So, you’re ready to set up a new website, how exciting, but now you’re faced with the dilemma; “which web hosting package is best for me?”. We don’t mean to scare you, but this decision is kind of a big one. It determines everything from speed, security, uptime, and stability of your website.
In this, we hope to share some important facts that we’ve discovered about hosting over the years, helping you to understand the crucial parts of hosting so that you can make the best decision and choose the right web host for you. Let’s get started.
What is hosting?
Let’s start right at the beginning, what exactly is hosting? Basically, a web host supports a bunch of servers. Servers are designed to let all those who are browsing the web to access their content. This means every time that you click on a website, what you’re actually doing is connecting to a server located somewhere, downloading the site’s files and viewing them.
When you rent a space on a company’s server, you’re paying for them to “host” your site. So, you put all your files onto that server which then allows people browsing the web to view your site. Impressive, right?
What is the difference between hosting and domains?
Many people get domains and hosting confused, and we don’t blame them. It is important to understand the differences between hosting and domain names, so let’s dig in. Understand these differences will give you a little more clarity on the whole thing.
When you’re giving space on a server, you’re also assigned an IP address. However, IP addresses are far too hard to remember, which is where a domain name comes in; it’s easier to remember.
This also benefits you if you ever change your hosting package. Your IP address will change but your domain can remain the same. You won’t lose visitors but you still have the freedom to change your host.
Things you need to consider
Now that we have the nitty-gritty details out of the way, let’s get started on which hosting might be for you. It’s important to list all the requirements that your website might have. These are:
Security requirements? Obviously, all sites need to be secure, but some require a little more security than others. For example, e-commerce sites that will have card details and addresses processed through their website will need to give more attention to security than those who are simply just running a blog, for example.
Email hosting? Do you need email addresses that are linked to the domain of your new site? If you do need this (or simply want this), does your host provide this?
How large is your data? What is your actual file size? Because the more data you have, the more storage and bandwidth your host will need. If you’re not entirely sure how much data you have, think about what your site actually includes. Is it mostly text? Well, you won’t need as much storage or bandwidth. Alternatively, if your site is full of images and videos you will need more storage and bandwidth.
Volume of traffic. How much traffic do you expect on your site? You need to make sure that your host provider will be able to handle your initial traffic and your future traffic. If your business depends heavily on the traffic to your site, you need to pick a hosting package that will ensure uptime.
Different types of hosting packages
There are different types of web hosting services, and it can all be a little confusing. Below we have listed the most popular types, and what the advantages and disadvantages of using them will be.
Shared web hosting. As the name suggests, shared hosting literally means you’re sharing a server with other websites. The low cost of shared hosting makes it a great option for start-ups or blogs. The disadvantage is that the other websites you share the server with may affect your performance. We recommend this server to those with a low budget or start-ups that aren’t initially getting a lot of traffic.
Cloud based hosting. It’s the most modern of technologies that have many benefits attached to it. For example, if your site gets an unusually large amount of traffic all of a sudden, it won’t just shut down. Your hosting company will just accommodate for this surge. We recommend cloud servers to just about anybody, but please be mindful that they cost more.
Dedicated server. A dedicated server is a physical server that usually sits in your company. Yes, you won’t have to worry about other websites slowing down yours, and your data and information are super secure with this type of hosting. However, upgrading, repairing and maintaining a dedicated server does create some issues. We recommend a dedicated server to businesses that have strictly confidential data.
WordPress hosting. WordPress has become so popular that it deserves its very own point. WordPress hosting is perfect for sites that use the platform, it comes with installation updates, plugins and a good level of security. We recommend this to businesses that already use the WordPress platform.
Which one is the best for me?
We highly recommend that you list all the technical requirements that your site has. Make sure the host you’re leaning towards choosing supports them all.
Make sure that the hosting package you’re considering choosing meets all your general initial needs, things like backups, security, domains, bandwidth, storage, and databases are the first factors you need to check off your list.
Shared hosting is good for start-ups as it is cost effective. Dedicated hosting is good for businesses that have a large number of visitors, wants full control and tight security due to highly confidential and sensitive data. Cloud hosting is great for all types of businesses and requirements, it just costs a little more. WordPress hosting is highly optimised for WordPress websites and is perfect for sites that already use the platform.
Lastly, always look for a hosting provider that has experience, will offer you customer support and understands the complexities of your business.
We hope you find this information helpful and it guides you in your decision making process, but if you are still not sure then contact our support and our team would love to help you select the best solution for you.
