A website is crucial for almost any endeavor of the modern world. Whether you are building your own businesses or simply trying to find a job at someone else’s, a website allows you to build your brand in visual, interactive, and otherwise exciting ways. However, not every aspect of creating a website is artistic and electrifying; just like in business, there are many decisions behind the scenes that contribute to an effective site. Perhaps the most misunderstood of these decisions is choosing a Web host.

For those endeavoring to create their first site, obtaining a host is an absolutely crucial step toward developing your website — like renting your office space when you start a new business. Also like finding office space, there are dozens of features that you want to make sure your Web host offers before you start paying rent. Before you fantasize about the outstanding design of your forthcoming website, you should spend some time getting to know the complex process of Web hosting so your site can have everything it needs to succeed.

Storage and Bandwidth

Often bundled together, storage and bandwidth govern how much website you and your visitors get for your money. Web hosts are notoriously surreptitious when it comes to accurately advertising the sizes and speeds they offer, so you should know up-front what storage and bandwidth you are signing up for. While you are researching potential Web hosts, you should look for numbers telling you clear limits, or else you could run into some expensive trouble when your site goes viral.

Automatic Backup

Once, on what could have been the worst Monday of my life, I deleted my blog’s directory completely. Fortunately, my host provides daily backup, so I was able to restore my website to its condition on Sunday after just a few keystrokes. Whether you are as mistake-prone as I am or you want extra protection against the unforeseeable future, you should find a Web host that provides regular backup.

Email

As archaic as it seems, email remains a marketer’s most effective tool at attracting and retaining an audience. That means you absolutely must have at least one (if not a heaping handful) of email accounts attached to your website. Fortunately, most Web hosts offer email; unfortunately, not all email services are equal. You should find out if your potential host offers multiple mail interfaces, integrates with Google Apps, and allows protocol options.

Domain Slots

Websites are very much like potato chips or tattoos — it is nearly impossible to have just one. Many companies buy several domain names that sound like their main site, like how Google owns google.com and googel.com, as well as the .org, .net, and .com versions. Additionally, once you have your first site running, you will undoubtedly think of 10 more ingenious website ideas. Thus, you probably want to find a Web host that offers plenty of space for extra domains.

Social Media Tools

Social media is now an essential step in garnering an audience for you site (or even your offline business), and it is much easier to monitor your site’s social media accounts using tools that are integrated with your site. Not all Web hosts are social media – compatible, and you might have to dig to find out what social features your top hosts offer.

Mobile Apps

Last year, mobile users overtook desktoppers in the amount of time they spent on the Internet, and this year, mobile browsing only continues to increase in popularity. Being mobile device-capable is no longer an option when it comes to catering to the online audience. Many Web hosts provide mobile services, while others still see mobile as utterly unnecessary; you obviously want the former.

Database Support

Even small websites have started including back-end databases for ease of use, and as you build your site, you will definitely need a database you can use. While MySQL is most common (and most basic), PostsgreSQL, Oracle, SQL Server, and more are also available with some hosts — you just have to search for them.

Straightforward Pricing

The last thing you want is to find the picture-perfect Web host at an outstanding price — only to find that price tripled at checkout due to unadvertised fees. You should be able to trust your host, and if a host isn’t straightforward with its pricing, you should move along.

Customer Service Support

During day-to-day webhosting, there are a number of issues that can pop up: email gets finicky, the social media tools aren’t connecting, or the whole website goes down without warning. No Web host can guarantee against such glitches, but they can provide living, breathing, reliable customer service reps who can fix your problems in a reasonable amount of time.

About the author

Vlad Georgescu

I'm a graphic designer/web developer from Romania and I'm the founder and co-owner of icanbecreative.

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