WWW… Wednesday! How to Pick a Web Host
Choosing a web hosting company and plan can be a daunting task for many people and especially those who aren’t so tech savvy. People often opt for companies and services that cost more but will do the hosting for them because picking the right web host seems too complex. The reality is that with a little extra information choosing a web host can be easy and it can save your client a lot of money in the long run. Many web hosting companies even offer regular specials on hosting plans and these days the price has dropped quite a bit for a simple website hosting plan.
Here is some information to make the process of picking a web host a little easier.
Choose the Basic Plan
Most web hosting sites offer a plethora of service options, to tempt you into a deluxe package. The reality is that unless you are starting the next Netflix or online magazine with 1 million+ subscribers the basic web hosting plan is probably what you need. These days most hosts are offering more than enough storage and data transfers on their basic accounts. If you need more features, you can always add them on later, so just choose the basic plan.
If you want to talk to the people behind the host send them an email to find out more about the web hosting service. If you do this, here are some basic questions to ask them:
- Are you using the latest version of PHP?
- Do you provide one-click installs for WordPress or Wikis?
- Do you provide security against hacking?
- How do you handle support requests? By Email? By Phone? What is your turnaround time?
- How reliable are your servers? How often is there downtime?
- How easy is it to administer my site through your administrative area?
- Is there a web uploader?
- If I want to upgrade my hosting account how much will it cost me?
- Can I get a refund?
- Can I register domains via the hosting site?
Check Out the Admin Area
The admin area is where you will be making changes to your site. If possible, see if you can take a look at the admin area for website hosting. I say this because one of the most important factors in choosing a web host is how easy and intuitive they have made their admin area. Some affordable hosts lure new customers in with low prices and then set them adrift in a site admin area that only a programmer can decipher. They may end up then having to hire someone to help them with their site.
Look for Friendly Language
If you can’t take a look at the Admin area you can usually tell a lot about how easy the host will be to use via their homepage. See if the language on the homepage is clear and makes sense and has a friendly tone. Usually, the tone of their own site will set the tone for the site hosting admin area as well. Avoid hosting sites that have a lot of jargon and call outs for web services that sound very technical and hard to understand.
Register Domains Through Your Host
Personally, I like to have all my website information in the same place and that includes the domain name. I recommend registering your domain name via your hosting site so that the information regarding the domain is in the same place as where the website is hosted. I do this simply because it makes things easier for me when I am administering a website. So, make sure you can do this through the web hosting plan as well. You usually can, but just make sure.
Check for a Web Uploader
If you travel or are en route a lot you may want to have access to their web uploader more often than not so you can upload files via the hosting site versus an FTP program. Any web hosting plan worth its salt will have this feature.
One-click installs are a great time-saver for the not so technically savvy. With a WordPress one-click install you can have a new website up and running in virtually minutes. If you want to have your own web host and not pay for subscription services, then just choose a web host that has a one-click install for WordPress.
I hope this information has been helpful. If you are still not sure or just want to know a good host then I always recommend Dreamhost and they even have a page for a perpetual special promo. And no, I don’t work for them, but I have used them to host all my websites since 1999!
Margaret Penney is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Margaret is a teacher, designer, writer and new media artist and founder of Hello Creative Co.