One of the critical components of any soon-to-be-booming online business is a beautifully built website. However, this beauty mustn’t be only skin deep, but also rely on its rock-solid foundation - namely, the place where it resides.
If you’re running a brick-and-mortar store, expanding it online is an excellent way to attract new customers. If you already own a small online store, then improving its structure, security and speed can mean a lot for your business’ success. And if your online store - or any other type of business-oriented site for that matter - hasn’t yet been set in motion, it’s the perfect time to learn about the best online business practices.
While there are tons of tips and tricks on how to get traffic to an existing site and start selling on a large scale, there isn’t much talk about the very foundations of a site. So, in this guide, we’re going to talk about the ever-expanding website ecosystem, the importance of web hosting, and how to choose the right hosting service and set your site in motion for success.
The growing website ecosystem
The days when a website could exist in its own right without being embedded into an all-embracing, ever-evolving ecosystem are long gone. Today, any public site is practically loaded with multiple pieces of digital media and other content from a myriad of sources.
Some of these include social media sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube), email marketing tools (like Mailchimp), search engine optimization (SEO) tools (for instance, SEMRush), website analytics tools (like Google Analytics), customer relationship management (CRM) solutions (like Salesforce), and so forth.
In short, these pieces of the website ecosystem serve to boost your site and empower the way you engage with your customers - you can’t have a content-rich site without being a part of this ecosystem.
Also, as every successful site will grow with time, so will its ecosystem. So, the trick is to pick out a web hosting provider that will supply you with services that can keep up and stimulate its growth.
Why is web hosting important?
A stable, secure, and speedy web hosting service is a critical part of any successful site.
For starters, your website can’t have an online presence without being, well, online - that is, without having a space on a server to store all its content on it and make it accessible to users across cyberspace. In terms of business, its official site is its public face - so, it should be polished and professional-looking.
However, that’s not all of it. Your site won’t be able to grow without the resources to support it - namely the number of CPUs, storage space (preferably SSD), bandwidth, and RAM. Also, the type of web hosting you choose will have a strong influence on your site's performance - while shared hosting is suitable for a small site, if you’re running an e-commerce store with high traffic, a virtual private server (VPS) is a better choice.
Solid web hosting services act as an all-in-one sort of solution for sites offering everything from domain registrar and website builder tools to comprehensive customer support. Also, look for an intuitive and insightful user interface (UI) as it will let you monitor and manage every aspect of your site from a single place.
Shared vs cloud VPS solutions
If you’ve ever looked for a web hosting solution to launch a personal blogging site or a small online project, you’ve surely considered shared hosting. It’s cheap, it’s cheerful, and it’s simple to start with. So, it’s no surprise this is one of the most popular web hosting solutions on the planet.
However, it comes with some strings attached. As its name suggests, with a shared hosting solution all websites share the space and resources of one physical server, which could turn into trouble once your site starts to gain more visitors and grow in size.
On the other hand, with a VPS solution you’ll get an isolated, virtual environment on a physical server you won’t have to share with anyone else. Thanks to the virtualization technology behind a VPS, a single physical machine is split into several separate server environments that have the same resources.
In contrast, since resources on a shared server are used by all sites on it, if one site eats up too much of the bandwidth, your site could suffer a slowdown and put off potential customers.
While VPS is considerably costlier than a shared hosting solution, it is more powerful and will provide you with unmatched scalability. So, as soon as the number of visitors to your sites starts to spike, you can add more resources to your VPS - that is, upgrade your VPS hosting plan.
Also, while shared hosting is considered to be quite secure since you’ll be sharing a server with multiple users if one site gets attacked by cybercriminals, all other sites are put a risk too.
However, there are some drawbacks with a VPS hosting as well and these have nothing to do with the pricing. Namely, the lack of user-friendliness and the need for some technical know-how and setup time.
While a shared hosting service is so simple you can manage everything by yourself (with a help of a few how-tos), a VPS solution requires an experienced expert to manage it. However, if you don’t know how to manage a VPS or have an expert employee that’ll make sure the server is secure and up-to-date, there’s still hope.
VPS comes in two shapes: as a managed and unmanaged solution. With an unmanaged VPS, you or your employees will manage all aspects of your server or servers, while with managed services you’ll get a technician to assist you with tasks such as migrations, monitoring, and maintenance. However, be prepared to pay a pretty penny for all this help.
Choosing the right hosting provider
While with either of these types of hosting - shared and VPS - you’ll get pretty much what you pay for, you still have to choose the right web hosting provider.
While the simplest solution is to trust our choice of the top web hosting providers and consult our “Best shared hosting” and also “Best VPS hosting” lists, it is always smart to carry out an investigation on your own.
So, check the scope of available hosting plans, their price-to-performance ratio, the host’s refund policy, and the types of guarantees they provide. Also, take a look at the company’s background and whether they have a clean track record, particularly when it comes to security.
One way to secure your site’s success is to build it on a solid website foundation that’ll be able to scale up with your site and support its growth.
Whether you’re starting a site for personal or business reasons, one of the first things you have to choose is the type of hosting you want - and both shared and VPS hosting are solid choices to start with. However, depending on your personal preference or business requirements, you’ll probably prefer one type of solution over the other.
To sum it up, if you’re starting small and have a tight budget to work with, shared hosting is probably best for you. At the same time, if you have in mind a professional, money-making site with superb security, scalability, and SEO, then a VPS solution is the way to go.
- Check out our list of the best cheap web hosting services on the market
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Mirza Bahic is a freelance tech journalist and blogger from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the past four years, Mirza has been ghostwriting for a number of tech start-ups from various industries, including cloud, retail and B2B technology.