It’s become almost a matter of faith that every business needs a website. It’s so easy, there’s really no excuse not to have one, right? I agree that the vast majority of businesses can benefit from having a presence on the internet that they control, with the tiny little stipulation that a bad website can be worse than none at all.

Your website needs to reflect the strengths, values, and unique selling proposition of your business; it needs to be kept up to date and be filled with content that is valuable to your customers; and its design needs to meet the expectations of your customers. This is beginning to sound less and less easy.

Let’s take things one step at a time. In another article I covered things to consider when selecting an e-Commerce shopping cart platform. This time I’m going to give you the tools you need to pick the best website hosting provider for your business. Just like e-Commerce platforms there are more choices than is healthy, but if you know what you need before you go shopping you’ll get exactly what you need.

Step 1: Start at the End

Imagine you already have the perfect website. What makes it perfect? What is it doing for your business? Just like anything else your business spends money on, your website needs to earn its keep. So what are your business’s goals? Here are some examples of what I’m talking about when I say a “business goal”:

  • Sell your product to a wider customer base
  • Build a pipeline of pre-qualified leads that doesn’t require constant babysitting
  • Promote your service and build authority in the mind of your customers

Notice that none of those goals mention a website, or any particular features. These are the descriptions of the jobs that your website needs to do—the design and the selection of features is determined by these needs.

Step 2: Match the Tools to the Tasks

Now that you know what your business needs from a website, the next step is to determine what will meet those needs. Remember, keep these high level and don’t start trying to plug in specific platforms and products yet. Let’s put that in context of our examples:

  • Sell your Product: Thirty years ago a strategy for achieving the goal of selling product to a wider customer base might have been a mail-order catalog. Today, it’s an online store.
  • Lead Pipeline: You need your website to work with some kind of drip marketing service and possibly a CRM platform, depending on how big your company is thinking.
  • Promote your Service: Building authority suggests that you’ll be doing a lot of writing, podcasting, or video recordings, which points to a combo of a blogging platform and a mass email service.

Step 3: Build your Shopping List

Matching your goals with the types of tools that will help you achieve them has given you a list of requirements for your website provider. Think of it as your shopping checklist, and this is where you start to get specific. Back to our examples:

  • Sell your Product: What does your online store need? Are you selling physical objects or downloadable products? What payment methods do you want to accept? How many items will be in your store?
  • Lead Pipeline: If you have a drip marketing service in mind already, integration with that service is a must-have. If not, you might want to have the widest variety of integration options so you aren’t locked in to any one service.
  • Promote your Service: Will you be changing money for any of your content, like an eBook? Are you offering written articles, videos, podcasts, or all three? Will you have an email newsletter, and will you be offering email courses?

Now, when you type “best website hosting provider” into Google and peruse one of the dozens of exhaustive feature comparison charts that come up in the search results, you’ll know what you’re looking for.

Free Worksheet

Hopefully I’ve made this seem easy. That’s because it is, as long as you give yourself the time to be thoughtful and thorough in considering the questions raised in each step. To help you out I’ve created a free worksheet that guides you through the process of building your own website hosting provider shopping list step-by-step. It also includes the seven most important features that you should look for no matter what else your website needs.

To get it just enter your email below. You’ll also be subscribed to dbdc’s weekly newsletter so you’ll never miss a post or free bonus again.

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    The next article will tackle the biggest question we’ve left on the table this time: do you need to hire a pro, or can you do this yourself? An as always, if you feel like you’d like some help contact dbdc for a private consultation to get you headed on the right track.