2020 is and was a difficult year for many. We are glad that Raidboxes has nevertheless been able to grow. And that we can give part of this success back to society. A thank you to our clients and our employees, without whom none of this would have been possible.
If you wanted to survive as a small or medium-sized business in 2020, you had to increasingly rely on a professional website or a new online shop. This is another reason why the WordPress and hosting market is still doing well.
We support our customers who have not been so lucky. Among other things, with our #supportyourlocals programme or with our Corona help, more on that later. But first: What did 2020 mean for Raidboxes? And what is our outlook for 2021?
Yippee! 10,000 customers
In mid-November we were able to celebrate, through Corona first of all purely virtually: In the meantime, more than 10,000 customers trust our services! The demand for managed hosting for WordPress and WooCommerce continues to grow significantly. This has several reasons:
- Worldwide, WordPress currently runs almost 40 percent of the web (according to W3Techs).
- If you only take websites with a recognizable CMS into account, this share rises to almost 64 percent
- Up to 18 percent of the WordPress installations additionally use WooCommerce as an online shop or booking system
- Other content management and shop systems such as Joomla, Drupal, Shopify or Magento, on the other hand, are clearly lagging behind.
- This trend has become more and more pronounced in recent years.
Of course, not all WordPress hosting is the same - our customers know that. Raidboxes is also so successful because we speed up the processes of agencies and freelancers considerably. With our central WordPress management and a Dashboard, which is specially developed for the leading CMS.
It doesn’t matter if you manage 5, 50, or 500 WordPress projects. Or whether you manage them for yourself or for a client: you'll love our features.
Raidboxes continues to grow
More customers mean more support, technology, marketing, sales and administration. In other words, more human resources. We are proud to grow domestically and with permanent staff, not via virtual or low-cost solutions from overseas. The team at Raidboxes has already made ahuge leap in 2019. Here are the key figures for 2020:
- Grown from 20 to 31: Our team now has a total of 31 employees. We also have additional staff and freelancers, for example for translations.
- Diversity: Ten of the 31 employees are female. We are still a long way from where we want to be, which is why we will be working even harder on our diversity in the future.
- Remote Work: In addition to Münster and the surrounding area, our colleagues also work from Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Potsdam, Berlin, Hanover, Wuppertal and Freiburg.
- holacracyReloaded: Self-determined work with flat hierarchies has a high priority at Raidboxes\. This is precisely why we use the role concept, according to the principle of the holacracy. In 2021, we will adapt this to the growing team - and report on it here in the magazine.
Raidboxes deliberately invests in professionals from the WordPress environment. Because only in this way can we make you satisfied as a customer. With a "mass host" it is a simple calculation: If a web space costs only a two-digit amount per year, how should the web hoster pay good supporters? Who also know WordPress in depth? And who are available within minutes, not within hours or even days?
These are the eleven new Raidboxes faces in 2020, in support and beyond:
- Birgit supports us in administration and team assistance
- Marten and Niklas strengthen the product development
- Christian and Chris help our customers in the support department.
- Laura and Navid are new in Sales
- Jacob started as a product owner
- Caspar takes care of internationalization and our cooperation partners
- Lucy and Elise join the marketing department in the area of international content
- Tim starts this month as a student trainee in sustainability
Not all companies fared as well as we did in 2020. The mission of Raidboxes is generally oriented towards making a contribution - for our customers, for our team (more on this in a moment) but also for society. We don't want to be a soulless and interchangeable web hosting company that doesn't live up to its responsibility.
Corona is a crisis for local retailers, while platforms like Amazon are reaping big profits. This is also why we support the #supportyourlocals campaign with free hosting for portals that digitally connect local businesses. One example of our campaign is the Rheinkreishelden from Neuss. You can read more about how they help local retailers in our interview. In it, we tell you what each and every one of us can do so that the inner cities and diversity don't die out.
Another example is the Corona aid from Raidboxes. We have to stick together in the crisis. That's why we support our customers from sectors that are particularly hard hit by the consequences of the pandemic: Culture, gastronomy, hotels and events. Find out more about our programme.
