Are you running a startup? Well, alongside perfecting that all-important business plan, conducting market research and networking your socks off to meet the right people, you need to give some thought to your online presence. A website is an absolute must-have for any self-respecting startup in 2016 as it will strengthen your brand, allow you to reach a wide a range of a customers and help you to gather all kinds of data and insights.
In fact, there are even more good reasons to invest time and money in building a website. A website will gain you some credibility and position you as a ‘serious’ player in your industry. And secondly, a website introduces you to your customers. This is hugely important if your business doesn’t have a physical shop or office space – your website is the first and often only impression you’re able to make. So, it’s important you make the most of the opportunity!
So, what do you need to do? Well, the first and perhaps one of the most important steps to setting up a website is buying web hosting. Read on to find out what that actually means, and how you can get the best deal for your money…
What is web hosting?
Web hosting is where a company ‘hosts’ your website on a server. Imagine your website is a book: the host is the shelving it sits upon so that people can come and find it, reading your fantastic content and buying your products whenever they want to. That’s why it’s important to invest your money with people who will make sure your website is on the right ‘shelve’, ensuring your website reaches enough eyes and can cope with all the people that want to take a look at it! A badly put together shelve, or one that isn’t maintained by a credible caretaker (i.e. the host company) is probably going to cause you problems in the long run, so it’s important to go for the best quality you can afford.
Will web hosting cost me anything?
Yes, web hosting is something you’ll have to pay for. You can pay a monthly or annual fee for a company to host your website on their server. You can host your website on your own server, but if you don’t have a server or know enough about the technical work that goes into establishing, maintaining and fixing servers, you’re better off hosting your website with an external provider. Besides… you won’t have time to learn the ins and outs of how hosting works on a technical level if you’re running a startup, and your time is probably better spent elsewhere!
I’ve heard there’s more than one type of server – is that true?
Yes, there are many types of server available, from VPS servers, private servers, cloud servers, shared servers and dedicated servers. Each has different benefits – for instance, a dedicated server has a huge amount of storage and bandwidth, whereas a cloud servers are typically come with a team that will be available to conduct patches and install updates for you right away. Equally, each different type of server has drawbacks too: a dedicated server will cost you a lot of money, and is therefore not something most startups will choose. Similarly, a shared server has the drawback of not being able to cope with as much traffic as you might actually end up with – particularly if your business does unexpectedly well and draws a large crowd to your website!
So, what type of web hosting should I opt for?
In short, this is a decision that depends entirely on your budget, the kind of startup you’re running, and the platform you’re building your site on. For instance, your options for WordPress hosting might to be different to a website built on another platform.
If you’re establishing an e-commerce business, you’re going to need a deal that offers plenty of storage and the capacity to handle lots of traffic. But, on the other hand, if your website is more of a supplement to a predominantly offline business, you wont need a host to provide you with quite so much.
So, the best way to proceed is to seek out a reputable web host such as Privacy Online to help you decide exactly what kind of hosting is best for your business. The key thing is to ensure that the host you choose is experienced, capable of letting you ‘scale up’ if your need to, and can offer you technical assistance if you require help.
As you can see, hosting is a complicated business, but there are companies that can help you and shortcuts you can take to simplify the process. Once you’ve bought your web hosting, spend some time making sure that your website is well designed and optimised. Then, tie up all those lose ends by ensuring your website is well protected. That way, you’ll have covered everything and can get on with the business of, well, doing business!