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Archive for the ‘Web Hosting Reviews’ Category

Could One Of These eCommerce Hosting Options Be For You….?

01 Mar


Image Credit: CWCS (CC BY 2.0)
The first thing to be aware of when shopping around for eCommerce hosting services is that actually any hosting service can support eCommerce. What this means is that if you’re being given the option to pay a little more for specific eCommerce hosting instead of regular hosting, you need to look very carefully at what additional value or benefits are being provided to justify the extra cost.

Once you’re satisfied that it’s a genuinely good deal, you then need to consider whether it’s the best one to meet your needs. Sometimes the most popular services are not always the best, so it’s important to evaluate each and every one on their merits and not simply make the choice based on the fact that it’s a popular service.

With that in mind, we review three of the most widely used eCommerce hosting services in this article, and the results are shown below.

1. Shopify
This is the most popular eCommerce hosting services around, and is aimed at complete beginners to eCommerce.

Shopify has a lot of good points, such as:

• Simple to set up an online store
• Provides an integrated payment gateway and you can pay to add others
• Hosting is genuinely fast and reliable
• The basic service is PCI compliant
• Analytics are built into the system
• Customer support is typically good (can vary, depending on who you talk with)
• Large amount of documentation and resources available
• Everything you need in one place
• Does not charge for bandwidth
• Shared SSL certificate provided by default
• Abandoned cart recovery available – annoy your ‘almost’ customers to your heart’s content

The negatives may include:

• Need a verified credit card to sign up for a free trial
• High cost compared to regular hosting
• Charges transaction fees in addition to the subscription fee (may be waived)
• Uses “themes”, which limits you a bit if you prefer to design the site yourself
• Uses a custom markup language which should not be necessary
• Each product can only have 3 options to select from
• Difficult to migrate from Shopify to another service, due to the way it’s all set up
• Chargeback policy should be more transparent – too many are confused by it
• No adjudication or dispute handling system between merchants and buyers
• Difficult to integrate with other eCommerce options (eBay, Amazon, etc)
• Allegations of fund locking and store cancellations based on suspicion
• Consumers may not realise they have to actively cancel the free trial to avoid being charged
• Forces EU VAT compliance on digital goods (may not be negative, if you live in the EU or intend to travel there).

To get your transaction fees waived, you must use “Shopify Payments”, which is only available to customers with a verified US, Canadian, Australian or UK address. Tough luck if you were born in Mobile but you now live in Mombasa.

2. Volusion
When a service provides a lot of documentation, it’s usually a good sign. Except, when like Volusion, they provide way too much documentation. Aside from the fact that it would be very difficult to read all of it, the sheer volume is indicative to the new user that they will be in for a difficult time as they try to become familiar with the system.

Positives of Volusion include:

• Does not charge transaction fees
• Subscription fee is slightly lower than Shopify
• Very fast loading times
• Unique SSL certificate mandatory
• Simple and intuitive interface (does not equate to easy set-up, however)
• Excellent integrated inventory management
• ‘Volusion Payments’ seem not to be restricted by nationality
• Simpler chargeback management than Shopify (but maybe not always)

Negative points include:

• Charges for bandwidth
• No simple way to view bandwidth consumption
• Fewer apps compared to Shopify
• Fewer themes compared to Shopify
• Only some themes use responsive design
• Uses themes, which is limiting if you like to create your own design
• Created with ASP.Net, meaning they run it on Windows servers
• Added annual cost of SSL certificate
• Sometimes charge unexpected fees without notice or warning
• Google accused Volusion of link manipulation
• Requires some technical proficiency to get best results
• Very difficult to migrate to another service
• Stupid name

For the small business customer, there are too many negatives to justify the investment. Capped bandwith with no simple way to view bandwidth consumption is the biggest problem, but there’s also a number of other things, such as the extra coding and configuration you’ll be required to do before you can get up and running.

For big business, the absence of transaction fees, the ability to do everything on your own domain seamlessly, and the high speed network may be enough to offset these frustrations. If you can get past the stupid name, you’re doing a lot better than many others.

It may sound like this review is being rough on Volusion, but not nearly as rough as these guys are being, so you can make up your own mind about whether Volusion is a good investment of time and money for you.

3. BigCommerce
This system is just a baby in comparison to Volusion and Shopify, but they are big in every other way. Providing very similar services, but in what feels like a more personal way.

Pros of setting up your shop with Big Commerce:

• No transaction fees, period
• Integrated card processing gateway
• No bandwidth limits or capping
• Huge range of features from the outset, you don’t need to keep adding extras
• The friendliest, happiest user education system of all, through “BigCommerce University”
• The education provided is detailed, informative, and very on-point
• Fast (but not Shopify or Volusion fast)
• Everything works really well, you don’t need to be a technical expert to get a simple store working
• Abandoned cart notifications, so you can be a pest to customers who don’t complete their purchase
• Customer service is very professional and efficient – they care about retaining existing customers
• Plenty of support options
• Not locked in to templates. You can use the templates provided, modify them with plain HTML/CSS or build your own templates. This is not found at Shopify (where you have to learn a whole new markup language) or Volusion (where “customisation” is a foreign word not in their vocabulary).