Last but not least, we thought about how we ourselves deal with the online giants like Facebook, Google & Co. Raidboxes is a good deal dependent on Facebook, a platform that is heavily criticised, especially when it comes to data protection. After all, our ads convert amazingly well on the social network. In other words: without Facebook, we probably wouldn't have reached the 10,000 customers.
Nevertheless, we do not want to simply accept this conflict of interest. That is why Raidboxes is donating a large part of the budget that we would normally have spent on marketing activities at the end of the year. A total of 10,000 euros will go to the following organizations in equal parts before Christmas:
- atmosfair: The initiative actively protects the climate, among other things by offsetting greenhouse gases through renewable energies. This fits in wonderfully with our Green Hosting.
- Step by Step e. V. Münster: The association from our hometown supports social projects at home and abroad that are not on the radar of government agencies or large aid organizations. Currently, these are mainly projects for people and groups who are in need due to the Corona virus.
You too can follow our lead and donate a portion of your online marketing budget to social or environmental causes.
The togetherness at Raidboxes
One positive side effect of these difficult times: More and more companies are promoting the mental and physical health of their employees. At Raidboxes, several roles take care of this. One of them is the "Mental Health" team, which we expanded in 2020 - with the support of our managing directors Torben and Johannes.
There's no question about it: a lot of things are going very well at Raidboxes\. Each and every member of the team can holacracy seek out fields of work that are perceived as particularly meaningful - and that fit their individual strengths. And yet we are aware that stress factors are present in every company. The Mental Health team has the following tasks, among others:
- Serving as a point of contact for anyone overwhelmed with professional or private matters.
- Training of mindfulness towards a diverse team and new colleagues.
- Establishing a mindful and open culture of communication in the office and in Slack (as we work remotely to a large extent).
- Respecting introverted needs and ensuring opportunities for retreat, e.g. for concentrated work.
- Supporting people to achieve a good work-life balance.
We achieve these goals, for example, through internal training, an anonymous contact point, surveys among employees, and conflict resolution offerings such as mediation. At the same time, we strengthen personal responsibility and personal growth. By motivating each and every member of the team to speak up as soon as a conflict arises. Among colleagues, but also vis-à-vis managers.
An additional building block that Raidboxes promotes with monthly training sessions is non-violent communication (GfK) - a methodical approach to solving conflicts together in teams. Trainer Marianne Oshege regularly comes to the Münster office (currently Remote) to introduce us to the model.
At first, this approach felt unfamiliar for some of the team as it demands a certain willingness and courage to speak your mind. For both the more introverted personalities who work with us as well as for the more extroverted employees. Using concrete examples from everyday work in the training, we learn how to identify conflicts using NVC, how to address them and ways to resolve them.
Tips for agencies, companies and teams
Sustainability and green hosting
Raidboxes has been a pioneer in green WordPress hosting for many years – our hosting not only climate neutral, but climate positive. Our competitors are increasingly jumping on this bandwagon, which of course makes us happy. Because we can only master the challenges of climate change together.
Thanks to our 10,000 customers, we were once again able to increase our environmental contribution in 2020. Here are the current figures:
- For every WordPress site or WooCommerce shop that you host with us, we plant a tree for you. Through various campaigns (such as our autumn campaign, five trees planted for new contracts) we have increased this number significantly. In 2020, we will donate over 100,000 trees!
- The goal for 2021 is ambitious, but together with you we can do it: 200,000 trees from Raidboxes for the climate.
- In addition to reforestation, we've been supporting the Get Mads initiative since 2020. It invests in planet friendly projects that are selected according to strict criteria. Through this partnership alone, Raidboxes has offset over 320 tonnes of CO2.
Our team is already making a difference in terms of sustainability and social commitment. But there are still areas where we want to improve in even more. For example, in choosing suppliers who work sustainably themselves and stand by their corporate responsibility.
