Web Hosting & Website Builder
Fasthosts has been around since 1999: long enough now for most people to have at least heard of it. It’s a UK-based hosting provider with UK data centres. If you’re on the lookout for a basic, but capable, website building package then Fasthosts can also help.
Price & availability
And as you dive into the options a couple appear as prime candidates for fledgling site makers. Fasthosts’ Website Builder starts at £4.99 ($6.52) a month, with the first month completely free on the Essential package, or three months free on the Complete package. You can cancel without penalty within the first 30 days. These prices exclude VAT, but a handy toggle at the top of the site lets you see prices with VAT if you need to.
The Essential plan comes with the benefit of a free domain (and Fasthosts specialises in UK domains of course), an email address, SSL certificate to flag up that your pages are secure, plus 25 different themes. The latter selection will get the ball rolling in terms of creativity, although the bundle only gets you 10 pages.
Rather unsurprisingly Fasthosts does flag up another option in the shape of the 3 months free Complete deal. This goes to £9.99 per month (without VAT) compared to the £4.99 of the Essential deal, but there are extras. In fact, if you’re looking to sell things online then on top of everything that comes with the Essential package you also get SEO tools and a PayPal/credit card shopping facility that can have an unlimited amount of products on show.
For those that just want hosting, the Ignite plan is £2.50 / $3.25 per month and that includes 10GB of storage (on an SSD), a pair of 1GB databases, a free domain name and five email addresses. Momentum is the recommended option, offering 20GB of storage, 20 databases, advanced (as opposed to basic) SEO tools and 100 email addresses. That’s £5 / $6.50 per month. Again, those prices don’t include UK VAT.
Fasthosts also now offers WordPress hosting plans , and these start at £3.24 / $4.12 per month.
For alternatives, check out our roundup of the best web hosting services.
If you do plump for one of the website builder plans you get a nice meat-and-potatoes package that has an interface which might be best described as simplistic. That’s not to deride the Essential Website Builder though as it does everything that rvial website builders do but in more of a stripped-down fashion.
In many respects this is a welcome surprise as once you’ve picked an option from the templates on show you’re dropped right into the thick of the editor and there’s really not too much to get your head around.
Where Fasthosts used to charge more if you wanted your site to work properly on phones and tablets, that’s now a standard feature, just as you’d expect: all modern site builders should produce sites that adapt to any screen size.
Down the left-hand side of the screen there are a handful of core menu options to choose from. These include the Template Picker, Store, Blog and Developer icons. Tap on one of these and, as you’d expect, you can begin deep diving into those relevant areas.
Of course, if you’re starting out having selected one of the templates on offer then working along this route makes the construction process a walk in the park. Items on the page can be clicked on to edit, while scrolling downwards takes you to text and image areas that can be tweaked as you go. It’s all very basic, but seems to tick over nicely without the need for constant saving.
That’s reassuring if you’re finding your feet and, in that respect, the Fasthosts builder has to be one of the easiest here to master. Conversely, if you click on the Developer button then you subsequently have to check a couple of warning boxes, which almost seems like you’re signing your life away if anything goes wrong.
Poke around inside this area and you’ll find the site builder suddenly becomes mildly terrifying and you’re best off making a swift exit before something really does go wrong. Of course, this is a handy feature for anyone who is moving into a more code-based approach, but for fledgling page constructors the Developer button is probably best avoided.
Meanwhile, back on a more conventional design front it’s quick and easy to take a preview of what your resulting pages are going to look like, and if there’s anything that’s not right you simply dip back into the editor to amend the gremlins.
Publishing your project is also a simple operation with little in the way of obstacles to overcome. We should also mention the Store setup icon too, which offers up a pretty chunky though not too intimidating array of e-commerce options to work through. If you’re so inclined there’s everything needed here to start populating an online shop and also monitoring the resulting analytics. Again, the overall look here is one of simple-but-effective design and if you’re aiming to become an online sales mogul then this is worth exploring.
If you find you require assistance along the way during all this creativity then there is a plentiful supply of help pages, which you get redirected to after pressing the button inside the editor itself. Granted, these are quite dry and methodical, but if it’s no-nonsense and straight-to-the-point answers you need then these are ideal. Fasthosts does also offer 24/7 support via all of the usual options including phone, but the web help pages are a quick and instant one-stop-shop resource.
Ideal for creating your first website, Fasthosts offers an easy-to-use site builder that does a good job. It’s also inexpensive if you just want to host a relatively simple website that you’ve already designed. Being based in the UK, it’s also a good choice if your business is based here.
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