… resuming the story:
Starting from the second half of September 2019, we will gradually roll out the new setup to all our existing clients, replacing the current User Area and cPanel. We will notify you by email at least one week in advance to let you know when you’ll be switched to the new interfaces.
To recap, six months after SiteGround announcing the switch to their new interfaces, I thought that the moment of the migration was finally here. How wrong! What I took for a notification for the actual switch ended up being a migration to a new server, but not the long-awaited switch to their New Client Area and Site Tools.
As explained in the previous posts of this mini-series, not only was I particularly worrying about the ability of their automated script to handle my atypical WordPress Multisite configuration, but I was also concerned with their removing of my backup solution, namely Softaculous (see SiteGround New Client Area and Site Tools – part 1 and SiteGround New Client Area and Site Tools – part 3). Furthermore, following Nikolay Todorov (SiteGround Chief Technology Officer) advice, I did postpone most of my website-related tasks1. Back then (i.e. at the time of my decision), it was just a matter of weeks.
I was so anxious to be done with this migration, and to resume my activities, that I misinterpreted SiteGround previous email –
we will perform an infrastructure upgrade and migrate your account(s) – as the actual notification for the migration. This time, however, there is no place for confusion. The subject of the new email (April 14, 2020) was unambiguous: IMPORTANT: Upcoming switch to a new Client Area. Yet, this adventure is far from being over yet!
This is it (reloaded)
Seven months! How come did
the next few weeks turn into seven months? I could not but remember how uncomfortable was Nikolay Todorov when addressing the challenge of the migration process (see SiteGround New Client Area and Site Tools – part 3). Anyway, it was not the time to speculate on potential reasons for this delay; what matter was that my account was
now scheduled for the first step of the interface update process:
Client Area Interface Switch
TUESDAY, APRIL 21, 2020
The two-step process surprised me since neither the blog post nor the webinar mentioned that the migration would involve several steps. Anyway, I didn’t pay much attention to this; I was more concerned by their automatic script messing things up; my peculiar configuration (i.e. no wildcard subdomain), in particular. In addition, I was wondering how the
site-centric philosophy of the New Client Area would handle my different sites (WordPress Multisite). On the one hand, search engines treat subdomains as separate entities (even if from a single WordPress installation). On the other hand, the sites of my domain-based network are in the same document root (i.e. no separate document root for each subdomain). Given this specific configuration, I asked SiteGround (as a comment to their blog post) how my sites will be displayed in the new interface. Naturally, my question remains unanswered. It was time to figure this out by myself!
A quick tour
As opposed to the false start a month earlier, I didn’t check every minute whether my sites were down or not. As a matter of fact, the email (received a week before) didn’t specify at what time the switch would take place and, even more disturbing, I didn’t receive any confirmation email (e.g. Account switched successfully) after the actual switch. For these reasons, and to allow plenty of time for the process to go smoothly, I didn’t rush to log in; yet when I did few days later, I was – this time – welcomed by the New Client Area.
After the switch you will be able to enjoy а much more modern and mobile-friendly interface. Built using REACT as a single-page application, the new Client Area is faster to work with and totally mobile-friendly, allowing you to manage your site and hosting through any device.The SiteGround Team
Have a productive time on our platform!
Below these greetings, the Home tab has a first section called Success Tips and Suggestions. By default, there are four “tips” displayed, each with a quick description, and the possibility to LOAD MORE:
- Take a tour of your SiteGround account
- Transfer your domain
- Check your site for malware regularly
- Invite friends to SiteGround & earn free hosting
The description for the first tip is as follow:
Learn how to make the most of the SiteGround hosting service. Watch our short video to discover our many cool features for faster and more secure sites.
Eager to know more, I clicked on the Take a tour button. I was expecting a typical guided tour with tooltips/popups while going through each part of the interface. Nope! They just recycled the exact same video they used in their blog post nine months earlier! Anyway, it was not a bad idea to refresh my memory – especially after such a long delay!
In regards to the second tip –
You’ve got a website with a domain not registered by SiteGround. Bring your domain over so you can manage your domain and website hosting from one place. – I invite you to check out my Domain Transfer – Should I? post.
