Deciding where to host your website is among the biggest decisions you’ll have to face when you’re building something new online. There’s absolutely no point in having a good-looking, on-trend, state-of-the-art website if you can’t rely on it to be online. You need a host with zero downtime, excellent customer support, a range of options, and the flexibility to deal with just about anything you might want to upload. Almost every provider will tell you that they’re great at all of those things when they’re competing for your business, but the reality is often very different.
Luckily, you’re not short of options. There are hundreds of website hosting platforms out there, all of which have their own pros and cons. The best option for you will be slightly dependant on what you want to do with your website, but we can certainly look at the bigger picture and talk about web hosts in general terms. If you’re looking to establish a new presence on the internet in the near future and you’re not sure where to put it, we’d like to save you some time. Instead of shopping around between every single available option, focus on the names we’re about to list below.
Yes, we know this is the obvious answer. No, we don’t think that matters. WordPress commands such a huge share of the market because it’s reliable, and you can do so much with it for free. There are a few additional features, templates, plug-ins, and other perks you might want to consider paying money for – especially if you intend to use your website to run a business – but you’re never compelled to do so. You can do almost anything you could ever want to do with WordPress for free for the main part.
Because WordPress started as a humble blogging website, some people think it isn’t capable of dealing with businesses and e-commerce websites. That isn’t true. Just look at the number of online slots websites that now use WordPress. If a multi-billion dollar industry – which is exactly what the online slots industry is – is happy to use WordPress without concerns about functionality or security, you can too. Irish Rose Slots and other online slots websites like it have been made using WordPress. Banking websites have been made using WordPress. You will probably want to use a few of the paid features, but it will still probably cost you less than paying for a bespoke service elsewhere. The only downside is the time it will take you to learn to use it – but that doesn’t matter if you’re going to use a web designer.
As a company, GoDaddy is better known for handling domain registrations than it is for hosting websites. In fact, it’s the largest domain name registrar in the world. That’s a big achievement for the company, but it would like to change its reputation and make greater inroads into hosting. Expanding its holding portfolio will be a big focus for GoDaddy in the years ahead, as evidenced by its recent decision to acquire assets from the Mind & Machines Group.
GoDaddy doesn’t come with as many options as WordPress by default, which is why the thirty-day free trial is such a good idea. That gives you the time you need to decide whether the drag-and-drop templates can do as much as you need them to do. If your website idea relies on complicated features or extensive customisation, you might find GoDaddy’s offering too limited, but it should work just fine for most straightforward e-commerce ideas. For six dollars per month, it’s hard to argue with the costs.
Squarespace is an up-and-coming hosting platform that makes a bold, impressive claim:- “No technical skills are required.” The idea is that the tools provided by Squarespace are so user-friendly that anybody can build a sleek, professional-looking website even if they’ve never written a line of code in their life. That claim has worked out well for them – the company is planning to make a direct listing to the public markets this year.
If there’s a drawback with Squarespace, it’s that you don’t get a lot of time to decide whether it’s the right platform for you before having to make a commitment. The free trial lasts for only fourteen days and doesn’t allow you to publish your site online. You’re restricted to using the tools and putting a site together in “pre-launch” mode. If you do make the decision to go ahead, though, you’ll get unlimited storage, a personalised domain, and entire custom website templates for just twelve dollars per month. Don’t expect the flexibility you’ll get elsewhere, but this is a great place to come if you have little in the way of web skills.
HostGator tends to be seen as the bargain basement of the web storage world – a reputation that they’ve worked hard to achieve and yet don’t quite deserve. It’s true that they offer extremely low rates, but that doesn’t mean you get cheap service from them. They’ve been online since 2002 and have worked with millions of happy customers during those (almost) twenty years. Only HostGator would give you unlimited bandwidth, storage space, email addresses, and HTTPS/SSL for less than three dollars per month.
You’ll need to either hire a web designer or learn a thing or two about coding before you decide to go with HostGator because there isn’t much in the way of templates or user-friendly drag-and-drop tools. That being said, uptime is at 99.9%, customer service support is available 24/7 every day of the year, and billing periods are flexible. You’ll pay more when you’re paying monthly than you would do annually, but when the price is this low, does it really matter?
In addition to reading all of the above, you should also consult with a professional web designer before you commit to a plan. Unless you have the relevant skills yourself, seeking the opinion of someone who does is always a good idea! The hosting company you choose is the internet equivalent of the home that you live in, so pick a home you’ll be happy in.