Web hosting is a subject that divides opinion more fiercely than you might think. When people are arguing about what is most important in a web host, you can prepare for some strongly differing opinions. While there will be many who prefer that the web host has good tech support, and others will prize webspace above all else, a significant number of people will plump for uptime, every time. If your web host provides the right amount of uptime, the tech support won’t be so necessary (and you can always add more webspace later on).
Uptime is, however, essential no matter who you are and what your site is about. You might as well not have a website if it is going to spend more time displaying error messages to the people who want to read it. Most web hosts will promise in the region of 99.9% uptime. None can promise a hundred per cent, as this is an impossible promise, but you will note that the sites that offer 99.99% or 99.999% will be more expensive than those offering the simple 99.9. Nines are costly.
It is worth asking for proof if none is shown, or asking an impartial contact if the hosting company is as reliable as they say they are. It is one thing to lay claim to excellent uptime and quite another to reliably provide it.
When setting up your website, you are likely to have some grand ambitions as to how it will look. You will want to bring in as many viewers as possible and expand as time goes on. This is what any webmaster wants to do – or at least, the vast majority do. This is the thinking behind the “unlimited web space” offers that are made by many web hosting companies. And as attractive as that sounds, you may find that it has its drawbacks.
With limited web space, the advantage is that you can set a limit for what you pay – ensuring that your monthly bills are more than reasonable. If you get a spike in traffic, the site may experience lagging and even down time – but as long as you are on top of how much traffic you are getting, there need never be any real problem. But if, for whatever reason, hits to your site go astronomical when you have unlimited web space then you will soon find why most people choose limited.
There is a trade-off to be had between settling for less and paying more. Setting limits on the amount of web space you use is the sensible thing to do, at least until you are able to see how much traffic your site is bringing in and how well you could justify spending a little more on it. Certainly, unlimited webspace is a waste if you are not planning to make money from your website.
Smaller businesses will always be somewhat at the mercy of the larger companies who can pay for their own servers and the IT experts who can make sure that they keep running. It is pointless to look to compete with these companies, but you can follow some of the steps they take and keep yourself ahead of other companies of the same size as you. One way to go about this is to use colocation – a system that allows you to benefit from greater bandwidth and customer support than would otherwise be possible.
Colocation does cost more than standard web hosting, but offers you more for the money. It costs about the same as you would pay for a business grade DSL line providing limited bandwidth, and allows you access to far more bandwidth than the DSL line. It is also a more protected supply than most others, meaning you will have less downtime, and any time you do it will either be scheduled or fixed within moments. Because the colocation facility is dedicated to providing so much bandwidth, it is set up to withstand power outages.
As a colocation customer, you do have more responsibility for your server – indeed, in many cases it is advised that you buy a standard server in a colocation facility (this will usually cost between $150 and 200), and pay a small extra cost to have it maintained by the IT team at the facility. However, if you have your own IT experts, they can attend and carry out the maintenance that is required themselves.
Creating a professional website can be challenging. E-commerce web design is really a complex animal. To cut development time, many web hosting companies start offering web hosting templates or hosting with templates.
Whether you’re looking for a simple web site or a functional e-commerce website, the chances are that you may be able to find a few web templates from your hosting company. A simple web template may cost under $20 dollars, but a well-designed professional e-commerce website will cost a few hundreds or more if not thousands.
The cost of web templates is still cheap comparing to custom-made e-commerce websites when Web designers charge anywhere from $20 to $100 per hour. If you want to check out some templates, go to www.templates box.com
Besides the requirements of standard web hosting plans, Web hosting templates for e-commerce operations needs a shopping cart that supports online catalog and online payment processing (here’s a clue, pick Pay Pal). Web templates for e-commerce often include common pages and navigations for online shopping – searching or browsing products, adding items to shopping carts and making payment. The web templates for e-commerce do not include or connect to any specific shopping cart. It’s up to the webmasters to add shopping cart to the site.
The alternative e-commerce hosting to web templates is e-commerce turnkey solution. EBay Stores, Yahoo! and GoDaddy.com are the most popular turn-key e-commerce solutions for small businesses that want to setup online stores easily. Different hosting plans may have different free structures. The cost of each hosting plan often varies on transaction volume.
When comparing functionality, there’re many questions to ask:
- whether a shopping cart accepts online check or debit card.
- Whether there’s a limit on the number of products and categories that you can setup;
- whether it automatically sends out an email notification once an order is placed at your web-site.
When looking at the cost of commerce operation, you’ll need to ask questions about
- what’s the basic monthly fee for transactions;
- is there’s a setup fee for a new online store;
- how about handling taxes?;
- how much it charges for each transaction.
Talk with your hosting service on e-commerce issues and discuss the best plan to go with.