Setting up a Web site for your business can be stressful. There are many things to take into consideration, but one of the most important steps is picking a Web host.
Just as you would shop around to find the best location for a brick-and-mortar store, be careful when you pick your Web host. In the real world, you get to walk around your potential new store before making up your mind, but that’s not an option when selecting a Web host. That’s why it’s important to research each potential host and compare all of the offers before settling on the company that provides exactly what you need.
First, make a list of all the features you’ll need from a host. Determine how much disk space you’ll need, how much traffic you’re expecting, and if you’ll need a shopping cart or similar technology. There’s no sense in paying for bells and whistles you don’t need.
On the other hand, don’t settle for a host who can’t provide the basic features your site will require. If you need e-commerce solutions, look for hosts that offer features that you would otherwise need to purchase separately. These can include shopping carts, mailing lists, SSL (secure socket layer) certificates, and more. Shop around and ask a lot of questions. Make sure your host can meet your needs.
Also, how secure will your shopping cart be? Is there protection against hackers and identity thieves? Also, what other security measures do they provide? Some larger hosts offer firewalls, protection against denial-of-service attacks, and even virtual private networks. You may pay more for these additional services, but it may be worth it, depending on the nature of your business.
Downtime is a death knell for an online store. If users try to go to your site and it’s down, or if your shopping cart or other functionality is broken, they may assume you’re out of business and never come back. Look for a company that offers an uptime guarantee as well as available technical support to help you should your site go down.
Some hosts even offer 30-day trials. You can use that time to fine-tune your site and make sure that the company’s promises hold up. Although this can mean some delay in selling your products, it is worth it to ensure that your customers can find, use, and depend on your Web site.
Once you’ve narrowed down the list of potential hosts, it’s time to consider price. Budget hosting usually comes with quite a few downsides, such as a lack of round-the-clock technical support and possibly an overall lack of customer service. This is, of course, not true of all budget hosting companies, but keep these things in mind before going with a cheap deal and regretting it later.
If you still can’t decide on a host, try comparing customer testimonials or asking if the company can provide you with references. Many hosting companies feature a page with their prominent clients, which can help you with your decision.
The Web hosting market is very competitive, and you should be able to find a very good deal if you do your research, take your time, and weigh all of the possibilities in advance. Finding the right host for you will save you money in the long run and help you get your site up to its complete potential right away.