Choosing the right web hosting provider for your church website is kind of like choosing an auto mechanic for your car. Most will provide the same services, most will do it at a fair price, but sometimes if you have a foreign car, you find it’s worth your while to go to a specialist.
First, it is important to understand what exactly web hosting entails. Many novices confuse web design, web hosting, and administration. Often, these are split into separate fields. Web hosting is simply renting a server from a company. This server is configured in such a way as to “serve” content over the internet in the form of web pages. Oftentimes, hosting providers will offer perks such as web design tools, domain name registration, and support in addition to simply giving you a public-facing server where your website can reside. Many hosting providers specialize in different types of websites and offer tools geared toward niche implementations, while others generalize and try to offer everything all at once. Frequently, in offering everything, hosting providers are known to nickel-and-dime their customers by charging for each additional service that is not explicitly included in the hosting package. For example, many hosts say that they “include a free domain name” in their hosting. However, this free domain name is subject to a long-term contract to be paid up front, or a commitment to pay for a certain length/duration of time. When searching for a church web hosting provider, it’s important to look at the potential pricing scheme and understand if you are going to be charged for using your hosting space in a certain way.
We recommend going with a christian hosting provider that offers all fees up-front and “in big letters”. You should be concerned about items such as: bandwidth, storage space, email and technical support. If the cost of any of these things is unclear, you probably could make a better choice for your church’s web hosting needs. In addition to billing, it’s also important to take into account what type of web design tools are offered. Most providers can support all of the available tools, but in many cases, installation options are given to quickly install any given Content Management System (CMS) package to minimize the amount of actual configuration the end user needs to be familiar with. We recommend a hosting provider that is able to offer “one-click” tools to quickly and efficiently install your applications. This way, you can be assured that getting started on your website is not going to involve a crash-course on web design. Many larger providers do not offer hands-on support for these types of tools, potentially leaving you on your own when it’s time to install and setup your environment.
And finally, when choosing a web hosting provider, we definitely recommend choosing a company that has similar values to you and your organization. Many church administrators choose not to host with some companies because they find that the salacious photos they use to promote their product conflict with Christian values. We find that the best companies to host a church website refuse to host illicit content, and share their values front-and-center on the company website. When taking all these factors into account, choosing a web hosting provider may not be so daunting for the average church administrator.