An interesting post on Web Hosting Geeks blog talks about the importance of having a .COM domain. It makes some interesting points, particularly about how people tend to remember the main part of a domain name and automatically put a .com at the end of it. The main advice the blog post gives is to make sure you examine all alternatives and try all options before you discard the idea of using a .com domain. I would tend to agree if you’re offering a generic service; however if you do have something that is regionalised then having a country based top-level domain is probably more effective. A website aimed at the UK market for example, if better suited with a .co.uk domain; though I’m sure opinions vary on this.
It’s interesting reading this web hosting blog as there are always some good thoughts and even some tips and tricks for people who run their own website. The bulk of their website consists of a comparison service that ranks different hosting providers and the services they offer. It’s a good idea to check it out before signing up for web hosting as you can see what the strengths and weaknesses of a particular host are. The website also includes a number of customer reviews for each host; which can help you understand how existing customers of a particular host perceive the service they are getting. For example, I do know some people running on BlueHost and here is the BlueHost hosting review page for this service.