If you’re looking to get your business online, the first thing you need is web hosting. This provides you with a place to hold everything that makes up your website (that is, files, code, text, images, videos, and more).
But with the abundance of web hosting providers available, how do you choose the right one? What should you look for in a hosting company, aside from affordable pricing?
In this post, we’ll share a few key things to consider when choosing your web host, so you feel confident you’re making the right choice.
How to choose a web host
Here’s what you need to do to find a web host that’s right for you:
- Consider what type of hosting you need
- Understand what you need your website to do
- Look at future upgrade options
- Investigate ease of use
- Check what support is available
- Check out how you’ll create and edit your website
- Investigate the hosting provider’s track record
- Look at the hosting provider’s social proof
- Check the web host’s bundling options
- Think about website security
- Research what other products and addons you’ll need
- Look at the subscription period and pricing
- Consider renewal pricing
It may seem like a lot of factors to consider when choosing a web host, but that’s because hosting is about more than just choosing a cheap package that gets your website online. Make sure you look at the full picture when making your decision.
Consider what type of hosting you need
Some web hosts specialise in a certain type of hosting, so if a provider doesn’t offer the kind of hosting you need then you can remove them from your shortlist straightaway.
The main types of hosting are:
- Shared hosting – best for small starter sites
- WordPress hosting – Specialised hosting that’s ideal for WordPress sites large and small
- VPS hosting – More powerful hosting suitable for a range of resource-intensive applications including complex medium to large websites.
- Premium/dedicated hosting – The most powerful hosting option suitable for very large, complex websites.
If you’re building a blog or small business website, you’ll probably want to choose a web host that offers shared hosting or WordPress hosting.
Understand what you need your website to do
If you’re building a small website with only a few pages and basic features, you don’t need a hugely powerful hosting package with all the bells and whistles.
Likewise, if you’re building a large, complex site with advanced features then you’ll need a hosting package that can provide that.
Picking the wrong hosting package for your website could lead to you spending more money than you need to, or it could mean that your website doesn’t work properly when it’s launched.
Make a list of your site’s features and what you expect you’ll need it to do and then make sure that you choose a web host with a package that meets your needs.
Look at future upgrade options
You might want to start small, but what if you’re planning on growing? If you start out with a hosting provider that doesn’t make it easy to upgrade your existing package, you may find yourself stuck with a website that doesn’t meet your needs.
A good web host should make it easy for you to upgrade your hosting package when the time comes.
Investigate ease of use
The good news is, dealing with the technical side of web hosting is easier than ever before. These days, graphical control panels are standard, so you don’t have to worry about administering your site via console commands. (You don’t even need to worry about knowing what that means!)
But before you pick a web host, it’s a good idea to look at how their control panel works before you commit so you can see what level of IT skills you’ll need to use it.
Check what support is available
If you’re getting your first website online, then getting the right support is crucial. See what support is on offer and make sure it matches the way you like to communicate. Telephone support can be especially crucial if you’re not confident on tech issues, as you’ll have someone to turn to if there’s an issue with your hosting.
A good web host should also offer a comprehensive support section on their website and maybe even a blog dealing with issues relating to online business (kind of like the one you’re reading now!)
Investigate how you’ll be able to create and edit your website
A hosting package is worthless if you’re not able to create a website on it. So, before you commit to a web host and a particular hosting package make sure you know what you’ll need to do to get a site online.
If you’re looking to create your own site, you should strongly consider a web host and hosting package that includes a drag and drop editor. Drag and drop editors make it easier to create a site because you can see exactly how the changes you make will affect the look of the site.
123 Reg’s WordPress hosting includes a drag and drop editor.
If you’re planning on using a web designer, you won’t need to worry about creating your site as they’ll handle that for you, but you do need to think about how you’ll update your site.
Do you really want to have to turn to your designer every time you want to tweak a small detail like opening hours? Again, a hosting option that lets you use a drag and drop interface will make things easier here.
Investigate the hosting provider’s track record
An established, trustworthy hosting provider is a reliable hosting provider. Look into the history of the hosting company, particularly how long it has been around, and investigate its reviews.
You’re not looking for a company with 100% five-star reviews across the board, because that suggests that they may have been gaming the system. Instead, look for a hosting provider with plenty of reviews, most of which are positive. Also look at how they handle negative reviews as this will give you an idea of how they react when something goes wrong.
Look at the web host’s social proof
Many companies use social proof to show they offer what potential customers need.
Usually, this takes the form of stories from existing customers who have met with success when using the business’s products/services.
So, take a look at the social proof when you’re choosing a web host and see what existing customers have to say.
Although these stories have been curated by the web host itself, they can still give you a good idea of whether its services are a good match for your needs.
Check out the web host’s bundling options
What extras does a web host offer with its packages? Often, you’ll find that things like domain names, SSL certificates (see below) and email addresses are thrown in for free. Sometimes just for a year, sometime for longer.
If a hosting bundle includes things you need, then it can help you save money so you may want to bear this in mind when choosing a web hosting service.
Think about website security
You probably don’t want to think about the prospect of your website being hacked before it even exists, but it can help avoid a future hack if you do.
Any good web hosting provider will have taken extensive steps to protect their systems and servers, but it’s still down to you to protect your website.
Some hosting providers will offer some sort of website security features as part of their hosting packages. Often this is just a free SSL, but it can extend to more advanced website security options such as malware scanning. (This is the case with 123 Reg’s WordPress hosting.)
You may also want to choose a web host that offers additional website security options. You can see 123 Reg’s Website Security suite here.
Consider what other products and addons you’ll need
Sometimes, the right hosting provider and the right hosting package will mean you don’t need to buy any extra products to get your website up and running the way you want it.
However, it pays to make sure that you’re getting everything you need and, if you aren’t, investigate how much it will cost you to get these extra features.
As well as your web hosting package you’ll want to consider the cost of:
- A domain name
- An SSL certificate
- A professional email address
Look at the subscription period and pricing
How long are you planning to stick with your web host? One year? Ten years? Most good hosting providers will provide you with a range of subscription periods to choose from.
If you opt for a shorter period, you’ll have the flexibility to change provider if you want to.
The upside of locking in for a longer period is that hosting companies often offer a discount for long term plans.
Consider renewal pricing
Many hosting providers offer discounts for the first year as a way of attracting new customers, which is great if you’re looking to save money when you’re starting up a new website.
Just be sure to take a look at renewal pricing as well so you can be sure that you’ll still be getting a good deal after the initial offer.
With so many web hosts to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one to use for your website. However, a little bit of research can help you find the right web host for you. If you need help choosing the right hosting package, or with anything else relating to getting your website online, just call the 123 Reg Guides on 0345 450 2310.