In order to have any kind of website on the internet, you need what is called a web host. A web host is a business that is networked within the Internet and uses a high-tech Data Center to physically store all the files and code needed to run your website and bring it up when someone enters your domain into their web browser. They communicate with the world wide web and let them know where your website is, then physically serve that website to your visitor.
We see a lot of organizations take their web hosting for granted-- it's something that gets set up quickly, and then simply runs until there's a problem. But when it becomes a problem, it tends to be very serious and can impact your business. If your website is important to you, treat your web hosting provider as an important part of your web design project from the beginning.
Web hosting companies can range from very basic value-oriented hosts all the way up to sophisticated feature-rich hosts. The lower-end web hosts tend to lure you in with extremely low introductory prices that don't include a lot of features that are essential to most businesses. Most businesses don't even realize they need these extra features until they run into a problem, they lose their website, they get hacked or send red flags to Google results. At wich point, they need to pay the web host additional money to correct the issue, and even more money on top of that to keep them safe in the future.
If you decide to maintain your own web host account, there were a few things you should be aware of first. Make sure multiple people in your organization have administrative access to make technical and financial decisions on your account. The last thing you want is to give access to one person, then that person leaves your company or organization and you’re stuck without access to your website. If you rely on a web designer or an IT firm to fix things when they break, be aware that most web hosts put you in charge of making backups, keeping an eye on hacking attempts, and keeping some of the server software updated.
Read the fine print of their terms of the agreement, as it is very likely that you might be required to take on additional costs for your designer or IT firm fixing issues and mistakes caused by the web host. Additionally, the web host may not be completely familiar with your business or the technical side of your website. They could sell you things you don't need or fail to provide you features that you do need. If you get hacked our go outside your terms of service, they can shut your website down immediately, with no warning.
Some similar principles apply here. Make sure multiple people in your organization have the necessary website credentials and make sure your designer is keeping an eye on things. They should be keeping the software updated on the server as well as on your website, with additional offsite backups in case of a disaster. Your web designer or IT firm should be responsible for everything running on the website without any additional costs. You might pay a little more upfront, but when they're on the hook and not charging additional time to keep your site running, you can be assured that they're doing their best to minimize any additional issues.
Have a question about your web hosting? We will never sell you on anything you don't need. Don't be afraid to pick up the phone or email us and we'll be glad to help.