How We Chose a Site Host
tl;dr Fair warning: this isn't the most colourful of posts. We had a list of features we wanted from our hosting and website, we reviewed the big players and chose WIX.com and we've not regretted it.
One of the first things we needed to do when setting up the company was to build our website. It's a key feature of the business and we had a very clear idea of what we wanted the site to look like.
We'd done a fair bit of research into other sites from companies doing things similar to us and given that we wanted to showcase the awesome images we'd capture, we knew the site layout we were looking for.
I took the lead on the hosting and I'd also lead in the building of the site - I started my career as a Software Engineer and this isn't the first site I've built. Even so, I knew that with this site I didn't want to write from scratch something I knew lots of companies were offering as a service at a competitive price.
My initial requirements were:
Site build and hosting included in one package offering.
Simple, in-browser site build and editing.
Rich feature set and add-ons (like this Blog app!).
Multiple 'admin' users possible.
Domain name and mailbox forwarding included.
Room for growth - if AIDP was to grow then the site must too.
Parallax scrolling - a feature I thought I'd look good with our photography.
Existing design templates to build on and customise.
I set out and from the off thought I'd always be looking at using the bigger-players in the market. As much as I'd like to support smaller sites, there aren't all that many and since feature set and professional look are key, the more complete products from the bigger sites are going to win over.
The list of offerings I ended up shortlisting was:
Initially, a quick review of their sample sites, pricing and features helped me create a shorter list by excluding the following:
GoDaddy - I hate their site and pricing seemed high for a lower quality feel.
1&1 - I wasn't impressed by their site, their pricing was high and the templates didn't seem special
Squarespace - Their site was beautiful and far too hard to get what I needed from it.
To be honest, the last reason seems pretty spurious, but it was definitely the case that there wasn't too much between the remainder and I'd use any little thing to rule a site out.
Through the evaluation, we decided that an eCommerce site was not something we needed - that is to say that we didn't really want to go to the expense of running a full eCommerce site when we didn't really want to have customers 'check out' without a conversation with us on what they were looking to buy. It's so important that we work with our customers to ensure what we do is legal, value for money and exactly what they're paying for.
I whittled the choices down to the two that I really liked, WIX and Jimdo. Both looked brilliant, had wide feature sets and were comfortably priced. I chose WIX in the end for the following reasons:
The app market opened the door to lots more features.
Their pricing was clear and there were more tiers meaning we could start for very cheap and it'd be cheaper to move up to the next level as we needed it.
Editing and using WIX on the go. The editing of the mobile versions of pages was seamless and the WIX app meant we could offer live chat all hours of the day.
When I initially signed up on their Combo plan, we could quickly start customising and adding our content to the site. It was so easy.
I chose their Aerial Photography template (it's as if they knew!) and got to work. You may notice some images still remain on our site, these are being gradually removed as we replace them with our own images.
As you can see, we chose WIX.com and we've not regretted it. The features have always exceeded our expectations and they have offered us cut-price upgrades since we've started, which naturally we have taken up. We'd certainly recommend WIX and if you join by clicking one of the links in this post, you'll use our affiliate link to give us a little back too.