Develop your own personalized process for selecting and comparing web hosting companies.
Are you familiar with the Paradox of choice? That’s a concept developed by the psychologist Barry Schwartz. He believes that if we have more choices, that does not make us freer but in fact can lead to paralysis. Perhaps the best example of this is when you are trying to decide which web hosting service you might use. When comparing and choosing online, you have a large number of potential suppliers since you are not limited by geography.
On top of this, there are a large number of factors that will determine the service that a web hosting company is supplying to you. Depending on your hosting needs, you may need to consider a large number of factors. I think these are a good start:
- Cost of your initial package
- Length of contract
- Renewal prices
- Refund Policy
- Server Upgrade Options
- Bandwidth limitations
- Server speed
- Multiple Addon Domains
- Standards for acceptable web content
- Software support, e.g. WordPress, PHP
- FTP access
- Email support
- User-friendly Control Panel
- Advanced features such as Cron Jobs, Auto Script Installer, .htaccess and Server Side Includes
- E-Commerce Features
- Environmental Friendliness
- Server Uptime Record
- Emergency monitoring and response
- 24/7 Live Chat Support
- Site Backup
If you are building a very complex website that will likely produce an enormous amount of visitor traffic, then undoubtedly such a detailed list is essential in evaluating each of the potential web hosting candidates. However for most of us, this list represents serious overkill and as Barry Schwartz suggested could well lead to decision paralysis.
In practice there is strong competition among web hosting companies and most will do a reasonably good job. What is important is to make sure that whatever is offered by the web hosting company you select will meet your needs.
What Are Your Particular Needs?
Most small and midsize businesses will find a website based on some content management system will be very effective for what they wish to do online. Currently the most popular content management system is WordPress. Although it is often thought of solely as blogging software, it can function very efficiently as a total content management system.
If that works for you, you will find that many other people have followed this route and the web hosting companies are geared to provide a top-notch service to such projects.
When working with a web hosting company, there are three times at which they must perform well. These are:
- When starting up the project
- Routinely ensuring the website is up and live
- Handling emergencies if and when these arise
Putting your website online requires a great deal of effort. It is important that your web hosting company can provide full support during the startup.
Clearly it is important that your website is up and running reliably and on a continuous basis. The web hosting company can help to ensure this by having systems that have spare capacity and good backup. It should be rare that your website ever goes down and any such downtime should be corrected as quickly as possible.
You will find that most web hosting companies do a remarkably good job and rarely if ever will there be an emergency. However if this occurs, what is important is that this is quickly spotted and you get remedial action as quickly as this can be arranged.
Key Criteria in Selecting
It is recommended that you consider the three factors just discussed and make sure you are completely confident that your preferred web hosting company will perform well. By selecting companies that are well approved (not necessarily just well known) in the marketplace, your chances are high that your choice will be satisfactory.
Four top services
The four Web hosting companies discussed below all have many satisfied customers. In choosing any of them, you are likely to end up with a satisfactory web hosting arrangement. By checking them out as we will suggest below, you can choose among them the one which you feel best fits your particular needs.
Bluehost states that it is providing fast professional website hosting services. In particular it has a passion for the WordPress software and in its words has developed the ‘most amazing managed platform’ for WordPress websites. It claims that it is one of the largest and most trusted web hosting services powering millions of websites.
ClickHOST puts WordPress hosting as its priority offering. The ClickHOST team has 3 driving passions, which you will see reflected in the service they provide for you: Simplicity, Honesty, and Safety.
Go Daddy bills itself as the world’s largest domain name registrar. One of its options is to provide WordPress hosting. It also promotes itself as a web hosting service for small businesses.
HostPapa is a Canadian web hosting service. It does not mention WordPress hosting on its website but rather promotes its own Website Builder approach to creating websites.
Comparing Web Hosting Companies
The following table shows some of the key parameters for the four hosting services we are reviewing.
How To Make a Choice
The most practical way of selecting an appropriate web hosting service from the four listed above is as follows:
- Select two or more from the four above for more detailed evaluation.
For each of your selected services, select the best hosting option they provide given your needs and make sure to fully record the key factors and any constraints that will influence their provision of service.
- In effect you will then interview each of these to evaluate how likely they are to provide satisfactory support if an emergency should arise. You should use the method of communicating with them that you prefer, if that is offered. In some cases, you will find that only a telephone service is available. Ask the person you are contacting what measures they have in place to avoid emergencies and exactly how they will respond if you contact them in such a situation.
- You can then compare the precise details of the web hosting service they provide, together with your evaluation of how well they are likely to respond in an emergency situation.
By following this process, you know exactly the authenticity of the data you have developed to help you make your choice. It is possible to check on the Internet for problems others may have encountered with each of these four web hosting suppliers. However such reviews are always questionable since the motives of those providing the information may be suspect. Only if there is a consistent pattern in what you see should you attach any weight to such reviews.
This process of working from a short list of quality web hosting services will produce the best possible decision in a reasonable amount of time. If you feel that another web hosting service should have been in our short list, then please add a comment on this including any of the services named above that you might then take off the list.