for you. So you wouldn't need my form spark if you didn't want that. So I think we're gonna see more of that. And also as well, I should mention that the Simply Static free plugin has a pro version where it's also offering the service to capture your emails and search as well.

So I think there's tons and tons of options for getting around some of the things that you, that difficulties with static sites and Netlify, for example. A couple of things that appear when you, you make a static site is that you don't have the pretty URLs that you would have with WordPress. Of course.

Yeah. But net NFIs got a little system where it just, you just tick something on and say, give me pretty URLs and it will do it. And if you don't have 4 0 4 when you've. Just normal static sites. But again, Nestle five gives you another tick box to, to make the four four go to a page of your choice.

[00:41:30] Nathan Wrigley: So I'm detecting a tidal wave of YouTube videos coming directly from your computer. It really does seem like you've been bitten by this and you're very excited about. About it, you're nerding out and it's exciting cuz it's new, which is great. .

[00:41:47] David Waumsley: Yeah, I think we're definitely moving this way, but I do think it's gonna affect the average user.

Most people will still be, thinking about going with a shared hosting in the traditional way for I think for many years. Oh, I do think this is. Yeah. Saving the planet, this kind of stuff, don't you think? This

[00:42:05] Nathan Wrigley: is, yeah. There's no doubt about it. I actually recorded a podcast episode, which will certainly be out on the WP tab side of things.

By the time this gets out, I think, with Hannah Smith, and she really is into the idea of. Making websites more sustainable because of the impact that we have. And definitely this is a this technology is is gonna be making things quicker. And it's interesting cuz it's the exact opposite approach.

If you went back five years, the only real way of making your website faster was to put more resources at it. Just push more cpu, push more everything more. Whereas this is totally the opposite approach. It's everything less. And it just sounds like for a subset of the people, and I do think it will be a subset I don't see the landscape changing that rapidly.

I do think this is gonna be a really, a really meaningful thing to do. And I can imagine a lot of these companies touting their environmental credentials loudly once they figured out that's a.

[00:43:06] David Waumsley: Yeah, I think it's a great option for WordPress users because WordPress makes you might not always get the best output from page builders, but they make, building pages such a delight with WordPress.

But the downside of WordPress is that updates on your plugin security the general power that it needs all the time. So if you can do. Take the good from it, particularly with those static sites you build and then just upload it and get rid of all of that, overload that you've got with WordPress, I think, it's a really great combination.

Yeah.

[00:43:44] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Fascinating. I think we're done. Have we got through what we needed to say? I think that's, we have it. Yeah. What's coming

[00:43:50] David Waumsley: up with worst it's time. What's on? We're going to be talking. Yes, upsetting services, which for me, the agile approach shouldn't be such an option. I should already have a root routine, shouldn't I?

Yeah,

[00:44:02] Nathan Wrigley: That's okay. So I'm gonna put a boat load of links into the show notes. I dunno if I'll link to your videos or anything at that point. You may maybe not have created them, but they'll be loads of links in the show notes if you wanna follow on, especially some of the stuff. David's been talking about with this static site generation with Netlify and whatnot, alright. That's great. Thanks David. Enjoyed

[00:44:22] David Waumsley: that. Yeah, thank

[00:44:23] Nathan Wrigley: you. Bye. I hope that you enjoyed that or as a pleasure chatting to David Warmly about these things. I'm sure that you've had very different experiences to both David and I in terms of what it is that you've done for hosting. Maybe you've dipped into WordPress and the whole internet thing recently, and so you're only familiar.

With the new, more modern ways of doing things, perhaps you are flattening your websites and going all headless. Be lovely to hear from you about your thoughts. You can leave a comment [email protected] Search for episode number 305 and leave as a comment there. Alternatively, join our master on install, WP Builds.social, or there's our Facebook group, WP Builds.com/facebook.

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