Choosing web hosting services: 7 developer requirements
Not all web hosting services are created equal. That much is obvious. They’re not priced equally either — a fact which surely has come up once or twice in discussions with your customers.
It’s important to educate your clients on the additional benefits that a quality website hosting partner can provide, and prevent them from fixating on price. As a savvy developer, you need to own your role as the expert; don’t lightly suggest leveling up to the next tier of web hosting services.
Tell your customers that it’s crucial for their hosts to have the following features:
1. Fully-managed solutions
When was the last time you were hired by another expert developer to work on a website project? It never happens. The business owners who seek our services don’t have the time, energy or interest to keep up with their own server management. That’s why I always recommend a fully-managed solution — and you should, too.
This type of plan saves work for both clients work and developers (and it’s work we really don’t want to be doing).
If you’re fortunate enough to be working with huge corporations with in-house server monitors, then skip ahead. For the other 99 percent of us who develop for those mom-and-pop business websites, recommend a fully-managed web hosting services provider that comes with its own team of server experts.
How well your website will scale is directly related to how cacheable it is. Saving content in an instant is key to saving you precious time and energy.
A content delivery network (CDN) stores your site’s static content locally in servers all over the world, and then serves content to your visitors from the servers closest to them. The effect is two-fold:
- Content loads faster because it’s closer to the end-user.
- Your site can scale dramatically because an expansive global network of servers shares the traffic load.
There’s much more to it than this, especially for larger sites, but the majority of small business websites won’t need to look much further than ensuring their fully-managed hosting provider is confident in scaling to the 1M monthly mark. Some providers will assure you of their confidence beyond the 50M mark.
3. Service and support
Bargain-bin hosting providers skimp the most on customer service and support. Basically, it’s a no-brainer to go with a provider that offers 24/7 of both.
Choose web hosting services that offer 24/7 support.
Pick a provider that offers both phone- and chat-based support, but before you do, read reviews of their team and hop on a chat with them yourself. Finding a provider with qualified support, which means they don’t just outsource their help team, is especially important. As always, look for the team of experts who will have your site’s back 24/7/365.
WordPress powers 27 percent of the internet, and like any company with such a hefty market share, it’s a frequent attack target. So find a hosting provider who not only takes security seriously, but also has made the decision to make your client’s website security a cornerstone of their business.
Well-secured websites are faster.
Not only does a secure environment protect you from data loss or embarrassing hacker takeovers, but properly secured sites are faster since bogus traffic and requests aren’t eating up resources.
Find a hosting platform that meets the demanding security requirements of even the world’s largest brands. That means physical security at the data center, protection against sophisticated exploits, and customer separation at the kernel level.
To take this to the next level, choose web hosting services through a provider with real-time security threat detection. They should also perform frequent security audits and code reviews of their internal processes. Any host you pick should conduct periodic code reviews and security audits of all internal environments and processes, and partner with third-party security firms to ensure best practices are always followed.
This is the one that really tickles the fancy of small business owners. A website that loads right away? Sign them up. Choose a hosting partner that understands the importance of speed — even milliseconds have a negative effect on a business’ bottom line.
6. Daily backups
Daily backups are like packing a spare tire for your car, and then bringing along a trailer full of additional spares as well. If something goes wrong, you’re guaranteed to get back up and running smoothly in no time.
Some web hosting services will only make weekly backups while others will replace last week’s backup with this week’s. Make sure you know what you’re getting into before signing up with a partner. Don’t make extra work for yourself — you’ll be on the hook to create backups if your hosting plan doesn’t do it for you.
Automatic daily backups are the best option — make sure these backups are saved to a different geographic location than your original site.
If you want, you can go with a hosting provider that allows for one-click site restoration — which means your clients can handle it! Educate them on how to use these simple tools and you’ll avoid stressful late-night phone calls.
7. Staging vs. production environments
Much like the one-click backup tool mentioned above, the best web hosting services feature one-click pushes from production to staging, and vice versa. For your non-developer clients, the idea of a parent and child site might be completely foreign. And that’s exactly why it’s so important that your hosting provider take care of it for you (and for them).
Clients often get excited at the prospect of a new theme or plugin available on WordPress, and they might want to put it into play right away. Good hosting providers allow you to spin up a staging site in one click and test your changes. Then, if everything works, you can go live with just one more click.
Coach clients about web hosting services
A website hosting provider might not be top-of-mind for your clients as they put together their fancy new business website. But you know better, and as a developer you need to coach your clients on the importance of choosing web hosting services that will save them big time down the road.
Originally published at Garage.