June 4, 2012

Selecting a Webhost

Tux, as originally drawn by Larry Ewing
Image via Wikipedia

There are many important considerations to look at when selecting a webhost. The first is cost, can your host provide you with everything you need with a price you are content with? Additionally, does your host have adequate space for you? A good way to evaluate this, is what do you intend to do with the hosting space? A simple blog or regular website will not require as much space as if you would like to host video, a large collection of images or other kinds of multimedia content. Some hosts may offer unlimited content, but even if so there is usually a catch. That catch is simply that unlimited means “reasonable usage” traditionally this is around five gigabytes. So be careful and be sure to read the fine print when picking your host.

One of the other things you need to be careful of is bandwidth. Like space bandwidth is often sold in “unlimited” quantities that might not actually be unlimited. So again it is important to read the entire contract and make sure you know what you are getting yourself into before signing up. Ideally everyone likes to assume that they will need a ton of bandwidth for their website, because generally speaking this means a ton of visitors. But take a good look at your content and give yourself a realistic estimate of how many visitors you plan to have a month.

Once you have bandwidth and hosting space down you need to evaluate what other services you might need. Do you need Windows or Linux hosting, do you plan on using a Content Management Service or a shopping cart? If so you will probably need an SQL based database for these systems. Pay attentions to how many emails you get with the account, some hosts allow you as many as you want where other will; tend to charge in blocks of 5-10 emails at time.

Content Management Systems

Image representing WordPress as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

If you are looking for a website or a blog one of the fastest and easiest way to make this happen is to install a Content Management System on your webhost. There are a variety of Content Management Systems available for you to use. Selecting a Content Management System will depend on its features and how you intend to develop and produce content on the website. Additionally you will need to ensure that your hosting service is compatible with the Content Management System of your choosing. There are two good Content Management Systems to look at are Joomla and WordPress.

WordPress is a great Content Management System. It is designed to be easy to use even for novices. Most webhosts support WordPress out of the box and have turnkey installations so that manual installs are not necessary. There are a variety of plugins available for WordPress making it very adaptable for whatever purpose you have in mind. You can also find a lot of themes available for free to change the look of your WordPress site as well as many inexpensive themes that can be purchased. WordPress is ideal for a blog but has options to allow you to use it as a regular website as well.

Joomla is another Content Management System that while isn’t as novice friendly as WordPress is built in a manner that makes it easy for a developer or programmer to create a site that is not only dynamic but is easy to add content as well, the entire basis of the Content Management System. Joomla has plugins but they are generally called extensions. Additionally Joomla also has themes, which are generally called templates. You can often find the same templates and themes available for both platforms, so if you have both installed you can test drive both Content Management Systems.