Getting your business website online means you will need to choose a web hosting service and domain name.
First, you will need to choose a domain name (review best SEO practices especially for local business). Most of the main hosting companies will give you one free domain name when you sign up for their hosting. So, don’t buy your domain name separately but order it when you sign up for website hosting.
If you’ve hired a web designer you may think to ask him/her to buy your domain name and hosting. Or, the domain/hosting might be part of the web designer’s package pricing. The problem with these two options is the web designer will have complete control of your online business. You won’t own the domain name and he/she will control access to your website’s files. So, at the very least, use your credit card to buy the domain name from an account you control. If you use the web designer’s hosting then insist on a backup of the website once it is built and whenever changes are made.
Let’s say you want to be 100% worry free and buy hosting and domain name yourself (it’s easy and a good web developer will help you through the steps). If your website will take payments directly, be very large (hundreds of music or videos), or have high (1000’s daily) number of visitors then other factors are important not covered in this article.
For the most part web hosting is like different models of the same car. There will be a few important differences and a lot of unimportant sales talk. It is best to focus on email, number of websites that can be hosted, and reviews. The unimportant sales talk includes ridiculous numbers of email accounts or GB of storage. A simple website with a blog will probably be under 40 MB and need a few email accounts. For 1000 emails you may only use half a gigabyte (GB). So, stick with the basic hosting plans when starting out. Once you have chosen a hosting service search the web for discount codes. Sometimes there are better deals available than what is written on their website.
Customer reviews will tell you if they are following through with their promises. Bad servers that are down all the time or terrible customer service will be evident. On the technical side, if you want to host more than one website then you will need a multiple website hosting plan. The following items are the same across the board but make sure they are offered: Uptime = 99.9%, MySQL Databases, FTP Access, cPanel, and web mail.
For email, accounts are either POP or IMAP. POP email accounts download emails to the device they are first viewed on and then deleted from the server. Settings can be changed to keep a copy on the server and then use workarounds but this can be clumsy. Also, extra folders will not sync. The upside is your emails are fully available offline.
IMAP email accounts keep a copy of the email on the server. So, if you want to view your emails at home on the desk-top and on your phone later then you need IMAP. The downside is without internet you would not be able to view the email unless it was completely downloaded. IMAP would be the best choice for people on the go who don’t want to think about email organization.
Choosing web hosting can be frustrating but don’t let it become overwhelming. Accounts can be upgraded or websites/domain names moved to other providers if needed but best to choose an established company. A good place to start is PC Magazine ratings and then reviews on the companies website and others.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any comments or questions.