This WP Engine Review has been a long time coming.
Now that it’s finally here, I’m not pulling any punches.
If you’re the sensitive type, I’d recommend you back away.
This is going to be ugly – you’re getting warned in advance.
What you’re about to read is the equivalent of a grisly five-car pile-up in text form, but the goal here is to protect all other serious online entrepreneurs from the headaches I endured from my year with WP Engine.
So let’s get right to it, starting with the Pros, since there are so few and then tackling the many reasons this web host is toxic.
1. Some staff members are actually pretty stellar (unfortunately these guys are part of a minority).
When I was setting up my podcast, I had some valuable help from one agent who rolled his sleeves and got straight to the source of the problem. A couple of other agents performed the same way, but unfortunately these guys are rare.
And…that’s about it for the pros (hey, I did tell you it’d be like this).
1. Migrating to WP Engine was the first sign of trouble. See, the entire reason I got involved with WP Engine was because HostGator had suffered that massive crash that put my sites out of commission for the better part of a day.
What aggravates me further is that since hosting is a continuity program and WP Engine charges such a high cost, they do not offer any migration assistance. Nope they have “trusted third-party” help for that.
Smarter companies understand that with a business model like WP Engine’s, the initial extra effort to help with migration is a very worthwhile gesture.
Around that time Ryan and I were launching the One Hour Startup paid membership area and we weren’t willing to take any risks. Yet, the moment we transferred the site over to WP Engine, ENTIRE member’s area broke.
2. Turns out WP Engine, a company that supposedly focuses on serving the needs of the online business community didn’t see to making sure their system plays nicely with the most COMMONLY used membership platform for WordPress, OptimizePress.
It was so bad we had to get Optimizepress founder James Dyson involved.
I had to scrap all of my plans on my agenda and completely rebuild all of the pages in our members area.
Result: WP Engine issued a hollow apology, passive explanation that they didn’t forsee these kinds of problems and…no offer of compensation for damaged caused. Oh and, we lost two paying customers as a result. Great first impression guys!
3. Now, you’d think that after the lead-off fiasco with OptimizePress getting cleaned up we were ready for some smooth sailing. Unlike WP Engine, Ryan and I wanted to make our customers’ experience with our product as simple and pleasant as possible.
So with that in mind, we wanted to implement WishList Member, which is the leading membership site management software.
“In the meantime, I should share this disclaimer. I noticed that you’re using Wishlist Member as your membership plugin.
While we haven’t disallowed that plugin, we have noticed a number of its Users having myriad issues with that plugin.
And that’s not just on our platform – in fact, one of our competitors (ZippyKid) recently released this notice when they changed their policy to disallow Wishlist Member: https://www.zippykid.com/2013/
06/04/zippykid-and-wishlist- member-plugin-change-in- policy/.
That plugin has just been very problematic.”
I think these kids missed a huge point here.
The ONLY people who would be willing to pay WP Engine’s premium prices are people who are running a business. Membership sites are a wildly popular online business model and to say that you don’t allow your users to run membership sites is taking things to a narcissistic level.
5. They provide NO email for your website.
Yep, that’s right, even if you’re paying them $100 a month, you’ll still have to go to another company to get emails with your domain extension. Their exact words:
“WP Engine does not provide email as part of the hosting package. We just host WordPress sites, so we fully commit all of our resources to doing WordPress Hosting.”
I actually kind of believe that – their customer service is bad enough just with the hosting, I can’t imagine how much more they’d struggle with email issues.
6. Speed? What speed? WP Engine’s whole raison d’etre is to offer unmatched speed resulting in great SEO results.
The irony of the of their main selling point not even working is that with all the incompatible elements of WP Engine, they don’t play nicely with the very plugins that could help, such as WP Smush.It.
When taken to task on the issue, another hollow apology and lame excuse:
“Looking at your plug-in list, it appears that you have WP Smush.it activated. We’ve noticed in the last few days that this plug-in’s API has been causing system-wide issues for our customers. As a result, you are unable to upload images properly in the Media Library or on pages/posts.”
Given that load times are WP Engine’s central selling point, I strongly recommend they figure out how to play nicely with plugins like Smush.It.
After all, the following three pictures below are damning evidence that aside from all that is wrong, they can’t even serve up their main selling promise:
So, both results are equally bad, but hey, at least the HostGator account is only costing me $3.95 a month.
But wait…there’s more!
Meanwhile, take a look at my buddy’s site in the picture above.
His site is hosted on iPage, where he’s paying $1.89 a month.
7. And now, I’ve saved the worst for last – customer service.
As mentioned, there are a few very hard-working and dedicated CSRs over at WP Engine, so if you’re a staffer reading this, just know that if you’ve worked hard on helping me, I appreciate you and haven’t forgotten those who’ve come through for me.
But like I mentioned earlier in this review, you make up the minority.
To give you an idea of what makes the bad CSRs so rotten, I’m going with this example, which I’ve used in the past from Bob Bly’s The Copywriter’s Handbook.
In this tome, Bly included the following information a company collected about IT professionals:
Beliefs: IT people think they are smarter than other people, technology is the most important thing in the world, users are stupid, and management doesn’t appreciate them enough.
Feelings: IT people often have an adversarial relationship with management and users, both of whom they service. They often feel others dislike them, look down upon them, and do not understand what they do.
Desires: IT people want to be appreciated and recognized. They also prefer to deal with computers and avoid people whenever possible. And they want bigger budgets.
That is the attitude most CSRs at WP Engine walk into work with each morning.
They implemented Live Chat, but the hours are limited and regular tickets are answered rather slowly (even when marked important).
Here’s one of their actual responses: “Thank you for contacting WP Engine. We’re sorry for the delay in responding to your initial ticket.”
Bottom Line: This site was created by a self-professed ‘serial entrepreneur’ and if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about some serial entrepreneurs is that they don’t always finish their plates before leaping to the next meal. WP Engine smacks of a hastily assembled product that was taken to market without even a hint of testing.
There is no preeminence here whatsoever. WP Engine arrogantly expects it’s customers to make it all about the company and do not go out of their way to make it about their customers in any way.
Perhaps worst of all is the fact that these guys never once offered any kind of cash back, discount or credit as a way of saying ‘sorry’ – oh no, that money was staying with them. What you get is the good old “S” word over and over again until you’re ready to vomit.
Bottom Line: WP Engine sucks.
Like I stated earlier, only a shameless cash grab would use your business as a guinea pig on which they carry out experiments.
That’s why we have terms like “Beta” and that you typically don’t charge a dime (or at least very little) during the Beta phase.
Just to show you that I’m not alone here are other glaring examples of WP Engine sucking major ass with other customers:
My Experience with WP Engine (see his comments on migration and customer service)
Post-WP Engine resources:
Are you already on WP Engine and planning to leave?
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