Website Hosting Recommendations

As a website designer and developer, I frequently get asked by people I meet whom I recommend they host their website with. Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of web hosts for clients which has given me the opportunity to compare them firsthand.

Domain Registration

Registration is the purchasing of yourwebsite.com, in pre-digital world terms, it’s the listing of your address and phone number in the yellow pages so that people know where to find you.

There is only one company I recommend for domain registrations – Hover.

Their primary business is registering domains, they make money by doing a great job at this one thing, not doing something else and bundling registration in. Their interface is extremely intuitive and makes you feel like you have complete control over your domains, one of the most important assets your organization has.

Hosting

Hosting is the purchasing of space on a server for your files to be stored, in pre-digital world terms, it’s the physical space your rent out to operate from.

If you know you will be hiring a professional to build your website for you, stop here. Let them recommend the hosting that they prefer to deploy your site onto.

There are million different hosting set-ups to choose from. The rest of this post is for those with relatively low traffic sites; for example, a small business or non-profit, a newly started blog, or a designer’s portfolio.

My Current Host

I use A Small Orange to host this site and the five other ones that I directly manage. ASO offers the standard Linux cPanel configurations that many other hosts do, but their pricing model protects their servers from being as overloaded as other companies in that category.

Overloaded servers cause your site to load slower. Users won’t stick around to wait for slow loading pages and Google may even penalize you in their rankings. Even if you have the most basic blog theme with no images or JavaScript, if the MySQL calls to generate the page take forever to return, your page will load slow.

Other Options

If you do need the high storage / high bandwidth and low cost of a large hosting company, I’d recommend using InMotion; this site was happily hosted there for its first couple of years, from my experience, their servers run much faster than their big-name counterparts and their admin UI isn’t littered with ads.

If you’re a designer or developer and have the budget for some extra features; MediaTemple comes recommend by dev gurus I follow; they’ve created their own control panel that has a lot of really nice features that cPanel doesn’t, plus they’re huge supporters of the design community.

If you’re 100% on WordPress, WPEngine comes recommended by WordPress gurus I follow; your site will be on a server built just for WordPress that will have speed and security that would take you a lot of time and expertise to set-up on your own.

Not technically minded?

If you don’t want to deal with any of the technical challenges of setting a server up and don’t have the budget to hire a web developer, you can register your domain with Hover and point the web traffic to WordPress or Tumblr (blogs), Carbonmade (portfolios), Bellstrike (non-profits), Virb or SquareSpace (all of the above) and point the email traffic to Google Apps or Hover.