When building your website, it’s a bit overwhelming, and you’ve likely been recommended a certain provider that is as cheap and easy as possible. Like everything in business, you have to choose if you’d rather spend time, or money on building out your website. This post goes over the questions you should ask, no matter which provider you choose.
Before I jump in with the technical questions you should ask, I’ll start with a few definitions that should be of help:
- Domain name registrar. This is where you register your domain name. GoDaddy is the most popular. BareMetal is a great Canadian alternative we’ve used for years, especially for .ca domain name and we like they give a portion of their profits to the EFF. We also like Porkbun as of writing this, they serve most of the top level domains (TLDs).
- Domain name service (DNS). This is the service that will point your domain name to the internet address (IP) of your hosting provider. When you type a URL in your browser like onedaywebsite.ca, under the hood your computer does a DNS request to a name server that replies with the IP address(es) for your computer to go to see that website.
- Hosting. This is the big decision you need to make, as hosting is the computer(s) where the web pages of your web site will live.
The main questions aside from cost of hosting are:
- How much space you get. Likely not a big issue when you’re just starting out.
- How much bandwidth you get. Also, likely not a big issue when you’re just starting out. You do want to setup analytics for your website to see how much traffic you get, as when your bandwidth increases, you may need to upgrade your hosting plan. With us, we do that for you dynamically.
- Security. Make sure you use a good strong password so attackers can’t brute force (use a program to try all the passwords they can) your password and deface your website. You’ll also want to ensure your website is secure using a TLS/SSL certificate. We do this for your, but some hosting providers do not. Make sure you have an A or A+ rating with Qualys ssl test. Security is even more important if you have a database driven website like Wordpress that can be hacked, so you might consider static pages instead. We recommend Jamstack if you’re going to hire a professional to develop your webpages for you.
- Speed. This is the big one, and most of the free and really cheap providers don’t optimize here. Google blogged that most website visits are abandoned if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load. They will lower your search engine optimization if it takes more than one second to load, so choosing a host based on this is very important. You can test out the speed of your website with Google Page Speed Insights.
If you’re looking for a cheap host that does most of these things for you, you’ve likely been recommended GoDaddy, Wix, SquareSpace, or Siteground or similar services, but chances are with these ones they will not meet the speed test as they’re often on shared hosting plans which means your website is on the same computer as hundreds to thousands of other websites, they often secret embed privacy trackers into your website, and several of them jack the prices up on year two, so do your homework here.
It’s also worth exploring a content delivery network (CDN) like Cloudflare, this not only improves the security of your website, but a CDN will have servers all of the world setup to host your website as fast as possible to your users based on their location.