Cons of setting up shop with BigCommerce:

• Inventory management is inferior to Volusion, roughly on par with Shopify
• Fewer add-ons available than with Shopify or Volusion
• Lowest cost is higher than lowest cost on Shopify or Volusion, but also is high value
• Difficult to migrate out from the platform to something else
• Takes a long time to learn every possible thing which is why there’s so much support
• Some customers have complained about volatile policy

The real plus with BigCommerce for developers and people with any sort of technical skills is that BigCommerce is the most open system with regard to allowing you to customise things to your heart’s content. By not locking you into templates or themes and allowing you to code directly in ordinary PHP, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, it is the most flexible of the three systems reviewed here.

For the non-technical, there’s no problem at all, as everything will work very simply without you needing to learn any hocus pocus, but on the other hand if you do want to make adjustments, anybody you hire to do the job will be able to do it because it’s straightforward coding.

BigCommerce is also somewhat of a standout because they have the least number of people calling them crooks compared to the other two top services. Of course this doesn’t mean the other two services are crooks, it just means there are a lot of people saying that they are. You may find some reassurance in knowing that the eCommerce host you select hasn’t drawn a considerable amount of public hostility

The verdict
All things considered, it really depends what you’re looking for. As a beginner, and needing only a simple online store, Shopify may fill your needs easily.

Volusion does have some strengths, especially for big businesses who can absorb high operating costs, but that issue of charging high overage rates on bandwidth coupled with the fact that there’s no simple way to monitor the bandwidth consumption, makes it difficult to recommend Volusion for the small business operator.

Point-for-point, BigCommerce provides the best value for money to the merchant, and provides outstanding customer support and documentation. Ironically, BigCommerce seems to be the best choice for small businesses that are serious about committing to eCommerce and are willing to go beyond the basics

 

WordPress Hosting for Beginners Explained….

06 Sep

 

What is Web Hosting? Explained in 60 Seconds…

06 May

We really liked this, hosting kept simple!

 

How To Make a WordPress Website – 2015

15 Sep

 

Google’s New Algorithm Makes Mobile Site Responsive Key Feature for Web Hosting

10 Apr

Google has announced that as of April 21st, mobile-friendliness will be a part of the search engine giant’s algorithm for determining result page rankings. In response to the growing number of internet users conducting searches with mobile devices, Google intends to improve user experience by favoring sites that are optimally structured for viewing on a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. According to the official Google WebMaster’s blog, websites will earn a mobile-friendly tag beneath their SERP listing if they don’t require the use of horizontal scrolling, rely on mobile-compatible software, don’t require use of the zoom function, and have easily clickable links.

To meet these criteria, existing websites must be specifically outfitted for mobile viewing. Websites of all sizes, from e-commerce, to small business, to blogging sites, should take this algorithmic change seriously, this change will directly impact a site’s ranking. Not only will Google be less favorable to sites that aren’t mobile friendly, user experience is hindered when sites aren’t compatible, hurting site traffic and ranking even further.

With Google’s new algorithm, the best way to quickly and efficiently make a site suitable for mobile use is through the mobile site builder packages or mobile responsive-design services from a web hosting provider, says Danny Johananoff, Founder and CEO of web hosting comparison site Pickuphost.com. This also means that website owners seeking out new hosting companies should place high priority upon those with mobile site builder packages or conversion services.

According to Johananoff, creating a mobile-friendly site through a hosting provider is advantageous because:

It’s cost-effective. Hosting providers that offer these services typically cost less than hiring a professional design team to complete the backend work necessary for mobile-responsiveness or mobile site creation.
It can be user-implemented. Depending on a website’s level of complexity, websites can be created for mobile use by site owners themselves through easy-to-use builder applications.
Users can leverage customizable design templates for expedited launching. For those interested in building a mobile website from scratch, services offered from hosting providers make creating a well-designed mobile site simple.
However, not all hosting providers currently offer mobile site builders or mobile responsive services, and those that do may not offer the extent of services needed to earn Google’s mobile-friendly distinction. As Johananoff notes, site owners will need to do their due diligence to find the hosting provider with the right offerings.

 

Safer Internet Day 2015 – Today!

10 Feb

 

DNS (Domain Name System) for Beginners

03 Dec

 

Safer Internet Day Today! Tuesday 11th February 2014

11 Feb

Just Watch…

 

How to Build a Brand | Website Hosting Tips | Miles Fryer…

24 Oct

We thought this was worth a look…..

 

Softaculous – Is it for me?

01 Oct

If you’re looking for an ‘off the shelf’ solution for your website then Softaculous could be for you.  Softaculous is the leading auto installer having some 310+ scripts available which means you can get almost any application with just the click of a mouse.

All leading hosting company will be using a common control panel such as cPanel, H-Sphere, InterWorx, Plesk and Softaculous integrates with them all. So once you’ve purchased your domain and hosting you can easily install the application that’s best for you.

The Top applications include – WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, WHMCS etc.

Whatever you’re looking to create Softaculous is going to have something that will almost always fit.  The total 310 (and still adding) applications are catagorised into the following:

PHP include:

Blogs

MicroBlogs

Forums

Image Gallaries

Mails

Polls and Surveys

Project Management

E-Commerce

ERP

Guest Books

Customer Support

Frameworks

Educational

DB Tools

Music

Video

RSS

File Management

Others

JS include:

Libabries

PERL include:

Blogs

E-Commerce

JAVA include:

Portals/CMS

Project Management

Blogs

Forums

Softaculous could save you time and money……