WeFoster, co-founded by Marion Gooding and Bowe Frankema, is a new managed hosting platform fine-tuned specifically for online communities.
The duo came up with the idea for WeFoster two years ago at WordCamp London 2015. “Bowe and I sat down and thought of ideas on how we could contribute to the open source community,” Gooding said. “We eventually decided on BuddyPress and to build a business around it. We brainstormed on the basic premise of growing awareness, interest, and the user base of BuddyPress.”
While BuddyPress is at the core of what WeFoster does, it isn’t limited to it. The hosting provider caters to all kinds of community building tools whether its Peepso, s2Member, or Memberpress.
One of the things that sets WeFoster apart is its community creation wizard. Customers are asked a series of questions related to their community. For example, one of the questions asks if you’d like to have discussion forums. If you answer yes, bbPress will automatically be installed in the background. This process replaces the need to manually search and install a variety of plugins after installing WordPress.
When creating a community, customers can select from a set of partner templates. Partner templates are pre-configured WordPress installations setup specifically around a product. Partner templates include a white labeled dashboard allowing partners to brand it to match their product. Partners also receive a variety of other perks.
The partner program is not an affiliate program and partners are hand selected. The team is looking for partners that are in line with the company’s vision of building better communities. For more information and to apply to be a partner, check out the partner application page.
WeFoster Uses Google’s Cloud Platform
WeFoster is built on Google’s Cloud Platform enabling each site to be hosted in a container separate from others. The technology stack consists of PHP7, Nginx, Redis/Memcached, and MariaDB. If for whatever reason you need to downgrade to PHP 5.6, you can do so at the click of a button.
WeFoster uses a custom caching solution dubbed CommunityCaching that it claims loads sites up to six times faster than traditional shared hosts and almost twice as fast as Managed WordPress hosts.
The host is also a certified CloudFlare partner taking advantage of CloudFlare’s data centers located across the world. The partnership provides access to free SSL certificates. All sites created on WeFoster have SSL enabled by default and are served over the HTTP/2 protocol.
Sites are actively monitored for malware and are backed up to Amazon Secure Storage. Site owners can restore to any point in time since backups are stored indefinitely.
Tools for Developers
Although WeFoster has focused on eliminating technical hurdles experienced by those who manage online communities, the company didn’t forget about developers. Each site has a developer section that includes a code editor, database manager, an area for debugging, and other related tools. The code editor is a full-featured IDE that works in the browser. This eliminates the need use an FTP client to upload files to the web server.
Those who manage sites using a command line interface will be happy to know that WeFoster supports WP-CLI.
The WeFoster Community Hub
In addition to hosting communities, WeFoster itself is a community. The WeFoster community hub is a place where community builders share advice, network with other builders, and gain access to exclusive resources. Prospecting developers can join the developer directory and be part of Community Care. Community Care enables community managers to submit tasks that are then completed by one or more experts from the developer directory for a fee.
Co-Founders Give a Guided Tour
WeFoster offers a seven-day free trial for all its plans and will migrate existing communities for free. Prices start at $29 per month for the Village plan and go as high as $249 for the Metropolis plan. If at the end of the trial period you decide not to use the service, remove your payment information so you don’t get charged.
What I’ve highlighted above is only scratching the surface as to what WeFoster offers. To learn and see how it works, watch this 47 minute video where Gooding and Frankema give a guided tour and explain the thought process behind many of its features.
It is nice to see a hosting solution specifically targeting this segment. I will suggest providing more information about the bandwidth as depending on the storage class, the cost of bandwidth can be overwhelming on GCP.
Wishing all the best to Bowe and WeFoster team :)