If you’re a small business owner looking to start an e-commerce website, the options available to you can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know which one is going suit your needs, let alone make you stand out from the crowd. Each of the different software packages in this short list of 5 Best E-Commerce Software has its own qualities and advantages which will aid you with specific business needs.
1) WooCommerce for WordPress
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that has experienced huge growth since it began. Built off of the most popular Content Management System in the world, WooCommerce is both a feature rich e-commerce software and an extremely powerful blogging platform. WooCommerce is free and easy to install. You can have an online store with PayPal up and running in a matter of minutes. Unlike many other e-commerce software packages, you do not need prior knowledge of coding and web development. There is no complicated coding making it perfect for someone setting up their first online store. It’s also SEO friendly and its rapid growth really speaks for just how effective this software is.
Like any other software, it does, however, come with some downfalls. This plugin is not supported on some WordPress themes. This can be problematic as changing your Word Press theme could be a hassle. Furthermore, although it is free to install, many extensions, including some which are essential, require payment. For example, the default payment method is PayPal. If you wish to add credit or debit card payment, this requires a purchasable plugin.
The simplicity of this software also means it is less advanced. It exists on WordPress and cannot be used as a stand-alone platform meaning less functionality compared to other alternatives. The analytics are also not comprehensive however this issue can be resolved with plugins if you are prepared to pay.
If you already have a WordPress website and wish to sell a small selection of products then this software is definitely for you. If you have big plans for growth however and forecast a future with thousands of products, this may not be your best option.
Unlike WooCommerce, Shopify has tonnes of free features to help you manage your online store, and doesn’t even require any coding to get started.
The software does come at an initial price, with plans starting at £22. However, you can take advantage of a free trial period of 14 days. This includes everything you need to launch your online shop but a cheaper version is also available which lets you sell goods on Facebook. Of all the e-commerce software available, Shopify offers one of the most affordable packages for small businesses as you get a lot for your money.
Shopify is easy to use and can be set up within seconds, moreover the simple dashboard makes it easy to complete specific tasks. Again, you don’t need any technical skills to build your website and Shopify offers a 24/7 help centre if you do get stuck. You can customise the 100+ ready made themes and add your own logo and company colours. Shopify offers tools such as an online shopping cart, social media selling, analytics and mobile access which will allow your e-commerce business to thrive. It also offers SEO tools to help your products reach people searching for them on Google. The servers are fast and Shopify boasts a 99.94% guarantee that your site will be live and running at all times. Advanced customisations however can be hard to achieve without touching Shopify’s coding.
Although WooCommerce and Shopify are excellent choices for those wishing to start out with e-commerce software, Magento has endless possibilities for customisation. This does require coding, making the software suitable for more advanced users.
Magento is useful for unusual or extensive amounts of products but the user definitely has to be willing to learn the ins and outs of the software in order to reap the full benefits. Unlike both WooCommerce and Shopify you need some coding knowledge just to get started and set up your site. A number of unique features are offered such as guest checkouts and a ‘bill me later’ program to help customers finance their purchases.
If you are looking for free software, Magento offers a free version which is still highly customisable despite having less features. If you are a small business owner looking for a fully customisable e-commerce site then Magento is definitely the software for you if you have prior coding knowledge.
4) Presta Shop
Similarly to Magento, Presta Shop has plenty of features, with a free basic package but you do have to purchase templates and themes to make the most out of the software. Training materials are provided for all levels of user however they don’t offer an official support team. This software also offers analytics and an extensive range of tools for growing your online store such as product listing management and payment methods. Presta Shop is user friendly and perfect for small businesses, especially if it’s your first time setting up an e-commerce site. However, like WooCommerce, if you have plans for rapid growth this software isn’t your best option.
5) Open Cart
Open Cart is highly recommended for small business owners just starting out. This software is useful especially if you want to get your shop up and running as soon as possible as it just takes a few clicks to install. Although this software is free, it still includes many features which are included in paid software and even includes tools that will support different languages and calculate taxes for different currencies. This simple software is time saving and free making it perfect for small business owners, however you aren’t going to get the customisability you get with a software such as Magento.
Your choice of e-commerce software is dependent on your skill set and business goals. If you just want to sell a few products and have vert little coding knowledge then WooCommerce is or Open Cart are your best options depending on wether or not you already have a Word Press site. If you have coding knowledge and want a seamless, sleek website that is completely customisable Magento is perfect to fit your needs, however as a small business owner you may not have the time to maintain this yourself. Shopify offers the best all-round package, with plenty of guidance available on how to use it even if it is your first time setting up a website. It is customisable and offers analytics and SEO tools.