Beth uses the internet to network around the world. She says that modern technology has made working from home both easy and profitable.
What Is a Web Host?
When you create a website, it is private to you. To be seen by everyone else, it needs to be displayed on the World Wide Web. A web host provides the means to do this; they have servers with internet connectivity. You sign up with a web hosting service to get access to a server and reach millions of potential customers around the world.
There are thousands of web hosting services, and it can be difficult to choose the best one. When I was making my choice, I talked to friends and family to find out which ones they recommended. I also searched the internet for online reviews and the pros and cons of different providers.
Why I Chose Bluehost
- Ease of Use: Bluehost has a reputation of being one of the easiest to use services for beginners. Your online account is operated through the Bluehost Control Panel. A one-click system enables you to create a WordPress-based website using your chosen domain name. (A domain name is the online address of your website, like TurboFuture.com or Amazon.com.) Bluehost claims to provide simplicity with advanced functionality.
- WordPress Compatibility: I wanted to use the WordPress content management system, and as a newbie, it was important that I could access 24/7 support for this platform. I also wanted to be able to install free website themes and plug-ins that are available from WordPress.com A Bluehost subscription offers this.
- 24/7 Customer Support: As a beginner (this would be my first website), it was important that I could ask questions and get help whenever needed. I wanted a service that gave me the option of making contact via online chat, email, or phone. The Bluehost hosting service offers all three.
My Experience Using Bluehost
I checked out reviews of Bluehost and compared their prices and packages with other hosting providers. On balance, they seemed to offer the best value for money for my needs. So I signed up for their three-year basic plan. This included free registration of my domain name for a year and a free SSL certificate, By paying up-front for three years, my annual payment was considerably discounted. All was good so far, but then things started to go wrong.
Bluehost has an easy one-click sign-up to install WordPress for your website—supposedly. Try as I might, I could not get the install to work. I cleared my cookie cache, I refreshed my browser, I tried different browsers, I checked online to see if either the Bluehost or WordPress websites were down, but still no joy. I needed help.
Customer services are available 24/7 and contactable via phone, email, or online chat. I decided to email the team, as I felt that the fix needed could take some time, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time twiddling my thumbs while they did this on chat. Here’s the timeline.
- Having sent the email, I continued to try to install WordPress myself, and a couple of hours later, I succeeded. An hour after that, I had a reply from Bluehost. They had looked at my account and found that WordPress was now installed and so had done nothing more. They basically suggested I had been wasting their time.
- I didn’t like the default background theme, so I chose one of the free themes provided and installed it. I also looked at the plug-ins and installed a couple that looked useful. Then I tried to add some content. Impossible. So, I cleared my cookie cache, refreshed my browser, etc., but it still wasn't happening. I still needed help. So I sent another email.
- Five hours later, I received a reply. Apparently, the theme I had installed from the Bluehost list had scripting errors. They said “Thank you for reaching out, I recognize the importance of having the website function as intended. I appreciate your patience while I am taking care of this issue for you.” But they hadn’t taken care of the issue because they also said “To fix this issue you will have to contact the theme vendor and ask them to check on the issue on their end since I have already tried a workaround and the issue still persists.” Eh? How am I supposed to contact the vendor? So I sent another email.
- I had signed up with enthusiasm three days before, and now frustration with Bluehost was taking root. I asked them to close the account and refund my money. But no way were they going to let me go without a fight! Their email response completely ignored my request for a refund. Instead, they deleted the plug-ins and themes that I had installed and reinstalled the default settings. They claimed that everything should now work and I could start to upload content. But I couldn’t. WordPress was still not working properly.
- I checked out their refund policy. If you cancel within 14 days, Bluehost promises to refund your lump-sum payment minus the free one-year domain registration. This means I would be $15.99 (£20) out of pocket, but I had had enough. Based on the customer service I had received so far, there was no guarantee that my website-building experience would get better any time soon.
- I turned to webchat for the refund process, as I thought it would be relatively quick and straightforward. No, the operator had a set script that he was determined to go through no matter what I said. It took twenty minutes in total. I kept a copy of the chat and the timings as proof.
Edited Version of My Chat Conversation
“I want to close my account and require a full refund.”
“Welcome to Chat Support. I am sorry to know that you wish to cancel your account. May I please know the reason for cancelling the account? I would like to offer my assistance to sort out any problems that you are experiencing. I will be happy to work with you to resolve whatever issue is causing you to move.”
