By David Smith
So your business has decided that it is time to make its presence felt on the internet. You have your all your information ready, and you may even have created your website and it is ready to go live on the internet.
The next step is to find a web hosting provider, but how do you evaluate web hosting, and then make a choice on which provider to pay your hard earned money too?
Choosing the correct host for your company’s needs is a very important step, if not the most important step when taking your business online. The host you choose is responsible for placing your website online, and keeping it there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is nothing worse for a business to have a website that is not accessible by your customers, if your site is not online it has the potential to cost you a sale, and also sales in the future, if a prospective customer attempts to go to your website only to find it offline, the chances of that customer ever returning again are very slim.
Ok, so what should I look for in a web host?
There are several factors that you will need to evaluate before making your short list of hosting providers, below I will outline the most important aspects that you will need to cover.
1. Firstly you will need to evaluate the requirements of your website. Will you need shopping cart facilities, what type of content will your website be providing, what methods of payment will you offer, you will also need to think in to the future as well, will you need the ability to expand the site, taking a business online is a very big step and should be a long term step as well so you will need to think long term with your planning. Write a short list of what your website will require to properly function.
Details you will need to account for.
Disk space and bandwidth. Disk space refers to the amount of storage your web host will provide you to store your website. You will need to account for the current size of your website now, and also allow for what disk space you will require in the future as your website grows.
Bandwidth refers to the amount of data (pages, files) served from your website to your customers, if your website will be subject to high traffic, you will need to take the amount of bandwidth the host provides.
Also you will need to check what programming languages your website will require, languages such as PHP, Perl/CGI, JSP, Cold Fusion and ASP may be used on your website to perform certain functions, your chosen web host will need to support the programming languages that your site requires.
Now that you have a list of your requirements, it is time to narrow down your list of providers that support all the features required.
2. Contact each of the hosts you have on your list, confirming what they offer and if it meets your requirements, also ask for a list of references you can contact, some of the best information about a web host can be gleaned from its customers, the question you should ask an existing customer is; “how reliable is the host?”. This question is the most important; it refers to two things, reliability of their hosting when it comes to serving of your website, and also refers to reliability of their mail system. Reliability of their mail system is just as important as serving of your website.
3. Technical support, test it out, call the web hosts technical support line at various times of the day and check how long it takes to get through to support staff, also send technical support an email to test how long it takes to receive a response. If you are on hold for 30 minutes waiting to talk to support about a problem with your website, that is 30 minutes that your site is offline, and also 30 minutes of your own time wasted with which you could be performing more productive jobs.
Finally you should choose a host that meets your expectations and with whom you feel comfortable with, approach choosing a web host the same way you would any other major business decision, because after all it is your money paying for the service.
This article was posted on March 11, 2006