Everything You Need to Know About Hosting WordPress Membership Sites

Maria A. — 

There are a few different factors you should take into consideration when picking which hosting plan you should use for your WordPress based membership site.

Hosting a membership site isn’t the same as hosting a blog or a typical business site. In this article, we’ll explain how hosting requirements are different for membership sites when compared to other typical websites. We’ll also explain some of the key factors you need to keep in mind when finding the best hosting plan for your WordPress membership site.

Let’s get started.

How Hosting WordPress Membership Sites Are Different

In their simplest form, membership sites offer members access to exclusive content. Most membership plugins allow site owners to create an unlimited number of membership levels, view members data, and display content dynamically for their members.

As you can guess, offering this type of advanced functionality requires quite a bit more server resources when compared to your typical WordPress site. Here are a few reasons why WordPress membership sites are different from simple blogs and corporate websites:

  • Large number of concurrent sessions. Most members spend a significant amount of time-consuming content through a membership site – especially if you offer online courses and video content. When you have a few hundred members or over a few thousand members doing that all at the same time, it takes a lot more server resources to support.
  • Generate complex queries. WordPress membership sites generate complex queries to retrieve information from the database since they generally have a large number of concurrent users making these queries.
  • Storing content. Membership sites need to store the content they grant members access to. This could be articles, downloadable resources, courses, videos, or other media files. The more content you create, the more storage space you’ll need on your hosting server. When it comes to hosting videos, we recommend you use a video service like Vimeo or Wistia and don’t self host your own videos for a number of different reasons.
  • Uncacheable content. A typical WordPress membership site has many pages that can’t be cached. Caching personalized content is generally not possible, because it will cause personalized content to be delivered to the wrong member. Some sites have forums or other personalized content that’s considered dynamic content.

To sum all this up, if your WordPress membership site isn’t hosted on a properly configured server, your members could experience internal server errors and very slow page loading times.

7 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Hosting Provider for Your Membership Site

To make sure you’re able to deliver a good user experience to your members, you’ll want to try to choose a hosting plan that focuses on performance optimization. Here are some of the important factors you should take into consideration when it comes to finding the best hosting provider for your WordPress membership site:

#1: Performance

If you host your WordPress membership site on a low-quality, shared hosting provider, you’ll likely run into a number of performance issues. What this means is that your members will experience really slow page loads and regular periods of site downtime.

To make sure you’re delivering good user experience, go for a hosting provider that:

  • Offers dedicated containers. Sharing server resources isn’t an option for WordPress membership sites. Ideally, you should choose a hosting provider that features a dedicated infrastructure and gives you complete access to software and server resources.
  • Can handle traffic surges. Your hosting provider should be able to allocate necessary hardware resources to handle traffic surges as your membership site grows and experiences sudden surges in traffic.

#2: PHP 7.2 (Or Above)

As of this writing, PHP 7.2 offers the best performance for WordPress membership sites. For this reason, go for a hosting provider that supports the latest version of PHP (PHP 7.2 or above). If you’re not already using the latest version of PHP, you can expect to experience a significant performance improvement by switching over.

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#3: Object Caching

While installing a caching plugin or going with a host that offers server side caching, certainly improves your site’s performance, it’s almost negligible compared to the effect object caching can have on your WordPress membership site.

With object caching enabled, the results of database queries will be stored in a cache. So, whenever a member requests the same information again, it’ll be delivered directly from the cache instead of running a database query. By doing so, you’ll be able to minimize the load on your database and make your load time faster for members.

As a side note, Memberium can be used with WordPress object cache plugins for Redis, MemcacheD, APC and XCache automatically.

#4: PHP Workers

Membership sites need to be able to serve dynamic, uncached content to members. Uncached pages are handled by PHP workers.

The number of PHP workers your host offers determines how many concurrent requests your WordPress membership site will be able to handle at once. For example, if your site has three PHP workers, it will be able to process three requests at a time.

#5: Offloading Data

Membership sites usually house a large amount of content. This may include online courses, videos, media files, downloadable resources, and audio files.

Instead of storing all of your membership content on your hosted server, consider offloading large files to a cloud storage provider like Amazon S3 that will help reduce the amount of bandwidth your site uses and reduce the load on your server. Memberium has a direct integration with Amazon S3 that makes it easy to store files for your membership site on S3.

When it comes to serving videos for your membership site, we recommend you use a video service like Vimeo or Wistia. To read more about other things to consider when it comes to hosting videos for membership sites, you can check out this article.

#6: Speed Optimizations

Since membership websites are media-intensive, it’s a good idea to implement some general speed optimization best practices to deliver fast page load times.

For starters, you’ll want to make sure you’re compressing the images you publish on your website. Imagify and EWWW Image Optimizer are image compression plugins that you can install to your WordPress membership site to automatically compress images.

And by using a CDN, you’ll effectively speed up content delivery, decrease server load, and lower network latency. You’ll also want to try to only use other WordPress plugins only if you really need them.

Recommended Hosting Providers for Your Membership Site

If you want to use Memberium to power your WordPress membership site, you’ll want to make sure these hosting requirements are met first. The main thing to keep in mind is you’ll need a hosting plan that supports the IonCube PHP Loader plugin.

A lot of hosting plans come with this automatically enabled already, while there are a certain few that don’t support it at all. Here’s the full list of hosting providers that Memberium works with.

With that said here’s a short list of some of the hosting providers we recommend:

Siteground

Siteground offers reliable, managed WordPress hosting that’s suitable for membership sites. If you’re just starting out, you can go with the GoGeek Managed WordPress plan. And, when your site grows, you can easily upgrade to one of their scalable, cloud hosting plans.

WP Engine

With two minor adjustments that WP Engine support will take care of for you, Memberium runs smoothly on WP Engine hosting. All of their hosting plans come with a CDN out of the box. If you don’t need to install WordPress in a sub-directory or subdomain, WP Engine is definitely worth considering.

Liquid Web

Liquid Web offers fully managed high-performance WordPress hosting. If you want the best possible hosting plan that you can get, Liquid Web is currently the best provider. The platform is built on the latest technologies (including PHP 7+). If you’re not sure which plan you should use their support team can help you pick the best hosting plan for your membership site.

HostPapa

With HostPapa, you’ll be able to host your membership site on a WordPress optimized server and take full advantage of its enhanced content caching functionality. All at a reasonable price. IonCube comes automatically enabled on all accounts. All Memberium subscribers can get a HostPapa hosting plan for 55% off the normal price. To learn more you can check it out here…

Those are Just a few Recommended Hosting Providers

These are just a few of the web hosts that we recommend. If you’re using Memberium, you can technically use any web host as long as they have support for Ioncube and meets Memberium’s basic hosting requirements.

Additionally, we have a full list of other well-known hosting providers that work with Memberium and some hosting plans that don’t work with Memberium.

Conclusion

Now you know why finding the right hosting provider for your WordPress membership site is important. Membership sites offer different functionality when compared to a simple blog or business website, which is why you want to make sure you’re going with the right hosting provider that will be able to support the needs of your membership site.

If you’re using Memberium to power your WordPress membership site, you can choose to go with any one of the hosting providers we listed above.

If you have any questions about hosting WordPress membership sites with Memberium or any other thoughts on this article feel free to ask support and we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions!

Want to see what a demo of a membership site that’s built with Memberium?

Check it out here and discover how you can use Memberium to power your membership site.

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