If you have a small business, you know the challenge of reaching customers and keeping them engaged. Perhaps you’re considering a website to expand your customer base and grow your business. You know what you’d like to share with an online audience. But where should you begin? It’s important to note that your website hosting is not the same as website building or website content creation. Website hosting is simply a service that allows you to rent space on a server, which stores your website information. Some website hosts will offer a full package that includes design and content. Others offer a do-it-yourself method, where you can choose a template and add the content of your choosing. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about website hosting and how to get started.
Define what your website will do
Knowing how your customers or audience will use your website is an important first step in understanding website hosting. If you will use your website for e-commerce, then you’ll want a host that can accommodate and automate selling features. If you anticipate a lot of visitors using the website from their mobile devices, then you should consider a host that has a good record with responsive design. Once you know what you want from your website host, create a list. Compare the website hosts to your list to find the best fit.
Consider all costs
Website hosting companies are notorious for hidden fees. Make sure you understand what you are being charged for and what is an additional cost. Also, take note of any promotions you receive when signing up for a website host. Typically, your promotional rates will end after 12 months. Although you can change website hosts, it’s a difficult and costly undertaking. It’s best to choose a reliable website host at the best rate possible.
Know what you need from a host
If you just want a website that will provide your business’s physical address and am menu, then you don’t need enhanced security, extra storage, or any bells and whistles. What you need is the standard, lowest cost option. If you plan to launch a website for your small business with e-commerce, consider your current following. If you have significant social media presence and are launching a website to sell your product nationally or worldwide, you will need sufficient website hosting to handle a large traffic volume (translation: large number of visitors). Depending on traffic, you will need to secure a website host that can handle the volume and does not charge extra or shut down your site if volume exceeds a specific amount. On that note, there are limits to hosting capabilities. Ask your prospective website host about volume and capabilities so you can understand when you’ll need to upgrade your hosting to a higher tier.
See if your website host has partners for design and content
Sometimes, you can get a deal through your website host’s partners. This means discounted pricing for services like website design or content writing. Before you sign up for a website host, you’ll need to shop around for designers and content writers. Make sure that your chosen designer is qualified or permitted to work with your desired web host. Have a dilemma? Depending on what you use your website for, your decision may vary. For example, if you’re creating a personal portfolio and really care about the look of your website, then you can be flexible with your website host. If you are creating a website for e-commerce and plan to have a large volume site, then you need to choose a website host to accommodate that traffic and focus on design after.
Decide on cloud or shared hosting
Shared hosting, which is the traditional form of web hosting, allows you to rent a space on one server that is shared with others. Cloud hosting allows you to rent space on many servers, using many resources and allowing for unlimited expansion. Your choice will depend on cost and needs. Shared hosting is often the more economical website hosting choice, whereas cloud hosting may be better for your long-term strategy if you plan to maintain and expand your web presence over time.
Choosing a website host is a big decision, but it doesn’t need to be a scary one. Rest assured, you can always change your website host if you feel you’ve made the wrong decision. Do your research, evaluate your needs, and select the best website host for you. Remember that your website will need updates and attention if you plan to keep an audience engaged and customers happy. Consider hiring someone to help with the management of your website, as simply paying a host is not always enough.