There are certainly key factors involved in selecting the right hosting provider, and ultimately there are a ton of vendors that all offer different levels of service that might fit your company needs. So much so, this is an essential item touched upon in an earlier post: Hosting is (and likely always will be) important.
Information to have before looking into hosting providers
- How many websites are you expecting to have?
- How much space is being used?
- Has your website been updated recently?
- How many visitors do you typically get in a month?
- Where are your key target markets?
- Is your site, or group of sites, WordPress specific?
- Is eCommerce a concern now, or in the future?
- Do you have your email and website within the same environment?
- Do you have access to your domain registrar?
These questions are important because they typically dictate a particular plan that is worth considering. Many hosting providers will have a chat line or phone support that will walk you through some of these questions, but having this information handy sure helps the staff member that is picking your brain!
How many websites are you expecting to have?
If you are looking at potentially hosting more than one website you should have that handy. Many plans will have a site limit. Entry levels are usually for 1 website, while mid-or-upper levels can reach as high as 20, or more.
Knowing the quantity, or even eventual quantity, tends to lead into the next question:
How much space is being used?
If your website has been maintained well and it is a relatively simple website with about 10 pages, then it would be a safe assumption that 10GB of storage space may be all that’s needed.
If it’s a blog, an incredibly deep website, or one that has photos that have not been down-sampled, resized, or optimized – this may not be the case!
Photography and imagery is a big part of many websites. However, when high quality, source photos are uploaded, space can get eaten up in a hurry. If you’ve ever had the dreaded ‘your mobile device is out of storage’ message pop up (partly due to taking a billion photos of your children as they grow) you likely have an idea of what is going on here.
Has your website been updated recently?
How about ever?! WordPress has become a very common platform due to it’s content management abilities. The draw-back to a technology like this is that updates are pretty important. Factor in that certain versions of WordPress work better on certain versions of PHP and you may be left with questions.
If this is a pain you are experiencing, we suggest doing a bit of a pre-move cleanup of the site. It’s usually a good idea to make sure your website can be moved to the latest version of PHP as well as upgraded to the most current WordPress version. Often times, if the website is many, many years old and is running some sort of purchased or customized theme – not everything will operate as expected.
How many visitors do you typically get in a month?
If you have Google Analytics, you might have a really rough idea of this number. Depending on the host provider this is a fairly high number per month. The catch is if you are trying to break down the math of multiple websites.
Traffic is usually monitored by website. If your website is hitting or exceeding it’s allotted bandwidth, chances are you will get some kind of notification about it.
Where are your key target markets?
This may seem like an odd question, but it is important. There are hosts that have server locations in different parts of the world. If you are US based, sometimes only one or two are available for selection. If you have an international presence you can determine which server location is best suited for your primary audience.
Is your site, or group of sites, WordPress specific?
The term “Managed Services” is usually attributed to hosting. This is the host vendors way of promoting a specialized service that can have many benefits. Due to the popularity of WordPress, usually there is a “Managed WordPress” hosting option. Things like automatic updates, site speed considerations, security, automated backups, and staging environments are usually the benefits touted. All can be extremely helpful and save time and effort in the long-run.
Automatic updates can be a tad risky as there is no guarantee that everything will go smoothly, but some of the plugins get small patches periodically, and usually the Managed Service hosting options skip ‘major’ WordPress core updates – or give the account manager a lead time on when they will be made. This is also typical for the PHP version and if/when it will get upgraded as well.
Is eCommerce a concern now, or in the future?
Online shopping has been taking over as more brick and mortar locations offer this option in addition to browsing their shelves.
The last thing you want is a slow or cumbersome shopping experience. There may be other factors that would be helpful such as inventory management and performance testing.
Do you have your email and website within the same environment?
This is a big question. As the world leans into being connected 24/7 many platforms are available ‘in the cloud’ or wherever you are. However there are cases where your companies emails, website, FTP, portal and more may be all in one place!
We would advise to get your in-house IT manager, or a local IT team that handles your networking, onboard (if they aren’t already). The last thing you would want to do is move something that has a domino effect on several other items!
Do you have access to your domain registrar?
Once you move to a new environment that last step of changing your address has to take place. If you can’t access your domain registrar, you have a bit of an issue on your hands.
A secondary consideration can be given to particular host vendors that offer both hosting and domain registration. Many clients like the ability to have things ‘all in one place’ if at all possible!
Hopefully this primer can help prepare you for a pending move. Moving is always hard and rarely fun (until it’s over). Moving your website can be even harder and more stressful because it isn’t as simple as moving boxes to a physical location. Looking for recommendations? We have provided some suggestions on the 4CDesignWorks website. If you are thinking about a hosting provider switch and/or website updates, reach out and contact professionals at 4CDesignWorks and let’s get together to discuss some options!