What do you look for when deciding which web hosting company to entrust with your business’s site? If you asked a hundred small and medium business owners what their criteria for choosing hosting is, you’d get many different answers, but they cluster around a few key factors:
Extra features: one-click install, backup, unlimited bandwidth, management, etc.
The quality of branding and on-site copy.
While all of these features can be important, they are secondary to the two features that web hosting clients should be looking for from their web host: reliability and performance. Unfortunately, many businesses — particularly newer businesses without much experience of web hosting — are impressed by the surface features highlighted in a hosting provider’s marketing, paying little attention to the fundamentals.
That’s a mistake and it can lead to increased costs in the future.
The single most important factor that should be considered when choosing web hosting is performance. There are various definitions of performance, but the one that I like to apply is: the ability to serve web pages and complete user interactions with the lowest possible latency. A fast site with terrible design won’t fulfill its potential, but nor will a slow site with amazing content, CRO, SEO, and design.
It’s been shown time and again that there is an inverse relationship between latency and user satisfaction. The slower information is delivered to users, the less happy they are. Low satisfaction levels and user frustration are obviously not conducive to high conversion rates.
There are many factors that impact latency, and a site’s developers can have as much impact on speed as the hosting, but without speedy hosting a site will never be fast, no matter how much effort is put into optimizing its code.
Reliability can be thought of as consistent performance across time. Good performance is undermined if that performance is inconsistent. A hosting company may have all the infrastructure in place to provide very low latency, while at the same time being unable to maintain that performance over the long term, resulting in unpredictable downtime and inconsistent speeds.
The perfect web hosting platform is carefully engineered to provide the optimal combination of performance and reliability.
A hosting platform that provides both performance and reliability is ideal for building a site that will maximize user satisfaction, conversion rates, and search engine optimization.
When comparing hosting vendors, intelligent decision makers consider their history of performance and reliability, and only once they are satisfied that those fundamental factors in place will they take other differentiating factors into account.