Not so long ago, I <a href="https://www.news47ell.com/articles/news47ell-3-0-now-hosted-by-digitalocean/">announced News47ell 3.0.</a> Same look but a different hosting. At the time, I picked <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.news47ell.com%2Frecommends%2Fdigitalocean%2F&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNHdi7FolEuzM89nYexdpDqiT8sq9w">DigitalOcean</a> because I wanted to challenge myself to do something that I've never tried before. A “DIY” type of hosting, where you do everything. Including configuring and securing your server.
I actually had fun learning all types of cool, new things. It honestly made me understand my Twitter timeline a lot better 😛
The final product that you were all viewing for the past 3 months was not my first VPS server. How should I say this, A Droplet. No, it was my fourth. I was at a point where blood started to seep through my ears, but it was all worth it. You get this satisfying feeling of accomplishing a goal. It's something I've never felt before. Although it was the fourth droplet and my fourth attempt at making a decent VPS for my site, I guess I managed to screw it up somewhere.
After setting up my server, a week went by with no issues. Until, I wanted to turn on two plugins that I wanted to try on the site:
- <a href="https://www.news47ell.com/recommends/cloudinary/">Cloudinary</a>
- <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.algolia.com%2F%3Futm_source%3Dnewsforhell%26utm_medium%3Dlink%26utm_campaign%3Dnewsforhell_article&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNHG8u1lWIoJcy3fWdo5BboqU3in2w"> Algolia </a>
Both of these WordPress plugin's somehow managed not to work on my site. Algolia's plugin has a setting to save the API Key to connect your indexed content from their server with your site. No matter what I did, those keys weren't saved. Attempt after attempt, no matter how many times I tried in the “Save Settings” options.
I spent an hour on the live chat with one of their support staff that managed to get the API Keys to be saved, but the plugin still didn't function.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the idea for the <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.news47ell.com%2Freviews%2Fswiftype-search-plugin-for-wordpress-review%2F&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNGVMzZweu2pxCnvk6ks7SXeA7_mIQ">Swiftype review</a> came to life!
As for Cloudinary, well, no matter how much I thanked these guys for their effort to make their plugin work, I don't think my “thank you's,” would be enough.
Itay from the Cloudinary Support team didn't just spend hours, he spent days trying to figure out what the issue was with my server. Plus, he were given full access to my server hoping he could catch that bug that caused the plugin to spit out 500 “Internal Server Error,” messages every time I tried to upload a photo from my site to my Cloudinary account.
42 support emails were sent back and forth between and Itay. I really wanted to try this plugin on my site, see how it functions and what it had to offer, but I couldn't.
- *By now I have a fair assumption that you've noticed the new design for the site. I hope you have or otherwise you seriously need to consider seeing an ophthalmologist.
The previous design was made by <a href="https://scotthsmith.com/">Scott</a> <a href="https://scottsmith.sexy/">Smith</a>. His theme, “<a href="https://scotthsmith.com/projects/decode/">Decode</a>,” was the first theme I seen that had this beautiful, minimal layout that helped to focus on the content and nothing else.
I've used it since the beginning. I could never find anything else that was better than this theme.
So why did I change it?
Have you seen Aol Reader’s website?
The second I seen both of these designs I completely went crazy over it. I wanted it, but sadly I'm not a designer, nor do I have the time to learn how to design, but that didn't mean that I didn't try, because I did. I failed many times trying to achieve anything even remotely close to it.
In case you have no idea of what I'm talking about, then I'll assume you didn't scroll the page after you visited the links I put above. The Parallax Scrolling effect, the content slides on top of a fixed background image, it's unbelievably gorgeous.
I WANT IT. I WANT IT. I WANT IT.
The first thing I noticed about Cover is it's Full-width featured images. The content scrolling on top of the featured image.
The theme in general looks clean and puts you in a relaxed mood while you scroll down and continue reading, which is great since this article isn't ending anytime soon.
Last but not least, are the official colors for social media links. Man, it bugs me so much when the colors are not the official colors. Yes, Decode, my old theme didn't have official colors but you can't say anything bad about the colour red.
A Problem & a new friend to help
As I was setting up the plugins I wanted to use, I encountered three small and tiny issues:
- When activating certain plugins, the font size in the theme was getting bigger, a lot bigger.
- I had some long titles for my articles, which caused the author link to be hidden below the content.
- I pulled my hair trying to get the YJ's DFLL plugin to work with this new theme but I couldn't. Before, I used to customize the theme myself, but now, the new theme is full of things that I yet need to understand.
So I contacted Paul, the developer of this theme and asked him for help. He was more than happy to help with the problems I was having. He looked for the source of the issues and sent me a fix right away.
I was happy when he told me what the issue was and what he did to fix it. I like to learn and know everything as much as I can.
As for the DFLL plugins issue, Paul did all the HTML editing for me which no matter how much I thanked him for it, I don't think it would be enough.
So yeah, its a great theme and Paul is a great developer who managed to make his already awesome theme more awesome for me. Thank you Paul.
MY NEW HOME
Now let's move on to another subject, hosting providers to be more exact. Since I found out about DigitalOcean I couldn't stop thinking about how awesome VPS hosting is. It comes with a lot of responsibilities since you're the one who will manage the server to keep it up and secure. For busy people like me, this is not an easy thing to do, at least not at this moment.
Managing the site and trying to fix the issues I was having took a lot of my time, it actually made me focus more on the issues rather than keeping the content for this site flooding. Especially with the issue I had with the Cloudinary Plugin.
This issue was what made me start thinking about switching my host. So, I started my research, which always make me happy like a kid in a candy store. While researching I put a few strict rules that I must follow:
- DO NOT GO BACK TO SHARED HOSTING.
- I NEEDED A FAST WORDPRESS FOCUSED HOSTING.
I looked at many options, but none were in my price range which is $10/mo max. I almost lost all hope in finding something better than DigitalOcean. I was about to spin up a new server with DigitalOcean and redo everything all over again and try and do it right this time when I seen a hosting provider that offered managed VPS hosting with the price that begins at $5 and on top of all of this, it's on DigitalOcean.
Cloudways, that's where I'm hosting my site with now. They have one of best offers I've seen online and a great service so far. A more in-depth look will come soon but for now, let's just say that they kick-ass.