Yahoo is known for being a large conglomerate of web services. The Small Business web hosting Yahoo.com provides is pretty generic and provides a one-size-fits-all solution that stands very well in its own right and includes some features that make it great for newcomers.
Features and Pricing
Yahoo Small Business hosting offers three plans: basic, advanced and premier. The pricing is $3.74, $5.99, and $8.99, respectively with a three months free discount being factored in each.
Like many web hosts, Yahoo has adopted the concept of unlimited disk space and bandwidth. It does so under the common condition that these resources must be used for legitimate purposes to benefit the website. This means that the purpose can’t be for file storage or providing a file sharing solution. This is a standard practice and for the customer with normal intentions, this should not be limiting in any way.
Yahoo web hosting is geared towards those with little or no knowledge of hosting services. They feature such benefits as site builder software, templates, and small applications such as forms, maps, photo galleries, among others.
Yahoo witnesses a 99.9% uptime on sites, but this does not include scheduled maintenance. They provide for site backups and shared SSL.
Yahoo web hosting provides up to 1,000 email addresses and provides for unlimited storage for these.
Like many hosts, Yahoo provides provides ad credits. They offer a $100 credit towards ads in their search results, and $50 for ads in Google’s results. These amounts are quite competitive in comparison to others.
With the default setup, users are limited to one database. Those individuals requiring more than one database will need to manually download and install phpMyAdmin on their account, which is a popular database administration tool. This will require some configuration and technical knowledge in order to do so. The limitation imposed without phpMyAdmin may be a concern for some, but for the new user, it likely is not.
Terms of Service
Yahoo’s web hosting Terms of Service are extremely comprehensive. In printed form they would span 27 pages. This legal behemoth is not surprising given the size of the company.
One thing to take note of is while other hosts will suspend an account for being past due with payments, Yahoo may permanently delete the entire account and all information contained therein when this occurs, even without notice. Reactivating afterwards requires the payment of additional setup fees. Failure to pay can result in Yahoo using a collection agency to pursue the unpaid balance. In the case of a legal recovery, the customer is responsible for all legal fees incurred by Yahoo in order to obtain the payment.
When changing from an annual service to a non-annual service no refund will be issued. There may also be an upgrade or downgrade fee when making changes to an account. Refunds are not issued for cancellations, and for terms that are longer than one month an “early termination fee” may apply. If a customer cancels before paying for the second month of hosting, and registered a new domain name when they initially signed up, they may lose that domain name as it may either be deleted or Yahoo may take ownership of it.
Personal or financial information regarding anyone must be handled in a manner compliant with certain security practices that are set forth. There are certain procedures that must be followed when storing such information from customers on a site hosted by Yahoo. This information must only be stored when required for facilitating certain transactions. Yahoo is more specific in regards to these conditions than many hosts are.
The web pages that are generated by the Yahoo service for your site cannot be used elsewhere. The terms state that a customer has a right to his/her content, but not to transfer the generated pages (without written permission). So this seems to signify that when using the site builder there likely is not a way to later transfer this generated site to another host.
Yahoo defines the scope of their services explicitly in their terms by stating:
“Yahoo! Web Hosting is designed to serve the web hosting needs of small, independently owned and operated businesses in the United States.”
So it appears larger businesses and those residing outside of the U.S. may want to look elsewhere as the service is designed for this demographic.
The other terms in the roughly 21,000 word document do not especially stand out for any reason.
When first logging into Yahoo Small Business web hosting, the customer is presented with a brief message about how to get started and then three different avenues of action. These are to set up email, design the site, and promote the site.
The Yahoo Site Solution service provides its own extremely functional user interface, including ways to add/delete pages, change the layouts, and modify the designs. Other than this tool the main control panel is very concise, straightforward, and simplistic overall.
Yahoo even provides a System Status page including recent technical issues that have been logged. Even within the last few days of my use of the service, there were problems experienced including FTP and responsiveness issues. This conveys that Yahoo does have issues every few days, but they are transparent about them and work to fix them “in a timely manner.”
Testing the Service
Until a customer begins using the service, Yahoo, like many web hosts will use the domain name to serve ads. This is common and the solution is to simply add content to the site, or you may contact Yahoo to have them discontinue the ads. The page that was placed on my domain before I posted anything consisted of links to “searches” that were all sponsored links, half of which were based on keywords related to the domain name.
Prior to my domain name resolving to Yahoo, it was listed on the start page as “pending” with a link to an explanation. This is useful to customers who aren’t familiar with the domain name propagation process and are wondering why their domain isn’t pointing where it should go.
On the “Getting Started” page, I elected to “design my site” and I was then presented with a guided process on how to go about this. I was encouraged to try “Yahoo! Site Solution” as it is “Designed for busy professionals.” I was also presented with the options of using FTP to upload files to create my site, create a store with a merchant account, or setup a blog (merchant accounts are available for an additional fee). There were also other options if the aforementioned features didn’t fit what I was looking for.
