Pagely vs WPEngine Focused Craftsmanship or Mass Market appeal

Occasionally we are asked how the Pagely® Managed WordPress hosting service compares to WPEngine®. So we went into our sales call archives to see what WPEngine users who were investigating Pagely said. We also spoke with current Pagely customers who also have or had sites at WPEngine. We've distilled these conversations down into the takeaways below along with the actual quotes from these prospects and customers.

Our aim is to provide a fair comparison for potential customers. For some users WPEngine may be a better fit, and there are other times where Pagely is better suited. This guide should help anyone asking the question:

How does Pagely compare to WPEngine?

Pagely Logo
WPEngine Logo

Executive Brief

Pagely introduced Managed WordPress Hosting to the world in 2006 as a founder-owned and operated company with a fierce commitment to staying independent and customer focused. Pagely exclusively serves the top 1/3 of the channel with high performance, scalable hosting solutions for WordPress.

WPEngine entered the market in 2010 after recognizing the huge growth opportunity and have built a formidable presence selling low/mid-market B2C WordPress hosting solutions. Now on their 6th round of funding for a total of $291MM they have ~1million sites under management.

"When I asked around for recommendations on where to host my high traffic site - Pagely was always the first name given with an added 'but it's expensive' disclaimer."
- Prospect in 2016

"Perhaps things got a little bit out of their hands with their growth. I understand they're hosting a lot of websites right now and perhaps their current team and resources might not entirely meet the needs of all their customers so they're prioritizing certain ones."
- Prospect in 2017

Sales Culture

Known for the consultative soft sale approach and at times criticized for coming off as aloof for not discounting pricing or aggressively courting new business. Pagely is a partner on the customer side of the table keeping the primary focus on producing a superior solution to benefit the customer.

The WPEngine high-pressure sales team is legendary in their tenacity in closing and up-selling deals. Leadership boasts their sales department is the fuel that powered the WPEngine machine to $100M in annual revenue.

"I really appreciate the time Pagely took to understand our needs - after launch they worked with us to optimize our resource usage and only recommended more when absolutely needed."
- Customer in 2015

"WPEngine wants me to move to another tier which is considerably more expensive. My traffic is not up so I feel like they're just pressuring me to move into a more expensive plan."
- Prospect in 2016

Support

An expert-only team and tier-less support desk with an exceptionally skilled and personal approach. A small team by comparison, each team member is highly skilled and trained to understand the customer needs, the proprietary tech stack, and is empowered with autonomy to make decisions and find solutions.

Hundreds of support personnel slotted into various Level 1, Level 2, and Premier support roles. Complex support issues follow an escalation path to resolution. Some customers know how to hack the support desk to bypass Level 1 and 2 to receive better support, faster.

  • 24/7 Ticket Desk
  • 24/7 DevOps Alert Response
  • 10/5 Live Chat
  • 10/5 Dedicated Slack channels available
  • 10/5 Phone support on some plans
  • 24/7 ticket desk
  • 24/7 Live Chat
  • 24/7 Phone Support on some plans

"You have my highest possible praise for this support, phenomenal. You have a lot to live up to, being that I am a devout WPE person, but you've done it."
- Customer in 2016

"I'm sick and tired of calling their support. My last support thread with them was one of my client's sites is pinballing going offline for 10min at a time. I opened a support ticket and said “this has happened 3x over the past month, you need to move me to another host, c'mon guys.” The guy tells me "hey man it happens sometimes." I can't tell you how unacceptable that answer is."
- Mutual Customer in 2018

Customer Types

Pagely is focused primarily on the Enterprise and Public Sector markets providing managed WordPress hosting services for a long list of well known brands and universities.

WPEngine predominantly offers hosting catering to the mass market consumer and small creative agencies & freelancers in addition to serving a handful of larger customers.

Pagely Customers
WPE Customers

Pagely works directly with clients that hail from industries that include higher education, e-commerce, SaaS, Sports, startups, global media publishers, and Fortune 1000 Enterprise.

WPEngine has built a large book of low and mid-market business with affiliate and agency referrals who are compensated for recommending and reselling their inexpensive hosting products.

