Before you even begin to think about website design, you should ensure that you have a web host in mind, but with so many companies out there how do you know the one you choose will sufficiently support your business requirements?
When you consider which web host to choose, there are a number of considerations that you need to make. Small business owners have a number of things to factor into their decision such as available funds, website requirements, reliability of the host and whether there are built in features with the website hosting such as ecommerce functionality if they sell products and services online. Reading reviews online will also help you decide if it’s a suitable host. Many web hosts have bad reputations that you need to avoid!
There are a number of things that your new website must have and security is one of them. Website hosting should provide you with secure servers (the place where your website is stored) so you are protected from malicious activities and data loss. Viruses, spam and malware can all cause serious problems if left undetected. If you are collecting payments through ecommerce you should also install an SSL which ensures that sensitive credit card data is secure.
Different Types of Web Hosting
The majority of hosting packages that you find will be called ‘Shared Hosting’. Rather than having a dedicated web server for your website, your website will be placed on a server with many other websites. Each site is assigned its own section on the server and the hosting fee that you pay each month is a fee for renting the space on the server. Shared hosting is great because it allows you to put your website online but without having the associate problems with managing server security and technical issues.
Web Hosting; Benefits and Drawbacks
There are numerous benefits of using a web hosting service and perhaps the most significant factor is the cost. Small businesses don’t have to pay the cost of managing complicated servers or monitoring hardware for security issues. Web hosting services manage all the equipment and maintenance which can result in significant cost savings for a small business. Shared hosting services are also great for those without any experience in website design as they often include facilities such as website builders and templates allowing someone with very little technical know how to launch a website in just a couple of steps. Many business owners don’t have the time to start learning how to build websites or they don’t have the budget available to pay for a site to be professionally designed so web builders are a great alternative.
One of the major downfalls of web hosting services is that you will share a server with other website owners. Sometimes when web servers are at their maximum capacity they can slow down not only your website but all of the websites hosted on the server. Security issues can also cause problems on a shared server. If for example one of the websites is doing something underhand such as sending out large amounts of spam, all of the websites on the server could be affected by anti spam software. The only way to eliminate this risk completely is to pay for a dedicated server which often isn’t financially viable for small businesses.
Additionally, some web hosts are a bit hit and miss in terms of reliability and you may find that your website is offline more than it is online. To avoid this happening try to find a hosting company who guarantee 99.9% uptime which many of the shared hosting providers do.
What to Look For:
While as a small business owner you are always looking at your expenditure, decisions about your web hosting should be based on more than just the cost. Factors that you should take into consideration include whether the plan fits your requirements, the tools and services that it provides, the storage and bandwidth all of which are important considerations.
If you are looking at build a website yourself but you don’t have any experience of web design, make sure that your website includes a web builder or one click installation of WordPress if you want to upload and customise a theme.
Business owners should choose a web host who will be there for them when they need support. Things don’t always go to plan and when there is a technical issue or you hit a brick wall, you need to access a dedicated customer support team who can provide you with the information that you need quickly. Look for hosting providers who provide support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and check whether they have a knowledge base that you can consult to see the answers to some common questions before contacting support.
Finding a great web host is easy and if you do your research and follow the tips provided in this post, you should be able to find a low cost web host that you can count on.