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A2Hosting: The Web Factors Review

I’m not a demanding customer, in fact, I’ve been labeled as “too nice” by a customer of mine in the past, and my manager suggested that I should be coached on sharing my frustrations.

So when I write a review like this, in my mind it can go two ways: either I’m overly nice, or I’ll let out all my frustrations, even the ones I shouldn’t just to show that I’m not overly nice.

But I won’t do that.

I’ll aim to find the middle-ground to hopefully make this A2Hosting review worth reading. One thing’s for sure: I’ll rather be nice as the saying goes:

It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.

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A2 Hosting has been the first web host I have ever dealt with five years ago. I was just setting up my first website and didn’t have that perspective yet on what should I expect from a web host.

From what I could tell, my site was up and running properly and I had the tools I needed. That’s all that mattered, and that was delivered by A2 Hosting.

I think I personified the average customer with my expectations. I didn’t really care about how the “cookie” was made, I just wanted it to taste good. That’s it.

So I was a customer of theirs for all these years, until a few months ago when I decided to move on to something that was a better fit for my “downsized” needs.

I had simple reasons for making the move, but this shouldn’t take away any credit from A2 Hosting. Truth is, that there was nothing they could do for me to be their customer any longer, simply because I had other plans. I sold some sites that were hosted with them. That meant, I didn’t need the service anymore.

When I started Web Factors, I knew that it was the only website I wanted to focus on and wanted to try something new when it comes web hosting.

So goodbye A2 Hosting.

With that being said, all this doesn’t mean that it can’t fit your needs. It was some good years together, and I was impressed with the service.

My First Impressions & Onboarding Experience

First impressions last a long time. It’s a cliche, but it’s true.

The first word that comes to my mind is flexibility.

When I started out with A2 Hosting, I opted for the lowest service level possible. That allowed me to create one website.

It didn’t take long till I realized that it all seems to be working fine. As I planned to launch other sites at one point I had to upgrade to a plan that allowed for more sites.

I paid the difference between the plan I had and the one above it – which is called the Swift plan. All this happened within a few hours. Before this, I contacted A2 Hosting’s chat support and I was given clear guidance on how to proceed.

This was a positive onboarding experience.

The onboarding experience of a web host is an important signal in that it can potentially be a projection of the underlying service as well. I wouldn’t say this is always the case, but I’ve found that there is generally a correlation.

Another Bluehost?

If I had to compare A2 Hosting from this aspect to another supplier, I’d say that they are on the level of Bluehost. Just to avoid any confusion – this is a strong positive statement. Bluehost is a highly popular web host and there are good reasons for this.

With that being said, there is an extensive knowledge base and clean navigation inside the user account. There are also shortcuts for quicker and more efficient action.

I could talk about the details of the knowledge base, but there’s really nothing special about a good knowledge base. A lot of tutorials and frequently asked questions.

What I want to talk about instead are the three things that were the most important for me.

These three things are:

  • Speed and performance
  • Technical support
  • Usability & resources

Speed and Performance

When it comes to speed, A2 Hosting is not faster than any other well-established web host out there. At least, with their ‘normal’ servers. There is the possibility to choose Turbo servers which promise up to 20 times the speed of some of the other web hosts.

The key here is to keep your site’s performance at a level that doesn’t affect the user experience negatively. And that my friends, is not easy to do.

We have continuous pressure to create stunning, feature-rich websites. In some ways to improve user experience, but that doesn’t come for free when it comes to site speed. Since Google made speed an important factor for ranking websites in their search results and ads, it is our interest to keep our websites light and fast as possible.

A2Hosting Review Speed considerations
Search engines like Google prioritize faster websites in their search and ad results

So for example, it is a positive thing that software like WordPress is getting important updates like the Gutenberg update was. But at the same time, the size of WordPress as a software increased. Not by a lot, but still will have some impact.

A recommendation when using shared hosting

If you will be utilizing shared web hosting, I would recommend keeping your website as lean as possible. Fewer pictures and videos, fewer plugins if you’re using WordPress.

