If you are building a website for the first time, then it's likely that you are unaware of everything your website will actually require to be worth anything.
I don't know about other web hosts, so I'm not going to pretend otherwise, but I selected ipage to host my first ever website, and what I do know is that they scammed me thoroughly.
ipage lures you in with an attractive offer of a long list of features for just $3.50 per month. Wow, you think to yourself, that is a fully comprehensive list. Well to all those who are building your first ever website, let me assure you that by itself, this is a list of junk ! The essential features you need to make your website worth anything are not included in this price. For that you must pay extra… a lot extra…
Most likely you will only discover this after you have signed your contract with ipage and begun investing your energy and love into building your new website.
To clarify, allow me to illustrate:
Here is the list of what ipage does offer for just $3.50 per month:
* Unlimited Disk Space, Bandwidth & Email
* FREE Domain
* FREE Security Suite
* FREE Site-Building Tools
* FREE Online Store
* FREE Google, Yahoo! & Facebook Marketing Credits
* GREEN! Powered by 100% wind energy
* Access to Online Marketing Guides
* Google Webmaster Tools
* $50 Credit for Google AdWords Click for more information.
* $25 Credit for Yahoo! Sponsored Search Click for more information.
* $50 Credit for Facebook Advertising
* Free Yellowpages.com Listing
* 60-Day Membership for RatePoint's Newsletter Manager
* Drag and Drop Site Builder (Choice of Two)
* Template-Based Site Builder
* Personalized Domain Name , such as yourname.com Click for more information. (A $10.95 Value)
* Blog Setup Wizard
* Photo Gallery Setup Wizard
* Google Custom Search Engine Click for more information.
* Unlimited Email Addresses at Your Domain (firstname.lastname@example.org) Click for more information.
* WebMail (Checking Your Mail Online)Click for more information.
* Email Forwarding Click for more information.
* Autoresponders Click for more information.
* Customizable Spam Filters Click for more information.
* Virus Checking
* Web Hosting Control Panel
* Enhanced Security Suite (A $100 Value)
* 24x7 Network Monitoring Click for more information.
* High Performance Load Balanced Servers Click for more information.
* Visitor Statistics/Site Traffic Reporting
* Extensive Online Help Center and Ticketing System
* Step-by-Step Tutorials for Using Your Account
* Anytime Money-Back Guarantee
* 24x7 Phone, Chat and Email Support
* Calls Answered in under Two Minutes, on Average
* Rigorous QA Testing of Staff
Impressive huh? Such a long list. And yes they do offer these things, no doubt about that.
Now check out the list of essential features that ipage DOES NOT offer for less than a princely sum, features without which your website is rendered worthless:
1) You are limited to a website of just 6 pages !!!
2) You cannot link within a page. In SEO 101 they will tell you that you'll need to create internal links within your website. You'll do this by linking between pages and also linking within a page. But with ipage, though you may link between pages, but you are not permitted to link within a page. WTF?!!!!
3) You are limited to only one form and five fields in that form, so forget about setting up an interactive quiz or questionnaire.
BUT for an extra $9.95 per month (basically three times what you paid for originally) you can upgrade from the Basic Service to the Premium Service, whereby you will "unlock additional features," including:
* Unlimited pages to build your site
* The ability to link within a page
* Advanced theme-editing options (edit an existing theme's CSS and HTML, start a theme from scratch, or import your own theme!)
* Option to password protect your pages
* Online booking capabilities with an integrated BookFresh element
* A discussion forum with an integrated Nabble Forums element
* Embed a file for visitors to download (up to 100MB)
* Audio player element
* Embed documents in your site with an integrated Scribd element
4) You get a site with no H1 tags. H1 tags are page headings and other prominent text used by search engines to rank a page. These headings are given a separate attribute (or tag) to the main body of text on a page and without them it becomes that much harder for you to be searchable on google.
H1 tags are so integral to a website, that a site with no H1 tags is like a car without reverse gear. Senseless.
But for a "˜modest' sum of $500 ipage's design team will include those essential H1 tags.
5) No 301 redirect, which is essentially a search engine friendly method for webpage redirection. A 301 redirect allows you to change the URL of a page as it is shown in search engine results, and allows people to access your site through several different URLs, which believe me you will need.
For example, if you your home page is http://www.example.com/home, you'll also want to set up a 301 redirect for http://www.home.example.com, or http://www.example.com, as it is very likely that people will try to find you that way too.
6) A support team with a normal IQ. As I reported previously, the ipage help center might be based in North America but that doesn't mean that they haven't hired the greatest morons to "˜help' you (link to other complaint). Most of these people can't spell simple words like "˜ridiculous', or help you with basic questions
But for an additional $49.95 per month, you can upgrade to ipage's concierge service, which is essentially a group of customer service persons with a normal IQ, who can spell simple words like "˜ridiculous' and who know how to turn on a computer. These persons will also set you up with that essential 301 redirect. Believe me you will need a 301 redirect !!!!
There are most likely even more limitations that I have yet to discover, and no doubt will discover as my web building knowledge progresses.
I am not averse to paying for a service, but I am averse to being fooled and lied to. If ipage would say from the start that $9.95 gets you a fully functioning website, instead of luring you in with this half-baked $3.50 website, then we wouldn't have a problem here.
As I said, I don't know whether all web hosts resort to dishonest tactics to lure customers. What I do know is that I need to get out of ipage. If anyone can offer advice on both an honest web host and one to whom I could transfer my website without having to start it from scratch, I would be enormously grateful.
In conclusion, do your homework before allowing a web host to take your money and host your labor of love, because by the time you figure out what's really going on, it'll be too late.