Ready to launch your website? Don’t forget about one critical step – setting up web hosting.
Imagine you’re opening a clothing store in your town. You’ve hired employees, obtained all of the items you’ll sell, planned your store’s layout, finalized your branding, and purchased your POS system. But wait… you haven’t signed a lease on a storefront. You don’t actually have a physical space for your store yet.
This is what it’s like to have a website without a web hosting service. Your domain and web page files exist, but visitors won’t be able to find your website on the internet. Similarly, your retail store’s customers won’t have anywhere to visit and shop if you don’t have the physical space.
Long story short, picking a good web host is critical. Why? Tom’s Guide states it best – because your host is responsible for your site staying online and giving you the flexibility to modify and grow it as needed. Not to mention, your choice will determine how your website performs and how secure it is.
What to consider when you pick a web host
The first thing to consider is your content management system (CMS) – essentially, what CMS are you building your site with, and what hosting sites are compatible with it? Need help picking a CMS? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered with last week’s “Is it hip to use Squarespace” post.
Next, look at what type of hosting you need. There are three types of hosting we typically recommend clients choose from. As described by HubSpot:
- Shared hosting stores your website on the same server as multiple other websites making it the least expensive option. It’s best suited for low traffic sites like hobby sites or passion projects that do not require high performance.
- Virtual private server (VPS) hosting is a bit more expensive than shared hosting and is ideal if you have a bit more traffic coming to your site. It mimics having a dedicated server just for your website, even though it’s technically still a type of shared hosting. VPS offers more customization and better performance than shared hosting, but it means you must do all your own IT/server setup, maintenance and tuning. VPS is only for the technologically advanced.
- Managed hosting is when the web host manages your server (including operation, security, maintenance, and more) so you don’t have to. It’s a great option for small businesses that don’t have a team that understands the technical side of a web server.
Once you choose your hosting type, make sure to research your potential web host’s reputation. What security measures are offered and what type of support is available? If you feel like you’re a person that needs extra help, look for a web hosting service with a live chat feature.
Don’t forget to look at the web host’s load time and Google core web vitals – in other words, how fast and effectively your web pages load. This is important because load time affects user experience and how much traffic your website gets. HostPapa says that the slower your web pages load, the more frustrated visitors get. A study by Google revealed that 53 per cent of mobile site visitors leave if it takes more than 3 seconds to load a page.
Definitely check how regular software updates are administered. Are they automatic so you don’t have to worry about them? Also, don’t forget to ask how often your site is backed up both locally to the server and off-site to a remote server. That way if your site ever fails, you have a backed up version ready to reload.
Next, take a quick look at the web host’s management “dashboard”. When you login to your web host account, is the dashboard easy to use or overwhelming with a lot of geeky IT-speak? You want it easy to understand so you can manage it as needed.
Finally, look at how much the web hosting costs. How much you spend will depend on the provider you choose, the type of hosting you need and the plan you purchase. As stated by HubSpot, the more you pay for hosting, the more bandwidth you’ll receive, the more security you’ll have in place, and the more features and perks you can access. Google Domains recommends checking for renewal rates and skimming the fine print for any hidden fees or obligations. Last but not least, what’s the cancellation policy? Is there any red tape for you to be aware of?
We use and recommend Kinsta – a fast, highly secure, well-supported service that we can count on for our clients’ websites. Why we like Kinsta:
- You can choose from 34 data centers worldwide to store your content close to your website visitors. Kinsta’s content delivery network (CDN) provider, Cloudflare (a company with Canadian roots), has a network that spans 200+ cities in more than 100 countries. It’s available at no extra cost in your Kinsta plan.
- You can easily design develop and deploy a WordPress site.
- Kinsta websites are fast and highly secure.
- 24/7 support is available.
- A simple dashboard is offered to track your plan’s usage, look at site metrics and access hosting tools.
- Some consider Kinsta to be premium priced, but considering the extensive support you get, it’s a cost-effective platform.