In fact, plugins and themes are the number one factor in my experience for inadequate website performance.

I was able to rank pretty well in Google in the past running on A2Hosting’s shared platform (concretely the Swift plan). I was just being selective in my WordPress theme, number/quality of plugins. At the moment running with three plugins only, my speed test results are solid.

Performance report for Web Factors

Tech Support

This is one of the trickiest parts to review. I had only one occasion where I was asking a technical question. I was asking whether I could use a specific application on their shared servers for a plugin.

It was possible for me to use it. Though, the feature that the plugin added was not fulfilling the promise I have envisioned. So in the end, it didn’t matter. But it mattered for me at the time, and if the answer was a no, I bet I would’ve been pissed about it. Working in a services business, this is how we behave when we are customers – we are often unreasonable.

Going back to my earlier point regarding tech support, the reason I said it’s the hardest part is as it’s very transactional in nature. One customer has a positive experience, the next one doesn’t.


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The Joy of Creating a Website (or anything)

When I was in college, in the beginning, I wasn’t particularly into anything, except taking care of myself physically. By this I mean I worked out a lot. But besides that, I was just going through the motion day by day.

I wasn’t fascinated by the subjects I was studying, I didn’t have a hobby that would allow me to experience what is like to create something.

Not anything, but something that can be useful for people, is beautiful—something that’s meaningful. Call it art if you will.

Until I was introduced to WordPress and creating websites.

Of course, in the beginning, it was all about learning and experimenting, but I always had this sensation that “now I’m creating something in my room, that can help people, that can have real use and impact, and I might even make money with it.”

How awesome!

It was never possible to do this before in history, ever. And I live in an era when it is possible. This thought only gave me shivers on my back.

I can’t explain it better than Mark Twain did—

The two most important days in your life are the day when you are born and the day you find out why.

Mark Twain

It’s hard to explain the calmness and fulfillment I felt after I created the first website that was really meaningful. It was like I’ve finally found why I’m here, I finally found my inner peace.

A positive spiral in the process of creation

What I noticed is that the better results I got, the better I got with creating, and my fulfillment got even better.

Maybe this is how a lot of the artists fell about their art. To experience it, I took up the guitar not long ago.

I’m a complete beginner on the guitar, but I have to say that with all the clumsyness—being left-handed, I find a lot of joy in the three cords I learned in two weeks.

Too bad I haven’t experienced this long before.

I guess now was the time for it. Strangely, I believe in these things, that there is a reason why it’s happening now, and there is a sequence of things that led me up to this point in my life. It’s no coincidence it hadn’t happen before. It had to happen at the right time.

I wish all people could experience the joy of creation, be it a hobby, or even taking it to the level of saying goodbye to the office job to do what you love for a living.

Times are hard now for many entrepreneurs because of COVID-19.

I know this.

So you may feel it’s not the right time to start your own business. But we need to put our feelings aside and think clearly. It’s not hard to recognize that now is the time to start doing the groundwork for your business. So that when we’re through this, you are already set up up and ready to deliver value to people and get the credit for it.

We’re going to get through it and we’ll be stronger than before.

Do the work! Be ready!

And most importantly, stay healthy.

Did you know?

You can create a website right away. Go with my recommended web host, A2Hosting. They are affordable and trusted worldwide. Please note that the below is a referral link.

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How to Avoid the Worst Black Friday Web Hosting Deals?

Question: why would anyone want to look for the worst Black Friday web hosting deals? After all, Black Friday is about the best deals of the year.

Answer: because if you don’t know the ones that you should stay away from, you might find them among the best deals among ads.

Here is my 3 tips to avoid the above:

Use common sense

If the web hosting plan that you are looking at was selling for $500/year, and now they say it’s $30/year, that’s a red flag. Typically the biggest discounts are given on the value products. So for example, if it was $4.95/month, and now it’s $1.95/month, that’s perfectly realistic.

