Covid-19 is driving more and more business online. But you don’t have to be an internet wizard to start your own website and there are lots of sources out there to help you.
Since the lockdown was imposed in the Netherlands in March, over 250,000 new dot nl domain names have been registered in the Netherlands. That figure, according to domain registration agency SIDN, is unprecedented, and illustrates just how much businesses are moving online.
There are now some six million dot nl website names in existence – although growth has slowed since the five million milestone was reached in 2012. That is not to suggest websites have had their day – an online presence is crucial for any company and self-employed person, as well as would-be bloggers.
Choosing the right webhosting company for your plans is one of the most important decisions you can make when going online. So it is important not to rush into a relationship with the company offering you bargain basement prices but little else in the way of support. Here are some key things to consider:
Type of hosting service
First of all you need to decide what sort of hosting service you will need. If you are planning a blog, you don’t need a dedicated server, and you might not need a 24/7 help desk. At the same time, an online retailer expecting a high volume of traffic needs to make sure they don’t cut corners by going for the cheapest option. Be honest with yourself about the amount of traffic you expect to generate.
Does the provider speak your language?
The jargon used by some hosting services can be off putting and confusing so it is important to make sure you pick a service that speaks your language, both literally and figuratively. A webhosting service like Combell.com for example offers customer support in English, French and Dutch.
At the same time, a provider that keeps its language simple, rather than bombards you with obscure terminology, is also worth having if you are not technically-minded.
You also need to realise that domain registration and webhosting are not the same thing – technically your domain name is your website’s address and the website can be hosted by a different company, although this is not recommended for beginners.
Another useful service is email hosting, in which your domain name is included in your email address for a more professional approach.
Some providers also offer extra services in the form of online tools to help you build your own website easily – such as WordPress – and can also develop integrated solutions which are targeted directly to your customer’s needs. Having an in-house development team is also a good sign that you are dealing with professionals.
Bottom line in all this is, of course, the support available to you if there are technical issues or if you wish to upgrade, so check out the options carefully, particularly if you are considering a hosting company in a different time zone or one with budget prices.
Having multiple ways to contact your provider such as chat, email and phone is also useful. Communication is key if there is a problem you need to solve in a hurry.
Compliance and security
Compliance and security are also key issues to take into account. For example, your type of business might require a higher level of security than your webhosting company provides as standard. And you also need to be sure that your provider meets Dutch and EU regulations on privacy and data protection.
Be sure to check out if your webhosting company has dedicated firewalls, is ISO certified and guaranteed secure connections.
When comparing prices, make sure you take the complete package into account so you are comparing like with like. Webhosting company Combell, founded in Belgium in the early days of the internet in 1999, is offering a complete package for a simple business website from €5.99 a month – including a free moving service from your old provider.
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