When it comes to online marketing and a company’s website, one particular function is often overlooked; the online hosting of the website.

Partly this is because many confuse web design with web hosting. While the former is all about the look of your website, the latter concerns where your website actually ‘lives’ on the internet.

Web hosting is an equally important consideration for a business as web design, as poor web hosting can severely jeopardise the performance of a website. Your business or organisation may have the most brilliantly designed website, but that in itself will mean nothing if your website takes too long to access or is often ends up offline, both of which is a sign of a poor web hosting service.

So what actually is web hosting and what do you need to know about it? The following 42 questions and their answers will make you sufficiently informed to make the right decision in regards to your own web hosting needs.

This is the final part of a four part article. Part 1 can be read here, Part 2 can be read here while Part 3 can be read here.

31.       Does a web host back up my website?

Your website should be backed up on your web host’s servers, whether they own them or have them with a third party.

Establish with a web host prior to hiring them what their back up procedures are and how frequently they do back up their clients website. You can then make an informed choice whether that is sufficient for your particular business’ or website’s needs for the cost you are paying the web host for the service.


32.       How often should a web host back up my website?

Most web hosts back up their clients on back up servers once a week; whether that is sufficient for your business or your website depends on the type of business you are and the type of website you are looking to maintain.

Talk to both your web host and your web designer about how frequently your website should be backed up, as they will be able to advise you best based on your particular business needs.


33.       I’ve messed up my website; can my web host revert it to what it looked like yesterday?

This would depend when your last backup was performed but often there are other ways of restoring previous web pages to how they were previously.

Most Content Management Systems (see Part 2) provide a function where you can ‘roll back’ web pages to previous iterations, which you can then republish online. This is something most people can easily do themselves without having to involve either their web designer or web host.

However, if you are about to make a lot of substantial changes to your website and/ or changes of particular technical or design nature, you should alert both your web designer and your web host so they can trigger a manual back up as insurance. This may come at an additional cost depending on your service level agreement with either web designer or web host, but you could alternatively wait to make the changes until your site is next scheduled to be backed up.


34.       What is Page Load Time? Why does this matter?

Page Load Time is the time taken for your page to load in a web browser of an internet user.

Page Load Time depends on the amount of elements that you have on one particular web page (such as graphics or video), the speed and capacity of your web host’s servers and the strength of the internet connection of the person viewing you site.

A slow load time can deter people persevering with your website, as they may impatiently click away from your website if a page takes too long to load.

It is therefore important to have both efficient web design as well as good web hosting provision to reduce page loading time to a minimum.


35.       Why does it take my website longer to load than other websites?

This could be due to the complexity of the design of your website, the amount of content hosted on your website as well as possible issues with your web hosting.

If you have any concerns about the speed of your website, flag them with your web host as they will be able to identify the problem and recommend a solution.

A good web designer will always be mindful of potential page load time, so make sure you raise website speed as a consideration at the point of commissioning any new website.


36.       Can my web host speed up my website?

A web host can offer different speeds depending on the package you purchase from them.

Faster speeds may be slightly more expensive but could prove beneficial in gaining new customers.

Sometimes there may be issues with your website that might not have anything to do with your web host however. Your website may be poorly designed and therefore will need to be reworked before the problem can be resolved.

Your website will also be slow wherever there is a poor internet connection; there is nothing you can do about this, but at least you know that all other online content is similarly affected in such areas, not just yours!


37.       What is SEO/ Search Engine Optimisation? Is this the responsibility of my web host?

Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO as it can be abbreviated) is the method of using various techniques to improve where a website is listed in a search engine’s results page.

Most search engines only produce a list of 10 or 20 so websites on the first page of the search results when asked a question by a search engine user, and it has been proven that people who use search engines rarely go beyond the first couple of pages of search results when looking for online content.

Therefore, many people try to undertake SEO to ensure that their website appears high up in the search engine results of Google, Yahoo and Bing.  The higher up you are in search engine results, the more visitors you are likely to get visiting your site.

