You’re a starting business and you wonder if you should go for an SSL protected website? We at PostScripting were wondering as well, so we asked around.
Do I really need SSL?
We posted that same question on several Facebook groups to see what other people think. About 60% of the voters agreed it’s best to acquire an SSL certificate. Why? Because one of the hard things to achieve online is customer trust. Without really knowing who you are, you want people to pick you out of many other choices.
Adding an SSL certificate to your website will help you gain your customer’s trust.
There are a few other advantages too:
- It’s the recommended practice by most in-website payment processors like Stripe.
- It’s good for SEO. Google now prefers secure websites.
- It’s a guard against phishing, since phishing websites have difficulties obtaining SSL certificates.
- You’ll get to switch from evil PayPal (see horror stories here and here)
So what’s the catch?
A disadvantage of an SSL certificate is the cost. A basic certificate can be cheap, but you usually pay an extra $40 USD per year. If you go the easy route and purchase one from your host, it’s usually even more expensive.
So how do I get a free SSL certificate?
Nowadays, there are a few ways to get a free SSL certificate.
LetsEncrypt offers free certificates
LetsEncrypt is a legitimate organization that aims to have the whole word wide web encrypted. In order to do so, they offer free SSL certificates. They’re still fairly new into the game, as they only launched in public beta at the end of 2015.
The only downside: it’s not a straightforward process to set everything up.
CloudFlare (our favorite)
CloudFlare is a US company that provides many great features to enhance your website, from caching to worldwide content delivery. Lucky for us, they also offer SSL certificates for your entire website. And the best part: it’s also included in their free plan!
All you have to do is sign up and change NameServer records on your host to point to the CloudFlare NS.
CloudFlare takes care of the rest!
Included in your host
Some hosts offer an included SSL certificate when you buy one of their packages. Our favorite hosting provider is One.com. They offer SSL certificates for every plan. Considering everything that’s included, the SSL certificate is basically free of charge!
If you're looking into an included SSL with one of your host's packages, make sure the SSL is not restricted and covers subdomains too. Most SSLs only offer the top domain (www.yoursite.com) and leave out www.yoursite.com/subdomain/.
To SSL or Not to SSL
To summarize, we would definitely recommend getting an SSL certificate. It will increase the customer’s trust in your service. You don’t want to miss out on potential income because your site doesn’t seem reliable.
It’s a good idea to take the SSL certificate into account before buying a domain, because some hosts offer free SSLs.
Have a good look around and pick the one that suits your needs!