Task 6: Plan your budget and compare vendors

If you are sure that WordPress is the right technology for your project, it’s time to figure out what it will cost you to operate your web site. Assuming you will operate your own site with a registered domain name, there will be some immediate out-of-pocket costs:

  1. Annual cost to register a domain name, plus any add-on features such as privacy features that the registrar may offer. Domain name registration must be renewed each year. Some vendors waive the registration fee for one year if you open a new web hosting service account.
  2. Annual cost to use a web hosting service.
  3. Annual cost for the Akismet spam protection service. It is free for personal sites and really cheap for business sites. This isn’t mandatory, but it is a really good idea to have it.
  4. Annual cost for the Cloudflare.com security service. Basic services are free and will be sufficient for most sites. This isn’t mandatory, but it is a really good idea to have it. More extensive security services are available under paid service plans.

To complete this task you will need to compare the pricing and features on more than one WordPress hosting service. There are hundreds of WordPress hosting vendors, all offering different prices and features. Be sure that the vendor offers a “one-click” installation option for WordPress. You will need that later when you actually do your first WordPress installation.

Levels of WordPress support

You may find it helpful to classify the vendors into three categories based on the amount of support they offer to WordPress users. The pricing varies depending on the amount of help you can get if something goes wrong or if you need special setup for something. If you are just starting out with WordPress, or if you are doing a site for a business that needs good backup support, plans that come with better support may be worth the extra money.

Cheapest: Hosting without any special WordPress support. Expect to pay between $4 and $8 per month for these plans. Popular vendors in this category include Hostgator.com, Bluehost.com, networksolutions.com, and additional vendors recommended by WordPress.org. Don’t assume that the cheapest deal is the best! Check the reputation of the vendor carefully.

Midrange: Hosting with some special support for WordPress. Expect to pay between $8 and $20 per month for these plans. Examples of vendors in this category include the plans offered by WordPress.com, which offers a basic package for $99 per year ($8.25 per month) with some limitations on features. Another approach is illustrated by Amananet.com which offers a limited support contract for $150 per year ($12.50 per month). The Amananet contract is an example of a reseller arrangment in which Amananet provides you with a Hostgator site and adds on their own service and support beyond what you get with a normal Hostgator contract.

Most Expensive: Hosting with fully-managed WordPress support. Expect to pay more than $20 per month for these plans. Examples of vendors in this category include page.ly (which has a starter plan that is around $10 per month), wpengine.com, and Synthesis, the managed WordPress hosting platform operated by Copyblogger Media.

To complete this task…

To complete this task, compare the domain name registration and web hosting services offered by several vendors. Discuss the results of your comparisons with at least two other members of your learning team. What looks like the best deal for you? How do your implementation plans compare to theirs?

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