Comparison Review: Bluehost or WordPress?
The importance of selecting the right hosting solution for your website cannot be ignored. This can have a massive impact on the reliability, security, speed, and performance of your site, among other factors.
A lot of people ask me whether WordPress or Bluehost is a better website host. Both providers are quite different from one another, so it is important to start off by understanding what they both do, which I will, of course, explain in full for you.
Understanding Bluehost and WordPress
When comparing both solutions, it is important to understand a key difference. WordPress is a content management system (CMS). In fact, it is the most popular CMS in the world! Bluehost, on the other hand, is a web hosting company.
What does this mean for you? Well, when using WordPress.com, you can publish content without needing to buy any extra services. Bluehost, though, is not a CMS. You will need to install one first. For example, you could build your website on WordPress.org, and then use Bluehost to host it. This may sound long-winded, but it is mega easy, as Bluehost offers a one-click installation feature.
WordPress.com and WordPress.org are not the same
It is vital to recognise that WordPress.org and WordPress.com are two different things. Yes, they are owned by the same company, but they’re different.
- WordPress.org is where you will find open-source WordPress software, which demands an external web host, i.e. Bluehost.
- WordPress.com is a specific hosted implementation of the software at WordPress.org. You get WordPress and a host in one essentially.
Therefore, the comparison needs to be between WordPress.com and Bluehost for this to make any sense!
Bluehost vs WordPress Feature Comparison
Let’s start by looking at the features that are offered by both. Bluehost provides a range of services, covering virtual private servers (VPS), shared hosting, and dedicated hosting. It is a beginner-friendly solution, and if you’re just getting started, you’re probably going to want one of the shared hosting plans. This is also suitable if you do not expect huge amounts of traffic. You can always upgrade at a later date if required.
Some of the features that you can expect with one of the shared hosting plans from Bluehost are as follows:
- Marketing credits towards ads
- 24/7 customer support
- Access to premium and free WordPress themes
- Automatic WordPress updates
- Email hosting
- One-click installation for WordPress
- Free domain registration for your initial year
- Unlimited storage (unless you choose the Basic plan)
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Free SSL certificates
You have 16 different hosting plans to select from in total.
With WordPress, you have four different options, as well as a free plan, making WordPress’s offerings a lot more straightforward.
However, the features are more limited and you do have less control over the hosting of your website.
With WordPress.com, some of the main features you’re going to get include:
- Access to free themes only, unless you pay for one of the more expensive plans
- Limited customer support
- A free domain name with an advanced plan
- Essential Jetpack plug-in features
- Limited storage, which ranges from 3 GB with the free plan to 200 GB with the eCommerce plan
- Free SSL certificates
It is great that WordPress has a free plan, yet it’s not going to be sufficient if your website takes off, which is the aim of most site owners, right?
In terms of personalisation, WordPress is also very limited. If you opt for WordPress.com, rather than using WordPress.org and Bluehost, you’re going to have a domain that is something like the following: yoursitename.wordpress.com. There will also be WordPress ads on your pages. You cannot remove these and you cannot earn money from them either. It’s not really going to do you any favours in terms of branding your site, is it?
If you opt for the cheapest personal plan, you can remove advertising and get a custom domain name. However, you’re still going to be restricted to standard widgets and free themes only, which can be restrictive. The expensive Business package is the only option if you want to install your own WordPress themes and plugins and get rid of all of the WordPress branding.
On the flip side, if you decide to use any of the Bluehost plans and install the open-source WordPress software, you get unlimited access to all of the features. This means any theme or plug-in can be added to your website, including premium extensions that have been created by third-party developers. This provides you with a much higher level of flexibility, ensuring that you are able to create a website that is perfect for you.
If that was not enough, you will get a custom domain from the very beginning with Bluehost. You can also set up your own professional email address and you do not have to worry about any adverts on your site unless you choose to incorporate them.
Ease of use, Bluehost vs WordPress – Who is Best?
Another area that is important when choosing a web host is ease of use. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want is to sign-up to a web host that’s complex and confusing to use! Time is precious, and no one wants to waste hours trying to get to grip with the platform.
You would probably expect WordPress to be the easiest solution. After all, it is the world’s number one content management system. The CMS will automatically be installed on your account if you go for this option. This means that all you need to do is log in and you can begin creating your website.
However, what you may not realize is that you’re only going to have the basic WordPress interface. The customization options aren’t easy to find, and the drag-and-drop functionality is minimal.
