Easy to use web hosting is essential for getting your website up and running and on the internet. However, with so many providers out there, it can be tricky to know how to choose the best web hosting for your site.
We thought a checklist of things to consider would be useful for many, so here is a step by step guide on how to choose:
1. Decide on your Budget
As with most buying decisions, price is going to be a factor. And price varies vastly in the web hosting world – you can spend as little as £1 per month or more than £2,000 depending on your needs. Highly complex support needs or catering for a very large website may require a big budget, but if you just want to get up and running with a blog or small business web hosting, then look at at least £10 per month so that you have room to decide based on other factors.
2. Identify Website Type
Are you hosting a basic blog, a static brochure site or will it be large and resource heavy? If you need to set up an ecommerce website with hosting from scratch for example, you may want an all-in-one solution like Shopify, so that you don’t need to piece the separate components together – you just add your products and go. If you need a new WordPress website, a company like Blue Host makes it easy to set up your hosting, then a WordPress site with 1-Click install within just a few minutes.
A large corporate organisation however, may want to go with something more scalable, like Amazon Web Services (AWS). Make a note of what you need so that you can check your needs will be met by each host.
3. Assess Likely Resource Usage
Whilst the cost will need to be weighed up, using it as the sole decider could leave you with an unsuitable service that isn’t fit for your needs. When assessing web hosting providers you need to understand very carefully what the packages on offer do and don’t cover, and be clear on any limitations. For example if you need to host or stream videos on your website or upload very large files, you’ll need to ensure this is covered in the cost.
4. Consider Technical Support Needs
Are you experience with managing web servers? Will anyone in your business be able to set up and maintain a server and create / migrate a website at the new host? If the answer to these is no, then you will either need Shared Hosting for a basic website to keep the process as easy as possible, or for a large, complex website, you’ll need a high level of support with a ‘Fully Managed Hosting’ package. Novices should NOT choose Dedicated Servers or Virtual Private Services (VPS) unless they are able to get support or be prepared to make mistakes along the way.
5. Look for Specialist Providers
Some web hosting providers specialise in particular areas or industries, such as small businesses, businesses which need high security and enterprise-level customers. Map out your needs before you start shopping for a provider. For many industries, like Online Retail or Education, it may be a good idea to go with a host that you can see has experience in catering for that kind of website. Their technical support staff are then likely to have seen and dealt with issues that come up for your kind of organisation – eg configuring a learning management system or online store – and be able to support you better and faster.
6. Give Yourself Room to Grow
When you’re shopping for a web hosting provider, don’t just consider your existing needs but have your potential future needs in mind too. How might your business ideally grow? If you achieved this growth would the web host in mind still be suitable? Changing web hosts can be a pain so taking the time to pick the right one in the first place can save you a lot of time and stress down the line.
7. Look at Technical Support Terms
Find out what support web hosting providers offer. Is it 24/7? Are extra costs involved? Is support by phone or only email? It may not be something you would automatically consider too carefully but if you’re using your website for business you could be losing money any time it’s down, and you’ll want someone on the end of a phone that you can contact immediately.
8. Ensure Ease of Use
Some hosting services seem to be designed just for techies, whilst others have been carefully designed with mere mortals in mind. Make sure you are able to look at the back-end dashboard and see whether it looks user-friendly enough. You should feel at home with your set-up and know where to go if you need to either set up and fix something or ask for help when needed.
9. Read Web Hosting Reviews
The best way to get a true picture of a web host’s service is to ask other people. If you know someone else with a website, ask them about their experience with web hosting providers and what they would recommend. Failing that, look for web hosting reviews in a number of places – not just the host’s on website, as they’ll no doubt cherry pick the best ones to display!
We run a number of websites across a number of different web hosting providers and have chosen Blue Host for many of them, as well as being an affiliate of Blue Host, because of the excellent customer support we have found with them. They have extremely knowledgeable staff based in the US who have always been friendly fast and helpful on the rare occasions I have needed to contact them.
We hope this checklist of how to choose the best web hosting for your needs will prove to be a useful guide. Just make sure you set a realistic budget, identify your needs and ensure you have the necessary knowledge or support on hand – either from a colleague or the host. Do NOT rely on a friend to set you up then leave you to it – you need to know you have support on hand!
If you have done your homework with the steps above but find your web hosting needs to be faster or more reliable, then be prepared to move. Your search engine rankings and customer / visitor experience will depend on these factors that you can’t always predict in advance, so keep hold of your shortlist in case you need a plan B.
Best of luck!