WordPress and sustainability
But what about issues such as precarious working models and monitoring of employees? For example, with the many online delivery services that are currently springing up and coming under criticism? Or Amazon with its employee monitoring programs, as recently documented in VICE magazine?
We have a few tasks ahead of us in terms of end-to-end suppliers and sustainability chains. Concrete plans have already been drawn up for 2021. Our plans include the newly expanded sustainability role in which we’re currently investing additional personnel resources. We're prepared to absorb these extra costs in order to do our part for a better working world.
You may also be affected by the question of how fair global online companies can be. You want to strengthen your local retail business with an online shop? Then we recommend our e-book Onlineshops mit WooCommerce. It is not only aimed at professionals, but also at users.
In 2020, our technical team worked primarily on scaling the Dashboard of Raidboxes and its functions even more specifically in the future. In addition, important features such as the BOX status were added: How high is the CPU utilisation and RAM consumption of your site? How much memory is actually still free? Which cron jobs are currently running and what do your log files actually look like? Our advanced website monitoring answers these and other questions.
At the same time, the focus was on making our WordPress hosting even more performant and efficient. Our customers' WordPress websites run up to400 percent faster after switching to Raidboxes, thanks to special WordPress functions and sophisticated technology in the background. And we want it to stay that way in the future.
More speed for your website
An important milestone for us internally was the introduction of Scrum. Scrum is a method in project and product management that promotes especially agile software development. This is exactly what we need to properly scale our product development in the future.
Our product owner Jacob introduced Scrum at Raidboxes\. The reasons for this included a lack of consistent transparency about feature development, unclear priorities due to multiple stakeholders or partially undefined processes, which led to frequent disruptions in the technical team. Looking back, Jacob says:
The biggest challenge in introducing Scrum was setting up new communication channels. It was a learning curve for everyone involved, for the stakeholders as well as the development team. The detailed evaluation and description of requirements before submitting them for development also took some getting used to.
The new communication channels and improved requirements analysis significantly increased efficiency and focused work within our tech team. As stakeholders, we notice this through more transparency on the progress of projects.
The better prioritization contributes to the fact that we now realize the "right" and important topics. We will therefore continue to expand Scrum in the coming year, among other things by switching to new project management software(Jira).
New magazine and multilingualism
In spring, our new Raidboxes magazine wp unboxed was launched, with a completely new design - replacing our old blog. This is what the result looks like:
At the same time as the relaunch, we started having our magazine articles and older content professionally translated into eight languages:
Danish will follow shortly. Swedish can be selected as a language on our site but only automatic translations of the articles are available at the moment.
The professional translations by "our own" freelancers (no agency) are a considerable use of resources, which we are happy to provide - quality has priority here. In addition, the multilingualism in WordPress as a well-known and so far only partially solved dilemma also presents us with great challenges. The current solution with Weglot as a tool brought the team some sleepless nights.
But the efforts have paid off. After an initially hesitant assessment by Google, more and more of our visitors are coming from other European countries and beyond - an important basis for the subsequent internationalization of Raidboxes. The positive feedback through Google, the users as well as in the comments pleases us. Finally, the entire team, including our guest authors, attaches great importance to content quality. Not only in design is wp unboxed a milestone, if you compare the result with our old blog:
Here are the key points of our content strategy with the new magazine. wp unboxed:
- Deliberate focus on the magazine format, in distinction to a purely linear blog - even if the two technical terms overlap in content. By prominently displaying the categories, we thus achieve even more visibility for the various topic strands such as WordPress , hosting, security, web design, online marketing or the agency business.
- A fixed rotation of topics guarantees we speak to all target groups on a regular basis. This ensures no category gets neglected over time, as is often the case with corporate blogs.
- Three permanent employees write for the magazine and/or edit the guest articles. This includes a workflow for timely translation into other languages.
- Targeted secondary and third-party use of our content, for example in the Raidboxes newsletter, in our e-books or on social channels (organic and paid). Since then, significantly more readers have become aware of the individual contents.
- Renowned authors outside Raidboxes, such as Jan Tissler, Sonja Hoffmann, Maddy Osman, Sven Scheuerle, Mario Steinberg and Dominik Stein.
