There are millions of websites available online today that offer everything from online stores, blogs, social media to banking and cloud services. Less than 15 years ago, unless you knew how to write code such as HTML then you would have to employ someone who did if you wanted to start your own website. This was quite expensive and often ended up preventing people from even trying.
In recent years, times have changed, and it is now possible to design and publish your own site completely by yourself without the need for any programing code knowledge whatsoever. Sites such as WordPress and Wix that offere the chance to create your own websites based on their templates, began to spring up everywhere. Though they were limited in the type of website that they could create at first, they quickly grew in sophistication to become really powerful tools in the field of website publishing.
An estimated 26% of all the websites in the world were created using WordPress. That’s how popular these types of web development tools have become. They are now a permanent fixture in web development and one that with the huge processing and infrastructure resources the emerging cloud platforms are giving sites such as WordPress, are going to become infinitely more powerful in the future.
What is WordPress?
For those who don’t know, WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that allows users to generate and maintain web pages. Released in May 2003, its ability to allow any individual the chance to build their own website from scratch, with no outside assistance, quickly lead to it becoming the most popular web design tool in the market today. As of February 2017, WordPress is supporting some 60 million sites globally, meaning that it is responsible for one-quarter of all the independently developed sites on the web. This figure gives it roughly a 60% market share of all the web development platforms, making it 10 times that of its nearest competitor Joomla. Some of the most famous sites that are powered by WordPress include The New York Times, Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy, People Magazine, National Geographic, and Forbes.
What does WordPress do exactly?
WordPress allows its users to create websites and web pages by building them over a range of templates that the platform offers. These templates are organized into categories such as travel sites, blogs, and corporate portfolios to name a few. After users have selected the template they wish to build their site on, they are then given a range of powerful tools that allow them to change, add to or delete any part of the site they choose. These tools also include adding images, additional pages, charts, text and numerous other aids that really make sites look like they have been professionally done. For some more advanced design features, users will be required to hire web designers, as naturally there are limits on what WordPress can offer. WordPress is really easy to use, doesn’t require you to know any computer code and importantly, is a secure and reliable platform.
How Much Does WordPress cost?
As an open source project, WordPress is completely free. The costs associated with WordPress come when you wish to publish your website to take it live onto the net. For this, you will need both a domain name and a WordPress host.
What is a WordPress host and why do I need one?
A WordPress host is a company that allows a site to be hosted on its servers, thus making it accessible to people on the internet. Without internet hosting companies, the web would be empty as no sites would be accessible.
Website developers have a choice between two types of servers, dedicated servers that are specifically setup to handle one site and shared servers that handle a number of different sites at one time. Dedicated servers are usually reserved for large websites such as Facebook that can afford the extra costs that come with them.
There are literally thousands of web host companies, ranging from small obscure ones to huge hosts like Amazon and iPage. All web pages require a host and WordPress generated sites are no different.
How to choose the best WordPress host
Choosing the right host can make a huge difference when it comes to how successful your site becomes. Given the enormous amount of time that has been invested in developing websites, it is certain that the authors want it to be seen by as many people as possible.
The art of finding the best web host is balancing the cost verses the range of features, performance, SEO, security, and support that a particular host provides. Undoubtedly, all website developers would love to get the best performance and support on offer, but regrettably, the costs for such a premium service are way out of bounds of what most can afford.
Performance is fundamental to whether a website works or not. The upload/download speeds that a host offers, particularly at times of heavy use, can result in websites being slow and unresponsive. In extreme cases, heavy demand on a web host’s servers could result in sites crashing and going offline. In all these cases, the net effect will be extremely frustrated users who quite possibly might abandon the site. For websites that generate their income from paid memberships, this could be particularly disastrous as they might leave, while for other sites it can mean lost advertising revenue etc.
It is understandably very difficult to know what a particular host’s service speeds are prior to signing up with them, but by doing plenty of background research and reading customer feedback, you should be able to establish if they offer a good level of performance.
Customer Satisfaction and Company Reputation
The last point leads us into another important factor that should be considered when selecting a web host. A quick search of a company’s name will usually yield thousands of pages that offer reviews and direct customer feedback relating to customer experiences with that host. Obviously, all companies at some point or another have dissatisfied customers, but if you find that a large percentage of the reviews and comments are negative regarding aspects of the company’s service, then you can assume there is a problem with that host.