I decided to check out the recommended Site Solution service, as this is specific to Yahoo. I was then presented with an overlay containing form fields in which I was asked to provide a category for my site and a name for my business to be used as the site title.
After submitting this information, I could see my site update in the background. Yahoo automatically picked a starter theme that was appropriate to the category I had chosen. I was then asked to enter in some contact information that was used to generate the contact page on the site. The wizard then informed me that some pages were automatically created for me.
I was then able to truly customize the site. I could change the look to one of 65 different themed designs. I decided to change it to a more generic theme.
By simply clicking any block of text I was able to edit the contents with some general formatting options. For someone looking to be guided through the entire site creation process who requires intuitive, straightforward tools, Yahoo provides some great functionality.
The three buttons at the top of the Site Solution interface are “Site Pages,” “Change Layout,” and “Change Design.” Each provide their own tabbed functionality. The design tab allowed me to pick from the available designs. The layout tab provided me with three layout options that positioned the text contents in different fashions.
The “Site Pages” function allowed me to add pages, delete pages, and rearrange their order which influenced the navigation. When adding a page I was required to select a category, which was then used to generate an appropriate layout. For example, the FAQ layout provided a page in which questions could be added, along with guided blocks of filler text.
When I was ready to publish it informed me that I hadn’t completed everything that was part of the wizard process, i.e. customize some more pages. A nice thing to note is that filler text that has not been edited will not display on the site.
After customizing the last few pages, I decided to publish my site and after clicking the Publish button, it was only a few seconds later before I was presented with the published version. Be aware that when the site is published, Yahoo will automatically submit it to search engines. This is convenient for most, but if you’re not ready to go public, one may not want to be quick to publish it as it could begin propagating in results.
Another nice thing about the Yahoo Site Solution system is that it generates friendly URLs to the site’s pages. These are search-engine friendly addresses, unlike some content management systems that utilize page and category ids in the address.
Through my testing the Yahoo Site Solution site creation wizard was a great way for someone who is unfamiliar with how to create a website to do just that. Granted, since it is so simple to use it does have many limitations. It’s not possible to insert completely custom forms of content. Yet Yahoo does provide numerous applications that can be embedded that streamline entirely with the site. These include contact forms, photo, audio, and video galleries, even generated PayPal sale buttons for products to handle transactions.
If I had chosen otherwise I could have easily setup a blog as well with either the choice of WordPress or Movable Type. I decided to test out WordPress and was able to create the blog as a subsection of my site without having to replace all of the other content.
Yahoo does throw on some extra plugins that are specific to them like a “hosted by Yahoo” badge and a Yahoo RSS feed button. These can easily be disabled to remove any reference to Yahoo. Yet Yahoo does impose their logo at the top of the admin interface and unfortunately the version of WordPress that is provided is not the the most recent release and has limits some of WordPress’ functionality.
I searched through Yahoo’s FAQs to see about upgrading WordPress. I couldn’t seem to find anything about it there. So I decided to contact customer support to ask whether or not Yahoo would eventually upgrade the version of WordPress available or if I would manually have to do this.
When I visited the Contact Us page on the site I was asked to select from a few select boxes to provide me with some “Immediate Help” which was in the form of more frequently asked questions. Yet I was also provided with their toll-free phone number and a nice tool that allowed me to be called instead of waiting on hold. It said such a wait would be about three minutes, and it provided me with a “Schedule a Call” button, but I just decided to call and see what the wait was like for myself.
I called at about 10:30 AM on a Friday. My ear instantly rang with the signature “Yahoooo!” trademark sound recording, after which I was presented with clear and straightforward prompts. I selected 1 for web hosting and within a minute I was connected with a “customer care associate” who asked me for my name, whether it was okay to call me by my first name, the domain name, and the Yahoo account used. He spoke with great clarity and there was no doubt in my mind that I was speaking to someone in the United States.
It just took a moment for him to look my account up and then I presented him with my question regarding the WordPress upgrade. Without hesitation, he informed me that the Yahoo system administrators make periodic updates to the WordPress system that will be automatic, but that I could manually upgrade the software from the WordPress site if I so chose to. That satisfied my question and he asked if I would like a reference ID for the call to which I declined. I was extremely impressed by the overall experience and the professionalism of the representative and I was off the phone in a matter of three minutes.
Yahoo Small Business Web Hosting is a great solution for anyone who is new or unfamiliar to setting up a website and who is looking for a quick, simple, out-of-the-box solution.
If a customer is familiar with setting up a website and doesn’t require a site builder, Yahoo would still seemingly be an okay solution as FTP access is provided, yet most of the benefit is found in the simplicity of the service. It doesn’t offer the fancy, full-featured control panel like cPanel but rather a concise straightforward guide to setting up a site.
Yahoo has geared their service towards a niche market, as they defined in their terms. In this way they work very well to serve that niche demographic, while still providing an accessible service to the veterans.
Customers who are unfamiliar with setting up a site and who are looking for a quick, simple solution.