"Our small sites are fine staying at WPE, we're talking to Pagely because we know you only focus on the big stuff."
- Mutual customer in 2017

"Looked into WPEngine and they seemed pretty restrictive and it looks like Pagely gives us the control we need."
- Prospect in 2016

Stack / Platform

Pagely scales. The flexible toolbox of solutions-oriented services is built specifically to address the complex scaling, security, and performance needs of the upper market of enterprise and big brands. The hosting stack is 100% built on Amazon Web Services to meet the complex demands of business compliance, availability, and disaster recovery.

WPEngine is a strictly regimented one-size-fits-all option for the general WordPress user. The product addresses many of the common issues an average WordPress site might experience with the tradeoff being low customization flexibility of the customers environment, no SSH access, and must-use plugins by default. WPEngine earns praise with a usable self serve interface with many 1-Click tools automating common tasks.

"Corporate already uses AWS and wants the WordPress sites hosted there as well. The flexibility of WordPress on AWS is a no-brainer."
- Prospect in 2018

"WPE won’t really make changes to NGINX configs. That’s platform, that's set in stone, you’re not getting around it."
- Mutual customer in 2017

Security

Pagely has an impeccable reputation and history for securing our own environments as well maintaining the defensive posture of our client sites.

WPEngine has suffered severe security and privacy lapses through-out their history. In 2010, 2014, and again in 2015.

"We knew we needed to move to a host that would offer us more flexibility, but could also maintain the same enterprise-level of security for a brand of our scale. More importantly, we needed a hosting solution that gave us room to grow."
- Customer in 2016

"We are looking to move a couple of Wordpress sites from self-managed hardware to a managed service like Pagely (probably one of your VPS plans). We were actually almost set to move to WP Engine but given their security breach announcement, we're looking for an alternative. Being a security company, we naturally put a strong emphasis on the security of any platform we adopt."
- Prospect in 2017

Pricing

A value-add margin on the underlying AWS costs. Enterprise Plans range from $2,500 to $20,000+ per-month and B2B plans start at $499/mo

Additional services like stand-by servers, ElasticSearch, Reverse Proxy Support, and consumables like storage, bandwidth, and CDN may be added to any plan al la carte.

WPEngine plans range from $35/month to $290/month. Custom pricing for "dedicated" environments.

The Pageview/Visitor billing metric at WPE has been controversial as it has lead to many public complaints of unexpected cost overages and differences in how WPE tracks a visit vs. commonly used analytics services.

"We do what are called mass control launches where we get people hyped up over a couple of weeks and then launch a product. All the traffic comes in at once and during that day people are all trying to buy at the same time. What's happening at WPE is they make promises to hold up during these launches but we've upgraded hardware up to $6k/mo to make sure it holds and it just doesn't. Even at that price point it's crashing during our summer sale."
- Prospect in 2017

"We had an AJAX request trashing our one server and was making another one-hundred sites really slow -- the resolution proposed [by WPE] was to double the hardware and add $1,200 to the monthly bill, which didn't fix anything."
- Prospect in 2017

Key Similarities

  • First Managed WordPress Host

  • Early Managed WordPress Host

Key Differentiators

Likely Positive

  • Transparency in underlying architecture
  • Powerful Custom CLI Tooling
  • Flexible Staging/Cloning
  • Flexible Source Control
  • Exclusive VPS environment for every customer
  • No Pageview or Per Visitor billing model
  • 100% Amazon Web Services

Likely Positive

  • Nearly 1 million sites hosted
  • 1-Click Staging/Cloning
  • Opinionated Source Control
  • Low-Barrier to Use
  • Multiple 24/7 Support channels
  • Mass Market Focused

Possibly Negative

  • Live Chat Business Hours only
  • Phone Support not available on all plans
  • Overkill for the average WordPress site/user

Possibly Negative

  • Mash-up of cloud providers
  • Limited Configuration Flexibility
  • It's Shared Hosting
  • Unexpected price overages

And there you have it.

The ideal client at Pagely is the one that understands the exceptional value that we bring to their WordPress project. We put a lot of talent and effort behind our focus on security, high-availability, and overall reliable managed WP hosting, and most of the brands that we work with understand how vital partnering with a team that has the right priorities can be. Not every WordPress site is a fit for Pagely, and those with lesser demands on up-time and security are likely not a good fit - but that often changes as their site grows. Pagely Comparisons

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