If you are running a small business and don’t have a website yet, you should get one now! In 2015 every small business should have a website. Why? Because the majority of your potential customers are looking for services and products online, and businesses that don’t have a website are losing clients.
These days it is not even necessary to hire a web designer or developer to create a website for your business. With so many tools, website builders, templates it is easy to build a professional website yourself. Although building a website is easy, finding the right web hosting plan is hard.
There are thousands of smaller and bigger companies offering web hosting service. Which should you choose? The decision is even harder, when you see the huge differences in pricing and features. If you are not into websites, you may not even know what features you need at all.
In this article I will help you figure out which are the most needed hosting features for a small business website, as well will suggest few very reliable companies you can choose from. I won’t recommend you anything that is crap or I have not tried out myself.
These are the top 3 hosting providers I recommend for small business sites:
– read the rest of the article to find out why!
What type of website you want to build?
Before you are going to buy a small business host, you need to know the type of website you want to host with them. For instance, if you are looking to sell products or service online, you will need an e-commerce website. To describe and present your company, you will need a simple, company presentation website. If you are thinking on publishing articles on a regular basis to attract more attention and drive your potential customers in your firm’s “behind the scene” section, a blog will be needed for this purpose. For a photographer, artist, or a musician an online portfolio will be the best option.
So to recapitulate, here are the most common website types that small businesses use:
- Company Presentation
- Blog Website
- Online Portfolio
Once you figure out what type of site you want to create, the next step is to choose a software. There are many website building tools available on the internet, but you should only choose the best. For a simple website you can use an online website builder such as Weebly. For a blog or portfolio you should choose WordPress. For presenting your company’s services or products you should go with Joomla, while for an eCommerce website you go with Magento or WooCommerce (which is an extension for WordPress).
Weebly: is a browser based website building tool, which allows you to create a basic website. There are no requirements of knowing any programming language or web design. Its drag-and-drop function makes it easy and convenient to everyone to use the tool. The Essential Plan offered by iPage web hosting, offers free access to the Weebly site builder.
WordPress: is the most popular content management system. At the beginning WordPress was mostly used for blogs, but has rapidly evolved into a leading open source software that powers millions of website worldwide. It is free to use, easy to customize, however it requires some minimal level of technical knowledge to get started. Still, there is no need for programming skills to build a website with WordPress. For hosting your WordPress site, I highly recommend BlueHost company.
Joomla: is the second most popular CMS, after WordPress. This is also an open source program that is used by universities, news portals, from small businesses to large corporations and everything in between. It is highly customizable and extremely flexible, having a huge template and extension base and a huge community. To get started with Joomla is easy, however it requires an entry level of programming knowledge to customize a Joomla based website. InMotion provides reliable, Joomla hosting service.
WooCommerce: it is the most popular e-commerce extension for WordPress. Yes, you can build an online shop with WordPress, by using this plugin. It is also open source and free to use and comes with all the necessary features and extensions that an online shop will ever need. Building and managing an e-commerce website with WooCommerce requires an advanced level of IT knowledge. Both BlueHost and InMotion are a good choice for hosting a WooCommerce shop.
Magento: is not the most popular, but probably the best open source e-commerce platform. Its setup and management requires a more advanced level of knowledge in programming. InMotion provides one-click Magento installation and a stable hosting service for e-commerce websites.
Now, that you know what software to use for your site, you can start looking for a hosting provider that supports that particular software.
What type of web hosting plan you need?
If it was not hard enough with thousands of hosting providers, now you have to figure out what type of hosting you need. There are four type of hosting plans you can choose from:
- Shared hosting
- VPS (virtual private server)
- Dedicated Hosting
- Cloud Hosting
So which, hosting type should you select?
Shared Hosting: is used by majority of individuals and small businesses. This is the most basic and cheapest hosting plan, costing around $5 per month (paid upfront for 12 or 24 months). It is used by low traffic websites only. Shared hosting support WordPress and Joomla as well, but as mentioned, it is good for small, low traffic websites. This type of hosting is fully managed, that means that you will get full support and a control panel to manage your website, domains, files, emails, etc.
VPS: is mostly used by small e-commerce websites, with a product number below 1000 and moderate traffic. A virtual server will cost somewhere $25-$100 per month. It depends on the server configuration and resource requirements. It is wise to choose a fully managed virtual server plan, because you will get support as well pre-installed software of your choice to (such as cPanel) the server. VPS provides much higher security, performance and flexibility to its users.
Dedicated servers: are used by enterprise and corporate level websites, as well by governmental websites. It is used to store sensitive information such as credit card numbers, name addresses, medical files etc. It has the highest level of security at a very high cost; ranging between $150 and $300 per month. Running a dedicated server requires a high IT knowledge, a system administrator and a lot of budget. A dedicated host can handle very large number of website traffic.
Cloud hosting: is used by both small and large websites. This type of hosting is used by websites that has a world-wide audience, spreading their website over multiple data-center locations. Having website files stored on multiple servers in multiple locations on the planet, makes it very reliable and super-fast. The user will connect to the nearest server and will access files from the nearest data-center. Due to the clustered servers, it is extremely scalable, supporting a huge amount of traffic at once. Although it is very powerful, sensitive information cannot be stored here, because user has no control over where the dataset is being copied over the network.
Which is the right small business hosting for you?
Now, you know what type of host it is needed to fit your budget and website needs. It is time to talk about web hosting.
Above I gave you some hints, on which company is good for different website types, but here I will go into details. Currently I have at least one account with all the companies I will mention bellow. With each company I have more than 3 year experience, so I had enough time to test them and make an opinion.
iPage Web Hosting
Ipage (5 year experience): from my experience I know that iPage performs very well if you build your site with their Weebly site builder. It is also good for hosting small WordPress sites that has traffic less than 200 unique visitors a day. The support is good.
BlueHost Web Hosting
BlueHost (5+ year experience): I have mostly used this company for hosting WordPress sites and had no major issues. It is a great and affordable option to host small to medium sized WordPress sites.
InMotion (3+ year experience): I have been hosting mostly Joomla websites with InMotion hosting. They are more pricey than the above mentioned companies, but with better performance. Currently managing a friend’s WooCommerce online shop on a virtual server hosted by InMotion hosting and the performance is amazing. The support is great, they have experience with all kind of open source software including WordPress and Joomla and they are always there to help you out.
So, these are my recommendations for small business hosting. Hope, that my tutorial has helped you to figure out what type of website you want to build, what hosting type you should choose for it, and which company to buy hosting from. If you still have questions, I’m here to help. Just submit your query in the comments bellow and I will try to answer as soon as I get online. Thanks for reading and have a great day!