Check the web host or web hosts and products well in advance

I like to look at the products well in advance. It’s too late to look at it one or two days before the event. Web hosts are preparing their Black Friday offers weeks in advance.

Although it’s illegal, some providers might increase their prices before the event so that they can claim that they have reduced their prices by a larger amount. I’d say it’s rare but seen it done.

Watch out for up- and cross-sells

Most web hosts will try to sell you something additional when you are signing up. If you don’t check your cart, you might end up with some additional packages at your service. Of course, it’s possible that these are of value to you, but it might not be the case in many instances.

+Bonus tip

Keep an eye on the renewal price when signing up on discount rates. Providers will give you very low prices for the initial term, but they will try to make a profit on every client. It’s not that they are unfair, it is perfectly fine as every business’s goal is to make a profit.

I’d just make sure not to commit to renewal when signing up on the discounted rate.

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The Game of the Dawn and the Twilight

The disruption is happening. From energy to transportation, to name a few, it’s happening at a fast pace. Of course, it’s the IT industry that’s driving it all.

There is a real revolution out there, that will completely change the landscape. Our lives will be much more different not too far in the future.

There is more and more a blur between reality and the digital world. Something similar to the movie Matrix. Even though it was 20 years ago, it’s quite the prophecy.

Digitization and AI hand-in-hand are coming forward, disrupting existing business models, the way we interact with our machines and each other.

The way we interact with our phones already makes us a cyborg in a sense. The phone is an extension of us that gives us the ability to gain access to unlimited information from the outside, but we can also store pieces of our lives there, available anytime on-demand.

Where is this all leading?

Robots, AI and Elon Musk

I came across a video on YouTube where Elon Musk of Tesla was in Joe Rogan’s show in the summer of 2019. It was an interesting show.

One particular piece that stuck with me – which I already knew about Elon, is that he is seriously worried about the future of AI. He said that we really need to get this right, as there may be no way back. He took it as far as Obama.

His voice was not heard.

Does it mean that we are completely OK with AI?

Movies give robots human characteristics, so we’ve developed a familiarity for them in a sense. Politicians don’t really know the science, so it’s hard to get them to raise the red flag.

One thing’s clear: the new technologies that destructed whole industries in the past have also opened new opportunities. The twilight of one meant the dawn of another.

I love technology, but at the same time, there is something in the back of my mind suggesting that AI is not something to play with. The people who are in the position to make recommendations on this should come forward and make their voices heard. Otherwise, we might get it wrong one time, and then – The End.

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How to Create a Website with WP for Laymen

When looking for ways to create a website there are many roads we can choose in today’s web space. In this article, we’ll go through a simple step-by-step process on how to do this with WordPress.

Things You’ll Need

I promise to keep it short, but there are a few things we need to get out of the way before we can move to the actual steps of the website creation process.

What am I referring to?

Definitions.

But don’t worry, you don’t need to memorize like in school.

I’m thinking about concepts like:

  • what is a domain name
  • WordPress
  • what are WP themes and plugins
  • how web hosting works

A domain name is the name that you type into your address bar within your browser to visit a website.

WordPress is a free software that allows you to create a website. This same website is also running on WordPress, just like the third of the web.

WordPress Themes are basically the different designs that can be used within WordPress. So depending from what theme you use, you can have a different website layout, colors, typography, functionality and last but not least, speed.

Plugins add some functionality to a WP website. These can be installed within WordPress just like themes.

Web hosting basically means the servers where your website resides, and from where it is loaded when visitors come to visit it.

Step 1 – Register Your Domain Name

Namecheap is my go-to domain name registrar, but any other domain registrar company will do.

There are many domain extensions, chose a .com version to keep things simple and effective. This will suit any type of website.

When searching for a domain name on Namecheap for example, you might find that the domain name that you wanted to register is already taken. Do not despair if this is the case. Be creative and keep searching until you find the one that meets your criteria.

