Now AWS Cloud Certified27 Oct 2022
I am now an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Cloud Practitioner AND an AWS Certified Solutions Architect. This certification demonstrates that I that know all the AWS core services, know how to set up security and encryption in AWS services, understand networking of AWS instances, and can optimise cloud pricing for myself or others.
I do the AWS training and receive Amazon Partner Program materials for 2 reasons:
1. I am able to consult in an area that is one of the most exciting and innovative enablers of business at the moment.
2. I can save you a lot of money while giving you access to web technologies that are usually out of reach of most businesses.
The second reason above is part of delivering a hosting and maintenance service that is second to none. Here are a couple of ways I save you money when you are hosting your website with me:
1) Amazon Web Services
AWS is the gold standard right now for hosting websites, but as anybody who has ever tried to set it up knows it is a very complex platform to use effectively. The billing is very difficult to predict, there are well over a hundred different services to use, there are dozens of instance types to choose from when deploying a virtual server (each with its own performance characteristics and billing patterns), and it is all tied together with messaging and workflow systems that are far from obvious to a normal person.
I have previously described how I put together my website hosting. Everything is done for reliability, speed and disaster recovery. Very few businesses have the resources to set this up for themselves. That is what I do for you. I am your AWS website expert for a fraction of what it costs to hire one.
2) Agency Licensed WordPress Plugins
WordPress plugins are usually not very expensive on their own, but when you need a couple of them on your site the cost starts to add up. When several of my customers are using paid plugins I will look for what is often called an Agency License. This allows the plugin to be installed on multiple sites for one fixed cost. Sometimes that means I can co-ordinate a very good per-site price.
I have some special Agency Licensed plugins that I automatically install on all sites to make life easier for everybody:
Admin Columns Pro - Adds dramatically improved filtering and sorting to the WordPress admin page, allows the addition of extra columns (for example, adding the Featured Image to the list view), and adds inline editing on list pages so website content can be updating at a speed impossible when using the default WordPress setup.
Advanced Custom Field Pro - Every website design I make is deeply integrated with Advanced Custom Fields. That is why you can change everything in the design as simply as you would update anything else in WordPress. It really is a spectacular tool that extends WordPress in a way that keeps it simple and targeted while not constraining theme development. The end result is effectively a customised WordPress platform for each site.
Fluent Forms Pro - Traditionally I used 123 Form Builder to keep form processing off the website for security and to prevent hijacking. After an exhaustive search for a secure and suitable on-site solution, I am now moving all sites to use Fluent Forms where possible. Forms can have branching paths, repeating fields, payments, paging, and anything else expected from a modern, advanced form tool. For those who need everything, I picked up an agency license so you do not have to register and pay for it yourself.
WP Offload Media - Did you know that all the files uploaded to your website are stored in an AWS S3 bucket with version control enabled? That means if a file is accidentally replaced or deleted (or attacked on purpose by a hacker) then I can still get it back. This is not something WordPress does out of the box so I use this plugin to make it happen. It may not seem important now but if you ever need an old version of a file back you will be very happy to know this is a thing.
To make your website administration experience even better I will also install and configure free versions of All In One SEO, Autoptimise to speed page loading on browsers, Broken Link Checker to notify you if there are any broken links on your site, Fluent SMTP to route email through Amazon SES, Wordfence Security for login and file protection, and WP Statistics so you can see at a glance how many people are visiting your site and where they are coming from.
All of this results in an extremely easy to use and reliable website for both you and the public. The end result is unrecognisable from the default WordPress install and honestly I could never go back.
3) Everything kept up to date
Hackers are always looking for ways to get into websites. One of the easiest ways for them is out of date WordPress installs or old WordPress Plugins. That means the best way to keep your site secure is to keep it up to date. But that is not as easy as it sounds. Who is logging into their website every day and checking for updates? What happens if an update clashes with something else on your site and can't be installed? What if you only discover that an update is required when it is too late and somebody has already dropped in malicious code?
I use a tool that monitors all the websites I manage/host and notifies me the moment an update needs to be applied. I can trigger the update across all sites and be notified if it was successful or unsuccessful. If there is an issue then I can restore your website from an overnight snapshot and investigate what happened. All this happens regularly without you needing to worry. At the end of the month you will get a list of everything that was upgraded. This peace of mind is included in your hosting and maintenance package.
4) Monitoring and Reporting
WordPress is a great platform for a website, and also a terrible platform for a website. The flexibility of WordPress has helped make it the most popular website platform on the internet. Some reports suggest that there are over 450 million websites using WordPress; or around 32% of the indexed internet. Being this popular, though, makes WordPress an enticing and "easy" target for hackers.
To make sure your website has not been the target of hackers I run the following tools over your website:
This lets me know the moment your website goes offline so I can investigate and fix it.
Every night a full malware and trust scan is performed on your website.
WordPress Core and Plugin code change monitoring
This tool (provided by Wordfence) compares all core WordPress and plugin code to registered versions to see if a hacker has changed any files to add a backdoor login or malware.
A combination of Google Analytics and on-site traffic logging.
AWS Health Checks
This lets me know if any underlying AWS infrastructure needs updating or replacing.
A PDF report is sent to you every month that shows:
1. The results of nightly security and malware scans on your website
2. Any downtime your website has had
3. Basic website analytics so you can see how your website has been performing
4. All WordPress and plugin updates that have been applied to your website
5. Any custom work that I have completed on your website
Everything is clear and available to you to confirm.
This kind of monitoring and reporting is costly. Much like I do with Agency Licenses for plugins, I am able to do it for a better cost across all the websites I host/manage. That means that monitoring and reporting is another service that I am able to save you money on by including in your hosting and maintenance package.
Hosting is a lot more than just putting a website on a computer these days. Getting an AWS expert, agency licensed plugins, an always up-to-date website, constant health monitoring, and a monthly report is great value for money. I have more cloud training and certifications coming up so it will keep getting even better.
GMAC Internet Solutions