The third tip –
Let us check your site for malware regularly with our SG Scanner service. You will get alerted in case of a threat so you can take timely measures to protect it. – is nothing more than a promotional message for their SG Site Scanner. I have already referred to this upsell in a textbox at the end of my Getting my web host post; still, I will come back to this issue in the near future (when addressing website security).
As for the fourth tip –
Tell your friends about our hosting and help them start their online projects with a solid host. We award you with free hosting for each new referral you send us. – I do actually have a referral link and I can receive up to 3 months free hosting for every person who has signed up through it. Your support is highly appreciated!
Not quite satisfied with any of these tips/suggestions, I clicked on the LOAD MORE button to reveal four new ones:
Create your next website
Thinking to start your next project? Create your new website in an existing hosting plan or order a new plan. Every new website is easy to set up with our website wizard.
Get a new domain name
Protect your brand name and book all domain extensions relevant to it. Check out our wide range of extensions at awesome prices!
Transfer more sites to SiteGround
Having websites hosted elsewhere? Get a professional website transfer done by our experts or automated WordPress migration with an easy to use WordPress plugin.
Become an affiliate and earn 40,00€/sale or more!
You can earn extra income by becoming a SiteGround affiliate. We award the promotional efforts of our affiliates with generous commissions for every sale.
Seriously! How could they call these tips! These are blatant promotional messages!
Frustrated, I moved down to the second section (of the Home tab) called Recent Blog Posts. Now, this was a clear improvement compared to the previous ugly-looking list, in the sidebar of the (old) User Area.
In short, except for the nicer way to showcase their last three blog posts, this tab turned out to be pretty useless.
The notification email came with a
Quick tips for navigation after the switch, this one in particular:
After the switch you will find all your current hosting accounts listed in a new section in your Client Area – Websites.The SiteGround Team
The suspense didn’t last long: there was only one account listed! As stated in the email,
the link to the cPanel of each account is located there. Next to it, there is a vertical ellipsis menu (3 vertical dots) with three items:
- Change cPanel Password
- Server details
- Change Primary Domain
Below this section (with my ONLY website), there is a section called EXTRAS with the Available Extras. If you opt for one of these paid extras, it will show in the Added Extras (below). As for now, mine is (and will most probably remains) empty –
Nothing here yet – given the available options:
- Cloudlare CDN
- SG SiteScanner
- Dedicated IP
The Websites tab actually encompasses two sub-tabs: Websites (describe above) and Collaborations. In keeping with the
site-centric philosophy, the new interface is supposedly improving
how agencies and clients work together. Insofar as I am a single-site owner (despite my multiple sites within a single WordPress installation), I am obviously not concerned. Anyway, for the sake of this post, I checked the Collaborations sub-tab. At first, there was nothing but the loading turning craft. What a cool screen saver! In fact, it took forever to load the following message:
You Have No Active Collaborations
SiteGround users can collaborate on websites owned by other users. You are currently not collaborating on any websites.
Another useless tab – except maybe for Server details – at least until Site Tools replace cPanel!
Similar to the previous one, this tab comprises two sub-tabs: Hosting and Domain. As expected, my hosting account was listed under the former, along with my plan, the expiration date and the server location. A highly noticeable UPGRADE button is inviting you just to do that (one day, hopefully). Next to it, there is a less shiny MANAGE link. Oddly, when you click on the latter, you are redirected to a page with the same info as before (for the hosting account) but with a vertical ellipsis menu2 (next to an UPGRADE button, again) and a table listing your website(s) – in my case, a single-row table (i.e. with only ONE active site). In the table (third column), a MANAGE link will send you …
… back to the Websites tab (see above) where you can purchase all the extras! Their New Client Area is reminiscent of an IKEA shop. You have to go through the all shop before to find the exit – a one-way layout design that nudges you to spend time in more parts of the store and eventually buy more than you initially intended to. This “improved” interface is nothing more than a promotional tour of they services!
