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Selecting a Web Host Company

Recently I updated my blog on Web Design with a review I came across called the Top Ten Best Web Hosting Companies of 2013.  I know the title sounds a bit presumptuous, but was worth some merit due to the thoroughness and scope of the content.  You need to login to read our blogs and other material, but I'd thought I'd share my personal views and experience when it comes to selecting web hosting companies.

The reviews at the Top Ten Best Web Hosting Companies includes a reasonable summary on what one should look for in a host, so I don't need to go into much detail. Also there are other review sites you should be encouraged to read as well, to get different perspectives.  Interestingly, there's a site called the Top Australian Hosting Companies that has put HostPapa on top of their list of 5.  HostPapa has served our community needs very well so far (and I have been using it for my personal projects for well over a year).  Strangely, HostPapa does not make the top ten at the "Top Ten"  (and not even in their extended list of 15).  True, HostPapa has an Australian front, but I understand the servers and company is Canadian.

The Top Ten Australian Hosts is actually is provided from Hosting-Review which seems to definitive review site for selecting top ten web sites based on various user perspectives and requirements (eg. geography, content type, business and web tools).  Hostpapa keeps popping up at the top of the list on many of these lists, so I still think we're "on the money" with HostPapa as our primary host  (at least for now - things change over time a we all know).

Below I've put a summary of what I felt was important in selecting a site, realising that every web development team and customer will come up with a different set of priorities. The priority is included as an example, but certainly would figure when close comparisons need to be split.

Priority Selection Criteria Comments
1 Price and overall value Important for large sites with space demands; should diminish as a priority over time as technology gets cheaper and average site costs drop significantly.  This was important to our community (with a minute budget).
2 Performance and availability From my perspective, almost equally important as running costs
3 Tools, functions and value adds These generally influence user confidence, development / maintenance time, hence running costs
4 Customer support Support availability, responsiveness and quality
5 Application specific tools In the case of our Community, Drupal friendly hosts are a plus, if not essential
6 Ease of maintenance Covers backups, restores, FTP performance, (Drupal upgrades for us)
7 Site navigation I personally found some sites with reasonable support tools, but navigation paths confusing, inconsistent and peppered with sales banners
8 Host Company Reputation The company may offer the best overall value, but how enduring is the company itself. This is where to independent Review site play a part in final decision making.  For a large customer, the priority of this criterium will go up the list.

I'll be very glad to modify or extend this summary, based on reader comments and feedback from their own experience.

Finally, on a slightly off-topic and perplexing observation, I've noted that many web host companies have a "sales lady" prominently displayed on their site's home page (not all sites, but some of the top rated web hosting companies follow this pattern).  I was curious about the sales pyschology in play with this, and how effective it may be.   I'm not trying to solicit comments on this aspect, so please keep your feedback professional  (ie.  no comparisons please, and definitely no comments on the "sales lady" from  FatCow.)


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