What organizations really need from their hosting companies
When you are launching a website, there are many decisions that need to be made, from the design and functionality to the content that will fill the site. Hosting is one area you should be thinking about.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Jackson is the head of Govpress at dxw
Partnering up with another company to take over your web capabilities can seem like a daunting task. But if you ask the right questions up front and do your research correctly, you’ll avoid getting stuck with a service that doesn’t meet your needs. Before signing on the dotted line for any website hosting plan, be sure to take the time to consider the following.
Accommodation – the first choice, and the only choice?
It’s important to think through your hosting goals, what benefits you hope to achieve, and what that means for staff and customers. Your website users will need reliable service, accessible information, and minimal downtime. Their needs often match the needs of internal staff and the organization as a whole.
There is so much to choose from and it’s easy to be tempted to just go for the cheapest option. However, with basic platform hosting, there is no one to look after you if something goes wrong. This can work if you have the right skills in-house, but many organizations don’t. This puts them in danger. And it’s expensive to build that kind of capacity in the first place.
A partnership is just that. Think of your web host as the foundation of your website.
Robust technical support
Downtime: The guaranteed words to make any digital team moan. Putting a stop to operations to deal with maintenance issues is something you want to avoid if you can, as the consequences of this can spill over and affect staff, customers, and prospects.
Ask your host what support they offer. There is nothing worse than having a problem with your site when you just run a campaign that drives significant traffic to you, only to see it crash. Whenever issues like this arise, you’ll want to have a dedicated and responsive support team behind you. Better yet, to prevent this from happening in the first place.
A good hosting and support partner will play a major role in managing your entire website at all times – for example, updates to the WordPress core and plugins. For businesses, that means staff time is spent serving customers, not managing website crises. For public sector organizations, this means that vital services are kept available to vulnerable citizens and information is easily accessible to the public 24/7.
Site and content security
Website security is too often an afterthought and something easy to remember to try and fix when it’s too late. The rise of cloud hosting has resulted in an increased need for security (DDoS attacks are on the increase and there have been a few high-profile cases of major incidents that have compromised sensitive data).
The coronavirus pandemic has also moved much more activity online, especially for public sector organizations like local councils and other businesses whose services have traditionally been dependent on in-person interactions. The way people communicate with local businesses and services has changed, some say for good, and staying aligned with this change is essential.
With that in mind, you’ll want to make sure that you trust your host and know that they can handle spikes, rebuff attacks, and that the platform itself is always more secure. It is important to invest in proper safety measures before anything bad happens. A high quality web host will have measures in place, such as regular website backups, firewalls, and other methods to protect the web server and data center.
Maximum maintenance and availability
Good hosting, maintenance and support from a reliable partner will save your team a lot of hassle and time when changes, bugs and issues can be passed on to another experienced team. If this team is armed with knowledge and experience, so much the better. If you have any issues, just create a support ticket. It is that simple.
Some hosting companies will insist on a minimum level of support in contracts for all websites they host because things always happen no matter how robust or secure a website may seem at first glance. No organization wants the IT team to be constantly distracted dealing with small issues or have their entire time taken up by a crisis.
Hosting companies can take care of your site 24/7 if you can afford it, but a range of packages are available from providers. From fixing small bugs to onboarding new editors, it can be taken care of for you and teams can focus on the essentials of their day-to-day work without being distracted.
Another thing to consider is whether the hosting company can scale with you as your business grows. You should choose a hosting provider that offers different levels of service so that you can upgrade over time if you need to.
The need for web hosting will only increase. People will want to start their own businesses online, create and read blogs, browse websites, build and use apps, for the foreseeable future and beyond.
In short, the need for web hosting services, servers, domains and everything else that has to do with how the internet works is not going to go away, so keeping one step ahead is essential. The pandemic has proven that organizations that are in step with the cloud and hosted offsite are the ones that are able to adapt quickly and continue to provide services without disruption.
Future plot twists are never far away, so to save yourself a major headache, a good web hosting arrangement is essential. No organization should compromise on a part of its operations that is so essential to reaching the people it serves.