WordPress Reviews (2017’s Best Hosts, Themes, & Plugins)

When my neighbor first decided that she needed a website to promote her freelance monogramming business, she turned to WordPress — not because she knew anything about the software, but because when she brought up the idea of building her own site, WordPress was the #1 name brought up by her girlfriends.

It’s true, WordPress’s reputation online precedes itself, but the rave reviews are not without just cause. Here we cover WordPress inside and out — evaluating features, hosts, most popular themes, and more.

How Do We Rate WordPress Itself?

It’s no secret that we are huge WordPress fans at HostingAdvice.com, but below we go into the nitty gritty details of what makes WordPress great and when there are alternatives to consider. We break down our overall review by categories, covering ease of use, support, cost, and more.

1. Ease of Use: 4.6/5.0

The WordPress platform is incredibly powerful and will allow you to manipulate any aspect of your site — however, its functionality comes with a learning curve. This is probably the leading complaint against the increasingly popular platform. If you’re not ready to put in the time to get familiar with the nuances and figure out your way around the backend, I would suggest opting for a WYWIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web builder, like Wix, instead.

2. Custom Design: 5.0/5.0

Customization is an area where WordPress truly shines. Experienced developers love how flexible it is, and even less-seasoned website managers can easily build a custom site with the help of templates. There are literally millions of these premade websites for WordPress available to give you a head start on design.

Whether you’re building from scratch or using one of the popular themes, designing and customizing a site with WordPress can yield some of the most beautiful and professional-looking results on the Internet.

3. Support: 4.5/5.0

WordPress support is exhaustive — and exhausting. There is a huge community behind the platform and its followers are eager to offer their advice and expertise, which means the hard part is sifting through the wealth of offered information for useful information.

The other option is to hire a WordPress-savvy developer to build your site for you, or consult him/her when needed. Unfortunately, expertise can get expensive.

4. eCommerce: 4.4/5.0

While eCommerce functions are possible with WordPress, that’s not what it’s made for — though there are a multitude of merchant plugins and tools available for adding eCommerce features (e.g., Shopify, Woocommerce, or Ecwid). Platforms like Magento or PrestaShop are specifically made for eCommerce — and you can check out the top Magento hosting services here.

5. Blogging: 5.0/5.0

There’s a reason WordPress is typically the first platform that comes to mind when you think of blogging. It’s set up perfectly for bloggers — in my opinion, blogging is the easiest task to get started on with WordPress.

Within minutes of signing up with a WordPress host, you can blast your first blog post, create new categories and tags, and later share your most popular posts with a hand-dandy plugin.

6. Cost: 5.0/5.0

Ahh, the crème de la crème of reasons to choose WordPress: it’s open-source — AKA, FREE! Yes, the world’s most popular website building companion is available for download, install, and web-building usage for zero cost. You just have to pay for the hosting, which, fortunately, should only cost you a few bucks a month (if you use one of the best hosts, coming up next!).

5 Best WordPress Hosts

If you’re going to use WordPress, you’ll need web hosting. This just means you need a company to host your site — you’re essentially renting out space on the Internet so that visitors from around the world can find your business, blog, or online store 24/7. For more on this, we take you through the basics of web hosting in our beginner’s guide.

A huge selling point for WordPress is its popularity in the industry and compatibility with the top web hosts. We evaluated the top providers based on their WordPress-friendly features (i.e., 1-click installs, WordPress-specific support, blogging tools, etc.) and here are our top recommendations:

WORDPRESS RATING
★★★★★ 5.0/5.0
  • WordPress pre-installed
  • FREE SSL certificate and unlimited bandwidth
  • FREE domain, site transfers, and data backups
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $2.95
Money Back Guarantee 90 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
WordPress Hosting Plans www.inmotionhosting.com/wordpress

Our Expert's InMotion Review

InMotion, long known for their shared hosting options, entered the WordPress space with a solid option built upon their reputation for great support and reliability. Costing a small premium over other budget-minded options, they do... read more +

InMotion, long known for their shared hosting options, entered the WordPress space with a solid option built upon their reputation for great support and reliability. Costing a small premium over other budget-minded options, they do include some nice features to help justify that cost difference.

