As a website designer, I spend a ton of time doing things behind the scenes to make sure my clients’ websites are up and running smoothly. But if your business doesn’t require you to deal with websites on a daily basis, there’s a good chance some of these behind the scenes things feel like foreign territory. For example, choosing a website host — this is one thing a lot of creative entrepreneurs don’t really know how to go about doing the smart way. So in this post, I’m shedding some light on what to be cautious of when choosing a website hosting company, and I’ll share why I NEVER recommend GoDaddy or Bluehost — even though they’re two of the most “popular” hosting companies out there.
The problem with “popular” website hosts
The first thing you should be cautious of tends to be the first reason people consider a specific hosting company in the first place: popularity. Just because your friend/neighbor/favorite podcaster hosts their site with a company, this doesn’t mean you should too.
Why should you be cautious of a hosting site’s apparent “internet popularity”? After all, these days most of us buy a lot of business tools and resources based on what our friends, mentors and favorite industry pros recommend, right?
While it’s not innately bad to choose a hosting site (or any service/product/resource) that comes recommended by lots of people, it is smart to dig deeper into why a specific company is so popular.
Bluehost, for example, has bloggers, podcasters and business gurus recommending it left and right. But a big reason for this is that Bluehost has one of the highest paying affiliate programs, so people can make a significant amount of money recommending it.
Now, I’m definitely not saying there’s anything wrong with companies having affiliate programs – I’m an affiliate for many things! And, in my opinion, it makes perfect sense to be an affiliate for companies you truly believe in, and would recommend, regardless of your affiliate relationship with them.
What I am saying though, is that when it comes to deciding on website hosting (among other things you invest in for your business), it pays to look into whether or not a specific provider is right for you, as opposed to picking based on popularity. Do a quick Google search, “Reviews of _____.”
GoDaddy and Bluehost fail in “Customer Friendliness”
These days, it seems like more and more companies across all industries are figuring out how to pass with flying colors in the “customer friendliness” department. Because of this, it can be extra disappointing to deal with a company that still doesn’t seem to care about its customers.
In the realm of hosting companies, GoDaddy and Bluehost could certainly stand to improve the overall “customer-friendliness” of their experience.
When customers have to sift through semi-sketchy Terms of Service, or commit to three years of hosting just to get a good rate, or wait around on slow customer support whenever a question comes up, it’s pretty clear that a great customer experience isn’t exactly a top priority.
True story: I had a client who was already on Bluehost and didn’t want to move. I proceeded to build her site anyway. As we were launching and changing domains, we had a minor problem, so I contacted Bluehost support. During our hour-ish chat together, the customer service rep “accidentally” deleted her entire site! Luckily, they had a backup to restore…. from a month prior.
Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer to work with companies who care about the experience I have as a customer. If you feel similarly, this might be something to keep in mind when deciding on a hosting company that’s right for you.
GoDaddy and Bluehost aren’t simple
This one is pretty simple — you want a hosting company that makes things, well…simple.
After all, most creative entrepreneurs (web designers and developers aside) don’t want to have to become tech experts in the process of building a business.
And the truth is, dealing with hosting really should be easy. However, some companies like Bluehost and GoDaddy have found plenty of ways to make it headache-inducing. I even know plenty of website pros (myself included) who find Bluehost and GoDaddy to be incredibly confusing — and we deal with this stuff every single day!
The bottom line here is to go with a company that doesn’t make things confusing. This way you’ll feel confident handling basics back end tasks that may come up from time to time.
What really matters…
The most imporant thing about any hosting company is reliability. In other words, you want to consider their reputation for “site uptime” (aka the average amount of time that websites hosted by a particular company are working and available for people to access as normal).
Hosting your site with a company that isn’t incredibly reliable when it comes to uptime is like building a house on sand — an unstable foundation is a recipe for disaster.
As for Bluehost and GoDaddy’s reliability? It’s not great.
I hear complaints and issues at least weekly (probably daily!) from people whose websites have gone down due to problems with one of these two hosting companies.
The number one thing you should expect from any hosting company is that they will consistently keep your site up and running smoothly. So pick a hosting company that can promise this.
Now that we’ve covered what you need to be cautious of when it comes to choosing a hosting company, I wanted to share some features and characteristics of good hosting companies (like my personal favorite, Flywheel). In the video below, I’ll tell you key information to help you simplify the process of finding a hosting company that works for you.