Web host advice for tech illiterate person
March 7, 2018 12:07 PM   Subscribe

I need help finding a new hosting service but get overwhelmed since I'm not even sure what it means to be a shared/managed/wordpress/vps host?

The very small outdoor recreation company I work for is finally doing a web redesign ten years in the making. We are using an outside company (SD Designs) for the actual design but have left us with the responsibility for a few tech things (is this normal?). Currently, it is hosted on Simple Solutions for $350 annually, but the email service provided with it is atrocious and we want to switch. SD Designs recommended Siteground.

Once the website is up and running one of the things I've emphasized is I want to be trained to be able to go in and update myself, rather than relying on SD Designs - is there hosting platforms that are better for this?

Further complications:
The current domain is a .net and I am not sure where it is parked. The .com is available but around $2000, and is something my boss does not want to pay for.
There will be a second page doing a soft launch with this one, a .com that my coworker jumped ahead and reserved on godaddy. This will eventually be for a separate Adventure Park that will require a more sophisticated webpage (online reservation system etc.)
posted by Bossypants to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Siteground is a good choice. They're a fairly affordable, active, responsive hosting company that should suit your needs. You could start with a shared hosting solution; they should be able to help you switch if you outgrow it.

If your design company will be creating a wordpress-based site, I would recommend also looking into WP Engine or Flywheel. Those two specialize in wordpress-hosting, so they tend to be a little more knowledgeable about security and latest changes to wordpress core. They make it easy to do backups, update, etc.

If you're still looking for an email solution, I would recommend G Suite.

If you want to find out where your .net is registered (probably godaddy, but could be someone else), you can enter it in the search bar here: whois.net and that should give you some clues.

Having a .net domain name isn't a deal-breaker. Especially if the .com is parked (IE if people type in .com by mistake, they won't be going to a competitor's website). Many successful sites have a .net domain. So much traffic nowadays comes from people googling your company and clicking on the link within the search results anyway.

Finally, make sure that your site gets set up with HTTPS, it's important for security reasons, but also for SEO reasons.
posted by artsandsci at 1:03 PM on March 7, 2018

Shared hosting means there are other hosting accounts using the same hardware and resources as you, you share them.

Managed means that the hosting company maintains the server environment. They'll restart your server if it crashes. It can also apply to WordPress specializing hosts where they maintain your WP core.

VPS is Virtual Private Server which means, instead of sharing resources, your account is dedicated a certain amount of processing and RAM.

What sort of site are they building you? Is it static html, WordPress, custom CMS? I work all day long in WP. You can learn it easy enough. It's not cryptic in anyway. But, you have to indeed, learn it. I do so many, basic, repetitive task for folks not really willing to.
posted by humboldt32 at 3:53 PM on March 7, 2018

We were planning on using G Suite, but I saw that some hosting sites provide dedicated email addresses for your website so wasn't sure if we should capitalize on that.

Humboldt based on your descriptions it sounds like we would probably want a managed host?

Is it static html, WordPress, custom CMS? --- I have absolutely no idea. I want to be able to ask our design company these things were I sound like I know what I'm talking about. Is it normal for them to have us set up the hosting?
posted by Bossypants at 10:12 AM on March 8, 2018

Also I like to try and educate and teach myself some of this stuff but have felt overwhelmed by certain online choices and also feel like some of them are bullshit. Any websites/programs you recommend to learn?
posted by Bossypants at 10:15 AM on March 8, 2018

It looks like since they are already using siteground for the staging site, then it's wordpress.
posted by Bossypants at 10:30 AM on March 8, 2018

Regarding your recent questions, there isn't any hard fast rule about if they take care of hosting or if that is left to you. With that said, if they leave that to you then they need to provide a lot of details about what you need to procure in order to support the site they develop.
posted by mmascolino at 10:30 AM on March 8, 2018

2nding Siteground -- it's a good choice for hosting sites. You should be able to ask the outside company to deal with / contact the hosting company and "deploy" the site there. There's usually a bit of setup involved (creating a database, configuring the site to connect to that database, URL redirects, etc.) that might be better handled by the company that created your site.
posted by vert canard at 1:19 PM on March 8, 2018

You'll get email addresses with your hosting. But you can set an MX record to use GSuite.

Yes you want a managed host.

Respectfully, by this point in your process, you should really know if your site is a static html site, WP, or some other, or at least where the designer is headed. What have the developers told you? Are they in fact building a website, or are they just producing the design/graphic arts for you? I'm curious now.

I recommend using WordPress. It's certainly not bullshit.

How can I say this gently, you're in for a LOT of learning, and a pretty steep learning curve. What's been laid on your plate isn't really for novices. If time (and a shit ton of frustration) is money to you, hiring a web developer to get you set up will be money well spent. There's a whole lot to learn and understand here that you'll never revisit again. Get someone to set you up, and you can focus on what you need to learn to maintain the site.
posted by humboldt32 at 3:00 PM on March 8, 2018

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