It’s not just price and functionality you need to consider when choosing a web hosting package. You also need to consider the amount of support you’ll receive when things are working as expected.
The IT skills involved in maintaining and developing a website can get quite complicated. If you’re busy running a small business you probably won’t have time to learn all the ins and outs. Therefore the support that you get could be crucial and it is in this area that dedicated web hosting companies often have the edge.
“Within web hosting, customer support is a major differentiation between companies. Most companies worth their salt will be able to offer good connectivity but you should also be able to get hold of someone if you need to,” says Mike Gordon of Virtual Internet.
Business advisor Willie Herdman agrees that running a website is an ongoing process. “Once your website is posted, that’s not the end of the story it’s the beginning. Your web hosting company should be a sort of technical mentor that will help you as you become more familiar with the internet and develop your site.”
Do your checks
Look for features such as a 24-hour helpline and also speak to the technical staff to see how clearly they can explain things to you.
You never really know how well a company is going to host your site until you’ve been with them for some time. However there are some simple checks you can do to minimise the chance of any disasters.
Ask some business partners or friends about their experiences – there are few things more reliable than a personal recommendation. Also ask the hosting companies to give you some names of their clients that you can contact. If they’re not prepared to give you any, then there’s something wrong.
Bear in mind how long the company has been around. The internet sector is littered with companies that appear and disappear in a matter of months. If your website is hosted on one of these companies, it could have serious consequences for your business.
“If the company that’s hosting your website folds, your website will go down as well. More than that, it could be difficult to get it back, leaving you to pay for someone to redesign it,” explains Graham Clarke, IBM small business programmes manager.