While providing the speed and security of rivals, Page.ly’s approach to WordPress is to simply provide users with the tools they need to succeed while cutting out the bloat ware that most users could care less about.
Founded by Joshua and Sally Strebel in April of 2009, Page.ly has been servicing customers large and small, as well as helping a few clients start their own WordPress empires.
After coming across the service months ago, I was impressed how polished the site was on the outside, although it was only after digging in that I was able to uncover the Page.ly’s true power underneath.
Making Control Panels Extinct
Unless you are well schooled in the art of geek, control panel layouts can be a confusing affair for new comers.
Most hosts either provide a basic control panel show casing numerous tools users may never use or a complex one that will sometimes leave even the most savvy geek scratching their heads.
Instead of mimicking their rivals, Page.ly instead baked all the tools you need (such as accessing DNS, CNAME, etc.) within the WordPress admin page, saving GTD (or “Get Things Done!”) geeks time and demystifying the process for new comers.
Since accessing these tools can always be dangerous in the wrong hands, Page.ly requires users to type in a secret password in order to access these features.
It’s The CPU Stupid!
Instead of maxing out their servers in order to max out their bottom line, Page.ly takes the opposite approach by insuring that your blogs have plenty of CPU resources available just in case you get linked to by TechCrunch.
While not actively discussed by most hosting companies (especially unlimited hosts who don’t like talking about this subject), Page.ly makes sure that their servers have 70% of breathing space.
This is radically different from most hosts who flirt with utilizing 100% of resources, then restrict each blog to a tiny slice of CPU (not to mention throwing blogs “consuming too many resources” into throttling jail without warning).
Page.ly on the other hand allows blogs to flourish, although if your site is become CPU hungry they kindly ask that you upgrade your respective plan.
One Click Google Apps FTW!!!
However one thing that did impress me is the fact that Page.ly not only encourages users to use Google Apps, but also makes it easy for non-geeks to implement this upon their site via an “easy button” (aka one click button).
Those who practice the faith of GTD will love this feature, as it helps save everyone precious time (not to mention kill off a slew of support questions).
Unfortunately Page.ly does not provide a similar “one click” button for Yahoo! business fans and Microsoft monks, although you can easily change the MX records from within the dashboard if necessary.
Removing The FUD From WordPress
Upgrading core files and plugins is critical as more often than not many sites get hacked because your “neighbor” failed to keep their blog updated (allowing hackers to access your site next door).
Page.ly also chose to host with FireHost (a top notch company) who has an excellent reputation at keeping the hackers out. This means that bloggers can sleep easy at night knowing that their sites are being guarded by some of the smartest web security experts in the industry.
However what impressed me the most about Page.ly’s security detail were the little things like the fact that the default login for each WordPress blog isn’t admin, or that there isn’t any “backend” (think control panel) for hackers to gain access too.
Making Premium Themes Affordable Again
While every WordPress host offers users access to hundreds of themes, more often than not most of these themes are either generic public templates (that everyone uses) or highly functional ugly themes.
Although users still have access to those themes within Page.ly, the company goes one step further by allowing users to purchase high quality premium themes (like WooThemes, StudioPress, etc.) without breaking the bank.
Instead of paying hundreds of US dollars in order to find out which theme is right for you, Page.ly allows users to pay $15/month in order to access all the themes across each respective theme developer.
Note: This does not include WooThemes, as Page.ly is limited to only 20 themes for $15/month, although other companies (like StudioPress and Press75) Page.ly gives you an “all you can eat” buffet treatment.
Where Page.ly Fails
While the lack of migration is moot for VaultPress fans (as you can always FTP everything to Page.ly), unless users have a decent back up service, they may not be motivated to give Page.ly a try.
Anther area of contention is the FTP charge. While Page.ly does provide FTP access for their users, one must pay $5 (which is a one time fee) in order to utilize it.
Although charging this is understandable (as Page.ly wants to discourage non-geeks from destroying their sites), the fee quickly adds up for those with multiple blogs.
Is Page.ly Right For Me?
While Page.ly is not the cheapest WP only host around, dollar for dollar (or whatever currency you prefer) I found their innovative approach to security, theme access, etc. to be unmatched when compared against rivals.
In fact I enjoyed using their service so much that I decided to move 2 of my blogs upon their servers, with plans on moving 2 more this weekend.
Plans for Page.ly start at $14.98/month for 5GB of space, although additional blogs receive 30% off (so your first blog would be $14.98 while extra blogs would be $10.49/month on the personal plan).
While Page.ly isn’t right for everyone (especially for geeks who enjoy gazing upon control panels), I think the vast majority of users will find Page.ly’s approach to WordPress to be a work of art.
Image Credits: Page.ly and Norebbo
Update: Correct factual error.
Author: Darnell Clayton
Darnell Clayton is a geek who discovered blogging long before he heard of the word “blog” (he called them “web journals” then).
When he is not tweeting, friendfeeding, or blogging about space, he enjoys running, reading and describing himself in third person.