SEO is not the responsibility of a web host however, but is down to the web designer and the copywriter in the first instance, and then a professional online marketer after that.  SEO is a complex field that changes frequently so it is important that you seek advice from a professional person who knows what they are doing but does not over promise results either.  No-one can guarantee that you will be on the first page of Google (certainly not without a lot of paid for advertising) but many a professional will advise you on how you have a better chance than others in the first instance.


38.       Why isn’t my website appearing in Google/ on the first page of Google? What can my web host do about it?

Unless your web host offers a professional SEO service, there is nothing a web host can do about your Google ranking.

However, a web host can provide information that can discount reasons why you are not appearing in Google rankings, but these will be basic technical questions that a good web host will have covered anyway.

Google and other search engines use various, changing factors when assessing your website for its search engine results position, so it is up to have a coherent online marketing strategy (which is not the responsibility of your web host) to improve your website’s chances.


39.       How much does web hosting cost? What are the payment options?

Web hosting varies in cost depending on the amount of space required by your website and the speeds of the servers you think your website will need.

A general rule of thumb is that the more you pay, the more space and quicker load up times you get, although look at and compare all the technical specifications of the web hosts you are considering.

Hosting is usually paid for on a monthly or annual basis; it all depends on your web hosts’ terms and conditions.


40.       Can I switch from a web hosting services easily if I am not happy with their support? How would I go about this?

Yes you could, but whether you would get any financial compensation from your original web host is entirely dependent on whether or not they are delivering according to the service level you agreed to.

You may not be happy with the level of support you are getting from your web host, but you may have agreed to that level of support from the outset – this is why it is important to choose your web host wisely in the first instance.

Once you have chosen to change web hosting providers, the process is easy enough – your new web host will either manage the process for you or will tell what you are required to do.

However, you may still be liable to pay your original web host to the end of your original contract with them or may have to pay a one-off severance fee.


41.       What are analytics/ is Google Analytics? Is this the responsibility of my web host?

Google Analytics is a service offered by the online search engine Google that monitors the performance of individual websites and all the webpages on it.

It does so by tracking and recording traffic (internet users, known as ‘visitors’) to a website, and then providing the information in easily digestible table or chart formats.  Google began offering this service in 2005 and it’s now the most widely used analytics service on the internet, although other analytical services are also available.

Setting up Google Analytics is not the responsibility of your web host, but is the responsibility of either your web designer or yourself. Google themselves provide easy to follow instructions on how to set-up your Google Analytics account but you may need your web designer to insert some specific code into your website before it works.


42.       How can I promote my website? Can my web host/ you help me with this?

There are many things you can do to promote a website, ranging from advertising your web address on your marketing and business literature to paying for online adverts.

Whether your web host can help you with this promotion is dependent on whether they offer any additional online marketing services such as blog writing or social media marketing.  If they do not offer these services themselves, most web hosts will know of or be able to recommend an online marketer suitable for your business, as will your web designer.

When it comes to online marketing and a company’s website, one particular function is often overlooked; the online hosting of the website.

Partly this is because many confuse web design with web hosting. While the former is all about the look of your website, the latter concerns where your website actually ‘lives’ on the internet.

Web hosting is an equally important consideration for a business as web design, as poor web hosting can severely jeopardise the performance of a website. Your business or organisation may have the most brilliantly designed website, but that in itself will mean nothing if your website takes too long to access or is often ends up offline, both of which is a sign of a poor web hosting service.

So what actually is web hosting and what do you need to know about it? The following 42 questions and their answers will make you sufficiently informed to make the right decision in regards to your own web hosting needs.

This is Part 3 of a four part article. Part 1 can be read here while Part 2 can be read here; Part 4 will be published in the coming weeks.

21.       What are the key criteria for assessing whether a particular web host is right for my business or website?

You will need to see whether the web host has a track record or, if a new company or a company offering web hosting as a new service, has the technical background and infrastructure to support your website on an ongoing basis.

A web designer can advise you on the most appropriate web hosting provider for your business or website, but a key criteria will be the level of customer support available and the quick access to it.


22.       How easy is it to transfer a website from one web host to another?

Transferring a website from one web host to another is similar to changing your mobile phone contract from one provider to another, and is therefore pretty straightforward.