Reliability and Uptime
Reliability and uptime are two really vital components of a successful web host that are important to pay attention to. Generally, these two issues tend to be a concern with smaller hosts than with larger ones, for obvious reasons. Both reliability and uptime are at the mercy of the host’s server system, meaning that if a hosts system is under heavy enough load, it might well slow significantly or even fail. Should this happen, it will cause websites to go offline which is inexcusable to users.
Though even the largest host systems are susceptible to this kind of overload, it is much less likely as it will have the server power to deal with any spikes in workload. Larger hosts also tend to have multi-server systems that are located in more than one location. This means that should one server system be struck by lightning, for example, the other systems are able to take up the slack to keep sites online.
For sites such as public blogs and product review sites, both of which don’t hold any sensitive information, security is not as much as a concern. However, if your site contains sensitive customer data or bank card details, security is of huge importance. The type of security systems being used by your host could make your site more vulnerable to being hacked. Though there is no way for you to assess the effectiveness of a web host’s security, their reputation, size, and customer feedback will all give a good indication of how good their security is.
In such a competitive market, there is an obvious incentive for hosts to cram in as many security features with their deals as possible. Unfortunately, for most people, these are neither desired nor ever used. When searching for your web host, there are a couple of really advanced features to keep an eye out for. Secure Shell (SSH) is a cryptographic network protocol used for securely running networks over the internet. SSH offers the best level of protection from any kind of attack as all the protocols are encrypted.
Other non-security related features include: access to control panels and email services as well as your own unique domain name.
Since support is only important when you need it, it is often overlooked by web host review sites. If you have any problem with your site, you will certainly need a good level of customer service as this could be a problem that you cannot fix yourself. A site crashing or going offline, slow loading speeds and certain security issues are all the responsibility of your host provider and will need their customer support to help fix.
Again, no company is ever perfect, so you certainly can’t expect not to read negative reviews as far as customer support goes, but to get the best idea of their how good a company’s support is, hit the review sites and forums. It won’t take long before you get a fairly good picture of how well their customers view their support.
Popularity is a good indication of how good a particular host’s service really is. User numbers are the main indication of popularity, though customer feedback scores also feature as part of the equation. One of the huge positives of being a popular service is that the larger incomes generated can be invested back into infrastructure to improve services even more. This is a healthy feedback loop that allows popular web hosts to offer a service that is better than their rivals.
One of the most commonly asked questions is: To save money, can’t I just use a cheap WordPress host?
Though it is an understandable question, trying to save money by using a cheap or indeed free WordPress host should definitely be discouraged. As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for”, which for the most part is true of web hosting too. If you know what you are doing, there are a few good low cost and even free web hosting services around, they include a number of conditions that definitely reduce the professional look to your site. These include domain names that are part of the website’s domain name, advertisements, and other things such as limited access to site features.
Another important thing to remember is that most of the paid host services include vital search engine optimization (SEO) tools and features that greatly enhance the ability to get your site noticed. SEO is a multi-million dollar a year industry that is fed by all websites owners’ desire to be ranked first on search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Baidu. Without these SEO features, your site is almost certainly going to suffer from not being ranked anywhere that it is likely to be seen.
We can’t emphasize more the fundamental importance of investing a little extra money into your website by choosing an effective paid package to make sure your site gets all the performance, support, security and SEO that it needs. Since you have put so much effort into your site, you certainly want to see it succeed.
To help you find the best web host service at the cheapest possible price, we have put together a list of the best providers of cheap web WordPress hosting on the market today.
HostgatorEditor’s Choice [table id=6 responsive=scroll /]
Our top choice web hosting service is Hostgator. With hosting prices for dedicated managed WordPress sites from just $3.95 per month and basic packages from just $2.99 a month, if this list were based on price alone, Hostgator would be hard to beat.
Hostgator is a really good, effective hosting service. Boasting a perfect 100% uptime and page load times of 468ms, they offer a fast and reliable service that at this price is impossible to beat. It is great that they offer so many different packages to choose from because it means that you can pick the one that is most suitable. This helps to avoid getting stuck paying for services and features you don’t need, just so you can get the ones you do.
As far as WordPress hosting goes, HostGator offers 3 different packages that are called starter, standard, and business. The basic package allows you to host one WordPress site with a limit of 25,000 visits per month, with 50GB of storage and free email. The standard allows up to 2 WordPress sites, with 200,000 monthly visits, with 150GB of disk space. The business package allows you to host 3 sites, with 300,000 monthly visits each, and has unlimited storage.