Build on an all-SSD infrastructure, their speeds are very good. We would have loved to see options like integrated staging and caching included in order to help take full advantage of the nice, modern hardware. The choice of datacenters (East or West) is nice however, as it allows you to target your local audience with better load times.

InMotion offers three different levels to their WordPress hosting offerings, which allows you to tailor the hosting to your needs or budget. For those needing eCommerce support, their middle or top offerings have you covered. Their top offering also allows unlimited installs for WordPress, which is great to see.

Each hosting package they offer comes with a free domain, unlimited disk space, unlimited emails, and free data backups for data security. If you need it, each plan also has support for PHP, Ruby, Perl, and Python, and includes SSH access.

InMotion Hosting has made a name for itself on support and reliability. While not the cheapest of the budget WordPress hosts out there, the packages offered are solid in performance and feature sets.

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WORDPRESS RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Formally endorsed by WordPress
  • VPS technology and included CDN
  • ManageWP pre-installed
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $2.95
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
WordPress Hosting Plans www.bluehost.com/wordpress

Our Expert's Bluehost Review

Aimed at personal bloggers and first-time users, Bluehost’s WordPress hosting packages are a great alternative to simple shared hosting. These service come at a premium, compared to Bluehost’s standard shared plans, but the WordPress optimization... read more +

Aimed at personal bloggers and first-time users, Bluehost’s WordPress hosting packages are a great alternative to simple shared hosting. These service come at a premium, compared to Bluehost’s standard shared plans, but the WordPress optimization and platform-specific resources are arguably worth the cost.

Built on top of their VPS platform, Bluehost's WordPress managed hosting, though not as customizable as others, focuses on simplicity and speed. Their interface is easy to navigate and the instant provisioning allows for speedy setup. Integrated features, such as the MOJO Marketplace and ManageWP, are nice touches as well.

Though simple by design, Bluehost isn’t shorting you on some of the more important technical features. Integrated W3 caching, SiteLock security, and a CDN are standard across all WordPress packages. It’s also important to note that data backups are automated and resources are guaranteed.

Formed in 2003, Bluehost has long been one of the foremost shared hosts on the planet, and they now power more than two million websites. What’s more, Bluehost is on a short list of providers with the official WordPress seal of approval, doled out by the WordPress Core team. With an experienced team, competitive pricing, and always-there support, Bluehost is King when it comes to WordPress hosting services.

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WORDPRESS RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • FREE Cloudflare CDN and 1-click installs for WordPress
  • Turbo Server, SSD speed boost, and A2-optimized caching
  • A2-optimized WP plugins for performance and security
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $3.92
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space Unlimited RAID-10
Domain Name $14.99
WordPress Hosting Plans www.a2hosting.com/wordpress

Our Expert's A2 Hosting Review

If shared web hosting is what you need, A2 Hosting is the perfect host to help launch your site with your choice of CMS, including WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and others. As part of A2's promise... read more +

If shared web hosting is what you need, A2 Hosting is the perfect host to help launch your site with your choice of CMS, including WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and others. As part of A2's promise to emphasize performance, they've concocted several A2-optimized features specifically for WordPress.

Getting Started: cPanel, 1-Click Installs, and Softaculous

A2's shared web hosting plans come with cPanel 11 control panel, where users can access Softaculous auto-installer. Easily install popular web applications, including your choice of CMS, with one click.

"If you land on our WordPress landing page, and order WordPress hosting, we auto-install WordPress and our optimization plugin," Bryan said. "You don’t have to do anything."

A2-Optimized Software and Caching Tools

"We wanted to make these performance enhancements really accessible to people," Andy said, so A2 has come up with several plugins and tools designed to operate in their online environment. These features are available for all users, including VPS and managed services customers.

