So, you are going to take your business into the 21st century and make your own website. Smart move considering that a majority of shoppers now do at least some portion of their shopping online. For those of us who are building our first website, it feels like a daunting challenge. Things like SEO, SSL, uptime scores, and virtual private servers (VPS) can all seem like foreign entities. In reality, it doesn’t take much to set up your own e-business. All you need is a domain name and web hosting and you’re on your way. However, choosing your web hosting platform is going to go a long way into determining how your website runs. Let’s dive in and look at what web hosting is, and which one is right for your business.
What is Web Hosting?
Let’s start off with the basics. Web hosting is a service that allows people or organizations to create and post websites to the Internet. Businesses called web hosts sell the necessary technology and services to create said websites. For your website to be viewed by potential customers on the internet you need to pick a web host provider, which will then store your website on a special computer called a server. When someone types your domain name into their browser, the server dedicated to your website connects to their computer via the internet, and delivers your page to their computer. It’s kind of like a department store in the sense that if you are a clothes-maker, you create clothes, which you then pay a department store to carry for you. People visit said shops and see what you have made and make decisions on whether to buy it. In this analogy, the department store is your web host. It lets other people connect to your website by hosting it on a server connected to the Internet.
So how do you go about choosing the right web host? It all depends on what you need for your website. We are focusing on e-business related websites, so we can skip right pass some of the web hosts that are designed specifically for blogging. In general, you are looking for great uptime scores, server upgrade options, and reasonable pricing.
Uptime scores tell you how often the server that hosts your website goes down. It is represented as a percentage. For example, if a server was down for half of the day, and up and running for the other half, the uptime score would be 50%, which is relatively low. Realistically you want to find a web host that has uptime scores of 99.5% and higher. Anything lower than 99% you should not even consider. Remember that without a reliable server your website basically does not exist outside of your own computer.
Server upgrade options give you flexibility to grow your website. When you are starting out, you will most likely pick a shared-server option. That just means, for a lower price, you share a server with other websites, provided that none of them get enough traffic to overload the server. Don’t underestimate how powerful shared web hosting is though. A well-kept website on a shared server can handle upwards of 25,000 unique monthly visitors according to my calculations. Still if you expect your website to really take off, having the option to upgrade to a VPS or dedicated server would be beneficial. Both of those will provide more power, space and security that your average shared web hosting.
Price, as always, plays a large part in deciding which web host platform to choose from. Luckily you can find plenty of options for web hosts, from the very cheap to the extremely expensive. My recommendation is to start small, and work your way up. Do your research on the differences between Shopify and WooCommerce. One thing to look out for is the difference between start-up costs and renewal costs. Sometimes web hosts will draw you in with an outrageously cheap start-up fee, only to have that cost skyrocket when it comes time to renew.
That pretty much covers the basics of picking a web host platform. If you do your due diligence and research the features you expect to need beforehand, you should have no problem picking the webhost that is right for you. So, no need to get caught up in all the acronyms and technical mumbo jumbo (at least night yet). You’ll know when you have picked the right web host because it will not hinder or make things more complicated for your website, but hopefully enhance it.