It is really simple to setup WordPress on HostGator, so for those who are new to web publishing, you need not worry. Find the shortcut called ‘Get Started with WordPress Today’ and follow the quick links that help you get it setup. The whole process from setup to getting your site up and running will take you less than 30 minutes, making this one of the fastest web hosting services we tried, and a great pick for beginners.
- Dedicated or Shared Server options
- Really great selection of packages to choose from
- Extremely well priced
- Packages come with site building software
- Great Customer Service record
- Unbeatable 100% uptime
- Don’t currently offer a Windows VPS service
Bluehost[table id=7 responsive=scroll /]
For many people, Bluehost is the best of the bunch and their go to choice for reliable and fast website hosting. Bluehost has a great reputation within the industry, particularly as it is one of the oldest web hosting companies, having been founded back in 1996. They have remained competitive by offering a really low price along with excellent speed and reliability. Their customer service has also been highly praised especially given it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via phone, live chat, and email.
They don’t offer quite as many different packages as HostGator but there are still plenty of options to choose from. The $6.95 package allows for you to host as many websites as you like, with unlimited space and no site visit limits. Another great feature is that you can add all the domain names you want to this package at no extra cost. The $200 of free vouchers is a welcome addition to the package and can be used to improve the SEO of your site with companies like Google and Yahoo.
- Offer Shared, Dedicated, Cloud and VPS server options
- Quick and easy to install WordPress
- Reliable service
- Fast page load speed
- Publish as many sites as you like
- Free domain names/vouchers and unlimited space
- Not Windows based servers
- Harder to setup thanks to upselling
Siteground[table id=8 responsive=scroll /]
SiteGround is another web host provider that is endorsed by the WordPress platform. They are held in equally high regard within most parts of the WordPress community for their unique tools and features that help to make sites more stable and secure. This security is enhanced thanks to their multiple data centers, which are located in the United States, Asia, and Europe.
Their WordPress hosting package comes with a good range of features and extras, including free domain names, free daily site backup, and excellent customer service. This is another excellent low-cost solution for individuals and small to mediums sized businesses who are looking to keep costs down while still seeking maximum hosting performance.
- Shared, Dedicated, Cloud and VPS server options
- Low Cost
- Reliable service
- Good security and backup solutions
- Secure free daily backup
- Option for free domain names
- No free vouchers to use to improve SEO
A2 Hosting[table id=9 responsive=scroll /]
A2 hosting offers some of the fastest page loading speeds of any web host priced under $25 a month. In a recent test, they averaged an incredible 364 ms over a 12 month period. Though this is not the 6x speed that many other review sites have claimed, it is nonetheless extremely impressive. They are another host to offer 24/7 customer support, which can be contacted via phone, email and live chat. The live chat feature is particularly useful as you get instantaneous replies that are extremely clear and concise, meaning that no matter what jam you are in, they will have it fixed in no time.
The only drawback with A2 is that their uptime is not as good as some might need. At 99.93%, this could be a deal breaker for some sites that can’t stomach lower performance in this area. That said, A2 offer extremely fast performance, low costs and an easy one click WordPress installation, making them the go to choice for some.
- Extremely fast page loads
- Great customer support
- Low monthly fees
- Fast and easy WordPress installation
- Free and easy website migration
- Poorer Uptime
A Small Orange[table id=10 responsive=scroll /]
A Small Orange hosting offers several Linux-based plans including tiny, small, medium, and large. While a good selection of available plans is always a welcome thing, it is still not enough to let A Small Orange complete with the first 3 web hosts on this list, where lower prices and better performance give them the edge.
That’s not to take too much away from A Small Orange, however. It still offers a reliable web hosting service with some pretty decent page load speeds. The interface is nice and simple, making it really easy to use. There is plenty of control also when it comes to site management, making it a pretty respectable platform. Sadly, it doesn’t offer the same level of customer support and lacks a phone service completely. The small number of tools when coupled with hosting limitations, definitely restrict this hosting platform to individuals and small businesses, for whom it offers a pretty solid low-cost option to manage their sites.
