Website Hosting

These days, everyone needs a website, even if it's only a basic page giving contact information.  That raises the question, where to host the site?

 

A comprehensive control panel allows you or your webdesigner to make changes without having to phone for support.Most ISPs provide some form of webspace allocation, and it is tempting to use this, especially as it is essentially free.  We would advise against this though. There are two problems. One, that the webspace may have issues which prevent the software you want to use from functioning properly. Two, you may find yourself in a lock-in situation where your ISP service is not reliable but changing ISP is going to involve replacing the website as well. Rather like a house tied to a job, this is a situation best avoided.

That said, the ISP webspace may be quite OK if you just want to host a few static pages stating who you are and what you do. The thing we'd avoid is setting up any kind of advanced portal on ISP-provided space. Basically, if moving the site elsewhere will involve more than an hour or two of work, then get dedicated hosting for it.

Dedicated hosting need not be overly expensive. IWR Consultancy has struck a reseller deal  with  leading USA-based website-hosting company Siteground, and can provide hosting accounts for very competitive prices.

This webspace is Linux-based, and thus supports the majority of popular content management systems. Furthermore, if you'd like to use a popular package like Wordpress or Joomla but are not sure how to go about installing it, there is an automated installer. If you're still unsure, the Siteground team are there to help, and the standard of support is excellent. They'll even help with transferring your existing website from another host.

SitegroundBy the way, if you're thinking '..but I use Windows desktops so will a Linux host cause compatibility problems?' the answer to that is a definite No. Far more websites are hosted on Linux servers than Windows servers, and from a visitor's point of view you wouldn't know which system the site was on, anyway.  This site is on Linux hosting, and chances are you're reading it on a Windows or Mac computer.

While on this subject, the mainstream Web products such as Wordpress use the PHP programming language, and this is available as standard on Linux. Although PHP can be provided on Windows servers it is not native to that platform, thus there are more likely to be difficulties with taking the Windows route for a standard website.

The time when you might prefer a Windows hosting account is if you intend to deploy what's known as an ASP website. These are very much a specialist niche, though.

Space and Bandwidth allocations with this package are extremely generous, as are the provisions for installing  advanced tools and features, in fact it's unlikely you would ever outgrow its capabilities- at least not until your firm reaches corporation-scale, anyway! 

EasilyAn important feature -and one lacking in a surprising number of hosting accounts- is that the client has full control over the account's settings via an online control-panel.  

The email component of the package is flexible and full-featured,  an important aspect where there is  the need to provide multi-user email to a full site, rather than a simplistic single-user system.

If you're finding that your existing webspace is cramping your designer's style, is slow, or not reliable, then please ask about pricing.

Domains

Along with hosting, everyone needs a domain name. A domain can be registered at Siteground, and their prices are very reasonable. You can alternatively register a domain or two at a dedicated registrar. It actually makes no odds to the website where you register the domain, but beware of the gotcha that once a new domain has been registered it may not be possible to transfer it out for several months. Thus, please don't go register a domain with a registrar found randomly on Google!  We've seen this done, and it sometimes leads to grief. Choose a reputable one. We typically use Easily or Domainmonster for registering UK-specific domains, Siteground for global. That's not to say they are the only options but we've always found them reliable.

FirstSiteGuideA side benefit of Sitewground's American-based hosting is the facility to register .com and .net domains at much lower cost than a typical UK registrar would charge. Many firms prefer a .com name as looking 'more professional' than a .co.uk one, yet are deterred by the (unrealistically) high  registration-charges  for .com domains in the UK. The answer is simple; register in the USA  and you are charged a much more competitive rate.

For a more detailed guide on choosing hosting and domain registrars, you might like to take a look at Nick Colakovik of FirstSiteGuide's writeup on the subject.