You need to use plugins to boost the functionality and make WordPress easy-to-use. Elementor is a great option. This isn’t an option for everyone, though! Why? Well, you cannot download plug-ins on any of the lower tier plans. You will need to have an eCommerce or Business plan for this to be the case.
You won’t experience any of these problems when using Bluehost. The dashboard is very neatly organized. It is clean and intuitive, making it a breeze to use. You won’t get a drag-and-drop site builder by default, though; it needs to be installed. This is an easy process!
One of the things that I like about Bluehost is that once you have set everything up, you are presented with a checklist, taking you through all of the steps that are required to create a website. This checklist is great for beginners, ensuring that you have all of the important parts of your website in place. If you’re creating a website for the first time, Bluehost will hold your hand!
SiteGround vs Hostinger – Which delivers better performance?
When someone lands on your website, they care about one thing: the performance of it!
They want a site that will load quickly and delivers great content. While your web host cannot produce your site content, it certainly plays a massive role in terms of the speed of your website.
I decided to use both platforms to create a website, determining what they both have to offer on the performance front.
There is only one place to begin when it comes to performance, and this is with the uptime. The uptime claims from both are excellent.
Bluehost promises 99.98% uptime. No host can guarantee 100% uptime, and so the only host offering better is any that guarantees 99.99% uptime, which very few do! Hostgator is one of a very small minority offering 99.9%. The 99.98% uptime guarantee from Bluehost means they assure customers there will be no less than one hour and 45 minutes of downtime per annum. While testing Bluehost over the past year, it never failed on its promise for this level of uptime.
For WordPress, it never dipped below 99.8% throughout the year, so this is also a great level of service. It is worth noting, though, that neither offer compensation for failing to deliver on the uptime front, as is the case at a lot of other web hosts.
Time to First Byte (TTFB)
Also known as TTFB, Time to First Bite is certainly not the most important metric. Full page load time, which is something else I have measured, is arguably the most crucial. However, I started by looking at TTFB because it can give you a good insight into whether the server is performing at an optimal level.
It is also imperative for search engine optimization. This is because research has shown us that sites with reduced TTFB often rank higher in SERPs.
Bluehost performed exceptionally well on the TTFB front, whereas I would give WordPress a 7.5/10 for this. Bluehost took minimal time to respond to my HTTPS request, showing that the servers are well optimized.
Full page load time
The load time for the entire webpage is one of the most critical things you need to look out for when creating a website. The longer your site takes to load, the more likely that users will exit your website and look elsewhere. When running my tests, I kept things fair by turning off all of the plugins. Both solutions were quick, but Bluehost was one-second quicker than WordPress, taking just under one-second for my full page to load. WordPress took twice as long, although two seconds isn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination.
Load impact test
The load impact test is very important because there is going to be more than one person visiting your website at one time (hopefully!) The two previous tests only focus on a request from a single user. However, you need to understand how your site is going to react when you have a lot of traffic. This is why the load impact test is critical.
Although there wasn’t too much difference between the two platforms, Bluehost did outperform WordPress again. With 200 visitors on the site, the full page load time increased to 3.71 seconds. For WordPress, the wait was just over four seconds.
A huge number of websites are hacked every year, and so you really cannot underestimate the importance of security when it comes to selecting a web host. Don’t take your eye off the ball!
Let’s start by looking at Bluehost. The company provides a number of different features to protect your website and visitor data. This includes in-built tools to stop spam on your website, daily scans for vulnerabilities and malware, automatic WordPress updates on a daily basis, and SSL certification.
The daily backups are definitely a welcomed feature. This means you can restore your website to a previous version if something goes wrong. You won’t have to create everything again from scratch. However, one worrying element when it comes to backups is that Bluehost have stated that they are not responsible for any data loss. Therefore, you cannot rely on Bluehost to backup your data. If something happens, you wouldn’t be able to hold Bluehost accountable. Because of this, I would recommend that you create your own backups. This is something that is very easy to do from the dashboard and it can give you great peace of mind.
Another benefit associated with Bluehost is that you can make the most of one-click integration with CloudFlare, which is a reputable and well-known security company. This means you will get access to a whole host of extra features, including image optimisation and mobile optimisation to speed up and protect your site, as well as caching, VPN, bot management, rate limiting, DDoS protection, and a firewall.
So, what about WordPress.com’s security? Well, there are a number of in-built security features and protocols provided. An SSL certification is installed on every site automatically. Moreover, WordPress.com backs up site data every day, protects against DDoS attacks, monitors web traffic for suspicious activity on a continual basis, and runs firewalls. The company has a dedicated security team in place that works around the clock to ensure the websites on the servers are protected.