Keep the domain name short and descriptive if possible, your visitors will remember it easier. It’s also good for your website’s visibility in search engines.

Step 2 – Sign Up with a Web Host

We could talk about web hosting, and the offering of the different web hosts endlessly, but in the interest of time and efficiency, I’m focusing on the essentials.

Regardless of what web host you’re signing up with in the end, go for shared web hosting initially if possible. It’s good for your budget, and most likely will have enough resources for your website(s) to operate for many many years before the need to upgrade to something more serious and costly.

At the moment I’m using Namecheap’s own WordPress specific web hosting service, it’s called EasyWP. I’ve shared my opinion about it earlier. At the moment you can sign up for $16/year to any of the plans (Starter, Turbo, Supersonic) and the cheapest plan (Starter) would renew a shy below $30/year later.

This may look very cheap, and in fact it is, but it would be a mistake to make assumptions based on the price about the quality of the service. It’s important to note that you can use only one WordPress site with EasyWP, so taking this into account, it’s not that cheap. And in turn, you get a good service for one website. Have a second site? You need to pay for it separately again.

If you are looking to run mutiple websites, you might want to have a look at my former web host, A2 Hosting. Their shared hosting is a one-stop-shop for this purpose.

Step 3 – Setting Namervers

No matter which web host you choose, you will need to perform some actions.

One of these action is to connect your already registered domain name to the servers of your web host. This is achieved by changing the nameservers inside your domain registrar’s account to the nameservers of your web host.

Every web hosts has a set of nameservers, and they should give the ability to change nameservers. You can find your web host’s nameservers by searching in the knowledge base section of your web hosts, or simply doing a Google search on it.

Because I recommended my former web hosts, this is how I find A2 Hosting namesrvers:

FInding out nameservers using Google

Once nameservers are updated within your domain registrar’s account (usually two nameservers can be filled in), it may take a day or two before the domain and your web host’s servers are linked, but it may happen sooner – sometimes it takes place almost instantly.

Step 4 – Install WordPress

The WordPress installation can be done using the ‘traditional’ way (manual install), which perhaps requires a bit more attention or minimal experience. But still, it only takes a few minutes.

On the other hand, with A2 Hosting, which we are specifically covering here as an example, there is the opportunity to install WordPress and a number of other applications automatically with a few clicks using Softaculous. This is generally the case for all decent web hosts, so even if you choose another web host, the process is almost the same.

Step 5 – Start Editing Your Website

Once you have installed WP, your login credentials will be emailed to you to an email address specified by you during the install.

You can start making edits to your website in terms of its visual look and some other considerations, but also you can start adding content.

hero header placeholder

You can build an awesome website today with A2 Hosting.

I’ve been utilizing A2 Hosting as my web host for several years. So if you are looking for a decent provider, they are the first web host that come to my mind.

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I Use These Tools to Check my Website Speed

A lot of effort goes into creating content for our websites. To make sure that no effort is wasted, we need to keep our website speed at a good level. What is a good level you might ask?

There’s no short answer to this, but I consider anything below 2 seconds a good result.

Google, for example will also take this into account when it comes to ranking a website in search results.

So what can be done to improve site speed?

How about some testing first?

A good starting point is to see how a site performs. Of course, we can sort of have a feel for it by simply loading it in our browser. However, in order to develop a more serious view and to track progress, we need facts and figures.

There are many online tools which offer the possibility to run speed and optimization tests. I typically use GT Metrix or WebPageTest. Both are pretty comprehensive and do the job perfectly.

Using these tools you will learn about the different factors that affect site performance, and you can act on these. While there is usually some explanation on how you can improve that specific aspect, you may need to do some additional Google searches to find out how to actually implement that specific change.

Finally, a tool from Google that I have not been using so frequently, but it has the same funcionality as the other two mentioned above, but with a right amount of minimalism: PageSpeed Insights.

I hope you will find these tools as useful as I did and still do, they are definitely a good point to start getting to grips with site performance.