The Benefits of WP Engine | What we learnt at our Lunch and Learn

  • Digital8
  • October 28, 2019

Digital8 has recently established a monthly event of ‘Lunch and Learn’ where we bring in experts within their field to educate us on a specified topic. We began with Joe detailing the process of digital marketing and SEO, followed by Lucy who gave a presentation on UX/ UI design in relation to web development. Our most recent ‘Lunch and Learn’ was presented by WP Engine, with Alex, the account manager who looks after the partnership with Digital8, and Robert, (the brains of the operation) who works as a solutions engineer. The duo were able to discuss the benefits of WP Engine and why we have partnered with them over the many options available. 


“Is it up? Is it safe? Does it go quick?” WP Engine strives to drive efficiency through developer tools, security through multiple layers, and increase speed through new technologies, such as C2 instances from Google. They were able to discuss through their four pillars of agility, performance, intelligence, and integration/ expertise in our ‘Lunch and Learn’ session, and spoke not only to our sales people, but shared information specific to our marketing and web development specialists. 


Robert was able to highlight the differences between the infrastructure of Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Amazon Web Service (AWS), while reinforcing that they aren’t to be compared as better or worse than each other, but that they exist to serve different purposes. AWS provides a service for websites that need to be up all the time and require redundancies and dynamic scaling, while GCP in general has strong performance and is cost effective for many clients. WP Engine uses cloud based technologies that include geographically redundant user portals with nine replications of back ups of everything everyday with servers that are located distanced more than 100km apart.


WP Engine does their own caching to provide us with speed and scalability where appropriate; for example, the Country Music Awards in America lies dormant on a basic server for 11 months with little traffic, until the big night where you’ll have 4 million hits. 


They are conscious of the fact that WordPress is one of the more visible CMS out there and thus they are a security first organisation. WordPress specific attacks can exist, which they work with CloudFlare to mitigate, while having multiple layers of security themselves including a security council.They are also one of seven companies in an advisory council with companies like Spotify and Apple to share the common trends found through their large coverage. We were even challenged to prove how secure their environments were by performing penetration tests, but they said to give them a heads up or we will be blocked. They provide a security guarantee and if there are any compromises they’ll do it on their time and dime - they quarantine the issue and have solutions verified by the community before pushing a hot patch. Additionally, they offer CDNs and free SSL certificates that are one click set and forget, and have Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) that detect bad traffic patterns and update blacklists continuously. 


WP Engine has seen an average 38% improvement from before and after a site has collaborated with WP Engine. Digital8 has its team of marketing specialists where when working with SEO and SEM, speed is everything and performance will only increase further with the introduction of C2 instances from Google. When they were released in September, they were used immediately by WP Engine, who had already been testing them five months prior to release, showing not only initiative to keep up with trends but provide the best digital solutions to their clients.


WP Engine’s devkit (“ it’s really good” according to our web developer Matt Neal) drives productivity with a developer server showing the work from development to staging to product. Dedicated solutions are also provided, that include access to a higher tier of the support team as part of the premium package for the creation of desired digital solutions. 


Monitoring content, page, and application performance is enhanced through different interfaces that provide more developer and client friendly analysis. Rather than presenting statistics from Google Analytics (GA), content performance is directly ingested into WP and trends can be tracked quickly to gain the best ROI. Custom posts can also be tracked, for example in an ecommerce website, where page interaction will show what product is popular and what isn’t. Page performance is a front end analysis tool, where it might recommend a concatenation of code or direct you to certain assets that may be broken or missing. From a revenue generating perspective, it can be used as a quick checklist that can also be presented to customers if they want time to be spent on editing such issues. Application performance is completed through New Relic and provides a deeper level of visibility of optimisation before it becomes a site down issue. The apdex score (transaction response time) and experience score (heuristic) give indications on what consumes the most resources and takes too long to process, displaying where inefficiencies lie and thus where they can be fixed.


If all in all the developers themselves find difficulty in any aspect of the development process, the solution center offers constant support from different levels of expertise. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year can mean (as seen in some competitors) a seven person team geographically spread globally that use a ticketing system that forces you to wait long hours;  “on average, customers stay on hold for 11 minutes before hanging up a support call”. WP Engine themselves have 500 experts in their support term with 17 product specialists that sit at the top and can go into the wider wordpress community to find the right answer. If you want to self serve, have the solution center. 


Overall, the benefits of using a well established company that is á la mode in terms of their technologies and development environments are outlined in their promise to provide a fast, agile, and secure environment for digital solutions. WP Engine like to work as a united front; if you win, WP Engine wins. They will additionally work with you with larger clients to win them over and the provided services highlight just how well they know what they’re doing.