When you first embark upon creating your small business website, the sheer number of choices you have to make can seem overwhelming. What should your domain name be? Who should design the site? What should your logo look like? And in fact, your worries aren’t unfounded: A 2011 British survey found that one third of respondents had taken their online business elsewhere due to a site’s poor design and inefficient Web hosting.
Taking that information to heart, you should give some real thought to what should be your first decision: choosing a Web hosting service. Following are some basic details and information on how to choose the right service for your fledgling website.
Your first question in this endeavor might be “How much is this going to cost?” But the fact is, money shouldn’t be your primary determining factor. The average monthly fee for Web hosting is only about $10-15; while many free Web hosting options exist, they often aren’t the best choices for any business—large or small. When you choose a free option, you run the risk of frequent downtimes as your site grows (more on uptime in just a moment)—and poor customer service should your site in fact go down.
Instead, do your homework to find a reputable Web hosting service within your price range. Doing so will be well worth the peace of mind of having your site up and running on a reliable server.
On the up and Up
Speaking of reliable servers: Before you sign on the dotted line, inquire about your potential hosting service’s average uptime—the amount of time the server spends up and running. You’re looking for a pretty high number—99 percent is ideal. And if the company isn’t up front about its uptime averages, that’s your cue to look elsewhere.
One Size doesn’t Fit All
Remember that not every option will fit your needs. Some Web hosting services cater to large businesses; others might be better for small start-ups or growing companies. Your job is to find out which service is which and to determine the one that best fits your needs.
Read and Reflect
Don’t discount the power of the almighty customer review: Do some reading on others’ experiences with the service you’re considering. You can check review sites like Epinions or try social media: Twitter users aren’t often shy about sharing their customer service issues with the world! If the reviews are mostly positive, move forward—but if there’s an overwhelmingly negative trend, you should head back to the drawing board.
These are just a few of the factors that go into finding the right Web hosting service for your business. Do a lot of research and consult with knowledgeable peers and friends before you commit. Putting in a bit of effort at the beginning can save you a lot of frustration and stress in the long term—and once you’ve made this decision, you can go back to choosing colors for your logo.