Your website serves as a point of engagement with existing and potential customers so it’s important that it works well and never crashes. Choosing a web hosting service that can guarantee uptime and customer-friendly performance is imperative.
Yet many businesses cut corners with web hosting in the interest of maximizing profits. Unfortunately, this is a poor decision that can come back to haunt you when your traffic begins to grow.
Determining Your Web Hosting Needs
First, think about your website goals. What do you want your website to do? What kind of traffic can you expect? Will you need e-commerce services? These are just a few of the questions you’ll need to answer as you start to seriously consider your web hosting options:
- If your website will have minimal traffic and require very little bandwidth, a shared server may be an affordable starting point. Since you’ll be sharing resources with other websites, your costs will be minimal. However, shared servers can sometimes mean poor website performance if other sites are monopolizing your resources.
- A virtual private server (VPS) is the next step up. It’s a great option for a small business that runs an e-commerce store and/or has a steady stream of web traffic. With this option, a server is virtually partitioned so that each individual user has unique bandwidth and disk space.
- Dedicated physical servers are the most expensive option, but they offer the least downtime and the most resources. Typically, a dedicated server would be used by a large business or corporate website that receives heavy web traffic and/or does a lot of business online.
If you’re running a small business with minimal traffic, a basic shared service may be all you need to start. But if you’re planning to grow your business, you need a web hosting service that’s capable of growing with you.
When choosing a web hosting service, ask about scalability. Do they offer VPS and dedicated server solutions? Will they be able to easily upgrade your account? Transferring web hosts takes valuable time and effort. A scalable web host can help you avoid the hassle in the future.
Web Hosting On The Cheap
Instead of maximizing profits, cheap, low-end web hosting can cost you revenue. If your website goes down routinely, you’re looking at huge chunks of downtime during which you’re losing leads. This can be especially bad for e-commerce websites because people don’t just learn about your services, but have the opportunity to purchase them in that moment. Downtime prevents them from doing so—and they might not come back.
Price should never drive your purchasing decision when it comes to web hosting. A ridiculously low price tag often means poor service—not just for web hosting, but for many aspects of the design and development process. Plus, comparing prices is often an apples-to-oranges proposition. You have to learn to cut through the jargon, determine your web hosting needs, and find a way to compare the features and benefits offered by potential web hosting services.
Read The Fine Print
Many web hosts offer low-cost starter packages. Often, the price is lower because features like tech support and data backup are add-on costs. Make sure you understand what your package contains, which options can be purchased as add-ons, and which features you can enjoy by upgrading to a higher-tier package. But don’t get too caught up in fancy package deals that bundle in redundant or unnecessary features. Make sure you’re spending your money on increased reliability and customer service.
Keep Technical Support In Mind
Support forums and tutorials are great, but when your website goes down, you want a friendly, knowledgeable, comforting voice on the other end of the line—a real person who can diagnose the problem and get you back up and running. So when you’re researching potential web hosts, pay close attention to their reputation for customer service.
Keep in mind the avenues that will be available when you need help. Can they be reached by email? Do they have a toll-free number? How about a live chat? Are they available around the clock, seven days a week? Is their support outsourced? Not all tech support is created equally, so make sure you hire a company that sees the value in keeping their customers—and yours—happy.
Look into potential web hosting services to see how long they've been in business. Take advantage of customer reviews and engage social media channels to gain some perspective on how they handle their clients. Investigate maintenance and downtime stats. Customers expect service 24/7, and while no service can offer perfection, you want to get as close as possible.
In the end, you get what you pay for, so make sure you're paying for what you need. Look for a competitively priced web hosting service that will not only meet your current needs and expectations, but will also have the capability to provide consistent support as your business grows over time.