Are you unsure what a website host even is, let alone how to pick one? Don't worry, I used to be the same. This blog will offer you some industry insights so that you can find out who is the right fit for you and your business!
What is website hosting?
Web Hosting Definition -
The activity or business of providing storage space and access for websites. (Oxford Languages)
Think of website hosting as where your website lives and sleeps. A hosting provider offers space on their server for a website to store all of its files. Web hosting makes everything that makes a website (images, videos, etc) available to view online.
There are different types of hosting but the main ones are -
Technology is always changing and getting better. As this has happened different types of hosting have emerged. They all offer different services and meet different needs. Let's look at these a little more closely.
As the name suggests, shared hosting is when you share the server with lots of other websites. Most web hosting companies will provide this service and it is a cheaper way of having your own website. It is great for new websites, personal websites, and small businesses who do not expect a huge amount of traffic through the website in the short term. Shared hosting is how this website is hosted and is what I suggest for the majority of my clients.
For larger websites that are expecting lots of traffic, shared hosting is not suitable.
Virtual Private Servers (VPS) sometimes known as Virtual Dedicated Servers (VDS) are servers that appear to be dedicated to each website (or client) but actually services multiple websites. This type of hosting sits in-between shared and dedicated. It is a step towards dedication but without the cost that comes with it.
Dedicated hosting is when a host provides whole severs to rent. This is an expensive option and is really only for large websites that have a large amount of traffic (think Amazon!). It gives the user more server control and security. It is more than just a website behind dedicated hosting is a server that sits in a data center. If you would like more control, you need the technical expertise to handle the server.
Reseller hosting is when the host can use the hard drive and bandwidth space they have to host websites on behalf of third parties. This can be great if you buy space that you no longer need because you can offer it to others and make a profit!
Some hosting providers offer a reseller package for entrepreneurs. It is perfect for anyone who has multiple domains as they can manage them all in one place.
This is the most recent type of hosting and has become very popular. Cloud hosting operates across interconnected web servers that supply a scaleable, affordable and it is reliable! Normally cloud hosting offers unlimited bandwidth and an infinite amount of disk space which is why lots of large businesses are turning to cloud hosting. It is a good way of hosting a large website that has a lot of resources but it is expensive.
Let's get down to business...how do you pick a website host? It is easy to be overwhelmed by choice so let's focus on the hosts I have work with.
I built my website on Wix. Wix is one of the biggest web hosts in the world with 160 million websites. With Wix, you are offered templates that you can customize. It is perfect for small businesses, restaurants, online stores, musicians, and photographers. Wix is easy to use and personalize. If you wanted someone to create the bones of your website and then you want to upkeep it, Wix could be perfect for you.
I personally love the design features Wix offers and the ability to switch from desktop to mobile design so easily.
The cons of WIX are -
Pricing - The cheapest (ad-free) plan that Wix offers is £6 per month compared to its competitor Weebly who offers a similar plan for £4.83.
Templates can't be easily changed - Once you have picked your template then that is it for life which makes it a very important decision. You can change things within it and alter it a little but the basics of that template will always remain.
Loading speed - Wix has a slower loading speed than other web hosts. It is not terribly slow but not as fast as others. They are aware of the issue but have not done anything to change it yet.
You have probably heard of WordPress. Originally very popular for its blog and sense of community it is now one of the top website hosts in the world. I am going to dive straight into the pros and cons.
Easy to navigate CMS - Because of its blogging background, WordPress has a very easy-to-navigate back end. It is easy to add and edit pages and upload anything you wish to add. This makes it easy to use for someone that is not a website wiz.
Plugins - WordPress users have access to 54,000 mostly free plugins developed by word press developers. These allow you to customize and optimize your WordPress site. Plugins are really useful for example WordPress websites do not automatically come with a contact form/page however plugins allow you to download a contact page and add it to your website. WordPress also normally requires you to understand code but with plugins, you can download site builders which makes it easier for you to customize after the initial build.
SEO - SEO is important for any website. It is how people can find you through search engines. WordPress has a useful plugin called Yoast (it does cost money) but it is fantastic. I use it all the time with my blog writing. It uses a traffic light system, red is bad, orange is ok and green is great! You can add keywords, meta descriptions, and your title. It is one of the best SEO tools I have ever used and would really recommend using WordPress if you are starting a blog for this reason alone!
Plugins - To be able to download and use plugins you need to have the premium WordPress plan. I did not realize this once and had a client who wanted to start a 'broacher website' which doesn't need that much space. I thought the business plan would be fine for her but then realized it did not offer plugins. In the end, we upgraded to premium because features like a contact page were deemed important by us. The premium website plan is more expensive than the business by quite a bit. I will add the pricing below.
Updates - You have to regularly update a WordPress website. The premium plan offers updates often but these can leave you vulnerable to security threats. The updates can also leave parts of your website un-useable so it is always best to have an expert do these so they can check everything is fine after the update.
Squarespace is visually stunning and has a range of templates that are ready to use. The backend is easy to use like WordPress and Wix. Any photos you upload within your template will automatically blend in because of your coding. Unlike WordPress, you will not require plugins as everything is built into the platform. You can purchase great package bundles and Squarespace support is always available. The marketing tools on Squarespace are not great and you can not add in plugins so you would need to optimize everything yourself (or hire someone else to do it). Squarespace is more expensive compared to WordPress and Wix but if it has the 'look' you are searching for it could be perfect for you.
I have compiled the different prices for the above website hosts. Please be aware that prices change all the time and may differ from below.
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Picking the perfect website host for your business will help you stand out and shine online. I offer a free 30-minute website call during which I can help you decide on a website host and we can discuss any ideas you have for your website.
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Thank you for reading,