TL; DR: With full-service hosting plans optimized for running the world’s most popular content management system, Pressable is a good judge of the opportunities and threats WordPress faced last year. Director of Support Roberto Villarreal is the second featured expert in our series examining what’s in store for hosts and their customers in 2018. Needing to appeal to users of all ranges of technical know-how, WordPress and the specialized hosts must continue to develop tools for innovation and security.
With everyone from first-time site owners to Fortune 500 companies relying on the wildly popular WordPress content management system to power their online presence, Pressable must remain as dynamic as the websites and applications its customers produce.
Poised to address WordPress performance, usability, and security challenges for both beginners and development agencies, the managed WordPress hosting provider is next in our queue of featured experts participating in a series of articles forecasting industry trends for 2018. Pressable primes its plans for success by including free SSL certificates, caching tools, and access to a content delivery network, in addition to the standard WordPress-minded features such as automatic updates, staging environments, daily backups, and malware scanning and removal.
Regardless of the user’s technical experience, Director of Support Roberto Villarreal said the 15-year-old WordPress platform shows no signs of slowing down.
“Last year was a good indicator that the interest is still there, and it continues to grow,” he said. “People do want to build their own websites. People do want to go in, tinker, and make things happen for themselves. We see a really big desire to make that happen.”
Seeking to Streamline the Site-Building Process for Beginners
For novice customers, Roberto expects hosts to continue optimizing the site creation process — particularly relevant to WordPress, which tends to lag behind traditional website builders in terms of intuitive usability.
“It’s a constant point of improvement,” he said. “People want to be able to feel that creating and managing a website is a perfectly accessible thing. Site building services, such as Wix and Squarespace, will always be relevant points of entry, but as businesses grow and our desires for websites change, services like that may be less than what people need.”
For the last few years, according to Roberto, specialized WordPress hosts have emphasized caching and CDN options. By shifting the focus to usability, companies can capitalize on producing knowledgeable support, comprehensive documentation, and user-friendly tools.
“It’s all about finding small ways to remove the nagging bits of work or using cool tools in innovative ways to make those things non-factors,” he said. “Finding ways to mitigate the amount of time customers spend on those tedious tasks that consume significant amounts of time will be really important in the coming years. If we can build tools with that struggle in mind, we can effectively get these customers back to doing more of the things they want to be doing.”
Tools for Innovation Spur Development and Code Deployment Workflows
As with many hosts specializing in premium managed WordPress services, Pressable’s features and prices tend to attract more developers, agencies, and businesses. The company’s customers are increasingly seeking specialized tools to help them scale to professional-grade heights, Roberto said.
According to him, Pressable employees noticed a significant shift away from discussions about support for particular WordPress themes and plugins to conversations around automating code deployment and management.
“What those end users are looking for and expecting is greater access to the tools that enable them to take the workflow they have on their local environment and servers and make that work with the destination, or where the website is going to end up being hosted,” he said.
As the Pressable team works to create its own coding tools, Roberto noted the emergence of several WordPress plugins that help developers integrate with GitHub and other repositories.
“Code management services are helping these agencies and developers focus on getting sites deployed and built while taking some of the emphasis off the more tedious tasks that are not necessarily what they want to be doing,” he said.
Moving forward in 2018 and beyond, Roberto said he is intrigued by alternative uses of the WordPress platform, particularly in headless applications built for web browsers.
“The concept or practice is not new, but, with simple implementations of the REST API for WordPress, we’ve begun seeing developers create these superfast and lightweight websites that act more like applications,” he said.
For instance, as Roberto described, the H-E-B grocery store chain based near Pressable’s headquarters in San Antonio recently built out a version of curbside delivery. Shoppers go online to select and pay for their items before choosing what time to show up at the store. An H-E-B employee will bring the groceries straight to their car.
“Even though it functions largely like a shopping cart, the specific experience, as they’ve built it, makes it feel like you’re not going through a typical, Amazon-style website,” Roberto said. “It actually makes you feel like you are using a desktop application built very deliberately to be responsive and functional for the very purpose it serves.”
Security in 2018: Convenient SSL Certificates and Protecting Payments
Beyond changing how customers shop online, WordPress developers and hosting providers must continue adapting to the new ways to process payments, Roberto said.
“Being able to use your face or your thumbprint to make a payment on a website is pretty cool,” he said, speaking of websites integrated with Apple Pay. “Innovations in functionality like this have really important implications for security, however. This will be an important year to see how companies hunker down.”
One of Roberto’s favorite trends from the past few years combines time-saving efficiency with improved security practices — the latter being particularly relevant to WordPress users.
Let’s Encrypt emerged in mid-2016 to provide free and automated SSL certificates, and hosts have quickly integrated with the service.
“Let’s Encrypt is cool for a lot of reasons, but specifically as it pertains to developers and agencies, it takes a significant amount of time out of sending a site live,” Roberto said, estimating that setting up traditional SSL certificates would take between 30 minutes and a few days. “With Let’s Encrypt, you can have an SSL certificate immediately and in an automated fashion. It’s time they no longer have to spend.”
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