To any WordPress professional, local development is a consistent fixture of the process of creating a website. There are many different platforms that allow you to locally develop a WordPress website on your computer, but with all of them we've found several different issues.
The two biggest gripes are that; 1) it is specific to the developer, and 2) there’s no way for clients or other developers to access a locally developed website. Of course, many tools nowadays have workarounds to this… think Local by Flywheel’s “Live Links”.
Additionally, depending on the plugins and themes that you are using, local development can slow both back end and front end loading processes dramatically. For example, when building many Oxygen Builder based websites on Local, loading slows dramatically making it almost impossible to be productive and efficient.
The reason most developers use local environments is that it is incredibly easy to spin up, quick to access files and folders, and you have unlimited environments to mess around in. There's no cost here, and as long as you have a computer that is beefy enough to run these types of LAMP stacks, you’re good to go.
A Better Way
But, in our opinion there is a better alternative to developing a WordPress website locally on a computer. This is something that we've been doing for the past several months as our agency heavily relies on Oxygen to create websites, so we need the loading speed and collaborative aspect that standard local development environments do not have to offer.
Meet EasyWP. This is a hosting offering by the company Namecheap. It’s incredibly low cost, and our replacement to local development environments. We really like it because the back end and front end loads incredibly quickly, we have access to all files via SFTP and all of our developers can collaborate as it is online. EasyWP Automatically assigns development domains to WordPress properties, meaning that we can create the website on EasyWP and then migrated to the final host when the project is complete.
You may be thinking… this isn't groundbreaking, you're just developing using a host.
And this would be completely correct, except there's one aspect of this hosting service that makes it perfect for replacing a local development environment with a collaborative alternative. The first month is free, for any plan.
That means you can spin up as many environments as you would like, with a globally accessible development domain name attached, the ability to scale the plan into production hosting, wildly fast back end and front end performance for a host that comes in under $2 per month (if you paid after the first free month), and additional developer tools such as PHP MY Admin.
Due to the awesome promotion, this is is what our agency uses when it comes to creating client WordPress websites. It's a very similar experience to a local environment, no cost to us, and globally accessible by all developers and clients.
EasyWP is one of the cheapest hosting options out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s terrible. In many instances, EasyWP can actually be used in production websites, but it still should be noted that this is incredibly low cost shared hosting. You probably wouldn't want it on a mission critical website, high traffic ecommerce store, or anything else like it.
If you're interested, here's a comparison of the cheapest WordPress hosting out there, as well as a standalone review on the EasyWP host.