Founded in 2012, Cornershop Creative is an award-winning online services company committed to listening carefully to nonprofit organizations and small business clients. They focus on helping organizations make the most of the web. Whether their goals are in website design, fundraising, advocacy, sales, or engagement, their team has the technical experience to make it happen!
Based in the U.S. but operated as a fully-distributed team from the outset, they’ve been focusing on WordPress for years, with much of their work for the nonprofit sector focused on integrating the WordPress sites they build with a variety of nonprofit-focused CRM platforms. Cornershop started as a team of three and now has approximately 30 team members, including designers, developers, project managers, and content and SEO experts.
Read our interview below with Ben Byrne, Co-Founder at Cornershop Creative.
In our early days, we tried to “meet clients where they were” in terms of hosting, letting them call the shots on where their sites were hosted, since we didn’t want to get into a situation where our clients expected us to be available 24/7 for any hosting issues.
“Over time, though, we found that we were spending too much time learning the idiosyncrasies of too many hosts, so we decided to recommend three different host options depending on the client’s needs. However, even with those “preferred hosts”, we kept running into issues — lots of issues!
Sometimes, we ran into problems with how our slightly-customized base WordPress worked with the host’s infrastructure, for example. Even though these customizations weren’t complicated, they seemed to wreak havoc with some hosts.
We also ran into trouble with hosts not allowing us to set up agency accounts (each site was tied to a different account), downtime, updates breaking things, crummy support that gave unhelpful answers or blamed us for any problems, price for performance, and more. Basically, if there was a problem you could have with a host, we had experienced it!
It eventually became clear to us that we needed a single host that could see the full scope of our client base and provide performant hosting and great support at a price point that our nonprofit clients — including the very small, very budget-conscious ones — could afford, while also being able to handle sites with over 100,000 visits a month.“
We began our hunt for a new host by compiling a long list of potential hosts based on our past experiences as well as reviews and studies published online. It was a challenge, though, because we had a lot of requirements and preferences.
“We looked at all of the following:
- Does the host disclose technical information such as CPU cores or PHP workers?
- Does the host support git, ssh and wp-cli? (this was non-negotiable, as we use these tools to manage deployments and updates)
- Does the host support agency-style accounts?
- Does the host support multisite? (this wasn’t critically important but was a consideration)
- Does the host offer staging environments?
- Does the host offer a CDN and other caching?
- Does the host offer generous amounts of disk space?
It was clear early on that Kinsta was one of the handfuls of “finalist” candidates that checked all these boxes when many hosts were missing a few. Once we had seven or so finalists, we took some time to stand up sites on each host, and we ran our own jMeter-based load tests to see how the hosts weathered heavy traffic that bypassed the sort of caching that cheaper hosts rely on to provide good performance.
Kinsta fared very well in our performance tests, particularly given the price point. From there, it was a matter of working with a sales representative to get our additional questions answered. We eventually narrowed our selections down to Kinsta and Flywheel, and Kinsta’s ability to provide us with full SSH+git access put them over the top.”
We have been extremely happy with our decision to work with Kinsta, and we currently host over 110 sites on Kinsta, collectively handling over 1.2 million visits per month. In fact I was just Slacking my co-founder the other day: “We’ve made a lot of good decisions over the years here and I feel like Kinsta was one of the better ones.
“Our support team now deals with radically fewer downtime-related issues than with our previous ‘preferred’ hosts.
Kinsta’s chat support is convenient and easy to access, and the support representatives are knowledgeable and helpful. We also found the migration team to be excellent at both communications and with the technical ins-and-outs of migrating more than 60 sites from a variety of hosts (and DNS-management situations) onto Kinsta.
What we couldn’t have anticipated when we first started working with Kinsta around the beginning of 2021 was the changes that Kinsta would be rolling out that continually reinforce what a good decision we made.
Kinsta’s transition to Cloudflare — which was our preferred performance/security proxy before we started working with Kinsta — has been cumbersome at times, but is absolutely the right decision for us and our clients. The improvements to staging, like selective push, have been great. And we’ve found the sales team to be easy to work with as we’ve kept bumping up the number of sites our plan can accommodate.
We began on the Enterprise 1 plan and now are on a custom agency plan supporting up to 150 sites! I don’t think we would have been able to grow as much as we have over the past year without Kinsta.”
Resources and Documentation Like No Other
I think one of the fun surprises of switching to Kinsta is how much our team (especially our developers) keeps seeing blog posts from Kinsta showing up in our Google search results as we try to identify plugins, solve technical problems, or determine best practices.
The Kinsta blog is an incredibly helpful resource not just for technical documentation on the Kinsta platform specifically but for WordPress development in general.