Your website is critical to business success. Whether it’s a full-blown online store or a digital brochure for your products and services, it’s often the first experience people have of your brand.
Imagine if that experience is ruined by slow page loads and regular timeouts. Even worse, imagine if your website is so unpredictable that it’s a lottery as to whether or not it’ll be available when someone visits.
Web hosting is as important as the design and user journey on your website. The best, most usable website on the planet is next to useless if it doesn’t run within a rock-solid hosting environment.
Here’s what you should look for in a web hosting company.
Uptime and reliability
Web hosting has two primary responsibilities; it needs to be highly reliable and always present.
If the server on which your website runs is unstable or not up to spec, your business won’t thrive online. Look for hosting companies who have reputable uptime above 99%.
Trust plays a big role in web hosting, too, therefore the company with whom you host the website should be able to provide access to your site and its data (not to mention backups) at all times.
Great customer service
Web hosting isn’t a fire-and-forget service - it needs to be backed up by a team who are available to help out with any queries or issues you encounter.
Websites are supposed to be available 24/7, and if the support for your web hosting is lacking in that regard, it’s akin to floating down the river without a paddle.
Look for customer testimonials and spend some time speaking to the company in question; you’ll know pretty quickly if they have your best interests at heart when it comes to customer service.
The small print
When choosing web hosting, you’ll invariably find lots of companies who appear to offer rock bottom prices with no catches.
Well, here’s the thing - there is nearly always a catch if the price seems too good to be true.
Always read the small print. The lowest tiers of web hosting might exist on heavily-used shared servers and be limited to minimal amounts of bandwidth.
There may also be hidden charges. For instance, registration fees and costs for support services that the web hosting company deems to be above and beyond the call of duty.
Like any supplier for your business, it pays to spend time digging into the full offering of any web hosting company. If they’re honest, up-front and not out to ‘get you’ with hidden extras, there shouldn’t be any underhand small print tactics going on.
As your business grows, you may find that you need to launch different websites to promote new services and products.
New opportunities like this shouldn’t be hampered by your web hosting, so make sure you choose a provider that enables you to easily and cost-effectively add domains as and when you need them.
Not all web hosting companies provide email as standard - it’s often an added extra. That’s fine, but make sure the cost isn’t prohibitive.
Equally, you shouldn’t be forced into having your email hosted with them if you don’t need it. While it’s often sensible to put all your hosting eggs into one basket, if your email is already sorted elsewhere, it’s probably best to leave it as it is and focus instead on getting that website hosted.
There was once a time when the only thing that mattered about web hosting was the amount of disk space you were given and the bandwidth made available. That’s still important, but the above represents the key things to look for when you’re finally ready to get your shiny new website up and running.