If you are not an expert web host service user, you might prefer to have a drag and drop functionality to make setting up your site easier. For instance, if you are running a WordPress-based site, you’ll want to ensure your web host offers tools that allow “help wizards” to manage your site.
Sometimes hosts will boast an “unlimited” amount of bandwidth. This often comes with a caveat; you may find that, with some of the less expensive plans, web hosts may throttle the speed of your site, resulting in a poor experience for your site visitors.
You may find yourself needing technical support. However, you should be aware of the level of support that your host provides. Most will provide basic account support, but it might be difficult if you want someone to help code your site, for instance (most will not offer this).
Several web hosting providers offer website-building tools, but you may find it difficult to modify these to your needs.
Consider that WordPress may work fine out of the box, but there’s more you can do with it if you work with a developer. It’s important to find out whether the web hosting provider allows you to customize your site. Customizing means not just modifying the content to your preferences, but also the structure of the site.
It’s important to be aware that several hosts offer an extremely attractive introductory offer (often less than $5 a month). While this may look like a good deal, you really need to pay attention to what their long-term prices will be. Read the small print, be aware of what your costs will be in a year or two, and make sure you have the ability to pay those costs in your budget.
The complexity of your site will determine what web hosting features you need. You may be running a site using a specialized programming language, and not all hosts can meet these needs equally.
Almost all hosts will support PHP and WordPress. However, if you have a need for your site to run Joomla, Drupal, or other open-source software (OSS), you’ll need to ensure the host can provide this service.
About the Author: Andrea Miller is research manager at Digital.com, a website that helps small businesses start and grow their own websites.
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