The road to creating an effective business website is long. You need to make a lot of decisions and there are plenty of places you could trip up. But one people often forget to consider is their web host.
Your hosting provider is crucial to your success. They give your website somewhere to exist. Without them, having a website at all would be impossible.
But, when the cost of plans ranges from free to thousands of pounds per month, and most business owners don’t know their VPS from their Cloud, how can they make the right choice?
The fact is, many don’t and there are a lot of web hosting mistakes that too many businesses make. In this blog, I’ll discuss 5 of the most common so you can avoid these pitfalls and give yourself the best chance of web success.
Not understanding their usage requirements
Most businesses don’t understand how much bandwidth and disc space their website will use. But, this is the basis on which most web hosts charge. So, not knowing leaves them open to under or over-estimating their needs and paying for their mistake.
Overestimating your hosting needs leave a business out of pocket, having signed up for more perks than they can actually use.
But the consequences of underestimating are much worse. If you don’t have a big enough plan, you won’t have enough bandwidth available to keep a site live when users need it. And, even when it is available, it will be slower than the average user expects. If your lack of available bandwidth causes your page loading speed to drop below 3 seconds, you’ll almost certainly lose out on business.
The amount of bandwidth a site uses is determined by the amount of data each page contains and the number of people who need to access it at the same time. If too many people try to access too much data for a business’s plan, they’ll reach their usage requirements and be throttled by their server.
How to avoid this mistake: use a tool like this one to calculate your usage requirements before signing up for a plan.
Not leaving leeway for growth
Even when businesses do consider their usage requirements before buying a plan, they often forget that their needs are likely to change.
When your business is new, your requirements might be low. But, if your business suddenly booms or grows over the year, you’ll quickly exceed your allowance.
Not factoring growth in at the start can leave a business with the choice of paying through the nose for an upgrade, or changing providers to get a better deal. And moving your domain to a new host can be pretty tricky.
How to avoid this mistake: purchase a plan based on what you project your usage requirements will be at the end of your first year of business and add 20-30% on top of this projection for variable demand. This way, if you do better than you expect, or experience a sudden increase in traffic thanks to a viral campaign, your website will be able to cope.
Choosing the wrong type of server for their business
A lot of businesses make the mistake of falling for ‘unlimited’ offers that are in fact limited because they’re based on shared servers.
There are four types of server:
Shared servers are what most free web hosts use. A shared server is one where your disc space (amount of data storage space) is shared with many other websites. In this system, websites are always jostling for access to the available storage and bandwidth.
If some get greedy, the host will throttle them (restrict their usage) to stop them squeezing the life out of their server mates. So, ‘unlimited’ on a shared server never actually means unlimited.
Truly unlimited offers are only really available on cloud-based servers, which have the ability to grow in storage and bandwidth alongside the growth of your website because the storage is in the cloud and not on a physical server. However, this convenience comes at a premium.
How to avoid this mistake: understand the difference between server types and check the small print on ‘unlimited’ offers.
Not thinking about security
Security is crucial for all online businesses. For one, having an SSL certificate is a search engine ranking factor, so choosing a host that doesn’t provide one is a big mistake. Many free hosting plans only offer them at an extra cost.
None of us likes to think about the worst case scenario, but it is necessary when choosing a web host.
A host with effective backup systems will be worth its weight in gold if the server your site is hosted on experiences a major security breach or a catastrophic hardware failure (due to vandalism or natural disaster).
Losing all of your website’s data can have a devastating impact on a business, trashing your reputation and forcing you to start from scratch.
How to avoid this mistake: know whether your plan comes with an SSL certificate and ask about security measures.
Forgetting about customer service
There are always issues with your website eventually. And, no matter how good your hosting provider is or how clued up you are when purchasing a plan, you’ll be thankful for knowledgeable and accessible staff when you’re desperate to get something fixed.
If you’re an expert on all things hosting, then you won’t need to worry about customer service. But, if you’re the kind of person who shudders at the thought of having to change some code, you’re going to need some help.
How to avoid this mistake: know yours/your business’s strengths. If fixing technical issues isn’t one of them, find a web host with a strong reputation for customer service.
To sum things up…
Choosing the right web host can make or break your website. But so many think it’s an easy step. Now you know better! Learn from these common mistakes and get your site on the road to success.
Jodie is a professional writer and editor working with UK Web Host Review. She translates dense topics into accessible information to help everyone from small and niche business owners to budding web masters to reach their goals. She explores design, brand psychology, marketing and tech. You can connect with Jodie through LinkedIn.