Plus, when you sign up to WordPress, you are going to have a number of important plug-ins that will already be preinstalled on your account. This includes a malware scanner, as well as Akismet, which is effective for anti-spam security.
Scalability - Bluehost or WordPress?
Scalability is imperative when choosing a web host, yet a lot of people fall into the trap of only thinking about the here and now.
For most business owners, your aim is to grow your company and to achieve more, right? So, you need to make sure that your website gives you the ability to do this and does not hold you back.
I have to say that Bluehost has really impressed me in the scalability department, and there are a number of reasons why this is the case. Firstly, you can easily switch from one plan to another. You could start off with the cheapest shared hosting plan, for example, and then move onto WP Pro hosting and perhaps even VPS later down the line.
With WordPress, the only option available is shared hosting, which means their plans are more limiting.
There is the option of using WordPress for free. However, this is something I would only recommend if you were creating a website for your own use and viewing only. The limited features and generic domain means that this has very limited appeal.
The paid options available from WordPress are as follows:
- Personal ($4 per month, billed yearly)
- Premium ($8 per month, billed yearly)
- Business ($25 per month, billed yearly)
- eCommerce ($45 per month, billed yearly)
You will need at least a Premium plan if you are intending to launch a professional website. With the Premium plan, you get some customisation options, monetisation tools, and 13 GB of storage.
The WordPress Business plan is a necessity if you want to be able to install your own plugins, though, as you will be able to with any of the Bluehost plans you choose.
The Bluehost pricing for their shared hosting packages is as follows:
- Basic ($3.95 per month, billed on a 36-month basis)
- Plus ($5.95 per month, billed on a 36-month basis)
- Choice Plus ($6.95 per month, billed on a 36-month basis)
- Pro ($13.95 per month, billed on a 36-month basis)
The Basic Plan has been designed for one website only, offering 50 GB SSD Storage. The Pro Plan is for unlimited sites with unlimited SSD storage. Features included are as follows:
- Free Dedicated IP
- Free Automated Backup
- Free Domain Privacy
- Free Office 365 – 30 days
- Free SSL Certificate
- Free CDN Included
- Free Domain – 1 year
- Optimized CPU Resources
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Custom Themes
The final element that I carefully assess when choosing a web host is customer service. This is something that a lot of people overlook, but it really is imperative. After all, if you are having any type of issue with the host, you want the peace of mind of knowing that it will be dealt with quickly and efficiently.
So, let’s take a look at the customer support offered by these two heavyweights! Bluehost provides a range of customer support solutions, including a ticket system, phone support, and live chat. Their support services are available 24/7, which means you can always expect a quick response no matter where in the world you are.
If you sign-up for the WP Pro plan that is offered by Bluehost, you will also get access to their specialist BlueSky support team. This team is made up of experts who can provide you with help if you have any problems relating to WordPress. Website and plugin troubleshooting are also included, which gives Bluehost plenty of brownie points in my eyes! Not many other hosts offer such extensive support when it comes to WordPress, so it’s great to see that Bluehost values this.
WordPress has taken a route I have seen a lot of other hosts take: they base their level support on whether the person is a paying customer or not. If you have a free WordPress account, you can forget about email support or live chat! This makes it incredibly frustrating because it means you have to jump through hoops to get a response.
Should you sign-up for one of the Premium or Personal plans, you do have the option of email or live chat with an agent. However, this is only available on weekdays. You’re on your own if an issue happens on a Saturday or a Sunday.
The only way for you to get 24/7 support would be to sign-up for either the eCommerce of the Business plan. These plans are the most expensive. I think it’s a bit unfair. After all, you may not need all of the extra services that come with these hosting plans! Are you really going to pay more money just so you can have your queries responded to in a quick fashion?
Conclusion: Bluehost or WordPress
In my opinion, there is one clear winner in the battle between WordPress and Bluehost, and this is Bluehost. No surprise, right? I would only recommend WordPress if you’re seeking a no-frills blogging platform that does not require many tools. For everything else, Bluehost delivers more customisation and features at a better price. I would certainly advise using the open-source WordPress software and then powering this with Bluehost as your website host.
Other Hosting Comparisons
Looking for additional comparisons before making your decision about which hosting company is right for you? Check out these related articles:
This Bluehost vs WordPress comparison was last updated January 2021.