WPShout Publishes The Results of Its 2014 Webhosting Survey

WPShout Webhosting Survey Featured Image
photo credit: hfabulouscc

Choosing a webhost is an important but difficult decision, especially when a lot of reviews contain questionable content with affiliate links. It’s hard to find non-biased information such as real experiences customers have had with a company. One reliable source of information is the WPShout webhosting survey.

Despite a goal of 500, only 159 people responded to the survey. Although it’s not a large data set, it provides enough information to get a feel for the webhosting scene in the WordPress ecosystem. The survey collected data in eight areas:

  1. Average satisfaction
  2. Value
  3. Reliability
  4. Speed
  5. Support
  6. Median site count
  7. Usability
  8. WordPress compatibility

Each respondent was asked to provide an overall impression between 1-10 to each area with an option to provide a text comment. Monthly cost of a plan, number of sites hosted on the plan, and monthly traffic to hosted sites was also collected.

The Pricing Valley

One of the data points I find interesting is the graph showing customer experience by monthly cost. Those who use the cheapest hosting plans $0-$5 have the worst experience overall. Those who use plans in the $6-$15 range show a significantly higher satisfaction rate across the board. The customer experience level drops off with plans in the $16-$49 range.

Customer Satisfaction Levels
Overall Satisfaction Levels Based on Monthly Cost

I’m surprised by this statistic since several of the managed WordPress hosting plans are in this price range. I expect customers to be the most satisfied with these plans since the service is catered to hosting WordPress sites. The results prove this isn’t the case and managed WordPress hosting providers have room for improvement. Customer satisfaction gradually rises with those who use plans that are $50 or more. I don’t think it’s any surprise that the saying “you get what you pay for” applies to the webhosting industry.

Small or Specialty Webhosts Ranked Well

The results indicate smaller webhosting companies are not only agile in serving customer needs, they’re likely to provide an exceptional level of support. These types of companies fit into a mid-level tier of cost and popularity. Examples include Flywheel and A Small Orange. Digital Ocean also has a good showing with high rankings across the board.

Established, large hosting companies such as Dreamhost and Media Temple, have less than stellar ratings. Comment feedback indicates Dreamhost needs to improve not only its tech support, but reliability across the board. “I’ve liked Dreamhost in the past, but it seems the speed becomes slower each year, the servers become less reliable, and the support less helpful.”

Things to Keep in Mind

It’s important to keep in mind that ratings and averages for some webhosting companies in the survey are based on 2-5 responses. The data should not be used by itself to make decisions on which company to host a site with. Instead, use the data in combination with several other sources of information such as recommendations, personal research, and non-affiliated reviews.

I encourage you to review the results and if you want access to the raw survey data, send a request to WPShout. Are you surprised at all by the results or are they par for the course?

16 Comments


  1. Even if the data set is small I think the results are pretty accurate.
    What I’ve realized from my experience (I own a WordPress hosting company in Romania) is that people who chose cheap hosting have very unrealistic expectations and that makes their experience seem much worse than it actually is.

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    1. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with “unrealistic expectations”. It never ceases to amaze me how people who are building an online business would choose the cheapest hosting they can find and expect really good results. There’s lots of analogies that could be made but its like a plumbing business paying some amateur kid artist $5 to spray paint a logo on their van vs paying a quality auto body shop to paint the logo on, or a lawyer setting up office in a tent rather than renting an office in a um a proper building, or a moving company setting up shop with mini-vans to transport things…

      Shared hosts are GREAT for basic needs (i.e. simple blog). Anything beyond that and you are in for a bad experience.

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      1. That’s not true across the board of all shard hosting. There are outliers, and not all are the same. Better does tend to cost more though.

        I think the unrealistic expectations came from the way the hosting industry began and has generally been marketed by the oldest, biggest players. Plus most people have no understanding what is involved in hosting and what is different between hosts or types of hosting. Value-focused “premium” hosting is relatively new for the mass market.

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  2. The survey, however limited in sample size, reflects exactly (with one exception) what I’d expect. “Boutique-style” hosts are the way to go.

