Like the old chicken and the egg adage, these days it’s hard to know what comes first for the startup: the website or the business. In this post-dot com world, often the two are closely linked. It’s no surprise then that the hosting service a company may choose is highly important to its strategy. Ready to start an online business? Consider this checklist for purchasing a hosting package before you set up digital shop.
Illustrate Your Site’s Framework
You don’t need to be a web designer to plan your site. Before you start shopping, you’ll need a clear picture (or outline) of your site’s basic, front end platform before you’ll know whether a hosting service can support it.
Is your business strictly content-driven, relying on revenue from paid member access? You might need a robust blogging platform with membership management features. Are you selling items strictly within a shop? You’ll likely want web hosting with eCommerce tools included. Diagramming your site will allow you to level with web hosting representatives on the most basic aspects of your site so you can find out early on if their services will meet your needs.
Pro Tip: Make a list of your must-have add-ons, as well. Stumped on what those additional options might be? Consider things like secondary domain names (for SEO), hosted email accounts, additional admin accounts, and more. Some web hosts will include these features, while others will charge extra.
Start Small When it Comes to Server Options
It’s easy to get caught up in promotional materials about bandwidth and server options when shopping for a new site. However, as we’ve said before bandwidth isn’t really an issue for the average website owner.
The same is true for server options. Hosting companies may try to sell you on server upgrades for things like dedicated hosting, but this is often more than a startup – or even a future enterprise might need. New website development often works just fine with shared hosting models like WordPress and other user-friendly, open source platforms that can still support tens of thousands of visitors per month.
Try Out Backend Functionality and Explore Support
Don’t be shy about asking to test the product. If a company doesn’t offer a free trial of its hosting platform, ask for access to a sandbox site. As a business owner, and future website admin, backend ease-of-use is essential to your site’s success. The platform’s control panel, which should include customization and content management options, should be snappy and intuitive.
As you try out the system, utilize the learning materials that the company provides for admins. If it doesn’t offer any, find out what additional customer support it offers instead – be it by phone or ticketing system. These resources will be important as an admin’s ability to overcome glitches factor into an online startup’s reliability as a service.
Look Further Down the “Digital Road”
Consider the web host’s subscription plan: is it an annual contract or month-to-month? Is early termination costly? Are you locked into the features you choose now or can you opt for add-ons as you go? Ultimately, you’ll want a company that’s as flexible as your startup – one that’s ready to take the shape or your business and not one wrought with workarounds. Look forward a couple years and anticipate how your website might grow. Will the web host support that growth? If not, then find a better fit.
Ready to explore web hosting options? Let us work with you to discover the best solutions for your website development project. Give us a call today and find out how we can help.