Choosing a wordpress web host provider for the first time can be a very confusing experience. The number of companies providing hosting services seems to grow all the time and each seems to offer a different range of services at wildly varying prices from their competitors. With such a wealth of options available how can you tell which company is right for your needs? Ultimately, your decision as to which provider you go with should be based on three factors: cost, features, and reliability.

How much you pay, naturally depends to a large extent on what features you want.

wordpress hosting features
One thing to keep in mind is that the monthly price you pay at the beginning will almost always increase after the end of a set period, usually a year. One company’s offer may seem lower than others, but check how much of an increase there will be after your first term is finished. Often the low price quoted on a company’s home page is for a two or three year period, which you may have to pay up front. This may work out well for you if you know you’ll need the space for that long and you don’t relish the hassle of registering again every year.  Others, though, may not want to commit to an untried hosting company for so long a period.

Most companies will provide you with one domain name registration included in your package. Every year afterwards, however, you will need to pay a yearly registration fee. Fortunately registration tends to be quite cheap, but if you’re registering multiple domains, these fees can start to add up. If, in the first instance, you want to set up more than one domain name, make sure that the package you choose allows multiple domains under one account. Companies usually charge for registrations beyond the initial free one, although again it shouldn’t be too much. You should also check how many email accounts you are allowed with your account. Some companies offer unlimited mail accounts while others allow only one. Check too how much web space is allowed per account. Again there can be a great discrepancy among the accounts on offer, from miserly small amounts to near unlimited storage.

wordpress hosting cpanelEase of use should be your next consideration. Almost all web hosts have control panels which allow you to manage your web pages. You may want to check online to see how user-friendly a hosting company’s control panel actually is. How easy, for example, is it to set up email accounts and facilitate ftp transfers? If you plan to use WordPress you should check to see how compatible the control panel is with the system. If, instead of coding your own web pages, you prefer to use templates, then you should investigate whether a web host provides templates and, if so, what sort of range and quality are available. Do you intend to include a shopping cart on your webpages? Check what sort of business services, including security provisions, the host provides, if you feel you need these services.

You should also look into a web host’s level of customer service. Do they offer twenty-four hour support? Is there a telephone number where you can access a live technology expert? If you feel that you need help setting up a first website or transferring a site that’s already up and running from another provider, you may want to look into whether or not the provider offers these services and what fee they charge.

And what about reliability? Even the biggest websites go down sometimes, but how often is your web host unavailable? You can usually find downtime percentages online alongside reviews of a company’s level of customer service. Load time is another factor to consider if speed is important to you or your business. Slow load time, after all, can lead to lost customers. Again online reviews should be able to help here.

Once you have a good idea of your needs, you should visit one of the many websites which offer comparisons of the deals on offer. Many of these websites provide helpful comparison charts which will allow you to see which company is best-geared to your requirements. Choosing a web host is never a simple matter, what with so many variables to consider, but with an awareness of your needs and the help of comparison and review sites, it need not be too much of a chore.