It seems we now live in a world where every man and his dog has a website. Whether it’s for their business, favourite hobby, local book group or simply uploading countless photos of their cat it appears that getting a website is as easy as 1-2-3. There are, however, several pitfalls you can easily fall in to which I will run through below, along with helpful hints of how to avoid them.
1. Make sure YOU own YOUR domain name
Now this may seem really obvious but it’s amazing how many people, and even businesses, don’t own their domain name. To me this is the single biggest mistake you can make when setting up a website. Why? Because simply put whoever’s name is listed as the registrant is the owner of that domain, just because it’s pointing to your website doesn’t make it yours.
If a family member, friend, work colleague or a web design/hosting company offers to register the domain on your behalf make sure it’s being registered in your name, with your contact details. Ask for written proof that this has been done in case you ever need to go to court – yes it can get this serious. For peace of mind you can check who owns a domain by looking up the WHOIS records online for free. There are numerous websites that offer this service including Nominet UK, the .uk domain name registry in the United Kingdom.
The safest option by far is to register the domain yourself. A .co.uk domain can be yours from as little as £3.49 a year and takes less than 10 minutes to register. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
2. Research your hosting company before signing up
It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of setting up your website that you sign up with the first hosting provider that comes your way, usually the same company where you bought your domain name from. But surely this doesn’t matter because they’re all the same right?
Website hosting providers, like mobile phone companies, insurance providers and energy suppliers are all different. Sure they all offer the same basic product or service, but it’s how they offer it that is the key to making your choice of who to go with.
The company you choose will usually be found in the answer(s) to three questions – How much do they charge? What can they offer me? Will I be looked after? It’s up to you to decide which of these answers is most important to you.
So where to begin?
A Google search for “the best uk website hosting companies” is a good starting point; read the reviews, opinions and experiences of others and take note of any companies who regularly appear, both good and bad, and the reasons why.
Once you’re happy you have a list of companies worth investigating further, I’d recommend at least three, the next step is to find out what each one has to offer and how much it’s going to cost. Which leads us to…
3. Choosing the right hosting package for your needs
Trawling through the different hosting packages on offer can be a tedious, and sometimes confusing process, as providers bombard you with seemingly endless lists of the features you’ll receive when you sign up. Therefore, it’s a good idea to know what you want from your website before seeing what’s on offer. For example:
Are you going to need to store a lot of large files?
If you are looking to upload a lot of large photos or video files, make sure you’ll be getting enough web space to handle this.
Do you want to have a WordPress blog?
Check that the packages on offer either support WordPress or match the minimum technical requirements to run it. If this isn’t obvious to you then ask, it will also give you a good chance to test their customer support.
Will you be sending and receiving a lot of email?
If so you’ll need to check the size of the mailboxes you’ll be receiving, a minimum of 1GB per mailbox is recommended. It’s amazing how quickly they fill up and you don’t want to be spending all your time clearing out unwanted emails.
And finally, don’t be tempted in to signing up for more than you really need. Getting unlimited web space, mailboxes and databases for just £9.99 per month sounds amazing, but are you actually going to use all that? Chances are there’s a package available that will offer you everything you need and more for half that price.
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