5 mistakes startup owners make when choosing a web hosting service

When starting a business, having a website is vital. It doesn’t matter what sector you’re entering; a company website is an absolute must.

From creating direct sales and networking with industry experts, to advertising your business and offering consumers information, a dedicated site offers an unparalleled opportunity for improving business operation.

1. Failing to test customer service
There are few industries where good customer service is as key as it is to web hosting.

Websites are notoriously fragile; they need regular monitoring and maintenance. If your website goes down, you could immediately start haemorrhaging money.

Case in point: when Amazon’s website crashed for 40 minutes back in 2013, they lost US$5 million in profits. This is obviously an extreme example of a problem affecting a retail giant, but it does help prove the point.

Your website is useless offline, meaning every minute it spends out of service is bad for business. Web hosting services are responsible for keeping your site up and running, which means in the event of a catastrophe they must be contacted to help you solve the problem.

The responsiveness and effectiveness of their customer service will either make them worth every penny, or make you realise you’ve made a terrible mistake.

But, how do you test customer service if you aren’t a customer yet? Simple:

  • Test their promises: Twenty-four-seven helpline? Call that helpline at 1AM and see if they’re really awake. Twenty-four-hour email response? Send them a concerning technical support email and see how long it takes for them to get back to you.
  • Contact customers: Search web forums, social media and Q&A sites for customers of your chosen hosting service. Ask them about any problems they’ve had and how the company has reacted.
  • Read reviews: Websites such as TrustPilot offer insights to business performance through user reviews.

2. Taking the free option
Here’s a temptation many startup owners find hard to resist: free web hosting.

Once you’ve broken the bank on a great website design with impeccable functionality, it can be almost irresistible to keep costs down by using a free web hosting service. But with web hosting, you get what you pay for.

Free web hosting services come with a variety of limitations and ultimately force you to relinquish some control you really shouldn’t be letting go of.

Free hosting services, such as WordPress, will put adverts of their choice on your website and there isn’t a thing you can do to stop them.

You’ll also receive limited customisation options, slower load times, no access to search analytics, poor security, reduced SEO functionality, an inability to run certain plugins and scripts, limited scalability and a finite amount of storage. You also don’t get that valuable customer support.

Keep control, cut the shackles and limitations, and avoid free web hosting.

3. Ignoring your individual needs
Like every business, every website is unique. This means one size doesn’t fit all.

When choosing a web hosting service, first consider the needs of your website. For example:

  • How much storage space do you need?
  • How many sites will you be hosting?
  • What sort of bandwidth allowance do you need?
  • What kind of processing speed do you need?
  • How much RAM does your site require?
  • What is your projected traffic?

If you know what your website needs, you know what you should be paying for. This helps you avoid both under and overpaying.

On the one hand, you don’t want to underpay for web hosting and suffer as a result. At the same time, you shouldn’t be paying out for services you don’t need.

Taking the time to understand your individual needs ensures you’ll get the right package for your business.

4. Using a web host service with terrible user interface
You don’t have to be a tech expert to own a website anymore. The geniuses behind the software have made website creation so easy, everyone can have their own personal site.

However, some web hosting services still live in the dark ages.

Before you sign up for any web hosting service —-no matter how good the package sounds— check their user interface.

If you are familiar with WordPress, you’ll know the software is incredibly easy to operate and very intuitive. After only minimal tutorials and training, anyone can upload web pages and edit their site.

This is the type of software you need; it saves you time. Calling tech support every five minutes when you need to make an edit or upload a blog isn’t exactly efficient.

Although rare, some hosting services still offer bizarre, overly complicated and practically unusable interfaces. Unless you are a tech expert, using a service like this is going to be frustrating.

Don’t fall into this trap.

5. Not reading up on the restrictions
One of the greatest lies in the modern tech world is the one about “unlimited” service.

By definition, it is impossible to offer an unlimited number of anything and in web hosting the same rule applies. As you are being hosted on physical servers, you cannot have unlimited storage, RAM or bandwidth. It isn’t possible.

Similarly, web hosting services may offer restrictions such as limited email accounts, e-commerce options and ability to integrate personal software. They may also have poor backup features.

Be sure to read the terms of service before committing to a web hosting service provider. Find out what they offer — how much “unlimited” really means — and if it’s enough for your site.


The article entitled “5 mistakes startup owners make when choosing a web hosting service” originally appeared on e27.


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