Pagely's 2018 WordPress challenges survey reveals the top problems for owners of WordPress websites.  They aren't surprising and there's a simple way to solve them all at once.

Managed WordPress hosting company Pagely recently performed a survey of its users.

The results revealed that the most pressing problems for users of WordPress are deep-rooted problems that can affect the entire business, rather than superficial usability one.

These are the results in a nutshell.

Who is Pagely?

Pagely is the first and largest managed WordPress hosting platform.  They are geared towards the higher end of the WordPress market, with plans starting at $299 per month.

The top 3 WordPress pains

1. Performance

You don’t need Google, Microsoft etc to tell you how important website speed is. You know what it feels like to use a lightning-fast website. You also know the frustration of visiting a site that loads in fits and starts like its 2001. Speed is of utmost performance these days. Google ("faster sites create happy users"), Bing ("faster is better") and others have officially stated that speed is a big part of how they rate your website.

With such emphasis on speed, it’s no surprise that performance tops the list of WordPress problems for 52% of respondents. 

Most WordPress website owners can deal with basic website optimisations thanks to plugins. These make it relatively easy to, for example, keep images to a reasonable size or to set up basic caching.

But to really get the best speed from a website requires a deeper understanding. Everything becomes important; server behaviour, the number of HTTP requests, browser handling.  There aren't many website designers who know the websites they build in such detail.

For these reasons it can be very tricky to get - and maintain - a page load times of under 2 seconds as preferred by Google.

2. Security

Mainstream media love to spread fear and doubt. Hacking is still making the news and getting more common. Some of the hype is, of course, real.

Modern data privacy laws like GDPR also mean that business owners have a real fear; a compromised website can now mean serious consequences.

Again,  few WordPress professionals - let alone business owners -  are security experts, which is why 41% of them worry about it.

3. Updates

I actually find this one very surprising!  As we all know, keeping your software up to date is the single most important task to keep your site secure.   It’s so basic, it’s sort of like filling your car with fuel regularly.

Why, then, does every website professional questioned in this survey not have a handle on this? There’s a plethora of services, plugins and tweaks that can simplify this task for them. Yet it remains one of their biggest headaches.  Why?

Maybe it's because installing updates is not something that you can do passively.  You can’t set it and forget it with automation. Hundreds of chunks of software, written by hundreds of developers, can and do interfere with each other. With every update installed comes the obligation to check that the new code works well with the old.

So, every WordPress site needs to be tested after every update.  That’s right: there’s work involved and this is why it’s headache number 3 for WordPress website owners, with 35% saying managing updates is a big pain.

Do you have the same problems?

Isn't it interesting that the biggest pains the WP professionals have are exactly the three main areas of focus of our maintenance plans here at WPStrands?  

If the pros have problems with speed, security and updates, how do you manage them?

Top WordPress hosting problems

I wrote this piece on the importance of WordPress hosting before I saw the results of this survey.  But the results tally with what I wrote anyway - there are no surprises.

It might be a surprise to you that performance doesn’t make the list!  This is because, for better or for worse, people are more concerned about other things ... You'll notice how this list is very me-centered rather than focused on the user of the website.  This is something we need to change if we're to get people trusting our businesses!

1. Cost

This survey was taken among people working with WordPress professionally. So why wouldn’t they know that "you get what you pay for" applies as much to hosting as it does to anything else?

Hosting companies push their ultra-cheap plans on unsuspecting and inexperienced WordPress business owners.  This creates false expectations; they believe all hosting should be cheap.

Of course, professionals as well as solopreneurs and small business owners are looking to save money in every area. So maybe it’s not a surprise to find cost tops the list for 30% of that demographic.

Another recent survey gives an interesting counter-point to this result:  the hosts with the highest satisfaction ratings are Kinsta and Flywheel - neither of them cheap options by any means!

2. Customer Service

If you're running any sort of business for any length of time you know how important it is to keep your customers happy. From the other side, if you've ever had a poor experience with customer service you know the effect that can have on how you view the business.

