How to Choose A Web Hosting Company?

Have you been considering creating a personal or business website? More than likely, you have begun to think about logos, content, and color schemes. However, you may be forgetting one of the most critical errors of the process, your hosting.

Having the right type of hosting is essential for a reliable website. There are several things to consider when looking for website hosting. This article is designed to help you consider three elements that you should consider before you purchase your hosting package.

1. Ease of Use

One of the first things you need to consider is the ease of use of your hosting platform. The vast majority of hosting services will offer an easy to use control panel (mainly cPanel) to give you full control over the features and extensive functionality of your hosting. From within this control panel, you will have access to a myriad of settings specific to the hosting plan you are subscribed to. Using Softaculous or similar application accessible from within your control panel, you will be able to install distinct content management systems, including WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, along with various e-commerce as well as social networking applications.
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Apart from these basic functionalities, you will have access to domain-related settings that will allow you to configure and assign a domain name to your subscribed server. Additionally, you will be able to assign additional domains using the “Addon domain” setting. You will also be able to create subdomains, email accounts, FTP accounts, etc.

Understand that the ease of your hosting depends on what hosting plan you are subscribed to. If you are subscribed to a shared hosting from HostGator or Seekahost, then you will definitely have access to control panels like cPanel or Plesk. If you are on VPS (which essentially stands for virtual private servers) or dedicated server, then access to cPanel or Plesk will depend on whether you have invested in managed hosting plan or not. But there is no need to feel disheartened in case you are subscribed to an unmanaged hosting plan because, in such a case, you can install any operating system and application imaginable on your server. 

2. Room to Grow

Another consideration when thinking about website hosting is the ability to grow. When you first build your website, you are not going to get that much traffic. In fact, it may take months before you begin to see a steady stream of visitors to your site. However, when they do come, you want to ensure that you are going to have the bandwidth needed to support large spikes of traffic. Ensure that the hosting provider is going to make it as easy as possible to upgrade your plan to take care of large amounts of traffic. In fact, many of the best web hosting companies will take care of all of the upgrades for you.

What Is the Most Secure Web Hosting?

Web hosting companies are many in number, but only a few qualify as secure, reliable, and user-friendly hosting companies. As a customer, responsible business owner, blogger or Internet marketer, you want to host your website on a secure web server that guarantees the integrity of all your content and has an appropriate user authentication system to prevent any unauthorized access.

In the past, there have been many reports of breaches in web hosting companies, including the most famous Go Daddy breach that resulted in the exposure of 31,000 hosting accounts.

Knowing that even the sites hosted on Go Daddy (which is one of the few global web hosting giants) makes you rethink your web hosting decision. As an Internet marketing professional, I host all my websites on Hostgator and Seekahost, and for the past 10 years, I have not experienced a single problem regarding security, ease of use, or customer support. Although they can be classified as cheap web hosting services, their customer support, upgrade options, the refund policy, and commitment to customer satisfaction position them along with the big boys in the hosting industry.

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BLOGGING AND VIDEOS ON DJ SITE

A few months ago, I launched a site for my mobile DJ company, Dynamic DJ Entertainment. I decided to base the site around a weblog, which I had hoped would allow our company to:

  • interact with visitors to the site, clients, and potential clients
  • share our experiences, our stories, and the things we learn- about DJing, sound design, equipment, and running a small business in a unique niche market
  • show visitors what goes into DJing an event (start to finish)
  • display a “human” aspect of the business, allow potential clients to get to know us better

These are some the benefits of blogging that I thought of specifically for my DJ business. You can find numerous lists and examples of the business benefits of blogging by simply Googling the topic.

It may be a little early to gauge our success on these points, as we have only had the site up for a few months. Anyway, it’s good to keep this in mind as this is the direction the site is headed.

Videos

Last year, I made a video for my digital video production class at school on DJing, and it was a semi-documentary that followed us from start to finish on one of the middle school dances that we DJed. I still haven’t uploaded this video to YouTube, and it’s a bit outdated in terms of the equipment we used, but I liked the idea of filming the events.

There are a number of other DJs that film “gig logs”, in which they film events that they DJ at. Most notably on YouTube are briansredd and ellaskins of djtutor.com. They have many great videos on a wide range of topics related to DJing, but I have neither the time nor the knowledge to film videos and make tutorials as extensive as theirs.

However, my friend and co-DJ Dustin and I have really enjoyed filming our last few events. Dustin has even uploaded a few tutorials, which I then blogged about. While our DJ site is not becoming the premiere site to visit to learn about DJing, the new videos and the new content has received a good positive response.

We have received a number of new inquiries in the last few days through the site. I will keep you updated about the DJ site and any new technologies that we try out. If you are interested, the videos are available on Dustin’s YouTube channel or on the DJ site with my commentary.

E-COMMERCE WITH WORDPRESS AND PAYPAL

I recently completed work on a new website, Petra’s Jewelry, which is a online store for a woman who sells handmade beaded jewelry.

To create the store, I used WordPress and the the WP e-Commerce plugin. This plugin allows you to add products, maintain your listing of products and product pages, and submit payment through PayPal Express Checkout.

The creators of WP e-Commerce describe it as

an industrial strength elegant easy to use fully featured shopping cart application suitable for selling your products, services, and or fees online.

I found installation a little difficult, however most of my issues came from the fact that in creating the site’s WordPress theme I did not include the wp_head() function (info on wp_head), which this plugin uses to include the Javascript files.

Pages created

Once I had the theme finished and successfully installed the plugin, it automatically created a few pages:

  • Browse Products: This is the main page of the store. As some other people have noted, the URLs that are created for product pages and category pages are not good (for example, http://petrasjewelry.com/products-page/?product_id=2).
  • Verify your Order: This is the page you see when you click “checkout,” and before you are directed to Paypal for payment processing. The page works well and the form is well-designed. It calculates shipping and sales tax based on preconfigured rates by location.
  • Transaction Results: I think this is the page you return to after Paypal.
  • Your Account: This page lists a purchase history. I did not find this page particularly useful. Also, I did not find anywhere for users to create a login.

Javascript shopping cart

The plugin provides a PHP hook, nzshpcrt_shopping_basket(), that inserts what the creators call a “Sliding Shopping Cart”. It uses AJAX so that, for example, when you click the “Add To Cart” button, it appears in the shopping cart box without reloading the page (learn more about AJAX).

I thought this was a nice feature, and I inserted the shopping cart box in the sidebar of the site. However, I don’t know how good this is in terms of usability, as the plugin references quite a few JavaScript files in the header. I would think this would slow down the load time.

Product images

Most of this plugin’s administration interface is straightforward, but something I was concerned about when I was searching for an e-commerce plugin was the image handling. This plugin allows you to upload an image and it uses some server-side resizing to generate a thumbnail at whatever size you tell it. When you click on a product image, the plugin uses an implementation (it appears) of the Lightbox JavaScript technique to display the original version of the image.

Final notes

When I was creating this site, I was designing my own theme for WordPress and wanted something that was simple, usable, and easily maintainable. I was also looking for a free WordPress plugin.

I think that my attempt at creating a functional e-commerce store was successful, and I think the store works pretty well. I will be working with my client soon to add products to the store. I would also like to add a gallery (maybe using Lightbox JS again) that showcases jewelry created in the past (and not currently for sale) to give customers an idea of what is possible for custom orders.

After finishing this project, I have come across several nice alternatives, including Shopifyand Big Cartel. If I create an online store in the future, I would like to try these alternatives to see if they are any simpler.