What do I need from a hosting provider for my SME?
It’s easy to take web hosting for granted. If you build a website for your business it will just ‘exist’ won’t it? Well, no, actually. You need to appreciate that your host provides the service that takes your website and finds a home for it so that it can be accessed. It’s the equivalent of finding a premises for your business on the high street, without it you’d be lost.
Once you appreciate the importance of a decent host for your SME’s website, you need to consider the service you will get from them more closely. There are a number of things that you should expect to get. Here’s what to look for:
Your domain name
This might sound basic but it’s crucial to get this right. Ideally, this should be your business name or, if not available, something as close as possible to this. You need to register your domain name and ensure that your registration is kept up to date so that you don’t lose your name too. As All Business notes, the right domain name gives you credibility and builds your brand. You can purchase this from your host.
Fit for your needs
Don’t settle for any old package, be picky and demand something that is a fit for your particular needs. Just as you would shop around for an office or shop that had the right features – parking, location, utilities – you need to do the same with your host.
One of the main considerations – just as it would be with a physical building – is space. How much server space and bandwidth is on offer and will that be enough for your needs? Again this will vary wildly depending on your business. If you’re running an online shop or a site with lots of visitor traffic, you’ll clearly need a little more wriggle room than someone with a fairly static page.
You also need to consider how many employees you have and how busy they will be on their emails. Some hosts will offer a limited number of inboxes and place storage limits on these, others will give you unlimited space and handle 100 emails an hour.
Essentially, you need to map out what you want your website to do. Draw up a wishlist – researching what sorts of things are available for more information – and then challenge your hosting provider to be able to come up with the package that will make all of this possible.
Finally, how will your host step in and help should things go wrong?
What customer service is on offer should you need it and what backup will they provide if your site is down? (You should also find out what the average ‘downtime’ is for your provider/package).
If your site isn’t live, then it’s of no use to you. Equally, the information you collect and store on the site is important. Both of these are potential risks for your business and your host should be able to offer reassurance that it can help you to manage the risk.