“I have had numerous problems with setting up the website. Your colleagues have tried to help me by deleting and uninstalling various themes, plug-ins, and WordPress, but I'm still not able to get my website pages looking the way I want. So I have now decided that a full refund is the only way forward.“
“Not to worry, we do have designing team who build websites from scratch for you. Our specialists will call you and you can explain the complete details of how you're expecting the website to be. If you are interested in having a talk, please provide your contact number and convenient time so that I can schedule a free call session for you.”
“No, I don't want your team to call me. I want a full refund of my subscription.”
“Before proceeding We do provide free Weebly website builders with Hosting account where you can easily build websites using drag and drop tools. Have you tried it out?”
“No that is not what I want.”
“May I know what is your website about, so that I can check on it and suggest you the better theme and plugin to design the website pages.”
“No, I just want a full refund at this point in time.”
Do I Recommend Bluehost?
I have no experience of any other hosting provider, so I can’t say that Bluehost is better or worse than its competitors. What I can say is that although their customer service is available 24/7, the staff do not seem technically competent. There was no continuity with my complaint. Each time I contacted them, a different member of staff responded. Each one was unaware that I had previously made a similar complaint that had not yet been resolved.
On the plus side, the refund was processed quickly and was back in my account the following day.
Best Web Hosting For Wordpress 2021
Common Features of Web Host Services
- No Monthly Plans: Clever marketing means that web hosting is advertised with monthly pricing, but you cannot actually make these small payments each month. To subscribe, you must make a one-off upfront payment, usually covering three years. Some web hosts offer the option of one or two-year plans, but their monthly price is 50-100% more than that given for the longer period.
- Lower Introductory Prices: Make sure you read the small print. The “great” price that catches your eye is for new subscribers only. When you renew, the service costs considerably more, often as much as three or four times the earlier price.
- Affiliate Programs: Virtually all web hosting services offer affiliate programs. Anyone can join them and make use of a unique referral code. Posting this on social media and on your website can result in new sign-ups, and this will earn you money. This makes it difficult to find open and unbiased reviews of any hosting service; reviewers want you to click on their link so they get a payment. I have not posted any referral links in this article. This means I can be honest about my poor experience with Bluehost.
- WordPress Compatability: The most commonly used web-building platform is WordPress. In 2021, more than 42% of all “live” websites internationally are managed using WordPress software. Most web hosting services make it easy to install WordPress, as it has become the go-to content management system, especially for novices.
- 24/7 Customer Support: Most web hosts claim to offer 24/7 customer support, but this varies considerably depending on where you are based, and in which language you require that help. If you live outside the US and prefer phone support, make sure you know how much per minute a phone call to customer service will cost you. Toll-free calls within the US are not usually free (or even low-cost) if you are connecting overseas. Email help and online chat are usually offered as alternative ways of getting support.
- Free SSL Certificate: An SSL certificate is a security measure. Many web hosts offer one free for as long as your subscription with them lasts. SSL provides encryption to your website so that it is safe for customers to make payments through it. You may have seen the padlock symbol on some websites. This indicates they use SSL encryption to make them secure.
- Free Domain Registration: Your domain name is an important part of your online identity. It is part of your “brand.” Every year, you must pay to ensure it remains registered in your name. It’s an annual fee, but if you let the registration lapse, the domain name can be sold to someone else. Most hosting services offer free registration of your domain for the first year unless you cancel your subscription. Years two and three usually come with a fee, and this is in addition to the up-front three-year subscription payment that you made at the start of this process.
How to Choose the Best Web Hosting Service
There's no “one size fits all” web host. Which one you choose should depend on what you want to use your website for. Here are some things to think about when making your decision.
- Who will be the administrator? How confident are you at using computers? Will the website be for your individual use, or is it the shopfront for your business or local community group?
- What features do you need? Will the site need regular updates, or will it contain lots of information that will stay the same for long periods of time? Do you want a mailing list for potential customers, and do you want them to be able to contact you through the website? Do you intend to sell things through the site, and if so, what methods of payment do you want to make available?
- When do you want the website to go live? Do you want a quick, ready-made template, or do you want to spend time designing a unique layout?
- Where do you want your web hosting service to be based? Could it be based overseas, or would you prefer a local provider?
- How much are you willing to pay for the service? Do you want a high-end, bells-and-whistles package, or can you get by with a basic starter pack?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.