You will have to confirm you are the owner of the domain name by having the relevant log in details, but most professional web hosts will manage this process on your behalf.

However, as with telephone contracts, web hosting contracts are often set for a particular duration so you may find that you are paying twice over for web hosting services if you decide to move from one web host to another before the end of the original contract.


23.       What do I need to do to transfer a website from one web host to another?

Often your new host will do most of the work themselves when they have the necessary information from you and the authority to proceed.

They will advise you as to what information you need to give them and to your previous host at the appropriate stages of the process.


24.       Do I need to authorise or communicate with my current web host to transfer my site, or will my new web host manage all of this?

As mentioned, your web host will do most of the work

As also mentioned, you may have signed a 12 month or 24 month contract with your original web host, so you may have to pay a cancellation fee to your original web host to your contract early or just commit to paying the hosting fee to the original web host until the contract runs out.


25.       How do I change my web hosting settings?

All web hosts will have an online area or ‘control panel’ you can log into to view or change your web hosting settings.

Through this control panel you will be able to see the domain names you own, the amount of data space each one has allocated to it (and the current usage) as well as any associated e-mail addresses that your web host may manage for you.

Unless you know what you are doing, it is probably best to not to change these settings to an established website without consulting both your web host and web designer first, having explained to them what you are looking to change and why.


26.       Who in my organisation should have access to my web hosting settings?

You should keep the hosting details private to yourself unless you want someone else in your organisation to make changes on your or the company’s behalf.

You will probably have to share the web hosting details with any web designer who is developing or working on your site as well.


27.       What web hosting settings or features do I need to be aware of?

The key one relates to your account itself as you want make sure that you know when your web hosting package is up for renewal so you can ensure continuity of provision. Most good web hosts will remind you of this near the time of renewal however.

Other information relates to the data allowance of whatever web hosting package you have bought from the provider.

If there is anything you are unsure of, ask your web host or web designer to explain the settings to you.


28.       What customer support should a web host offer offer me?

Many online web hosts can prove very difficult when it comes to speaking to an actual person for immediate support.

Many free online web hosts simply do not have the business model or the interest in their users to offer individual customer support. As has already been said, you get what you pay for when you opt for a ‘free’ service.

Many web hosts will just direct you to online FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) materials rather than speak to you or respond to your e-mail.  These FAQs can often be confusing and it can take you a long time to find the answer to your particular problem, if you can find it at all.

Also some web hosts have their support centres based in other countries, similar to some phone providers, and this can (but not always) lead to some confusion if a language barrier presents itself.

This is where choosing a web host company in your own country and with a direct customer support channel can be a great benefit to a company or an organisation.

As has already been mentioned, for the most part you will not need to communicate with your web host, but when you do, it is often for very urgent commercial reasons. It is therefore important that your web host is accessible and will take ownership of any issue that is related to the web hosting of your site or your e-mail hosting (please note that a web host may not be able to resolve web design issues on your behalf).


29.       My website is not online; what should I do?

Before you jump to conclusions, please make sure that you are connected to the internet. For example, can you see other websites but not your own?

If you cannot see other websites via your device, it is your own internet connection where you are viewing websites from which is the issue, not your web hosting.

You may want to check your internet connection on your device as well as any internet router in your office to see if they are working correctly if you cannot view your website. These issues have nothing to do with your web host but are to do either with your computer or the device that you are viewing the internet on or your internet provider such as Sky or BT.

Internet Providers have their own help desks who will assist you getting online on the device of your choice; you should call them, and not your web host, if you cannot view any websites via the internet.

If, however, you can view other people’s websites and not your own, there may be an issue with your web hosting and this is when you should contact your web host.


30.       My website is not online but I can see other websites on the internet; does this mean my website is offline?

Yes, this would indicate there is a problem either with your website or your web hosting. This is when you should contact your web host directly to raise the issue; they will be able to investigate the problem and will rectify issues then and there, or let you know what needs to be done to get your site back up and running.

