Business Choice Awards 2016: Web Hosting

By Features PCmag

The days of being happy simply because you have a website are long gone. The site must be well-designed and load quickly so customers can easily find the information and products they need. Studies show that as little as a half-second delay in load time can cause customers to head to a competitor.

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A website is an integral component of every business. That's why this month's Business Choice Awards evaluates the best Web hosting service to help you make your business's online presence a success.

Our goal is to help you make the best decision for your business based on feedback from other readers like you. For more than 25 years, we have been augmenting our hands-on, labs-based product reviews with our Readers' Choice Awards, in which PCMag readers rate the products and services they use the most. The Business Choice Awards extend the Readers' Choice Awards by garnering feedback about the hardware, software, and services our readers deploy, administer, maintain, and use in a business environment.

Our survey asked respondents to rate their overall satisfaction, reliability, and tech support experience with the Web hosting service they use, plus the likelihood they would recommend it to others.

If you select, deploy, or administer the products in our Business Choice Awards, or if you advise or manage people in these roles, then you know how critical it is to choose the right products. The results of the PCMag Business Choice Awards survey are invaluable when doing so.

You can be part of Business Choice! Sign up for the Readers' Choice Survey mailing list to receive invitations in the future.

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Looking for an expert's opinion? Read PCMag's roundups of The Best Web Hosting Services of 2016 and Best Small Business Web Hosting Services for 2016.

Web Hosting Services for Business

Web hosting means many different things, ranging from free, shared servers all the way up to massive, geographically dispersed infrastructures coupled with content delivery networks. The first step is to understand what your business needs based on the type and size of the business. Then start shopping, find the capabilities and services you need for the price you're willing to pay. The finalists in our Business Choice Awards for Web Hosting Service for 2016 are voted the leaders by PCMag readers, so this is a great place to start your purchasing process. They're perfect for small to medium businesses.

Competition was unprecedented this year for best Web hosting service. PCMag readers nominated a whopping 212 companies, of which seven rose to the top as finalists. Wix is a new finalist this year; last year we included iPage, but it didn't receive enough response to be included this year. The rest are all repeat finalists.

DreamHost wins the Business Choice Award for best Web hosting service for the third year in a row. Its dominating presence included outstanding scores in overall satisfaction, reliability, and likelihood to recommend/NetPromoter Score.

PCMag readers continue to shower DreamHost with love. The Web host deserves to boast with some fantastic scores. Its overall 9.0 (out of a possible 10.0 at best) is great, but that's down from an astounding 9.7 last year; yet still up from an 8.6 the year before in 2014. The next best overall score from 1&1 is 8.5; that's still pretty great, just not as great as what DreamHost pulled off.

Reliability is an all-important factor in selecting a Web hosting service. It refers to the ability of the hosting provider to consistently serve your site to visitors in a speedy and consistent manner. DreamHost sits on top with a 9.2 (down from last year's 9.7), followed closely by 1&1 at 9.0 (up from last year's 8.6) and Wix at 8.9. Network Solutions brings up the rear with a 7.5 (up from 7.3 last year).

We always ask about tech support and don't always get enough answers to report a satisfaction score in this area. Only three had enough responses this year, with Bluehost managing a nice 8.5 tech support satisfaction score. That's a little surprising because almost half of all Bluehost customers (47 percent) said they required tech support at all. When they do make the call for help, BlueHost is delivering the goods.

The rest of the finalists tend to hover around 40 percent needing help (including DreamHost at 41 percent). The curve is thrown off by Wix, which only has 21 percent of users making tech-support requests. If you want to avoid asking for help, Wix may be your best bet.

Arguably, the second most important question we ask (after "overall, how do you like this service?) is "How likely are you to recommend your Web hosting service to a colleague?" DreamHost took a commanding lead with a 9.1 response here. The closest followers were 1&1 with an 8.6 and Wix with an 8.5. At the bottom of the heap were HostGator and Bluehost tied at 7.7, then Network Solutions, our perennial laggard turned in a 7.0 this year (which, to be fair, is up from last year's abysmal 5.8). Last year, iPage was second worst with a 6.4, which may be indicative of the mass exodus that prevented it from making the cut this year.

That same question is used to calculate the Net Promoter Score, which really shows how many people are saying positive things about a company. DreamHost scored an outstanding 73 percent—that's a lot of good buzz. Our only negative score, meaning that survey respondents actually steer their colleagues away, was recorded for Network Solutions (-5 percent), which was also the only negative NPS score for the past two years.

See all of our survey results for Business Choice 2015: Web Hosting.

WINNERS: WEB HOSTING SERVICES

DreamHost
This is our third year producing this survey, and for three years DreamHost's users have consistently made sure it's the top of the charts. Though scores are down a little from last year, DreamHost still had a stunning showing. Current customers definitely recommend DreamHost as the Web host everyone should get, far more than the competition's customers.

Methodology

We email survey invitations to PCMag.com community members, specifically subscribers to our Readers' Choice Survey mailing list. The surveys are hosted by SurveyMonkey, which also performs our data collection. This survey was in the field from May 31, 2016 to June 20, 2016.

Respondents were asked to rate their Web hosting servoce using multiple questions about their overall satisfaction with the solution, as well as experiences with technical support within the past 12 months.

Because the goal of the survey is to understand how the email marketing solutions compare to one another and not how one respondent's experience compares to another's, we use the average of the email marketing solutions' rating, not the average of every respondent's rating. In all cases, the overall ratings are not based on averages of other scores in the table; they are based on answers to the question, "Overall, how satisfied are you with your Web host?"

Scores not represented as a percentage are on a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is the best.

Net Promoter Scores are based on the concept introduced by Fred Reichheld in his 2006 best seller, The Ultimate Question, that no other question can better define the loyalty of a company's customers than "how likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?" This measure of brand loyalty is calculated by taking the percent of respondents who answered 9 or 10 (promoters) and subtracting the percent who answered 0 through 6 (detractors). (For more, read PCMag's Top Consumer Recommended Companies for 2015.)

If you would like to participate in PCMag's monthly Readers' Choice surveys and to be eligible for our monthly sweepstakes promotion, please sign up today.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.