October 20, 2015

Finding a Gracious Host

When It Comes To Website Hosting, There Are An Overwhelming Number Of Options. How Can You Find The Right Host For Your Website?

Push10, like many digital marketing firms, does not directly provide website hosting. As there are dozens of reputable commercials hosts, many of which have extremely cost-effective pricing, it simply doesn’t make sense for us to clear out our back closet and fill it with a rack of servers. Such a setup would prove costly to set up and even more expensive to maintain and worst of all would provide zero benefits to our clients.

That said, we don’t ask our clients to navigate the confusing world of hosting on their own. We serve as knowledgeable consultants, helping our clients shop for, select and purchase an ideal hosting package for their new site. Sometimes our clients even opt to remain with their current host. There are many good options and many factors to consider along the way:

Does Your Current Host Meet The Hosting Requirements Of Your CMS?

At Push10, WordPress is our go-to CMS platform. Most PHP-based content management systems, such as Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, and Expression Engine share similar hosting requirements. Not sure what your current host requires? Click here for a list of WordPress hosting requirements. If our clients’ current hosting doesn’t support WordPress or if they are launching a new site and don’t have hosting at all, then a new hosting package will need to be purchased and configured. The good news? Almost all reputable commercial hosts meet the minimum requirements to run WordPress.

How Much Bandwidth Do You Need?

Once you have a list of several adequate hosting options, it’s time to narrow the funnel. To do so, consider the size of your site, the type of content on your site and how much traffic you expect. Also consider your minimum security requirements as well as any custom needs, like an e-commerce store. The hosting requirements of a small mom-n-pop brochure-ware site are far less than an e-commerce store selling hundreds of products to thousands of visitors per day.

Carefully Consider Your Options

We’ve seen clients host on everything from shared economy packages (like GoDaddy), to in-house servers managed by their IT department to powerful dedicated servers. For most of our clients, we recommend Virtual Private Servers (VPS) as they offer some of the benefits (power, speed, security) as Dedicated Servers for a fraction of the cost. However, the choices can be almost overwhelming. Even if you decided on a VPS, there are typically multiple options within, as hosting companies try to offer a wide range of speed and storage to meet individual client’s needs. And what about managed WordPress hosting? The increased popularity of WordPress has forced numerous hosts to offer managed WordPress packages. If you don’t have a trusted partner like Push10 and are trying to maintain your website in-house, Managed WP hosting packages are decent. However, these hosts tend to meddle with the site and can sometimes cause more issues than they prevent. If you have a relationship with a vendor to maintain your site, you might be better off avoiding managed WordPress hosting packages altogether. At Push10, we help our clients navigate this confusing maze to find the best host for their website.

Don’t Be Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

A website is an investment. A significant investment. It’s one of the most vital pieces of your marketing toolkit, and, if done correctly, should provide a serious ROI over time. Yet time and again, we get asked about shared economy hosting for $3 per month. Why spend thousands of dollars on a website, only to hamstring it with poor performance, excessive downtime and security issues? A decent VPS package can be had for only $50 per month. This is likely a drop in the bucket compared to your overall marketing budget, and an even smaller drop when compared to your company’s overall operating budget. So should you consider shared economy hosting for your company? The answer is easy. No.

What About Your Domain Name?

In most cases, your current domain registrar and web host are not the same company. In some cases, you might think that you’re using one company for all. However, it’s quite possible that the hosting company you paid for the domain name is actually outsourcing domain registration services to a third-party vendor. And that’s just fine. The key is for you to know who your vendors are and your account logins are for each. You’d be surprised just how many clients don’t even know who their vendors are, let alone their passwords. It can take a while to figure this out, hence we always recommend establishing your hosting plan well in advance of the website’s expected launch date.

When To Pull The Trigger?

As mentioned above, it’s never a good idea to wait until the last minute to select your hosting package. The last thing you want to be doing before launch day is pulling an all-nighter, frantically shopping for hosting. Or even worse, trying to remember the password for your domain registrar. That’s why Push10 tackles all these tasks during the planning phase. We ensure everything is in place months before the actual launch date – even if our clients are planning on staying with their current host.

It’s Okay To Be Confused

When shopping for hosting, you’re going to be hit with a bunch of new terminology like VPS, Cloud, Dedicated, Shared, IP, DNS, A-Record, MX Record, and so on. Don’t stress! Click here for a glossary of terms and acronyms related to website hosting. Luckily, we know our vocab and can help our clients throughout the process, from preliminary research to launch.

Put Your Host To The Test

Once your site’s launched on a new host, there are a variety of tools available to test the performance of the server, as well as the site itself. The results of these tests will help pinpoint and correct any performance issues before they become a problem.