Painfully slow load times, poor customer service, ferocious upsells and plugin incompatibilities once plagued GoDaddy’s reputation as a WordPress host. Long associated primarily with negative user sentiment, the tides are slowly turning in favor of a hosting service reborn.
GoDaddy has been doggedly intentional about improving product performance, usability, and customer and product support.
More specifically, they’ve put together a major push to fully integrate WordPress into their product offerings for novices and professionals alike with a series of packages specifically aimed at the platform.
So have their efforts made any substantial impact, or is GoDaddy still an enemy of WordPress? In this article, we’ll cover the often fraught history of GoDaddy’s relationship with WordPress, their new direction, and the products and services now on offer.
GoDaddy and WordPress: Then and Now
Founded in 1997 as Jomax Technologies, Bob Parsons and his team renamed this software company GoDaddy in 1999. Its comical, yet memorable, business name reflected the company’s whimsical approach to advertizing.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing with regards to WordPress however. Developers often complained of slow loading times over the years, and inconsistent answers and misappropriated blame from tech support were also frequently highlighted.
One blogger was moved to express himself in strong terms as recently as 2013:
Saying they’re ‘WordPress Friendly’ is like saying your pit bull is friendly while you’re using every ounce of strength you have trying to keep it from attacking me!!
In the past two and a half years, however, new CEO Blake Irving has attempted to dramatically change the company.
Under his leadership, GoDaddy has revamped product offerings, expanded its customer support call center, improved tech support training, and tackled the company’s representation of women. They’ve even begun sponsoring a number of WordCamp events internationally.
Seamless WordPress Account Setup
With GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress Hosting, the old warning of “You get what you pay for” no longer applies. Although pricing is still among the lowest in the industry (they’re currently running a promotion with basic WordPress hosting starting at $1 per month), the level of value on offer has skyrocketed.
WordPress is no longer simply one of many options at GoDaddy. Instead, they’ve made WordPress a first-class citizen in their product lineup with a set of solutions staff describe as a “tightly managed” product offering. You’ll see the difference immediately upon activating your account.
GoDaddy WordPress Hosting Highlights
The revamped WordPress offering includes a number of slick new features to enjoy. We’ve picked out some of the most notable below.
If you’re new to WordPress, you’ll have access to hundreds of SIDEKICK tutorials that demonstrate how to build your website. Their videos are updated constantly and cover topics such as photo editing, page and post creation, theme selection and much more.
Also updated with each new version, WordPress 101 offers video tutorials formatted for all of your devices. They cover everything from very basic instruction to more advanced concepts like SEO optimization.
Trained Support Staff
Around May 2014, GoDaddy dissolved email and trouble ticket support. It simply wasn’t working. Amongst other problems, there had been too many delays in processing customer requests and they didn’t have the tools to verify customer information if requests were sent from non-account emails.
Now however, technical support staff have been trained to troubleshoot problems exclusively for WordPress users over the phone and through live chat 24-hours a day – a massive improvement in service levels.
Heightened Website Security
According to Jeff King, GoDaddy’s General Manager of Hosting and Security, the company has been taking an increasingly proactive stance against security threats of late. Spam blockers, automatic updates, and nightly site backups with one-click reinstallation are just a few of GoDaddy’s new security features.
As mentioned earlier, plugin compatibility was a major issue on the GoDaddy hosting of old. They’ve taken their WordPress product improvement commitment a step further with their Hot 100 list of most used themes and plugins (and yes, you bet Total is on there).
Delivered weekly, this list ranks popular WordPress themes and plugins used by GoDaddy WordPress hosting customers. Interestingly, instead of ranking the total number of active installs, GoDaddy evaluates the net change of themes and plugins active at the time of their weekly analysis.
GoDaddy has also compiled a list of plugins known to interfere with the functionality of their managed WordPress hosting accounts. If activated, GoDaddy will remove these blacklisted plugins from your managed account upon detection.
Migration options seem to have also substantially improved. One blogger reported migrating multiple websites without a hitch. During the migration process, you can preview your websites on a separate subdomain. Furthermore, you can expect to experience a surge in your website’s page speed upon completion.
Go Pro with Your Existing Clients
GoDaddy Pro was created with developers, designers, and creative agencies in mind. It combines core components of GoDaddy’s managed WordPress hosting (as well as options for shared, cloud, VPS and dedicated servers) with clever client management tools.
You can use the website migration tool to transition existing clients to this new system, or create a whole new account for new clients. Here are just some of the standout features of this new product.
Your clients determine your level of access, but you can conduct testing behind the scenes, check site performance, plugin functionality, code review – the whole ball of wax. You can even start building your client’s site on a temporary domain for them until they settle on a final one.
Have you ever made purchases for your clients only to end up in a tangled web of figuring out how to transfer ownership of their products back to them? GoDaddy Pro addresses this issue with client shopping carts. There are two options:
- Fill the shopping cart, and then send it to your client for purchase.
- Make the purchase on your client’s behalf with the credit card they have on file.
Clients maintain ownership while you work on their account with fewer hiccups. It’s a great option to have and saves an awful lot of hassle down the line.
Dedicated Customer Support
When juggling multiple clients, it’s easy to drop the ball from time to time. GoDaddy helps to prevent that from happening by dedicating a customer support line to their Pro customers. Wait times are shorter, and you still have the option of using live chat.
An additional feature that many freelancers prefer is the option to submit a support ticket. Once an issue is resolved, you’ll receive an update. This frees you up to continue working on your clients’ accounts instead of wasting time troubleshooting technical snags behind the scenes.
Access to a WordPress Evangelist
GoDaddy is keeping their ear to the ground with the wider community through their WordPress evangelist, Mendel Kurland. Mendel travels extensively to glean insights from developers, designers and site owners throughout the world. In addition to establishing relationships within the WordPress community, Kurland relays feedback directly to GoDaddy’s development team to increase the performance and usability of GoDaddy Pro.
Is GoDaddy Good to Go?
Once a potentially painful option for WordPress users to consider as a hosting partner, GoDaddy is now a serious contender with the introduction of managed WordPress hosting. And, right now you can try it out for just a $1 a month (just click on the button to get the promo), so what to you really have to lose?
They’ve gone to great lengths to shift customer perception and prove their trustworthiness as a hosting company, in addition to adding innovative new features such as GoDaddy Pro for developers.
We’re curious to hear your thoughts. Are these WordPress-specific changes enough for you to consider hosting your next website through GoDaddy? Or are you still on the fence? Get in touch via the comments and let us know.