Connessione_Smartphone Tablet Pc_001 Rappresentazione simbolica di sistemi informatici, Pc, computer, tablet, smartphone collegati fra loro e ad un server centrale.
© massimo_g – Fotolia.com

When it comes to online marketing and a company’s website, one particular function is often overlooked; the online hosting of the website.

Partly this is because many confuse web design with web hosting. While the former is all about the look of your website, the latter concerns where your website actually ‘lives’ on the internet.

Web hosting is an equally important consideration for a business as web design, as poor web hosting can severely jeopardise the performance of a website. Your business or organisation may have the most brilliantly designed website, but that in itself will mean nothing if your website takes too long to access or is often ends up offline, both of which is a sign of a poor web hosting service.

So what actually is web hosting and what do you need to know about it? The following 42 questions and their answers will make you sufficiently informed to make the right decision in regards to your own web hosting needs.

This is Part 2 of a four part article. Part 1 can be read here; Parts 3 & 4 will be published in the coming weeks.

11.       Is my web host responsible for paying for my internet address/ domain name/ URL?

If you have bought your domain name and web hosting as one package, this will usually all be included in one cost. Your domain name does not remain yours indefinitely however, and you will usually be required to renew them every two years (although you can buy the domain name for longer at a greater cost, if you so wish to).

Your web host is not usually obligated to buy any domain on your behalf, although many will offer this service.

If you have bought your domain name separately, you will have to manage and pay for this independently from your web host or web designer.

It is a good idea, however, to see whether your web host will be willing to do this for you in exchange for an administration fee.


12.       Is my web host responsible for renewing my internet address/ domain name/ URL?

If you do not renew your domain name, it will go back on sale online and can then be bought and used by someone else – and there will be nothing you can do about it.

As already mentioned, most domain name purchases last two years although the periods can vary and will also have different costs attached to them.  It is therefore it is vitally important that you know when your domain names are due for renewal so that you do not lose them.

You can discuss with your web designer or web host to see whether they are willing to help manage your domain names; some can also set automatic renewals to give you piece of mind.

One important thing to bear in mind is that web hosting does not equate to owning or renewing a domain name; the two are quite separate processes.  From a web host, you are only buying or renting space on a server to host your website; you are not simultaneously buying or renewing a domain name when you do so although some do offer this as part of their package. Make sure you know exactly what you are and what you are not buying at the point of purchase or renewal.


13.       Which web addresses do I need for my business?

Which web address you will need for your business will entirely depend on the nature of your business or the nature of the website to which that web address will be linked.

Before buying a domain name or multiple domain names, it is best to talk to a trusted professional marketer or web designer to assess what will be best for both your website and for your business in general.

As has already been mentioned, you can have many multiples of the same web address but with different suffixes i.e what comes at the end of your website name: .com, .co.uk, .net, .biz etc.

At present there are over 270 suffixes available to website owners. New extensions include both .wales and .cymru for Welsh businesses, to take just one example.

You however only ever need just one web address to link to one website, although it is worth buying a couple of common iterations to ensure that people can find your site if they accidently type in the wrong address (i.e. .co.uk rather than .com) and it prevents competitors or other people buying them, which can cause some confusion online.


14.       Can a web host store any kind of website?

Yes, a good web host will be able to store all sizes and kinds of websites from a simple one page website to vast web presence that will feature hundreds of webpages.

As already has been mentioned, it is worth talking to both a web designer and a web host before committing to a web hosting package, so as to ensure that your website’s web hosting needs will be adequately addressed depending on the type of site you are looking to build.

You should seek advice even if you are looking to build a simple website; you don’t want to be buying an expensive web hosting package with a lot of features or services that you will simply not use, just as much as you don’t want to be buying a cheap web hosting package that will be inadequate for a large, professional online presence.


16.       Do different web hosts specialise, or are better, for particular types of websites or businesses?

Web hosts tend not to specialise in different types of website, whereas web designers can.

Where the differences lie however is the capacity and size of the web host provider, and the different service level agreements they offer their customers.

You want to ensure that any web host you choose will have business continuity plans in place (in the event of technical failures or staff illness) and will also offer a sufficient level of customer support for your needs at an appropriate cost.