A prime example of A2's custom performance enhancers would be their exclusive Site Accelerator, which helps A2 users experience page loading up to 20 times faster than that of the average web host.

Auto-Configurations for WordPress, Joomla, & Drupal

A2 has optimized tools to auto-configure popular software, including WordPress, with auto-optimizations like compression and caching. "We're trying to ease all the friction points for the users and make sure we’re solving their problems," Andy told us.

Auto-Configurations for PrestaShop and eCommerce Options

Once you've installed PrestaShop, an A2-optimized cPanel plugin will automatically detect it and allow you to set up all "normal" optimizations. "We'll go in and configure everything the way that we know it will work best on our servers," Andy said.

Other eCommerce features include access to SSL certificates, PayPal merchant accounts, and a Merchant ID with E-onlinedata (with instant activation). When it comes to marketing your site or online store, A2 users can get $50 towards paid ads. Plus, with Attracta, a free SEO tool available in cPanel, sites are listed in Google within 24 hours.

A2-Optimized Enhanced Security

In addition to enhanced speed and performance, A2 Hosting includes "Perpetual Security," which features several custom technologies.

HackScan & KernelCare

All A2 accounts are offered a free hacking detection scan, featuring their own hacker detection mechanism: HackScan. A2 Hosting users also benefit from KernelCare: A2's product for conducting daily, rebootless auto-updates to kernels.

Proactive Protection & 24/7 Network Monitoring

A2 has built another custom plugin for WordPress users to prevent hacking. The software auto-hardens WordPress sites for proactive protection against hackers. Additionally, A2 offers virus scanning, a dual firewall, and brute-force attack protection — not to mention SPAM filtering for emails, which are also IMAP, POP3, and SMTP supported.

Final Words on A2 Hosting for WordPress

A2 Hosting offers 24/7 customer support and tons of A2-optimized features made with WordPress users in mind. Whether you're an online retailer looking to launch a fresh site with PrestaShop, or a moderately web-savvy WordPress user looking for speed and security excellence, we'd highly recommend A2 Hosting.

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WORDPRESS RATING
★★★★★ 4.8/5.0
  • Officially endorsed by WordPress.org as a top host for WP
  • FREE WordPress transfer or site setup with 1-click install
  • Pre-installed Git, 3 caching levels, and FREE CDN
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $3.95
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space 10 GB - 30 GB
Domain Name New or Transfer
WordPress Hosting Plans www.siteground.com/wordpress

Our Expert's SiteGround Review

Want a hassle-free, WordPress-compatible hosting service? SiteGround has thought of everything you need to get your site up and running. Starting with the essentials, users get free email accounts, site transfer, Cloudflare CDN, and cPanel... read more +

Want a hassle-free, WordPress-compatible hosting service? SiteGround has thought of everything you need to get your site up and running. Starting with the essentials, users get free email accounts, site transfer, Cloudflare CDN, and cPanel license. Then they make it simple for you to start rolling out content by offering easy, single-click installs for popular CMSs, including WordPress.

Getting Started: SiteGround Shared Hosting & WordPress

With SiteGround's WordPress hosting, you'll find features you would normally only have access to with managed (more cost, less control, compared to shared) WordPress hosting services. "Our WordPress product has several distinct characteristics that make it attractive to the end user," Ivo told us.

Seamless Site Transfers & SiteGround's Downtime Prevention Mechanism

Users experience a seamless site transition with transferring conducted by SiteGround's WordPress experts, with a free template and template installation included as well. Sites experience no downtime during the transition, but that's no surprise given that SiteGround is reputed for an incredible 99.999% monthly uptime rate (99.996% annually!).

SiteGround's unique downtime prevention software monitors servers' statuses in real-time and resolves over 90 percent of server issues instantly and automatically. With most competitors, it can take an average of 5-20 minutes to detect, plus up to 20 minutes to react to and resolve issues.

