The best web provider for an online business that sells consumer goods may not necessarily be the best provider for an online service business. Each company that chooses to launch a website with landing pages and sales forms will need to think carefully about which web provider can best fit their needs.

Factors such as price, available bandwidth, customer support, and updates can all be an important factor or an unimportant factor depending on a business size, philosophy, and online strategy.

For some businesses, a free hosting service may have all the tools they require; for others, it may be necessary to invest a serious portion of their budget into web hosting, development, and maintenance.

Free Or At Cost

Any person with an Internet connection can sign up for a free online hosting service.  As the old saying goes, however, nothing in the world comes truly free, a maxim that applies to no-cost hosting providers.

By choosing an online hosting service that does not charge a single penny, your page may be barraged with advertisements that have little (if anything) to do with your company’s products, reputation, and public image.

Since hosting companies need to make a profit like anyone else, they are more than willing to turn a fraction of your bandwidth over to marketers eager to capitalize on whomever visits your site.  If this is not a deal-breaker or if costs represent a major concern, free web hosts may be your best bet.

Doing Homework

Like any other business decision, the choice of a web hosting provider should not be taken lightly.  The good news is that, like many other purchasing choices available online, potential buyers can consult a long list of reviews and customer feedback about their options for web hosting.

Hosting review sites such as VirtualHosting.com allow anyone and everyone to see which companies have reputations for quality and which have proven less than eager to assist their customers with issues.

Some web hosts have their fair share of dirty laundry, while others have a more sterling reputation.  Check well ahead of a decision in order to make sure you are getting the best value for your investment.

Size And Capability

How many visitors do you expect to visit your company’s page on a given day?  A business needs to create a checklist of the factors that will affect their site’s capability to handle traffic.

If you run a particularly modest site that yields only a few dozen independent views on any given day, you may not have much to worry about in terms of bandwidth.

A larger company with an established customer base, conversely, needs to ensure that they have enough bandwidth in order to accommodate high numbers of traffic in addition to providing sound files or videos to those who do join up.

A basic site will not use more than five to ten megabytes, even if it has several dozen pages, but once you begin to add complex features or expect heavy traffic, you will have to pay a premium for additional hosting space.

Speed Of Access

The introduction of the Internet has had serious ramifications to an entire generation of attention spans.  Visitors spend as little as two seconds deciding whether or not they want to continue browsing on a given page or whether they prefer to visit another site.

This means you have very little time to grab attention and that sites which cannot load quickly enough run the risk of losing visitors who would rather venture towards a competitor who boasts a faster upload rate.

Speed of access will be a major metric by which a site succeeds or fails, and, like nearly all other Internet hosting features, you will pay for what you get: high speed loading during peak hours costs a premium.

Support And Services

If your company makes half of its annual sales on Cyber Monday, what will happen when the server crashes at midnight on Sunday?  Having a support team for your organization’s web page can be the difference between a minor hiccup in the system and losing out on countless visitors and sales.

If you rely entirely on your website to drive sales, it is crucial to choose a hosting provider that offers twenty-four hour support, even on weekends and holidays, in the event that the worst case scenario hits your page at the worst possible time.

You can test out a prospective host’s responses by emailing at odd hours (weekend evenings, very early mornings, and holidays) and seeing how quickly you get a response.  Those that do not provide a return email until Monday morning may be less than desirable for your company’s site.

Security

If sales represent the alpha and the omega of your website, good security features may be more important than any other consideration.  A single lost credit card number can be enough to sink an online business.

Protect yourself, your business, and your customers by creating an SSL or secure server.  The difference between a secured and unsecured server is apparent in their URL: “http://” represents unsecured, while “https://” indicates an SSL.  This single letter can be enough to earn customer trust, but it is an expensive letter.

An alternative for some online companies involves a third-party credit card payment service, such as PayPal’s automated system that can be installed on any website with ease; the downside to this service is that your sales will depend on the third party’s ability to process a payment. See some advantages to using PayPal here.

The Final Word

For some businesses, a free Internet host may provide all the support and tools they require.  For many more, however, it will be necessary to invest capital into building up their site and system in order to accommodate visitors, keep information secure, and perform at peak levels during the highest traffic periods.

A company that runs all its sales online may find that they have to invest much more into their web hosting service than one which also runs a brick-and-mortar shop.

Regardless of size or scope, however, any business should be methodical in determining what factors are most important for their webpage as well as which hosting providers have the best reputation in order to come to their final decision.

About the author:  Cormac Reynolds is a writer and journalist and has written for a number of tech sites. He enjoys the great outdoors when he’s not working and loves hiking.
Contributor
This post was submitted by a contributor. Check out our Contributor page for details about how you can share your ideas on starting a business, productivity or life hacks with our audience.

Comments are closed.