As for the Domain sub-tab, although I should never need this service (see Self-hosting: a hard egg to crack), I checked it anyway. My (external) domain name was listed there; with only one option available: TRANSFER. They are obstinate, that is for sure!
At least this tab is simple and functional. You can access and manage (via sub-tabs) your Billing Details (e.g. credit card on file), Payment History and Renewals (with the 20% and 30% discount price for 24 or 36 months, respectively).
The three sub-tabs available here are Referral Program, My referrals, and Become Affiliate. As already explained, I have a referral link and I can receive up to 3 months free hosting for every person who has signed up through it. However, at the time of this writing, I have zero “Completed Referrals” (as indicated in the second sub-tab). Come on!
As suggested by its name, this tab is for you to purchase more services: Domain Services, Hosting Services or Partner Perks – choose your sub-tab! I have chosen mine: NONE!
As already mentioned, I decided to keep my domain name and my web hosting separate (see Self-hosting: a hard egg to crack) and SiteGround’s efforts will not make me change my mind (see Domain Transfer – Should I?). There are many reasons for this choice (detailed in the aforementioned two posts), but SiteGround offer may be even more convincing (not to use their domain services). In particular, they charge 0.97 €/mo excl. VAT for domain privacy – a feature offered free of charge by my registrar – and 13.95 €/yr excl. VAT for a .com domain. I pay 13.00 €/yr excl. VAT with Gandi.net and they have a lot more to offer!
Just in case you could have missed the aforementioned EXTRAS (in the Websites tab), you can find them here as well; with a different name though: Additional Services.
Granted, the New Client Area looks
much more modern than the previous User Area, but as far I am concerned the improvements stop there. I don’t care that it can be used from any devices indeed. Now, I have nothing against the refined design, but this should not result in paring down features! Where can I check the status (renewal and expiration date) of my SSL certificates? Besides, this new interface is nothing but a
Client Marketing Area – a shopping site actually – not a User Area anymore!
I was not using the (old) User Area that much before; the New Client Area will not make me come more often; the revers is the case! There was actually a specific reason for me to visit the old interface more often that I would normally wish. After my misadventure with my HTTPS configuration (see Making my website work over HTTPS – the proper way), I was checking regularly if my SSL certificates were active (and renewed properly). Disappointingly, I could not find this information (Let’s Encrypt certificates status for each site) anywhere in the new interface. I thought I will find it in Marketplace > Hosting Services, but to no avail3.
What should I say about the
New Integrated Help?
Basically, it fails to help me figure out where I could find the status of my SSL certificates. I believe that some tooltips would be more helpful than recycled articles from the previous interface! That would clearly be a plus, especially when things are far from intuitive.
Not satisfied by this New Client Area and now dreading the Site Tools even more!
Not over yet!
Given the scheduled date (Tuesday, April 21), you may wonder why I did not published this post earlier. Naïvely, I thought the second step would follow immediately; hence, I decided to postpone my publishing (not to interrupt this mini-series again). I am afraid that I was too optimistic; SiteGround email was rather clear on that matter, though:
As spoiled at the beginning of this post, this adventure is far from being over!
To be continued… Hopefully in the near future!
1 If you follow the CogitActive Saga, you may know that having a website is just one of the many things involved in podcasting (see The Who and the When). Needless to say, I was (and I still am) pretty busy with the other things. Accordingly, I could put the website for my podcast on hold for
few weeks; the announced schedule for the switch indeed:
over the next few weeks. ^
2 The following actions are available: Change Name, Renew, Upgrade, Relocate, Renewal Settings, and Cancel. I was glad to see that the switch did not affect my renewal settings: the Auto-renewal tool was still ON, for a 12 months billing cycle (see SiteGround Auto-renewal). ^
3 I even checked the SSL Extra because of the
a free option is available notice (and because this feature used to be in “Extra Services” section of the old user area). Naïvely, I thought this would be the Let’s Encrypt certificate. However, it was again a showcase of SiteGround paid services; yet, with the possibility to use Let’s Encrypt, which is free. Clicking on this free option redirects me to cPanel. This interface is actually worse than IKEA – it’s a maze! ^