Once a website is up and running, you will very seldom need to contact your web host. However, if anything does go wrong with your site and your web designer cannot resolve the issue, your web host’s customer support services become vital in rectifying the issue. Make sure you know what level of support you will be getting from your web host at the point of purchase, ensuring that it is sufficient for both your website’s and business’ needs.


17.       What is a Content Management System? Is this anything to do with web hosting?

A Content Management System (or ‘CMS’, as it is sometimes abbreviated to) is software uploaded to your server space that will enable you to change and edit existing content on your website, as well as upload new content to the website as well.

There are many different types of Content Management Systems available to companies, and the one appropriate for your business will entirely depend on the nature of the website that you are looking to build and the technical competency of the staff who will be editing and maintaining your website on an ongoing basis.

There are a couple of well-known CMS systems such as WordPress and Joomla, which have the advantage of being widely used which makes finding people familiar with the systems or training on how to use them easy. However, such CMS systems can be prescriptive and sometimes too basic for larger organisations, and a bespoke CMS system may be advisable.

The CMS tends not to have anything to do with the web hosts, but they will be developed or existing ones will be used by your web designer. It is however important that you inform your web host as to the kind of CMS system you are planning to use so they can configure your space on their services accordingly (imposing or removing security software that will affect the running of your site, for example). 


18.       I need to change a sentence/ a word/ a paragraph/ an image on my website; will my web host do this for me?

Changing content on your website needs to be done by either the web designer or by yourself, not the web host.

In most instances, you are just buying or renting the space off the web host and they have no vested interest or responsibility for what you do with your own website.

However, some web hosts and web designers will do this for you but at a significant cost, which is why it is important to have direct access to a Content Management System (see above). You don’t want to be incurring an ongoing overhead every time you want to change a word, image or sentence.


19.       Is a web host also responsible for my e-mail/ e-mail address?

If you have bought a web hosting package which includes e-mail addresses, they will set these up for you.

If you have simply bought the domain name without any hosting but with an e-mail address, you will need to use an email client such as Mac Mail or Microsoft Outlook to use your e-mail address.

It is highly desirable that your e-mail address should reflect the domain name of your website, and that your e-mail is professionally managed, backed-up and secured in the same way that you would do so with a website.

Most web hosts also offer e-mail hosting services, and it is advisable that you use the same web host for both services to ensure good business continuity with your electronic assets.


20.       Can I have my e-mail managed by a different web host to the one who manages my website? What are the pros and cons?

Yes you can keep things separate, for example you can have your web host with ‘Go Daddy’ but if you are used to Google Mail or Outlook you can use your website email through these platforms. It will still be your business email i.e. yourname@yourbusiness.co.uk but it will go through Google Mail or Outlooks servers.

You can also purchase a Google for Business account which gives you 30GB of online storage for emails and files online which can be accessed from anywhere on any computer.

However, this is not the most professional way to approach your online branding or securing your online infrastructure.  The pro for such an approach is that you can have all your online assets hosted for free, but the huge downside is that they will not be joined up and you will not getting the professional back-up or guarantees that you would get from a paid-for service.

You only get what you pay for if you opt for a free web hosting/ e-mail hosting solution.

© tashatuvango - Fotolia.com
© tashatuvango – Fotolia.com

When it comes to online marketing and a company’s website, one particular function is often overlooked; the online hosting of the website.

Partly this is because many confuse web design with web hosting. While the former is all about the look of your website, the latter concerns where your website actually ‘lives’ on the internet.

Web hosting is an equally important consideration for a business as web design, as poor web hosting can severely jeopardise the performance of a website. Your business or organisation may have the most brilliantly designed website, but that in itself will mean nothing if your website takes too long to access or is often ends up offline, both of which is a sign of a poor web hosting service.

So what actually is web hosting and what do you need to know about it? The following 42 questions and their answers will make you sufficiently informed to make the right decision in regards to your own web hosting needs.

This is Part 1 of a four part article. Part 2 can be read by clicking here. Future installments will be published in the coming weeks.

