WordPress on a Cloud

1 02 2010

The technically minded might be interested in some detail of the build.

The site will be built on WordPress.  That is open source software which is entirely in keeping with the idea of a free community magazine.  Although thought of as blogging platform, these days WordPress is very much more and can be used as a Content Management System.  WordPress “magazine” themes are all the rage at present, although to be honest the available themes seem geared more to a glossy newspaper than to a magazine or journal which is published in discrete editions.  We’ll be developing our own theme.

We registered our preferred domain name before Christmas.  Before floating any idea for an online project it’s best to squat the domain(s) one needs.  We took a small hosting package just to try out some ideas.  We have just raised a support ticket to move to a much bigger package which includes 10Gb bandwith per month.  Upgrading now means we don’t need to change server closer to the launch.

The new hosting package is a “cloud” which might be an unfamiliar term to many readers.  In most hosting packages one buys a fixed amount of storage and bandwidth.  If that is exceeded, the host will probably cap the traffic and take the site offline.  In a cloud, the site is spread dynamically across as many servers as it needs to meet demand and the customer just pays for any excess bandwidth used at the end of the month.  As we will be offering the main journal in a series of editions, that really suits us.  In a blog where posts are spread out across the month, traffic is usually fairly even across the month.  Publishing in editions, we are likely to get a lot of visitors when an edition is published.  In a traditional hosting package, the site could slow down under that surge in demand.  A site which is slow just when most people are trying to access it is not ideal!  With a cloud, the server capacity adjusts as needed, with more servers automatically allocated to serve the site during any peaks.  We hope that will mean a responsive site for our readers.  It is a bit more expensive each month, but we think it is worth it.  If anybody would like to know more, our chosen host is SiteHQ.

All too often online you’ll see somebody promoting a hosting provider because they get referral fees.  It means finding a good host is surprisingly difficult as many recommendations are self-serving.  SiteHQ doesn’t run an affiliate scheme.  It’s too early to say whether we would recommend them, but they have a good reputation for quality.  An example of a site running on a SiteHQ cloud is MayorWatch, an online London Magazine.  That’s getting about 1,500 visitors per day which comfortably exceeds our likely traffic.  It is reassuring to know that our chosen host is used to power a site like this.  The speed of the site seems pretty reasonable too.

We are intending to include a section within the new site on how we have built it so that if anybody else is wanting to start an online magazine about something else, our experience may help.  We will tell you when that is available.

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