MS Digital Solutions - Case Study

How Cloudways Enabled MS Digital Solutions to Utilize LifterLMS for Their Clients


MS Digital Solutions

In Conversation With

Matt Swanson
Matt Swanson

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About MS Digital Solutions

MS Digital Solutions was formed to offer small and mid-sized businesses access to the resources that let them compete and thrive in a digital world. They provide website design/development, support, and digital marketing service so their clients can focus on growing and developing their business.

MS Digital Solutions used to be hosted on Squarespace. But when one of their clients required an LMS platform for their needs, they realized that they needed to move to a hosting solution that allowed them to integrate and work with LMS capabilities. That’s when they made the switch to Cloudways.

Read on to learn the specific challenges that prompted the move to Cloudways, and how the hosting platform has allowed MS Digital to take full advantage of LifterLMS.

Cloudways: What challenges were you facing that compelled you to start looking for a better solution?

Matt: We have a client that is a business and personal coaching company. At the time their online presence was hosted on Squarespace. They wanted to add an online solution that would enable them to engage their clients outside of their sessions with valuable learning content. Both as a self-guided resource, but also as a supplement to their in-session materials. They also wanted to create an alternate solution that would be scalable and repeatable for in-person sessions at a lower cost of entry, to the personal and business coaching experience.

Cloudways: What specific solution were you looking for in your ideal solution to your problem?

Matt: As Squarespace didn’t offer LMS capabilities, we started to compare different LMS platforms in WordPress for the clients’ specific needs. Prior to this project, we had support experience with Ultimate Member, Paid Memberships Pro, and LearnDash. But for this project, we decided that LifterLMS would be the best solution. We needed hosting that could easily scale as they continue to grow and evolve their online offerings. Cloudways was a natural choice.

Cloudways: How did you figure Cloudways had the best solution for your problems?

Matt: Scalability and performance were really the deciding factors for Cloudways. We need environments that could easily scale up as more coaching clients came on board. We also needed an environment that wouldn’t bog down as the course materials grew.

Cloudways: What success did you initially face when porting to Cloudways?

Matt: For this project, we initially built out the online learning platform on Cloudways and left the primary website and Squarespace. The website was eventually moved onto the same web application as the LMS this past year once it was apparent it could handle the load.

Cloudways: Has Cloudways helped you save money or increase productivity?

Matt: Outside of just this project, Cloudways has given us a platform where we can very easily manage a good number of our support clients. Not having to hop around to different hosts saves us an immeasurable amount of time and enables us to keep our support prices at a very competitive level.

Cloudways: Can you share any specific KPI or metric that shows how Cloudways works better with LifterLMS?

On a separate project, I moved a website with LifterLMS on it from GoDaddy to Cloudways. The only screen capture from GTmetrix I have from that project will show you the change.

Before and after the switch, page load times (blue line) and download (yellow line) both stabilized and dramatically improved. We saw another dramatic improvement this past year with the improvements made by Elegant Themes and their Divi theme. The theme is used on several of the sites we have built and support.

Cloudways: What do you advise the people willing to host their LifterLMS sites with Cloudways?

Matt: Use a service like Vimeo to store and stream your video content to your site. Likewise use a streaming audio service like SoundCloud for any audio content. Don’t use your local storage at Cloudways for media that can be streamed. We are also using Google Drive for the downloadable PDFs in their course material. Whatever you think you are going to need from a storage standpoint for your web application, double it and give yourself a little extra cushion. It’s important to optimize your images, but I was shocked at how quickly we were using up space with simple things like book cover art and author photos for the reading list-based lessons.

Also, be very mindful of folder permissions in the web application.

Cloudways: What are some features that you think allowed you to manage LifterLMS on Cloudways?

Matt: It took a little work to dial in the optimal PHP configurations for LifterLMS. They have some good defaults to start from. But we definitely found that they weren’t optimal for our specific needs. We had a bunch of small courses with a few lessons. Their defaults seemed to be better suited to a few courses with many lessons. The support team at Cloudways was great at helping me figure out an optimal setup.

Cloudways: What cloud providers did you choose? What do you think of the flexibility of choosing a cloud provider at Cloudways?

Matt: The project above is on DigitalOcean. But we have clients on DO and Vultr servers. The majority of my clients are US-based. But a few have had specific requirements for location or cloud provider so it’s great to have options.

Cloudways: How do you find our staging environment and cloning feature?

Matt: I use MalCare for my support platform and they have an integrated staging functionality that I had been using for most simple updates. But having it available directly at the host has been nice. It has made the update of a few of my clients from website 1.0 to 2.0 much easier to accomplish while keeping a live site active.

Cloudways: How would you rate our customer support experience?

Matt: Your support teams have always been very responsive to our needs. I find them to be very knowledgeable compared to some of the support reps I’ve talked to at other hosting companies. So many times I run into support teams that are just reading off of a script and if the issue is outside of what is scripted they don’t know what to do. The Cloudways support team is always willing to dive into problems deeper with me and explain what is going on.

Cloudways: What overall impact did Cloudways have on your business? Before and after? Speed, performance, multiple site management?

Matt: Cloudways has allowed my businesses to essentially double our number of support clients over the past year. We have a proven solution that is both repeatable and scalable. The stability of the Cloudways platform as well as the other support solutions we use have been instrumental in building a service our clients can count on.

Cloudways: Do you have any advice for people or businesses that may face the same problem as you did?

Matt: An LMS is a great platform for anybody looking to manage access to content. Once you have built one out, you will be surprised by how many situations you run into where you think, well, I could use an LMS to do that. Things like client on-boarding and managing their customer experience or walking a customer through complex processes. An actual LMS platform may be overkill for certain things. But it may give you a new way of looking at some old problems.

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