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Selecting a Website Hosting Company

You don't need separate web design, development, and hosting companies for website projects. Website design companies offer full web development and hosting facilities. That being said, for each of these aspects, there are a range of considerations that must be made when selecting the right company

Here are a set of important factors to consider:

1) A reliable, simple-to-use Content Management System (CMS); to add and remove pages, documents, links, media files, edit general content, handle online transactions, and perform any of a myriad of other web based tasks that your business requires. These aspects should have a heavy weighting on your decision on which web hosting company to choose.

While the content that you originally have for your site may be right at the time, as all businesses need to change over time, so does their web presence. This could be simple additions to a portfolio, staff profiles, products / services, or a range of other aspects. SEO requires fresh and relevant content to drive traffic to your site. There is no doubt that every business owner / administrator will not want to have to employ the services of a web developer to make a small change to their website. When assessing your web provider, assess all the essential, and nice to have functions of the CMS to reduce any potential development costs further on. Remember that although you may not require certain components initially, as business expands through your online presence, the nice to have may become essential. The CMS also needs to have constant maintenance to protect from security risks, ideally without you having to download any updates or patches - remember in the time that it takes for you to become aware of security patches, your website could have been hacked, damaging your business security and reputation.

2) Advertising; Does the provider require you to place advertising on your website? This could be in the form of a pop-up advertisement, frame around your site, or a banner ad. If costs are an issue for your site, this may be a viable option. All web hosting businesses need cash-flow to meet their operational costs, and often this advertising revenue can be the only way for low cost providers. If you are attempting to develop a professional image, or have some form of product / services that you are attempting to sell, this advertising can undermine your message, and defeat the purpose of your website.

3) Reliability and speed of access; If your website is constantly going down, or is slow at transferring information, visitors will be lost. If a person finds your site through a search engine to only be told that the page is unavailable, or has to wait for too long to view it, they will simply move to the next page in the list. A benchmark for reliability is 99% uptime guarantee. Note that this typically does not include any scheduled maintenance, which will often be required to ensure stability of hosting, and security of their environment. Have a regular look at other sites they host, and see if they take a long time to load, or are inaccessible.

4) Financial viability, business continuity, and disaster recovery plans; These stem from reliability. You need to know that your service is likely to continue in the long term. Having seen a lot of web hosting providers close over the years, with short notice to their clients that they have to find an alternate host, the importance of this cannot be stressed enough. If a proprietary CMS is being used, there may not be any other web host with access, meaning that all the CMS functionality you have become used to is now redundant. You don’t need to be as thorough as looking at their balance sheets, but take a simple look at their pricing systems, and ask them about any business continuity plans and disaster recovery they have in place. Their response should include other providers that they have agreements in place with, and give some detail on disaster recovery methods used. These are for your own safety; you don’t want to pay thousands of dollars for something that disappears after three months.

5) Location; this is not only important in real estate, but in websites and hosting as well. As web information is a travelling flow, your aim should be to minimise the distance it has to travel. This is particularly relevant if the majority of your desired web traffic is local. If you are based in Wellington, New Zealand, and operating a service to a local audience, the majority of your traffic can realistically be expected to come from Wellington, New Zealand. The shorter the distance this information has to travel, the faster it will get there, the more likely people will be to not get bored waiting and leave your site. This is particularly relevant if your site contains a lot of imagery or media files for download / viewing. The location of these suppliers also impacts on support, if they are in the same country or timezone, it will be easier to contact their service centre and get a more immediate response. To top it off, if there are any issues that lead to you requiring legal intervention, you have the local law and courts at your disposal.

6) SSL security; this is highly important, as the lack of these will prevent any form of online transactions occurring through your site. The cost of upgrading to a shopping cart, with SSL facility should also be incorporated into this decision, if you are doing any form of business on your website. Make sure that SSL is available, even if you may not require it initially. Lack of this functionality would indicate that there may be other essential requirements missing.

7) Bandwidth; As with your home or office internet plan, many web hosts place limits on bandwidth for website traffic. This can be on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, disabling / reducing speed of your website when these limits are hit, or alternatively charging a large fee. If your site has a lot of images, graphics, or video, this can be a significant issue. Our suggestion is to go with a provider that offers unlimited bandwidth of internet usage at a flat fee. While these providers’ costs may be slightly higher than others for the start-up phase, you are protected down the line from any potential costs of exceeding your bandwidth.

8) Amount of disk space available; Is there a limit placed on your disk space? While most sites are under 2GB of disk usage, with only the largest resource sites in our system exceeding 25GB, placing limits on space can cause cost increases and administrative nuisances for any business. While it may seem logical that costs increase as your use increases, minimising this effect, and increasing its predictability is a necessary consideration. What would you do if you suddenly hit the disk space limits for your website, and were unable to put up that essential notice?

9) Ability to have multiple domains / secure areas; While in the physical world it is extremely expensive to have separate branded offices for separate parts of your business / organisation, in the online world, this can be simple. Make sure that your web host has the capacity to register multiple domains, and URLs without having to pay over-the-top fees. A good CMS such as MoST will allow you to do this with minimum difficulty. Secure areas are also a common requirement, where you have material that you want to be widely available over the internet, but restrict access due to sensitivity, or value of the material.

This list was put together by the team at Expert Developments to help you in your choice of web providers. While we are confident that our service will always top any list, we want you to be able to make an informed decision in your long term supplier of web services. The selection of your web host is a long-term commitment that needs to be properly researched, and we hope that this information helps make it a simpler process for you.

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Let's start a conversation about your web presence today
Phone: +64 4 384 9833 | Email: us@expert.services
Address: 19 Tennyson Street, Te Aro, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
Postal address: PO Box 6474, Wellington 6141, New Zealand

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