Hey everyone! Welcome to the second (and final) part of our "Brands Built around WordPress" series. In this list we'll take a look at some of the well known theme companies and managed WordPress hosting services. If you'd like to make a suggestion, please feel free to express yourself in the comments section below! Let's get started!
Before that train of thought crosses your mind, no, iThemes wasn't developed by/for Apple Inc. Although (hypothetically speaking), if same name is used in any of Apple’s iPhone or Mac apps, boom – we’ll have lawsuits flying everywhere. Jokes apart, iThemes has been around for around five years and has gained a lot of fans. They offer amazing themes and plugins, paid WordPress training (I am told that they're worth every penny), a mighty WordPress Toolkit – a bundle of joy for web designers and developers, and a lot of free WordPress (video) tutorials. Their most notable contributions include:
- iThemes Builder - Drag and drop WordPress theme builder
- WordPress Toolkit - Bundle of Themes for Developers
- BackupBuddy - WordPress backup plugin
iThemes is the creator of the wildly popular WordPress backup plugin called BackupBuddy. I don't need to stress the importance of taking backups, you already know that. Although there are a few free alternatives available, BackupBuddy is the one that's brilliantly designed, sports tons of features, comes with premium support and using the plugin is easy as pie.
If you belong to the category of people who have a lot of WordPress sites to manage and maintain, then ManageWP is a Godsend tool for you! Trusted by over thousands users, and a few reputed brands such as WIRED and UCLA, ManageWP does all WordPress related tasks from a central management panel - tasks you would normally do from you individual WordPress dashboards. Some of the tasks I’m referring to, include:
- WordPress Core Updates
- Plugin Updates
- Up-time monitoring
- Mass Migration
- Bulk Content Publishing
- Securi Integration
- Scheduled Backup to cloud services
Crazy, isn’t it? Besides this, ManageWP also has its own iOS and Android applications so you could manage your sites wherever you go! Just to add more icing to the cake, ManageWP also supports Google Analytics integration. Needless to say ManageWP saves you a tremendous amount of time if you run a WordPress site management company. Got a hacked site on your hands? No problem! Just restore the last working version of the site, it from the backups!
WPMU is a well-known name in the WordPress industry, launched way back in 2004. WPMU is a community of curated WordPress experts and hundreds of thousands of (287,949 and growing) followers. Their arsenal includes 140+ plugins and 160+ themes and pricing starts at 49 USD a month for the entire package or just 19 USD for a single item (theme or plugin). They are trusted by quite a few high-profile brands such as HP, CNET and Shopzilla.
One of WPMU's most significant contributions is EduBlogs - which is an educational blogging service which lets you create & manage student & teacher blogs. With just a few clicks (as it is always the case with WordPress) you can seamlessly customize designs, include videos, photos and podcasts. It is trusted by prestigious educational institutions such as Cornell and Standord University. Since 2005, Edublogs has been powering over 2.08 million educational websites.
When you Google the terms “wordpress seo” the very first result that you get is the product of this man’s brilliance and hard work. Folks, I am talking about none other than Joost de Valk – the man behind the enormously popular WordPress SEO plugin. Downloaded over 7.49 million times, this is one of the SEO plugins for WordPress.
His website – Yoast.com is full of indispensable WordPress SEO resources and guides. Yoast also offers paid WordPress plugins like Video SEO and Local SEO and website audits. No wonder that his gets thousands of daily visitors.
A privately funded WordPress theme development company, headquartered in San Francisco, California – AppThemes has over 35,000 customers to its name with a variety of themes and pride themselves in their coding practices. Here’s an extract:
“…we take pride in the quality of code we write so under the hood everything is fully commented and easy to understand.”
As for recommendations, AppThemes has a huge shiny cup to show – a personal thumbs-up from Matt Mullenweg. If you’re wondering who he is, you can thank him for creating WordPress!
Good things don’t come cheap and AppThemes live by this. Each theme is a whopping $99 USD and includes one year of support and updates. Albeit, they do have flexible pricing options – from $99 to 349 USD for the developer package. If you don’t mind the pocket pinch, AppThemes is a good choice.
Founded by David and Marc Perel, Obox Design is one of those companies that have a few but good themes to their name. Obox’s design traits include bold headings, spacious design and a complete/proper use of the viewer’s display – which make them a great choice for bloggers, freelancers and businesses.
Apart from themes, Obox also has a number of really cool plugins (for example, Facebook eCommerce) and projects, the most notable of them being SalesGenius – a web-app that that you accurately track your Evanto sales.
Try SalesGenius »
Finally, the name most of us were getting anxious to find – WPEngine. One of the leading WordPress Managed Hosting companies, WPEngine has gained much appreciation from the WordPress community. From their proprietary Evercache caching technology, to insanely fast loading times, WPEngine is a go-to name for any high-traffic website. Hosting plans start as 29 USD a month for 25,000 monthly page-views. Looking from a strictly business point of view, it is essential to point out that although WPEngine has an excellent infrastructure, downright brilliant performance and knowledgeable customer service.
They like to call themselves the “original” WordPress Managed Hosting company, founded by Joshua and Sally Strebe in 2009 – which was the result of a project they were working on from ’06. Today Pagely is trusted by thousands of high-profile websites – some of which incur tremendous traffic every day. Their proprietary security suite – PressArmor and PressCDN is a deadly combo for ultra-fast and rock-secure websites. Compared to WPEngine, Pagely is 5 bucks cheaper (24 USD a month) for almost the same stuff. It’s ultimately a matter of preference.
Saving the best for last and a fitting end to the list, let us talk about Automattic – the company behind this revolutionary CMS. Let’s being with the name. The word “Matt” (I’ve purposely used a capital M) is found in Automattic which is really cool. Some companies spend a lot of money researching the perfect name, while Automattic does the job – swift and effective.
Launched way back in 2005 - after 8 years of learning, hardship, rewriting every single variable time and again, solid performance and rapid growth, today in the year 2014, Automattic’s contributions and assets include:
- WordPress – A free hosted blogging platform and an open source CMS
- Akismet – An enterprise level spam filtering service
- BuddyPress – WordPress gone “social”
- Gravatar – Associating an image (avatar) to an email got a whole lot easier. Almost all the social sites use Gravatar to quickly pull the user’s image
- IntenseDebate – A commenting tool for WordPress, Tumblr and other blogging platforms
- PollDaddy - "Never underestimate the power of a mob"
- Simplenote – Launched on 24th Jan, 2013 Simplenote is Automattic’s shot at creating something like Evernote
- VaultPress – The ultimate WordPress backup plugin, coded by the creators themselves.
- VideoPress – Premium video hosting service for WordPress
- Jetpack – One of the most popular and immensely useful plugins used by tons of WordPress professionals
- WordPress VIP Hosting – Enterprise level managed WordPress hosting used by companies like TED, TIME, CNN and TechChrunch. Hosted on the superior EdgeCast network and serving 100+ million pageviews every day, WordPress.com VIP hosting packages is the go-to choice of government agencies, sports teams, leading fashion brands and non-profit organizations
Coincidentally, at the time of writing this article (13th Jan, 2014) Matt has taken over as Automattic’s CEO after Toni Schneider. This brings high hopes about what the prodigy will do with his company, now that he’s calling all the shots. It has been a great ride so far and it doesn't seem like thing are going to slow down anytime soon!
Happy trails, fellow WordPressor!