    I use LightningBase, and it’s superb. I am forever amused by those talking of WP Engine and Pagely as the go-to places for managed hosting. Just Google for reviews of LightningBase, and you’ll see it knocks the other two into a cocked hat.

    The one thing that’s wrong in the survey is that WP Shout says:
    “Many of the survey’s very well-reviewed hosts aim at higher-tier customers—people spending $50 to hundreds or thousands per month for hosting. Some of these hosts (Lightning Base and WP Engine) are in managed WordPress hosting…”

    While I’m happy to be thought of as a “higher-tier customer(!)” I actually pay less than $20 a month for three sites. I’ll soon by upgrading to $50 for ten.

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    1. Hi, KTS! Understood on the “higher-tier” question given that these hosts offer a range of prices. We assigned hosts into that category based on whether the median monthly cost was $50 or over. (For Lightning Base it’s $50 exactly.) Do you think it’d make sense to further clarify that in the post itself?

      The Lightning Base results were some of the most exciting in the survey, so it’s cool to read another data point on that.

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      1. Thanks for the response, Fred!

        I’d suggest making it clearer what the cost refers to. Is it per GB, per site, or something else? Otherwise, it sounds like Lightning Base, for example, charges something similar to WP Engine, when it’s actually a fraction of the cost in real terms.

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  3. Since I do WordPress Optimization, and I generally, only use Linode, DO or Amazon, I find it odd, that after doing 8 years of server administration and custom Nginx installs, that I have never found “A Web Host” that even comes close to offering the type of “Real Performance” hosting that I would want! Luckily, I have been able to do this myself for years. Aside from that, Pagely uses Amazon, WP Engine uses Linode.com.. I find it extremely terrible, that “Proprietary Cache” systems are used to lure in customers along with the managed hosting.. WP Engine’s Cache system, has had broken HTML output for over a year.. Why anyone would pay to host a business on that platform, is beyond me! 3 simple Linux commands, and 1 WordPress plug-in can make any WordPress website, just as secure as what every known WordPress web host claims! It really isn’t rocket science, but they want you to believe it is!

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  4. I also feel that even with a somewhat low number of respondents, the results seem to be accurate. I’m basing this on what I see at HostingReviews.io and Kevin Ohashi’s statement about WP Shout’s results being for the most part in line with what he sees at ReviewSignal.

    I want to see this survey get 500 respondents next year. I was surprised it didn’t get anywhere near that many. We need to work even harder at getting the word out. It’s such a rare and useful analysis.

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    1. I have one of the cheaper webhosts and actually find it fantastic in terms of support, reliability, features, etc. so I’d be very interested in partaking in such a survey in the future.
      I think getting the word out is something to work on though, since I had no idea of its existence.

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  5. Just a note that “A Small Orange” is owned by The Endurance International Group – the company that bought up Hostgator, Bluehost, Fat Cow, iPage and many more. So not sure if they would still be considered “small.”

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  6. I have a word press website I’m trying to build after paying PSI (Profit Sense Innovations) thousands to build me the site and did not get anything like I wanted or needed. And am finding word press community is the un-friendliest and hardest to try and get any help or answers from. Have left questions on several discussions to multiple people asking for help or for where to get with my site with no reply of any kind. Maybe I’m not just not a proper member of your community? But not so sure I should be? Just a word press website owner. But really think I have the wrong kind of website source for my or any business?

    Hector Garcia
    Emotobuys.com

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  7. I don’t know much about servers performances. But I doubt this kind of survey could render any useful information. The panel isn’t representative of anything. Maybe those who choose to respond are rather happy, or unhappy. Who knows.
    If by chance, the panel would be representative, the survey would mesure an unknowned mix of feeling and expectations from people having no comparison point.
    Why using this method of customers survey ? If you want to know how speed or reliables hosting providers are, install sites on their servers and test them. Technical mesures would be real information.

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  8. Out of curiosity what web hosts does Marcus, Jeff, and the other WPTavern team members use? Who would they recommend for WordPress hosting?

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