Unbeatable value, and great whether you're building your first site or have much greater ambitions
iPage’s Essential Plan is so cheap for what it offers that it would be easy to dismiss it as one of those “too good to be true” deals. Unlimited bandwidth and server storage, an unlimited number of MySQL databases and mailboxes plus an 0800 number phone support – all for only £4.95 per month. Just for good measure, the package also includes a free domain name and as many subdomains as you want, plus an excellent 24/7 live chat support service. We prefer this type of support over telephone help as it’s less disruptive when you’re busy working.
After all that, the rest of the service would have to be pretty terrible for iPage not to win an award. Thankfully, it isn’t. The control panel is one of the best on test. It’s logically ordered, well designed and easy to find your way around. All the features and options are clearly labelled and well-laid out. This may sound trivial, but it really helps cut down on wasted time.
The account also comes with a website building application. It’s one of the best that we’ve seen. Rather than presenting a static template for you to fill in, it gives you a relatively blank page onto which you can drag design elements, for instance “paragraph with picture” or “two-column layout”. Although still limited compared to designing a page in a third-party program, it nevertheless produced far better results than almost all of the other site-building apps we’ve seen. Frustratingly, the free version of the site builder is limited to nine pages or fewer.
As well as the basics of the hosting package, the Home account also comes with 2GB of Carbonite online backup, a safe place to store a copy of your website. You also get various one-click installs, including all the usual suspects such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, phpBB, Coppermine and ZenPhoto. Plus, there are various e-commerce tools with PayPal integration for creating your own online shop and various marketing tools, including a free Yellow Pages listing and Google’s Webmaster tools.
Whether you’re an experienced web designer or this is your first site, iPage Essential Plans is a great deal. It provides all the features you need to create whatever type of website you have in mind. The £1.99 per month is a ‘trial’ price, but it lasts for the whole first year of your contract. Only then does it revert to the higher price of £4.95, which is still great value.