Choosing a web host
A web host is the company that puts your website online. If you have a WordPress site (like the ones I design at Clickish) it doesn’t come with a host, so you’ll need to choose one.
A great hosting company will have a better all round service – reliable hosting, better support, faster performance and honest pricing. In contrast, a bad host will be hit and miss. You might suffer in everything from website speed, security and email deliverability, to just having support there when you need it.
You could also be led in with a cheap package only to be surprised later with hidden ‘extras’.
These are three hosts I can recommend from my experience:
Recommended Web Hosts
Siteground is a speedy and reliable host. Unfortunately its prices have climbed significantly so it’s no longer the most affordable on this list.
Despite that, the user controls are excellent for non techies, with all the most useful tasks only a click away.
Support is available 24/7 by online chat or phone, although in common with other hosts, you must go through a short online troubleshooting process first.
My website loaded fast, with an 83% score in GTmetrix (a website speed testing service). There’s a 99.99% uptime guarantee, reliable Google Cloud servers and clearly laid out security processes.
They offer a steep discount for the first year. Its midrange ‘GrowBig’ package is priced at £4.99 a month, if paid in advance. This jumps to £23.99 on renewal, which is pricey.
Hostinger is extremely affordable, has a beginner friendly user interface and its site speed was the best I experienced.
Packages for its mid range ‘Business’ hosting start at £3.33 (although this means paying for 4 years in advance!) However, even if you only pay a year ahead (at £4.49 a month), you’ll still enjoy a discount on renewal, unlike with other hosts.
My website scored 87% in GTmetrix. The user interface is well thought out and intuitive, with the most common tasks well labelled and easy to access.
Their uptime guarantee is a smidgen lower than others at 99.9% (compared with 99.99%). Support is also online only. Unfortunately when I tried to contact them via their advertised support email I got no response.
Krystal is well thought of by other developers, who trust its customer service and performance. Its big selling point is that it’s a UK based host, with its own data centres; and green and ethical promises that go above the norm.
Krystal’s infrastructure is powered entirely by renewable sources and it partners with several reforestation groups.
I used to think of Krystal as the ‘premium’ option but its prices are now lower than Siteground (if you ignore the discount period), with its mid level Ruby package costing £11 a month if paid a year in advance.
Unfortunately I had some issues with hosting. Whilst other designers love the flexibility of the cPanel user interface, I found it a pain and illogical after coming from Siteground. At the minimum it’s a steep learning curve for newbies.
Having said that, there were excellent supporting documents and I was never stuck for long. Human support was also prompt and knowledgeable, and 24/7.
Speed was another drawback for me. I was on the Ruby package. Despite what others have said, my website loaded slower compared to Siteground and Hostinger, dropping to a disappointing 73% in GTmetrix.
What to look for in a web host
If you’re picking a new host there are some things to watch out for:
There are plenty of websites that review hosting services but some are likely to be paid links and others appear spookily similar! Always compare sources. Even TrustPilot scores can be influenced by a savvy company.
Does the price jump after a welcome discount period? You could hop between hosts at the end of the promotional period if you’re comfortable dealing with the transfer process.
Is an SSL key included?
An SSL key is essential for securing users’ connection to your website and your website’s trustworthiness. Sneaky hosts charge extra for it.
If phone support is important to you, do they offer this? They should offer 24/7 support, even if it’s online only.
Look for a guarantee that your website will be available at least 99.9% of the time.
At a minimum they should have a policy of active anti malware scanning and server firewalls, although it can be hard to judge this if you’re not technical. Try to find reviews from people in the know (Reddit can be a good source).