Welcome to the next installment of discussing your Digital Presence. In this edition, we are going to cover website hosting. Getting your perfect domain name is just the beginning of setting up your website for your business. Finding a good hosting service can be the difference between a mediocre website presence, and an awesome one.
There are a lot of technical aspects to consider when thinking about where to park your website. We are not going to go into details on layout, contents, function, style, or purpose, that is the subject of several blog posts. Today we are staying focused on the plumbing, underbelly, mechanical pieces. You get the idea.
Specifically we are going to raise some questions that I think you should be asking your current web hosting provider. Or if you’re just starting a new business, your future web hosting provider. Last thing before we dive into the details. I’m making the bold assumption that you will not host your website yourself. Which you can do, but then you need to ask yourself these questions and not your provider.
Here are some key questions we should ask about the service:
- How fast will my website load?
- How reliable is your service offering?
- What do you use for server/delivery technology?
- What is your company’s brand reputation?
- What do you use for security to make sure my website won’t get hacked?
How fast will my website load?
The speed with which a website loads is a fundamental measure of how successful it will be in representing your business. Anything longer than a few seconds will dramatically decrease your click through rate and ultimately your sales leads. While there are definitely ways to improve your website load speed in the design and tools used. The speed of the hosting provider will also play a big role.
When looking for a hosting provider, ask them about average page load times, the network speed and server speed. Ask them about the back end tools they will use to make sure your website is operating at its best. Tools such as Pingdom etc. All of these used in conjunction with a well built website will ensure your business is not left behind.
How reliable is your service offering?
They will tell you they have 24/7 support. Which is good. What about uptime? Mean time to resolve? Do they have planned outages and maintenance windows? What about redundant architecture?
In short do they have any data to back up how reliable they are? 99% uptime still means 3.65 days a year they could be down? 99.999 also known as five nines. Is what mission critical strives for. Depending on how tolerant your business is of downtime, I’d be looking for 99.9 at a minimum backed up by data.
Three days down time during your busy time could be devastating.
What do you use for server, connection and delivery technology?
Let’s move onto the next piece. The technology they themselves use and how they connect to the internet. A provider that prides themself on speed and reliability will have redundant fibre preferably from different providers in case one has an outage. If they are truly high availability they will have a geographically redundant site to failover to in the case of a large scale power or telecommunications outage. It may sound like overkill, but your business depends on its digital presence. Having customers see an error page. “Website Unavailable” is never a good way to win them over.
What is your company’s brand reputation?
This next question, really isn’t for them to answer. It’s for their current customers to answer. Do some homework and look for reviews. One bad experience doesn’t say everything, but like any company you want to know how they are viewed and how they handled the bad review.
These days reputation online is as important as presence. Personally, if all other components are equivalent, customer service will always win my business.
What do you use for security to make sure my website won’t get hacked?
The last item is almost like an insurance policy. No one can 100% guarantee you won’t get hacked. You do want to know they take their security seriously, keep their patches up to date. Have a response plan in place in case they are hacked.
Having selected a good hosting provider will give you peace of mind and take one more item off your To Do list. Onto to what you do best, running your business and taking care of your customers.
The result, your business flourishes, and isn’t that what it’s all about?