After you must have decided on the purpose of your web site, researched keywords and chosen a domain name as discussed in "Domain Registration and Web Host Sign Up", the next step is to find a suitable web hosting provider to host your site. Just as tenants rent an apartment, room or a house, you will need a space on the internet where your files would be stored. It is very important to choose your web host wisely as ideally you would not want to move from one web host to the other.
A lot of hosting packages are available on the web, and it can be a very daunting task deciding on which one to choose. As most first time web enthusiasts may not have an idea of what to look for, I hope to give you a head start to finding the host that is suitable for you and based on my experience and knowledge recommend hosts that I have either tried and tested or host that have good reports.
Some hosting sites like Moon fruit provide custom templates for you to design your website. Most of its features are drag and drop and anyone that can use the mouse can put a website together in no time. In fact, I hosted my first website with moon fruit, and at that time I was happy with what I was getting. But as time went on, I realised that there were several limitations. You only have control over the content of the site, which has its own limitation too. You have limited access to the meta tags, and you have no means of optimising your site for search engine ranking. I would recommend Moon Fruit for non-web programmers delving into web design for fun without any commercial motive. This type of hosting is definitely not suitable for a commercial site of anyone serious about making money on the web.
For starters with a commercial objective, you would need a host that grants you full control of the site as well as databases, scripts, file management, emails, FTP, etc. Most of these hosting sites come packaged with a lot of other programs which come handy. Some of the things you need to look out for are:
- Bandwidth – also referred to as transfer. It controls the number of pages requested by each visitor. The higher the bandwidth, the more visitors you can have on your site. If your site would be displaying a lot of graphics, the bandwidth should be your major concern.
- Web Space In general, the size of the space being offered by most hosting sites are never fully use up. So do not be carried away with adverts offering extremely large web space, you may not need all of it.
- Customer Service On the onset, this may not be obvious to you, but you ideally should sign up with a host with good customer service. One that replies to your queries promptly. I would suggest that before you sign up, you request some information from the host and see how long it takes them to respond. It would be a fair indication of how they would respond to you when you have difficulties.
I am compiling a list of reliable web host that I would recommend based on the packages they offer, their promptness in dealing with queries and their customer service.You can view the current list here. I have had to change web host and the experience was not a smooth one. The host was reluctant to provide the information I required to switch to my new host obviously for commercial reason. I can not stress enough the importance of choosing a reliable web host the first time round. I will keep updating this list so check back from time to time as we embark on this journey to our wealthy place, the place of more than enough and an early retirement.