No matter what your small business is selling, it’s important to have some kind of Internet presence. Even if you just want to let prospective customers know who you and aren’t going to be actually selling anything online, you need a website. There are many web hosting companies to choose from and doing so can feel overwhelming at first. To make it easier, here are some criteria to consider when making your choice.
A free site versus a paid site
There are free hosts available like 50Webs http://50webs.com. These hosts pay the bills by advertising and also by getting customers comfortable with their free web hosting solutions before offering paid services. There are also paid sites like exabytes http://exabytes.sg which offer a whole range of services including cloud applications. Of course, paid sites offer more. Also, if you want your own domain name, you will have to pay for it. Any website you have through a free web hosting company is going to include the name of that company.
Speed and consistency
You want to a website which is fast from a company which has a good record of being reliable. Look for customer reviews of web hosting companies and also simply visit the company’s sites yourself on the web to see how fast they load and if they are ever down.
The amount of space you need depends on how much you are doing on the site. A small business doesn’t generally need much. Don’t pay for over 5MB of space on a web server unless you are sure you will need it. You probably don’t.
Customer service and support
Inevitably, you’ll need some help and support from your web host. You want them to be friendly, available and knowledgeable. You will learn a lot about a company when you contact them about purchasing their services. If they aren’t easy to work with from the very start, go with another company.
Internet security is becoming increasingly important. Ask the customer service representatives of whatever web hosting companies you consider if there will be a secure server on your site. Having one is mandatory if you will be doing any financial transactions online.
Web hosting is still a new market. It’s possible to find big differences in prices by different web hosting companies offering similar services. Therefore, make sure you consider at least three different web hosting companies before making a decision.
At the end of the day, deciding on a web hosting company is a lot like buying a car. You are buying a highly technical product but also an everyday one. What is as important as the product itself is the support and reputation of the company you are purchasing from.