There are a ton of options when it comes to choosing a web host plan. The best way to narrow your focus is to determine what you will need in order to support the type of website you would like to create.

You shouldn’t be paying for anything that you won’t use, which is why picking the right web host will not only help increase your website’s efficiency, but it can help decrease your costs too. This guide is organized based on what type of website that you would like create.

I Want to Start a Blog

Blogs have become increasingly popular in recent years. What once started out as an “online diary,” has now grown into a platform for hobbyists and specialists alike to share their knowledge and experiences with the world. Those who have little to no experience with HTML or CSS should look for a web host provider that has a drag-and-drop editor. This type of editing software can also be referred to as a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor and it lets you design your website visually without having to worry about the technical aspect of design.

Internet Connection

Most blogs are not large, interactive websites, and the content is usually catered to a specific, smaller audience. We recommend that you start with a shared or VPS hosting plan, since you will most likely not need an unlimited amount of data transfers, disc space, or bandwidth.

These plans provide the connection you will need without paying for things you don’t need. It is also important that you sign up with a provider that will allow you to upgrade your plan in the event that you start to get more traffic to your website.

If you are just starting out, you may want a web host with a CMS package, like WordPress, already installed. These packages are generally very easy to add to your website and are blogger friendly. You will have access to tons of free templates and themes, and can even customize them if you have a bit of technical experience (you are familiar with HTML and CSS). If a web host provider does not offer a WordPress hosting plan, you should check to see if they give you access to download it through their control panel.

I Want a Site to Advertise Services

Many professionals today such as photographers, wedding planners, and private practice physicians, have a website that they use to advertise their services. It has become such a common practice that customers see having a website as a sign of professionalism and trustworthiness.

Much like a blog, these sites are not typically very large, and only contain a few pages in (addition to your landing page) that list who you are, what you do, pricing, and how to contact or schedule a meeting with you. While a shared hosting plan will sufficiently meet your needs, a VPS hosting plan offers more security. Added security from VPS hosting is important because personal contact information will be exchanged through your website.

Many web hosts offer other security features like SSL certificates either with a plan or at an additional cost. If you are advertising medical services, you may want to look for a web host provider that offers a HIPAA-compliant hosting plan.

I Want to Sell Products for My Business

In the world of web hosting, selling products or services online is referred to as eCommerce. Retails sites can be larger and more interactive than a landing page or blog site, and you will also need to assess how much traffic your site will receive in order to pick the best hosting plan for you. eCommerce sites that are smaller will work with VPS hosting, whereas larger sites that will receive a lot of traffic should look into a dedicated or cloud hosting plan.

VPS hosting is a good place to start, since (of the three mentioned) it is typically your cheapest option. Most web host providers allow you to upgrade your storage and bandwidth needs within a VPS plan. However, many average-to-larger eCommerce sites require more resources to run smoothly than a VPS hosting plan can provide.

A dedicated hosting plan will be more expensive, but it can accommodate more traffic and is more secure than VPS. Cloud hosting is used primarily by larger sites in general (Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc.), but it can also be a cost-effective option for smaller eCommerce sites receiving a consistent amount of traffic.

Like CMS packages, many web hosts provide shopping cart software you can easily add to your site. Shopping carts can make managing your current inventory and transactions easier. There are several key features that you will want to make sure that your shopping cart has, or can support:

  1. Security – There are a couple of ways to make sure that your site is secure, and so that your customers feel safe entering their private information. Shopping carts sometimes come with a free SSL certificate. If they don’t, it is definitely worth the extra cost. You should also look to see if your potential hosting provider is PCI DSS compliant (also referred to as simply PCI). PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, and it is imperative that your hosting provider is PCI compliant in order for you to safely accept credit card information on your website.

  3. Transaction Management – Your customers will need to purchase the products from your website using their credit card, PayPal account, or another quick checkout service. Some shopping cart software even lets you see whose items are still in the shopping cart that never made it the checkout. This will allow you to remind that customer of their shopping cart items, and potentially save an otherwise lost sale.

  5. Shipping – It is always important to check out the potential shipping options from each shopping cart. Some will let you ship internationally, while other eCommerce packages automatically calculate FedEx and UPS shipping rates based on the weight you enter for each product. If you would like to ship internationally, be sure to research which languages and currencies can be automatically translated/converted for your customers.

  7. Item and Picture Limits – Check to see if there is a limit to how many products you can sell and how many pictures of each product you can add. The higher-end shopping carts will usually allow an unlimited amount of items with around 10 pictures per item.

  9. Design – Control over how a shopping carts looks on your site can vary greatly. Some will give you robust options to adjust the look without having to know any code. Others may require you to edit the HTML and CSS the shopping cart uses.

Having a website is easier than ever before. Whether you just want to start a blog, launching vast retail business, or somewhere in between, it is important to choose a web host provider that will best help you to accomplish your goals. Check out the rest of our website to learn more about web hosting.

What Web Hosts Do We Suggest?

The following providers are well-known companies in the hosting industry and offer great service at a great price. On a personal note, here’s where you can help us out – we work with these hosts and collect a small marketing fee when they get new sign ups from us. You get cheap hosting, and we get to keep things running here, providing free content and information to visitors like you.

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