WP Features: Autoupdates, 1-Click Staging, & Git Version Control

SiteGround's WordPress hosting also features autoupdates to the core and plugins, with WordPress caching built-in as well. Users can easily stage and deploy changes to their site, with SiteGround's single-click staging, and Git is available for version control. "Our customer feedback on these features has been extremely positive," Ivo said.

Tech Support: From Server Isolation to Online Tutorials

SiteGround's technical support and reliability is uncanny. In addition to downtime prevention, they've developed a server isolation system that prevents vulnerable servers from devastating entire networks; SiteGround was the first to innovate in such a way in the shared hosting space.

When their team of about 26 developers, designers, and DevOps gurus isn't writing and building premier solutions from scratch, or coming up with new tutorials and knowledge base articles for the SiteGround site, they're talking to customers directly.

Customer Support: 2 In-House Solutions

On the customer support side of things, SiteGround hits the ball out of the park. Two innovations contribute to their unbeatable customer service: their ticketing/help desk and chat system. Both of these user-focused software solutions were custom-built in-house.

1. Support Ticketing System

The ticketing system they designed uses an algorithm to select appropriate tech ops team members for specified jobs. Users can submit support ticket requests under an array of categories and can expect a reply in 10 minutes or less (usually less). The algorithm calculates based on skill level and specialty, assigning the most appropriately qualified developer to each job in the queue.

2. Chat System Portal

The custom chat system harnesses the relationships built in previous chat scenarios by allowing users to select team members they've previously worked with, rather than waiting on the next available agent. Customers can also preview profiles and rate representatives based on their experiences.

Tenko and Ivo took us through an impromptu demo of the chat system, revealing both the ease of use of the product and the genuine helpfulness and responsiveness of their Support Team members, who had no idea who they were chatting with at the time.

Conclusion: We Welcome SiteGround as a WordPress Host

From in-house solutions on the technical side to warm and unwavering support from a customer service angle, SiteGround has crafted a complete package for any hosting need. For WordPress-specific hosting, they offer popular perks that you wouldn't necessarily get with other shared hosting providers. Get started with all of the awesome freebies, enjoy their helpful and polite team, and prepare to be blown away by SiteGround's commitment to building hosting solutions intended to make your web experience easier than ever.

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WORDPRESS RATING
★★★★★ 4.8/5.0
  • Easy-to-set-up WordPress hosting on shared servers
  • Install WordPress with one click via cPanel dashboard
  • Unlimited email addresses hosted at your domain
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $3.95
Money Back Guarantee 45 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name $12.95
WordPress Hosting Plans www.hostgator.com/wordpress

Our Expert's HostGator Review

HostGator is great for all things shared hosting, and application-specific services — such as the classic one-click-install WordPress hosting — are no exception. The team recently updated its already clean and intuitive cPanel dashboard, wherein... read more +

HostGator is great for all things shared hosting, and application-specific services — such as the classic one-click-install WordPress hosting — are no exception. The team recently updated its already clean and intuitive cPanel dashboard, wherein users can find a myriad of free apps and scripts to install, including WordPress. You could quite realistically have a WP-powered site up and running in as little as an afternoon.

As is the case with many of our favorite shared WordPress hosting providers, HostGator offers unlimited emails, databases, disk storage, and bandwidth. The one downfall is the lack of the popular free domain perk, but domain names are easy to obtain for around $10 to $15 bucks with any registrar. You can also select, register, and pay for a domain directly from the HostGator signup page.

If you're serious about your WordPress hosting, we recommend HostGator's new(er) managed WordPress platform, which is optimized for performance with cloud resources, multiple layers of caching tools, and a complimentary CDN. Managed WordPress plan subscribers enjoy up to 2.5x faster page load speeds for their website or blog. If you're running a business website, this is an excellent investment.

Once your site is designed and ready for promotion, HostGator helps you kickstart your online marketing efforts with $100 in paid advertising credits. Attract blog readers, potential clients, or online shoppers browsing Google search results. Yay, traffic!!

