Many website owners and most web agencies would already be familiar with SiteGround web hosting brand. The company, founded in 2004, is consistently rated among the best managed WordPress hosting providers by legitimate hosting reviewers. Within the last few months, SiteGround has rolled out a new, proprietary web hosting dashboard which will replace the venerable cPanel interface that many customers might be familiar with. Any customers who have opened a new account since July 2019 would already know how that looks. For existing customers using cPanel, there is now a road map to migrate every account over to the new hosting dashboard.
In order to clear up any confusion and concern, SiteGround’s Hristo Pandjarov ( Manager of WordPress Initiatives) was gracious enough to respond with some substantive answers to a list of questions we put to him.
What was the motivation for SG to switch away from cPanel to a proprietary dashboard interface? Some people are saying that it is because the company behind cPanel has recently raised their prices. Was that a factor?
The decision was taken three years ago and there was a combination of factors that led to it. We had seen a change in user searches and needs – fewer and fewer people think about “hosting”, more and more think about “site”. We wanted to be able to cater to that need better.
cPanel has always been strictly hosting account and creates subordination between sites, which is unnecessary hard to explain to many clients. At the same time, we had been building integrations and proprietary software that had to fit the cPanel framework and that was costing us extra time and work so we realized we needed more flexibility so we could grow faster and more efficiently. The one thing we did not think about at the time was the possible price increase in cPanel licenses, but the announcement definitely came at a good time for us – we were just ready to launch our dashboard.
What UI/UX design process did SG go through in re-conceptualizing the dashboard interface? E.g. was a user “test group” employed?
The first step in reworking the dashboard was to redefine the main purposes and processes that it should be servicing. Then we did the research – we stepped on historical data from the current at the time control panel and levels of engagement with the different sections of that page. After we came up with a layout and design and we did user tests. Our test users were asked to find and complete various tasks and watched how they did those. Based on their feedback we made adjustments.
Are there any features of the old cPanel that will NOT be available on the new Dashboard e.g. Softaculous and some other third party scripts?
During the research phase we noticed that there are a few tools and scripts that are not popular – they get very little usage so we decided to downsize those, but none of the major functionality is missing. We automatically install scripts as before and that process is powered by Softaculous Remote.
Are there any NEW features which users will benefit from that were NOT part of the cPanel experience? e.g. Better CPU usage metrics?
We definitely aim to provide better stats, not just interface-wise but also in terms of information they provide. The biggest new features though are related to the user access management and the fact that our clients can now create different user types to which they provide access to their sites. That creates a lot of possibilities for our customers to accommodate and even improve their desired workflows.
There was an issue with the File Manager utility on the new dashboard only being able to upload files of 16MB. Our understanding is that the file size limitation has been completely lifted. Can you confirm that this now is the case?
Yes, this limitation has been lifted completely. The File Manager should normally facilitate the upload of small files, while FTP and SSH aim to service the transfer of the big ones. However, we have seen that our clients use the File Manager for all sorts of files and we decided to remove the initial limitation.
cPanel had the capability to change the language interface. Can the new SG dashboard switch interface languages from English to something else? If so, which languages are supported? If not, is it something on the SG road map?
The dashboard will come in 3 languages – English, Spanish and Italian. We are thinking about more languages, but that’s not yet in the road map.
Will the switch have any noticeable server performance effects or is it purely UI?
The new interfaces require less server resources to operate so we expect our machines to be more lightweight after the switch and we do expect improvements in performance, although we cannot predict how much that could be. Generally, the account managed software has been improved and optimized for better performance so I really eager to get more information on our live statistics.
What’s your road map for migrating existing SG legacy accounts to the new dashboard and how long will the process take to complete?
We expect the process to be long and take a few months as we do that with caution. Every account takes different time to be switched and after the switch we do manual checkups to make sure all is properly converted in the new “format” – front end and back end. So we take our time to make sure we do it right 🙂
Will individual SG customers be notified by email before/during/after their account is migrated to the new dashboard?
Every client will get an email 7 days before we do the switch to warn them when their account will be migrated.
If SG customers have any questions or concerns about the migration process over to the new dashboard, what should they do?
It’s normal that clients have questions so we tried to create informative content which addresses a lot of those questions. We encourage them to read our blog where we have already three posts explaining what’s coming, watch the webinar we did on the topic (below), activate the demo from their User area and of course, come to our live chat or phone.