- Contributions directly from the community, for example from Stefan Kremer, Felix Brodbeck, Daniela Sprung , Torsten Landsiedel or Johannes Mairhofer.
Articles from the community? Yes, please!
In 2021, we will refine this approach even further, for example by means of an extended success analysis. In the future, we want to measure conversions down to the level of individual blog posts.
In terms of design, Annie continuously brings the magazine wp unboxed up to date with her wonderful illustrations. For example here about PHP 8:
Due to time constraints, it's not possible to create illustrations for every article. But we're delighted to finally have a more personal alternative to stock photos, Unsplash & Co.
Most popular posts of 2020
Like last year, we have evaluated the most popular magazine articles in 2020, according to the number of page views. The result surprises us again and again. It shows two things: The success of blog posts can only be predicted to a limited extent. And the interests of our main target group (WordPress agencies, WP professionals and developers) are by no means only focused on technical topics.
Now here's the top ten from wp unboxed, from January to December 2020:
- Web design trends 2020: Which aesthetics will we have to say goodbye to in the future? Which trends, on the other hand, will shape the design world in the coming years? The assessment of web designer Sonja Hoffmann is particularly exciting for many readers.
- Optimize images for WordPress : Why is image optimization so important in WordPress ? Including five popular WordPress Plugins , which completely relieve you from compressing your images.
- The 4 most common WordPress errors: We help our customers every day to solve error messages and problems with their WordPress websites. The article shows step by step how to fix four of the most common errors in and with WordPress .
- WordPress Hosting Comparison 2020 Hosting Comparison 2020: with results from 250+ web PageSpeed Insights. Read more about our best tips around WordPress performance, time saving, security and support.
- Remote Leadership: How to run an agency from anywhere? How digital nomads and agency leaders can best master the remote trend.
- Basic principles for harmonious web design: another contribution from Sonja Hoffmann. Especially with your own creations, it's infinitely difficult to do an objective analysis. Fortunately, there are tried and tested design principles that you can use as a guide.
- Yoast vs Rank Math: The two SEO Plugins polarize the community. You can see that in the interest that the comparison from Dominik Stein has sparked. With exciting discussion in the comments.
- ImproveWordPress performance: The web is teeming with tips and tricks on how to optimize your WordPress performance. Unfortunately, the relevance of the various screws can easily fall by the wayside. We show you the important starting points and adjusting screws. This will help you achieve success especially quickly.
- Build your own WordPress app: These three app builders Plugins for WordPress make it possible. But how effective is the App channel actually?
- ECJ ruling on the Privacy Shield: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has declared the Privacy Shield invalid - this affects, among others, all websites that use the services of US companies. Mario Steinberg explains what you have to do now.
Some classics from previous years that we update on a regular basis were also among the most popular articles. What topics would you like to see in the future? Feel free to give us feedback, we look forward to your suggestions.
We were able to publish two major e-books in 2020. Both publications provide our customers and agencies with additional tools to optimize their processes with WordPress. An overview of the two books:
13 advantages of managed WordPress hosting
The book already came out as a "Christmas present" to our customers at the end of 2019, but has been updated again in 2020. Managed WordPress hosting gives your websites a decent boost. But:
- What do you have to watch out for as a freelancer, agency, or blogger?
- Which WordPress hosting provider is the best fit for you?
- How does shared hosting compare to a virtual private server or managed server?
- What about security, performance, time savings, cost reduction, support, functionality and usability?
With the success of WordPress and WooCommerce, the availability of suitable web hosting is also increasing. Nearly all hosting providers claim to offer "WordPress hosting" but their packages don't always deliver what they promise. Our e-book tells you what to look out for when choosing WordPress hosting.
How to Manage 5 to 100+ WordPress Projects Efficiently
No matter if you manage 5, 50 or 500 WordPress projects, and no matter if you do this for yourself or on behalf of a customer: The administrative processes quickly take up a large part of your working time. Such processes - which cost you resources and nerves on a daily basis - are for example Plugin and Theme updates for WordPress & WooCommerce, backups, setting up SSL, installing extensions, security settings, etc.
