One of the first things you'll need to do when setting up your website is choosing a hosting provider. The right hosting provider will make or break your experience as you update your website and make site changes.
Brand-new websites get little traffic in the beginning, so the best option for your budget is to use shared hosting, which can easily handle your expected bandwidth as you scale up.
What is meant by shared hosting?
Hosting providers offer shared hosting plans where numerous websites exist on the same server. Because the resources are shared between the websites, costs are low. You will not be able to access the other sites, and they will not be able to access yours.
There are other kinds of hosting services for more complex needs. As you scale up, you may need more speed, more bandwidth, or more resources. Until then, shared hosting is the most popular, most easily accessible (for non-developers), and lowest cost option.
How to Choose a Shared Hosting Provider
When you are starting out, every penny you spend on developing your infrastructure matters. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate different services based on how they can benefit you and ultimately how you can get what you need without burning a hole in your pocket.
There are numerous hosting providers out there, and many of the top ones have shared hosting plans. You'll need to make the best choice for your situation. Here are the things to consider:
Ensure that your shared hosting provider offers the features you expect. Some things to check may include a cPanel interface, WordPress setup and optimization, PHP and MySQL capability, and more.
If you are not a developer or are unfamiliar with coding and/or the back end of websites, tech support is a must. Many hosting providers offer support, but you'll want to evaluate the level of support they provide by looking at customer reviews, etc.
The geographical location of the server may impact site loading time. The right server location can make your site easier to reach, which impacts site performance and user experience.
Many providers offer the same kind of infrastructure with differences in pricing, but window shopping is a must. Always compare apples to apples to ensure that you're getting the right price and the right value.
Best Shared Hosting Providers
- A2 Hosting
Price: Starts at $2.75 per month
Bluehost is one of the most popular shared hosting service providers out there, offering excellent value for the money. With unmetered bandwidth and 50 GB of SSD storage (to start), you'll have everything you need to get your site up and running.
Even better, they offer WordPress hosting, and you can install WordPress on your Bluehost-powered site in as quickly as 4-5 minutes with their 1-click install feature. You'll also get 24/7 support and a free SSL.
The kicker is that you can also take advantage of their 30-day refund if you end up not liking the platform, so Bluehost is a safe choice for first-time site owners.
Price: Starts at $13.30 per month
Nexcess, a subsidiary of Liquid Web, is one of the industry's leading hosts. It's a standout option because this hosting provider is optimized specifically for WordPress sites.
You'll get lightning-fast load times thanks to premium caching, dedicated PHP workers, and a built-in CDN. Plus, built-in smart monitoring tools alert you to what's slowing your site down.
All plans are fully managed, so you don't have to worry about updates or backups. And WordPress experts are available 24/7/365 to help if you encounter any issues.
Free white-glove migration takes care of everything. Best of all, you can give it a try risk-free because Nexcess offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Price: Starts at $5.99 per month ($6.99 for WordPress)
If you are a newbie and need extensive customer support while developing your WordPress site, then InMotion will serve you well. It has top-notch support coupled with easy importing features, and all its plans offer unlimited emails. You'll have the ability to host up to two sites and you get a free domain and SSL for one of them.
Its WordPress features are also great because InMotion comes with a technology stack to optimize your WordPress site for performance. In addition, there's free staging and a web builder to make designing a breeze.
You can try it and get your money back for up to 90 days.
Price: Starts at $6.99 per month
SiteGround is one of the top-notch shared hosting providers when it comes to WordPress blogs. Their patent cache technology, Supercacher, makes any WordPress blog responsive, optimized and ultra-fast. The tool uses the Varnish Web Accelerator to offer advanced website optimization.
You get a free SSL, a free CDN, free email, and WordPress Autoudpates. In addition, SiteGround backs up your site daily to keep you safe from data loss.
If you don't like SiteGround, you can get your money back within 30 days.
Pricing: Starts at $2.75 per month ($5.95 for WordPress)
HostGator is one of the most widely used and reliable hosting providers available. You can instantly get started with the user-friendly control panel, and if you need any support, their friendly team will always be there to help you.
This is a great choice if you're looking to switch from your existing hosting company because they offer a free WordPress or cPanel migration service. Otherwise, they offer free consultation services with some of their plans to help you get your site up and running quickly and easily.
You'll enjoy one-click WordPress installs, auto backups with one-click restores, and 150 GB of storage.
6. A2 Hosting
Pricing: Starts at $2.99 per month
With A2 Hosting, you'll get your choice of data center location along with a whole host of performance features, including free CDN, free SSL, website staging, and WordPress optimization. Their Turbo Servers combined with LiteSpeed Cache and other performance features allow page loads up to 20 times faster than other WordPress providers, making them a great choice for speed and user experience.
Pricing: Starts at $2.59 per month
Dreamhost provides WordPress pre-installed so that you don't even have to spend any time setting it up on your server space. They also offer free automated WordPress migrations through a plugin.
You'll get a free domain, 50 GB of storage, and unmetered bandwidth, which is great for scaling up traffic. In addition, you can automate your WordPress updates and backups to ensure your site is always safe and secure.
If you need a little more time to see if Dreamhost is right for you, they offer a 97-day guarantee for your money back.
The right hosting provider can make your experience as a site owner a lot more enjoyable, and it can make or break user experience as well.
A website means visibility with your target audience online, and growing your site gets a lot easier with the right tools under your belt.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.