- Relatively low cost
- Good performance levels
- Plenty of different package options
- No managed WordPress hosting
- Lacks phone based tech support
- Not as cheap as HostGator
Inmotion Hosting[table id=11 responsive=scroll /]
InMotion is the preferred hosting provider for over 300,000 domains to date. This is due to their low hosting costs, which start at just $2.95 per month for the most basic package. This makes them cheaper than most other low-cost hosting providers, something that thankfully doesn’t affect their service and performance. They have a reasonably respectable average loading time of 615ms and a decent 99.98% uptime. Customer service representatives are friendly and are on hand round the clock to helpfully deal with any issues you might have.
All things considered, InMotion is a really good deal for the price, and thanks to its easy to use interface, is a great starting point for those beginning their journey into web development. We found it a little difficult to setup, mostly due to the difficult account verification process and were a little concerned at the lack of any website migration option, but other than this, it is an excellent platform for new and small business customers.
- Very reasonably priced
- Really easy to use
- Good customer support
- Good performance level
- More difficult to setup
eHost[table id=12 responsive=scroll /] eHost currently provides hosting for more than 1 million websites, many of which have been developed using WordPress. The main thing about eHost is that its services seem to divide their users, who stay for the cheap prices but complain about the slower page load speeds. Generally speaking, their service is still above most of the competition, especially when you factor in price. For less than $100, you can host your website for 3 years, and get $200 of Google advertising credits thrown in too.
Its WordPress integration is seamless, offering thousands of drag and drop website building tools that will make developing your site easier than ever. Many of these tools really help you to create a professional touch to the sites you are trying to build. We found some really great chart tools in there that allowed us to create some very professional looking charts.
Once again, for the price, it is really hard to complain about eHost’s service. If a few of the web hosting companies that appear a little further up this list went out of business, then when it comes to value for money, eHost would be impossible to beat.
- Competitively priced
- Seamless WordPress integration
- 1000’s of drag and drop website building tools
- $200 of Google advertising credits
- Slower page load
Host Metro[table id=13 responsive=scroll /] Host Metro is an undeserved underdog in the world of web hosting. It has an industry beating uptime of 99.99% and a fairly respectable average page load speed. Priced at just $2.95 per month with unlimited bandwidth, storage and number of web domains, it is a really competitively priced web hosting service.
They pack a range of extra features including a free script installer, unlimited email accounts, and a free site lock security seal that helps prevent unauthorized access to the site. The daily security scan is a nice little bonus that is not included in the basic packages of many other host providers either.
- Lots of extras including free domain names, unlimited storage, and bandwidth usage
- Daily security scan
- Unlimited email accounts
- Free script installer included
- Page load speed is known to increase during busy hours
Green Geeks Web Hosting[table id=14 responsive=scroll /] GreenGeeks is quite a big player in the low-cost web hosting business. It now hosts over 300,000 websites since starting up 10 years ago. The company proudly boasts of its near perfect uptimes and the fact that they offer their customers such reliable performance. They offer free site migration, data transfers, and domain names, bringing them in line with many of their competitors.
The main drawback to GreenGeeks hosting is their 942ms average loading times, which when considering that the industry standard is 700ms, makes their performance well below average. This is really unfortunate because it is bound to cause many WordPress users to avoid signing up with them in favor of a competitor. Otherwise, this is a really good hosting service that offers near perfect levels of uptime, it seems a little unfair for GreenGeeks to lose out in this way, especially when they buy 3 wind credits for every credit of electricity they use.
- Reasonable pricing
- Green energy solution – 3x wind energy credits purchased for each one they consume
- Experienced company
- Great customer service
- Loads of free features including free site migration
- Slow page load speeds
iPage[table id=15 responsive=scroll /] It seems like iPage has successfully married lowest cost hosting with really good advertising. Founded in 1998, they were one of the first companies in the industry and now host more than 1 million websites.
They offer some great package deals that have so many extra features and giveaways thrown in that it will make your head spin. This includes a free security suite, free site transfer, sidelock security seal, unlimited email accounts and handfuls of free vouchers that you can use to improve site SEO.
Their platform integrates with WordPress in a single one click installation and includes a drag and drop site building tool which makes them a great option for WordPress developers. Though it has to be said that iPage is not the best performing host platform, plagued as it is by below average page load speeds, it is, nonetheless, the cheapest hosting service that offers reasonable performance and exceptional value for money.
- Cheapest Price
- Great uptime percentage
- Plenty of free features
- Free SiteLock security seal
- Daily security scan
- Slow page load speeds