October 26, 2021 | Web Design
Whenever you have a website, you need web hosting. Sometimes hosting is bundled with your web software (e.g., Wix, Squarespace, Shopify), but you’ll need to find a company to host your site if you’re using WordPress.
What is website hosting?
Your web host holds the files for your website, like your graphics, the database, the software, etc. These are large computer systems, and you want them to run reliably for you.
Run away from anyone who says they have servers in their basement that will host your website!
Your web design firm may offer you hosting, but they are (nearly always) reselling hosting plans from a dedicated website hosting company. Hosting requires a significant investment in computer hardware and a team with specialized knowledge to maintain and run them efficiently.
What to look for in a good web host
At the most basic level, you want your hosting to be running and functional so that people can access your website.
Nearly all reputable hosts brag about 99+% uptime. In general, your site may have very brief outages when they do server maintenance, but these should be practically unnoticeable–like a few seconds in the middle of the night.
Some hosts specialize in redundant systems that can guarantee no downtime. They have additional servers that are ready to take over should one server go down or get overloaded. These types of hosting plans are usually prohibitively expensive and unnecessary for small organizations.
With better hosting, you can expect better tech support. Meaning, if you have an issue with your site, they have polite, knowledgeable people who will help you quickly. They speak English and work hard to resolve your issue.
By contrast, poor tech support looks like long wait times (or no calls allowed, only email tickets), people who dodge the issue, incompetent people who give incorrect answers, etc. You can waste many hours feeling frustrated when you have to deal with poor customer support.
The bottom line is that excellent tech support often separates the good hosts from the poor hosts. When you think about the value of your own time or the time you pay your web development team if they have to reach out to the hosts, the cost-saving from a low-cost hosting plan doesn’t make sense.
Site speed is critical these days. Google penalizes slow sites by ranking them lower in search results. Many factors can affect site speed, but the best foundation is starting with a web host built for your needs.
Many reputable hosts build in easy ways to handle caching and compression. Using these settings or plugins will help make your site load faster.
Some hosts put more of a priority on security. Poor security measures mean your site could be hacked more easily. When your site is hacked, you may see strange text or buttons added to your site that makes you lose credibility and cause malware to be introduced. Resolving these hacks can be time-consuming.
Look for hosts who make it easy to update your WordPress or other software because out-of-date software is a common way for hackers to gain entry. Hosts that value security may also offer free SSL certificates and regular backups if anything goes wrong.
While no environment is 100% secure from cyber threats, inexpensive hosting is more vulnerable because they have shared hosting plans. Shared hosting means you share the same server with others who may not be using best practices, and proximity can affect your site.
Super cheap hosting may attract others who are not top-tier legitimate businesses.
We mostly think about how your website is displayed on someone’s browser when we think about hosting. But at some point, you or your web developer will need to access the back end of your host account. This is where you go to install WordPress, set up user accounts, and adjust settings.
Having an interface that’s easy-to-use and familiar is a huge time saver. If you or your developer need to learn how to use a whole new proprietary system, it wastes a lot of time.
cPanel is one of the most common interfaces for these control panels and is used by many hosts. Our team is familiar with it and finds it easy to use.
Our Favorite Hosts
This is the ‘Cadillac of hosting environments.’ They specialize in WordPress hosting, are easy to use, and offer speed and security. They also have outstanding customer support. You may not need this level of hosting for the site, but it is a highly reputable company and an excellent option. Plans start at around $30/mo. https://wpengine.com/plans/ They also offer daily backups, staging, and free SSL certificates even at their lowest hosting tier.
One drawback of WP Engine is that it does NOT include email hosting. So, if you want a custom-branded email at your domain, i.e., email@example.com, you’ll need your email hosted through another solution such as Google or Microsoft.
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Plans start at around $15/mo. And include email, free SSL certificate, and several plugin options to add caching and speed enhancements to your site. https://www.siteground.com/wordpress-hosting.htm
Their customer support is not as strong as WP Engine’s, but they are generally responsive. Depending on which plan you get, you may only communicate via tickets rather than chat or call, which is hard when something is urgent.
Please use our affiliate link: https://www.siteground.com/wordpress-hosting.htm?referrer_id=7790946
Why GoDaddy is so bad
GoDaddy spends big bucks on advertising, so they are well known, but it doesn’t mean they offer good quality. They also have a history of shady business and ethical choices that don’t sit well with us. These include sexist SuperBowl ads, portraying women as objects in advertising, the founder Bob Parsons videoing himself shooting elephants, and supporting SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act, which sounds good but means internet censorship).
We strongly discourage our clients from using GoDaddy because:
- Their support includes long hold times and unknowledgeable support reps.
- They often upsell people services they don’t need or charge extra for basics like SSL, backups, and security, making their low monthly price no longer reasonable.
- They offer a super cheap intro rate, which then goes up after your first year.
- Very clunky and hard to use backend
The time it takes to do something on GoDaddy can be six times as long as it would take with WPEngine, SiteGround, or another high-quality host.
Need website hosting?
Why would you skimp on your website if you wouldn’t skimp on your business location because of an outdated building, low foot traffic, or questionable security?
We don’t resell hosting and usually prefer clients purchase their hosting. This leads to more transparency with costs and gives clients the independence to reach out to their host during off-hours if an issue arises.
We build custom WordPress websites and love working with reliable web hosts who make our development and ongoing website maintenance easy.