We wish you the best of luck in your blog or online business hosting endeavors. WordPress is a known favorite in the space, and HostGator has established itself as a trusted partner well worthy of your consideration.

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See More WordPress Reviews ­»

5 Best WordPress Themes

Themes are essentially a premade website template that gives seasoned developers and inexperienced site owners alike an awesome jumpstart on building the beautiful site they want. Below we feature the most popular themes for WordPress and why we love them.

1. Sydney

Sydney is an increasingly popular theme among professionals in particular. Complete with an array of customization tools, this leading WordPress theme is responsive and mobile-friendly, bold and custom-brandable, and easily manipulated to meet a variety of design goals.

Sydney includes access to Google fonts, logo uploading, full-screen sliders, and many more customization capabilities.

2. Zerif Lite

This single-page parallax theme allows you to showcase your personality in a fluid display. Zerif Lite includes options to display testimonials, team members, news updates, and contact information, with a customization experience that’s as intuitive as the resulting user experience.

One of the year’s most popular themes for WordPress, Zerif Life features fluid, 1-page design options.

3. Spacious

As the name suggests, Spacious is perfect for those who want a clean, modern look for their site. It’s a fully-responsive theme complete with options for layout, blogging, color palettes, and widgets. With theme-specific support included, customization doesn’t get much easier.

For a clean, modern look, try Spacious — featuring custom widgets and responsive design.

4. Evolve

Featuring sliders, custom widgets, Font Awesome icons, and compatibility with your favorite social media platforms, Evolve is a fully-responsive futuristic theme with a look that lives up to its name. Modify virtually anything about the design and have a custom-made site live in minutes.

Evolve includes an extensive list of customization options, including navigation, slider, social, and widget elements.

5. Customizr

If a flexible customization experience is what you’re looking for, Customizr’s name speaks for itself. Beloved by site owners in a variety of niches, Customizr is favored for its compatibility with popular eCommerce plugins and extensive options for matching your site’s look to your brand.

Customize the eCommerce site you’re envisioning with Customizr.

See More WordPress Themes »

20 Best WordPress Plugins

Plugins are powerful tools for adding more functionality and customization to your WordPress site. With the click of a button, you can add forums, product review capabilities, page caching, comment/contact forms, and more to your site.

A word of caution, however, you don’t want to add just any plugin to your web pages. You want to make sure the code you’re adding has been made by a credible source — basically to ensure that it’s going to jibe well with the existing code of your site, theme, and even other plugins.

Below we cover the most popular plugins for WordPress:

CATEGORY / FUNCTIONALITY: PLUGIN(S):
COMMENT / CONTACT / FORMS
SEO / WEB STATS
CACHING / PAGE LOAD SPEED
ECOMMERCE / PRODUCT REVIEWS
SOCIAL MEDIA / POPULAR POSTS
WEB BUILDER / EDITOR

See More WordPress Plugins »

We Love WordPress — Shouldn’t You?

It’s no secret that WordPress is renowned in web hosting. Now that you know that the functionality and the features live up to the hype, you’re hopefully ready to begin your relationship with WordPress. Yes, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but if you’re willing to take the time to self-teach upfront, you’re in for a wonderful ride. Browse the best WordPress hosts to get started.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexandra Leslie

Alexandra Leslie serves as Tech Vertical Manager of Digital Brands Inc, spearheading the charge to deliver technical expertise and thought leadership to our rapidly growing audience of developers, engineers, and website owners here at HostingAdvice. You'll find her engaging with leaders in web hosting and tangentially related industries, enjoying honest discussions of their cutting-edge technologies. She loves getting her hands dirty with comprehensive reviews of popular hosting platforms and services, and she's a die-hard WordPress fan. Alexandra leads the HostingAdvice team with a passion for translating technical jargon into digestible action items anyone can use to build, monetize, and scale a web presence.