You might well think that the look and feel of your web design is the single most important aspect of your new website. And indeed it is very important because it provides the look and feel that visitors will actually see and use. But it's nowhere near as important as choosing the right hosting package for your website. Why? Because if you choose the wrong package nobody will actually be able see "the look" or use "the feel" of your website.
The obvious result of choosing a poor hosting package for your website is that it will be slow to respond for your visitors, or even unavailable, which is the last thing you want. But there's an even bigger problem.. It's not just human visitors who will have to wait for your site to appear, the search engine bots will not hang around waiting for your website to respond to their requests during a crawl of your website, so at the very least you are risking a poor listing in the search results.
That's right, search engines (obviously) love websites which are fast to respond, so if putting your website on a fast hosting platform for your users is not enough, consider the adverse effects it would have on your search engine results by hosting your website on a poor platform. And there are plenty of poor hosting platforms around.
Just for a moment, let's consider FREE hosting packages. Have you gone mad?! If you are running a business then of course you want to do things on a budget.. But you want things to work don't you? If you want to project anything like a half professional image you will avoid free hosting like the plague. You're likely to get advertisements injected into your website, you will have little control over it, and the performance of your website will be the lowest of the low. Nobody who's serious about their business takes a free hosting package, it defeats the object.
And if you're based in the UK, you need UK based hosting. I know they say it doesn't matter where you are in the world these days, and actually some US based hosting packages are good value, but at the end of the day your UK visitors still have to do a 7,000 mile return trip across the Atlantic and back for every page they request.. Logistically, and with half a thought towards what could go wrong, it's not really an ideal scenario.
The bottom line is this. You can get most things to do with websites on the internet for free, but good web design and hosting isn't free. The phrase 'you get what you pay for' has never been more deserved. The one thing you shouldn't skimp on is hosting.
Whatever your budget is, you should be thinking about allocating 40% to web design and development, 40% to search engine optimisation, and the remaining 20% to hosting. It will be the best 20% you have ever spent!