Or, How a Picking a Web Host Is Like Buying Toilet Paper
So you finally decided to invest in a website as part of the marketing plan for your business.
But before you actually build anything, you need to stake out your space on the World Wide Web; in other words, you need to choose a web host.
Links for your convenience:
I don’t like to read; just show me the recommendations for good web hosting companies. I just want to read about how choosing web hosting is like buying toilet paper.
What Is Web Hosting?
If you already know the answer, just skip down. But if you don’t, here’s a quick explanation. Every website lives on a server—which is really just a computer specialized to provide access to data over the internet. So when you purchase hosting, you are renting space on a server for your website.
Many, many companies offer web hosting services. So, how can you know which will be worthy of your business?
5 Things to Think about When Picking a Hosting Company
People, including web technology experts, have wide-ranging opinions on these points.
I think the real answer varies depending on who you are and what you need. In compiling this list, I’m making recommendations for designers and businesspeople who want reliability, good service and support, and who are mainly hosting blogs, small shops, and informational sites.
If you are planning to create an enormous database-driven site, or you hope to be the next Amazon.com, you probably need to meet different criteria. But you also probably have an expert of your own to tell you what to do. Or your own server farm.
Anyway, for regular people, graphic designers, and small-to-medium businesses:
- Tech Support
I say again: tech support. I don’t care who you are or what you know; something will go wrong eventually while you are building your website (or your client’s website, if you are into that kind of thing).
If you are considering a hosting company, look at its website. Is a phone number featured prominently? If you have a minute, call it. How long did it take before someone answered? Now, think about being in the middle of your project and something weird happens and your website breaks. Can you get help? If the web host you are considering has only FAQs and Support Articles, you will be sad later when something goes wrong. Online chat is better than nothing, but having an actual person help you fix something in real time is very valuable. Trust me on this.
Several large hosting companies advertise heavily, spending piles of money on commercials in nearly every media to tell you all about how great they are and how easy it is to create a website with their hosting plans. But they do not have a contact number on their site, even for customers.
- Customer Service
Wait. Didn’t I just say that? No, not quite.
While the two are closely related, customer service focuses more on the administrative side of keeping a web hosting account. But again, the first criteria—for me, anyway—is whether or not I can talk to someone about any issues. Imagine that your credit card gets charged twice for the same purchase. Do you prefer to fill out seven rounds of help tickets back and forth? Or to call and talk to someone who can fix things for you? Even if I wait on hold for 11.74 minutes, I’d rather do that and know my issues are addressed at the end of the conversation. I can check email while they play bad music to me.
- Services Offered
You want to see packages that match your current needs but leave room for you to grow. When comparing one company to another, maybe one offers your domain name free when you host with them. Not a huge cost, but that is still something they are giving you. Do they offer security options? If you plan to be the head designer for your website, will you have easy access to a good platform to build it on? How easy is it to install common software like WordPress?
One thing to consider when you are evaluating this point: You must know what your needs are now, and also if and how they might expand, in order to accurately gauge if a particular web host is a good fit. How large will your site be? How much traffic do you expect? How many email addresses will your company require?
It is generally much easier to upgrade within the same hosting company than it is to migrate your site to another company down the road. So if you choose one that can accommodate your potential growth, you might just save yourself some pain and suffering—not to mention money—in the future.
Did you expect this to be higher up the list? A lot of people fixate on a number, but a number doesn’t give you the whole picture.
How about an example? Let’s talk about toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper. I would guess that nearly every human person uses toilet paper. Except babies. There could be others; it’s hard to say for sure. But I feel that I can safely say that most people are familiar with T.P. Moving on. I have seen a 4-pack of no-brand T.P. for $1. Does that make it a good deal? It’s a very low number, so it may seem tempting.
The answer is no. It is not, in fact, a good deal. I don’t feel that I need to explain this, but if you still have questions please email me. And if you are curious about my winner in the toilet paper arena: Cottonelle, plain, not Aloe; that’s weird. (Amazon affiliate link for your convenience, if you want to try the best T.P.–> Cottonelle Ultra ComfortCare Big Roll Toilet Paper, Bath Tissue, 12 Toilet Paper Rolls
I am from “The South,” or, the southeastern United States, which is home to a variety of accents, dialects, and colloquialisms. I have family and friends in every quadrant of the US, as well as friends from Europe and the UK. I watch British television. I think I have a pretty good ear for accents.
If the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) comes on and you ask what language they’re speaking, then you do not have an ear for accents (hint: it is English, generally). This is a common and understandable condition. But you need to be sure that the web host you choose does not employ tech support or customer service representatives that you cannot understand. If this is a concern, ask where their main call center is located. If you aren’t fluent in Southern, you probably shouldn’t pick a web host with a call center in Alabama.
Some recommendations for web hosts:
- Bluehost – They tick all the boxes for me. Bluehost is reasonably priced, has a simple interface, and their phone number is at the top of their homepage. Right now, you can start for as low as $3.95 a month.
- Westhost – These guys are good as well. I might like Bluehost’s interface a little better. But they definitely will take care of you.
- GoDaddy – They have a few features that I really like. As a designer who sometimes works on established sites, I like that the control panel allows you to give editing capabilities to another person. They just have to create a user profile of their own.
- HostGator – I have only worked with this company while managing someone else’s account. But they have support available via online chat or phone. And they are very affordable. Get Your Domain, Hosting, and Unlimited Email for Just $3/mo
I hope this helps you along your journey to the best website hosting for your blog or business. If there’s anything else we can help with, get in touch.
- Tech Support