Interview with Nexcess Product Manager Tiffany Bridge

Tiffany Bridge Interview

If you’re planning to create a launch a new Ecommerce website, WooCommerce is my number one recommendation. Why? I recently sat down for an interview with Tiffany Bridge, Product Manager at Nexcess. Nexcess specializes in Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce Hosting. In this interview, Tiffany explains the advantages of WooCommerce and how Nexcess helps to alleviate a lot of the pain points that new Ecommerce site owners face.
Web Hosting Cat: Tell us a little bit about your role at Nexcess and the cool stuff that you’re working on.
Tiffany Bridge: I am the product manager for WordPress eCommerce at Nexcess. I think about the entire experience of using WordPress on our platform and particularly for sites that are monetizing. So that might be courses, that might be WooCommerce. That might be any number of things.
WHC: Now, we still have Shopify, Wix and the other website builders. If somebody comes up to you and says, “Tiffany, why should I use WooCommerce? What about these other platforms?” What do you tell them?
TB: What I tell them is that an open-source platform like WordPress and WooCommerce is going to give them the maximum flexibility to move forward with their business. It gives you the best baseline for your business to grow in any of the directions that it could grow. If you are using one of these proprietary website builders, you’re kind of locked into their platform, you’re always going to be paying them specifically for your site, and you are limited in what you can do by what they give you or what their particular partners develop for them as opposed to something like WordPress and WooCommerce where there’s this entire ecosystem of things that you can install and you can take those things and customize them. Or, you can build something entirely new if that’s what you need. You have complete flexibility and complete control. And if you find that the host that you’re working with isn’t meeting your needs, you can pick it up and move it to another host because WordPress and WooCommerce can be hosted almost anywhere.
WHC: For those who are just starting out and trying to build an eCommerce website, what are some of the pain points that they run into and what are some of the ways that Nexcess WooCommerce hosting can help them resolve their issues?
TB: I think a big pain point for stores, especially when they’re starting out and starting to grow, is that a lot of WordPress hosts really focus on caching as a way to accelerate performance. And caching is super important. Anybody who works with WordPress will tell you that caching is one of the most important performance strategies. But commerce in particular has a lot of pages that can’t be cached and a lot of queries that can’t be cached because they’re individual to the particular customer on the site. And so, something that we really pride ourselves on at Nexcess is optimizing for speed for those particular items, making sure that your uncachable query still runs very quickly by being very generous with the server resources that we allocate in each plan.

WHC: Can you give us an overview of all the WooCommerce plans that Nexcess offers, sort of contrasting maybe the entry level plan with the premium level plan and some of the other additional features and performance that you get?
TB: Sure. Our entry level end, we have a plan called starter and it is $19 a month. With that, you get a great allocation of disk space and a great allocation of PHP workers, which is sort of the thing that’s going to allow you to have the most simultaneous transactions. And then, as you kind of continue on up, you get plans where you’re going to have more sites or more disk space, or eventually you get up to dedicated servers. And then as you start moving up the plans, you eventually also are able to include things like, which is like an eCommerce analytics suite; Dokan Pro, which is like a multi-channel marketplace selling tool. Those are the things that we’re able to package in on some of these higher-level plans. But we’ve really worked hard to maintain a great value at that sort of entry level and also at that high-end enterprise end.

WHC: Tiffany, can you talk a little bit about the StoreBuilder option that Nexcess offers and how does it work with WordPress and WooCommerce?
TB: Okay. So, StoreBuilder is meant for those folks who don’t already know how to build a WooCommerce store. A lot of folks have built a few WooCommerce stores, they already have a workflow that they need. But if you’re just new and you’re coming in, and maybe you’re trying to migrate off of Etsy or maybe you’re just starting your business, it’s designed to, instead of sort of dumping you out into WordPress and WooCommerce and hoping that you find all the various things that you need to set up, it walks you through an onboarding very logically like first, we’re going to deploy and configure your site, then we’re going to do the look and feel. We’re going to import some content that you can customize and then we’re going to do products. And then after we’ve done products, we’re going to make payments. After we’ve done payments, we’re going to do shipping. And then after shipping, we’re going to do a domain, and we have a great wizard that walks you through the entire step of connecting your domain to your site. And really, there’s always more to do on the site. There’s still all of your search engine optimization, your analytics, all of those things. But if you do those five things, you have gone from zero to having a store. And that’s really what StoreBuilder is for.

WHC: Can you tell us a little bit about some of the free smart monitoring that’s also included?
TB: Absolutely. Our platform features, for our WooCommerce hosting, includes a couple of things. One is our plugin performance monitor. And that is a tool that just monitors your performance scores every single night, runs the test every single night and lets you know when something changes that is dragging the performance on your site. And you get kind of the numerical score, but you also get the insights. These are the assets that are loading slowly. That sort of thing that’s actionable, that you can work to address.

Another thing that you get with us is WooCommerce automated testing. And that’s a very simple tool that every single night, it puts your store into test mode for a second or two and it runs a series of tests. Can I add a product to the cart? Can I check out as a guest? Can I log in and check out? It provides you with a red, yellow, green indicator like did the test pass, did the test not pass. And what that does is that just helps you make sure that all the basics are covered, that your checkout didn’t break.

And thirdly, we have something we call a sales performance monitor. And what that is, it’s sort of an entry level metrics for people who haven’t quite settled into metrics yet where it just watches your revenue over a period of time and develops a kind of a profile of your site and how much sales volume you’re doing on a given day. And if your sales suddenly drop off, it just alerts you so that you don’t have to wait until it’s like a week later and you’re like, “Why haven’t I gotten any orders?” It just lets you know right away that there’s something wrong. And so, if you know that your sales have suddenly dropped off, you can go look at your other tools, your plugin performance, monitor your automated testing and see if something’s broken that you could fix and then bring your store back.
WHC: Now website speed is so vitally important, especially for eCommerce websites. I know Nexcess includes their built-in CDN. Can you talk about some of the speed features you get?
TB: Sure, absolutely. So, we have a CDN. What that does is, that serves assets from locations that are closer to your customer instead of like from wherever our data center is. And that helps performance. We have kind of the full suite of caching that you would expect. We have the full-page cache, which caches just like the page output of WordPress. We have the object cache, which is going to be like your JavaScript and image assets. And then we also have database caching, query caching, which is going to cache those like commonly used database queries like the content loop and WordPress and things like that just to make sure that instead of WordPress having to rebuild the whole page every single time, every time someone requests it, like all of those things are already there and ready to go when somebody needs them.
WHC: And the other big area with eCommerce is always security. I know Nexcess includes iThemes Security Pro and other features as well.  What about the security features you get with Nexcess WooCommerce Hosting?
TB: We include iThemes Security Pro which is a really well-known security suite for WordPress. It’s from our sister brand iThemes. And we have a web application firewall that we are constantly updating with if there are known exploits for WordPress. Firewall monitors for problematic traffic and blocks it. We are scanning your site for malware. And so, those are the things that we’re really doing to try to keep your site as safe as possible.
WHC: What’s in store in the future for Nexcess WooCommerce hosting?
TB: That is a great question. Well, we’re always looking to improve our StoreBuilder product and make that even easier to use and make that even faster to get from zero to store. We are always looking to add new partnerships where we are able to go to market with some really great products for eCommerce store owners. I don’t have anything I can disclose on that at this point, but that’s the kind of thing that’s always coming down the pike. And of course, we’re always monitoring to make sure that our plans are giving our customers room to grow. A WooCommerce site can become very large because you’ve got all those like high-definition product images and things like that. So, we’re always looking to make sure that our disk allocation is right and things like that.

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