A service as fundamental and as technical as hosting needs great customer service. This becomes even more important if you are not tech-savvy and don’t have full access to everything on your web server.  For 25% of WordPress users surveyed this was a big problem with hosting companies. This is why I love Siteground and Kinsta. Their customer support is just like chatting to an expert who's sitting beside you all the time.

3. Security again

Shared hosting is where most WordPress websites live. You have little control over who shares your web server and your neighbours can and will affect your server’s security.

Since security is such a low-level technical area people have to be confident in their hosts precautions without really understanding what they’re doing.  So, no surprise that for almost 20% this is a constant hosting worry.

4. Uptime problems

Almost a fifth of people have problems with uptime.  A good host just won’t have these problems. This tells me once again that people are opting for cheap hosting rather than for quality.

99.5% uptime might sound pretty reliable until you do a basic calculation.

365 days of 24 hours gives you 8,760 hours in a year.
A 99.5% uptime means a downtime of .5%.  
That's 43.8 hours your site is not available each year.

That's almost two days!  Is that acceptable to you for your business?

I think there's no need to accept an uptime of less than 99.99%. If your site goes down for more than a few minutes a few times a year then you should move host.

This where a monitoring service comes in.  With 24 hour monitoring, you can check the actual uptime of your site and make a more informed decision.

Top self-hosting WordPress challenges

Because its much cheaper, the vast majority of WordPress businesses are self hosted.

So, there should be no surprises in this list of biggest challenges for self-hosting WordPress website owners.

1. Security

Simply because it’s important and people know very little about it, 50% of respondents listed security as their top challenge.

Self hosting

You buy a hosting plan and install your WordPress website on it. Then you look after your site yourself - you apply updates, you look after your own security, speed etc.

Managed hosting

They handle all the tech stuff for you - security, updates and performance.

2. Updates

There’s a huge volume of updates for WordPress itself, its themes and plugins.  Keeping up with the sheer volume of updates and making sure they all work together is not trivial work.  Managing all of this is a big concern for almost half of WordPress website owners.

3. Lack of Professional Support

When you do it yourself, where do you turn for help when something is beyond your knowledge?  As a self-hosted WordPress website owner you have to contend with everything. From code changes, design issues, device responsiveness, security, speed.  

And that’s before you even look at SEO, marketing and all the other important stuff you need to do to run your business. You either learn that technical stuff yourself - spending a lot of time in the process - or you pay someone to do it.

This is why 39% of people feel the challenge here.

4. Impact on Productivity

29% of people list this as a major challenge of running a self-hosted WordPress website. 

This goes hand in hand with the time-sucking tasks of doing it all yourself.  How productive can you be if you're trying to learn PHP to make your website do what you want it to do?

All of these point to the fact that looking after your WordPress website takes more time and effort than people realise!

Have you seen our plans?  We can get rid of ALL these WordPress problems in one fell swoop!

Top WordPress Goals for 2018

It’s not all doom and gloom of course! There’s a good reason 30% of websites are built with WordPress.  It’s the best CMS for fulfilling most people’s needs for most of their websites with the greatest ease.

The survey also covered WordPress website owners' goals for their sites in 2018.  These are probably the same goals anyone with any website has this year:

1. Increase traffic, because that will lead to

2. Increased revenues

And, hinting, at the underlying effort involved:

3. Almost 40% of WordPress owners want to become more efficient at running their WordPress website.

Again, there is effort involved.

Here's a look at Pagely's combined results as an infographic.


The only surprising thing here is that professionals, people working daily with WordPRess, have not yet come to terms with the ongoing costs and efforts associated with running a serious WordPRess website.…

No surprise that maintenance services like WPStrands' are so important and why it's an industry growing rapidly. If the pros have problems with these, how do you manage them?

Did I miss anything?  Do the Pagely survey results match with your experience? Let me know in the comments below.

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