This holds true for agencies, developers, web designers and other freelancers alike. We also tend to underestimate how much time is spent mindlessly repeating the same tasks over and over again. Written especially for agencies and freelancers, our new e-book shows you how to centralize your WordPress management. And which tools and tricks you can utilize to speed up your processes considerably.
Both publications will soon be available as e-books in English. Are you looking for the content in another language? Would you prefer to read the content as a blog post instead of a PDF? Our two new guides are available here in nine other languages:
Top marks in support
Current ratings - like the following on Trusted Shops - not only make us proud. They are also the daily incentive for our support heroes:
Since this year alone, four additional employees support our support team. Only because of this we currently get 4.89 out of 5 stars in the ratings.
At Raidboxes you are dealing with "real" WordPress experts. I emphasise the "real" because it is unfortunately not a matter of course on the hosting market. You can reach us daily from 8:00 to 22:00 (CET) via live chat. Also on weekends and public holidays.
New partner program for agencies
We believe that when people talk to each other, network with each other, and share their resources, you can make a big difference. That's why we built a new partner program for agencies in 2020, including our partner directory.
The Raidboxes Partner Program is aimed at agencies that develop and centrally manage their WordPress projects with us. Our agency partners benefit from exclusive services such as special rates, an agency profile in our partner listing, commissions for referrals, direct and personal contact persons in sales, joint events or a content partnership.
Affiliate program for WordPress freelancers
The new Partner Programgives you direct and transparent access to our hosting know-how. At the same time, you become part of the growing Raidboxes community and can network there:
- Personal contact persons: Your contact in Sales will support you in all matters relating to the partnership. Together with him or her, you implement measures that enable you to scale your projects - and bring them to success.
- Focus on your customers: Raidboxes grew out of an agency business itself. That's why we know exactly what you need to make your WordPress business even more successful. Saving time is the most important thing for you? We've got your back. With our WordPress features and with our advice.
- Advanced Dev Tools & Support Services: Our partner:s don't have to worry about hosting basics like speed, security or ease of deployment. We work closely with them on our dashboard or new feature requests.
Two challenges: remote and corona
The employees of Raidboxes have been using their home offices for a long time. Nine of us work completely remotely, and the proportion is growing. Difficult phases like COVID-19 are much easier to cope with this way. Tools such as Slack, online meetings, the Google Cloud, project management software and Aircall have been part of our everyday work since the beginning.
Tools for distributed working
We've all become accustomed to the benefits of working from home:
- Flexibility in terms of work life balance (but not everyone is happy bringing their working lives into their homes)
- Concentrated work - an important factor especially in creative jobs
- No commute means we see family or friends sooner after finishing work
- Cost savings - working remotely can save you money on expensive public transport tickets or countless kilometers by car
In addition, the jobs at Raidboxes are suitable for the model, but of course this is by no means true for all industries. Despite the advantages, it is gradually becoming "too much" for us with the remote times. Corona means that many employees no longer see each other for weeks or even months at a time. This can quickly affect the mood.
This makes Mental Health measures such as those I mentioned above all the more important. At the same time, we try to maintain contact via online events. For example, through a weekly virtual "after-work beer", where the teams also get together among themselves and away from work topics. Or via our first online Christmas party this year. Such events are not a complete substitute for physical meetings, but they still bring us together.
WordPress community 2020 and 2021
It was great that WordCamp Europe in June didn't have to be cancelled completely and an online event could be held instead. But the same applies here too. The virtual format is no substitute for the valuable meetings in person. The situation is similar at the numerous WordPress Meetups, some of which have switched to online meetings. The WordPress community is usually extremely lively - so we miss all the old and new faces at the camps all the more.
Like many people, we too hope to return to a sense of normality in 2021. With first encounters that extend beyond computer screens. We want to send the following message out to all our customers and readers: take care, have a happy holiday and a good start in the new year. See you all soon!