1          What is Web Hosting?

Web Hosting is the activity and business of providing data storage space available on the internet, which is then used to make websites accessible via the World Wide Web.

Online data storage is provided by dedicated computers called ‘servers’. The companies or individuals who provide this service are known as Web Hosts, and they manage all the technical aspects in regards to the access and technical performance of these servers, on which websites and other online applications are hosted.


2          How does Web Hosting differ from Web Design?

Web Hosting is solely concerned with the storage space of a website.

Web Design is the name given to the actual production and development of a website, specifically in regards to how the finished website will look and how an internet user will  interact and operate that website.

The two processes are distinct but there will need to be some communication and understanding between your Web Host and your Web Designer to ensure that the technical configuration of the web host’s server is appropriate for the website that the web designer is trying to build.


3          Are there different types of web hosting?

Different types of web hosting services are available to host your website. Before committing to a particular web hosting service, it is important to understand what kind of web hosting service your website will actually need.  These consideration should concern your current and future business needs, your online marketing budget, and what type of additional services the web host offers (such as customer support). 

The typical hosting options available to companies and individuals include:

  •  Free Hosting
     Free web hosting services are the ideal option when you just want to build a non-professional website for fun but they are often inappropriate or  insufficient for most businesses or organisations.Free hosting services are often characterised by a slower connection speed (it takes longer for your website to load in peoples’ browsers), website  outage (when your website is offline and not visible), and advertising banners that are automatically added to your website and over which you have no  control (these banners are how free web hosting services make their money).Some web hosting companies require you to purchase a domain name in order to  receive free hosting services, while others may offer you a free  subdomain under their own branding, such as [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][yourname.webhost.com]. Please note that often you will not be able to transfer these free subdomains at  a later date, which can prove problematic if it is for a professional website for which you want to change web hosting solutions.


  • Shared HostingIn a shared hosting environment, your website is hosted on the same servers as other websites, either owned by yourself or by other people.Shared Web Hosting Services are typified by the sharing of an actual physical server and also standardised software applications for all users to access that server.Shared Web Hosting Services are affordable because the cost to operate the server is shared between you and the other website owners who are using the space. There can be some problems in using shared web hosting services, such as slower connections and the risk that the servers can be infected by viruses uploaded to other users’ websites if the web host themselves are insufficiently attentive to what is on the shared server.  
  • Dedicated HostingIn a dedicated hosting environment, the website owner will have an entire web server to themselves.This allows for faster website performance, as all the server’s resources are your own without any drain from other website owners. It also provides a greater degree of online security for your website.However, Dedicated Web Hosting means that you will be responsible for the cost of the server operation entirely and this can prove to be expensive.Dedicated Web Hosting is a good choice for websites that requires a lot of system resources and which need to offer a high level of IT security.


  • Colocating HostingColacating Hosting is when you purchase your own server but have it housed at a web host’s facilities. You, as its owner, will be entirely responsible for the server itself.The advantage of this type of hosting service is you have full control of over that server and you can install any software, scripts or applications that your business’ online presence needs.However, the significant downside is that you yourself are entirely responsible for the maintenance of the server itself, which will require the necessary technical expertise to successfully manage.


4          Do different types of hosting affect search engine results, such as Google results?

Google announced back in 2010 that website speed would begin having an impact on search rankings. However Google also stated that “While site speed is a new signal, it doesn’t carry as much weight as the relevance of a page. Currently, fewer than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal.”

As online marketing becomes more competitive with the ever increasing number of websites and other online applications, it is important that your online presence is backed-up by a robust hosting service.  If your hosting service is problematic or intermittent, it will impact on your search results as your website will simply not be visited as by many people and this in turn can impact your search engine results.


5          What do I do first if I need a website? Do I design a site or do I secure a web host?

The first step when setting up a new website is to consider what the website is actually for.  This function of the intended website should influence both your web design choices as well as those that you make for the site’s web hosting.

For example, an e-commerce site (a website that takes orders online/ sells products directly to those on the internet) will require a particular type of design and a more secure form of web hosting, especially if the website is taking online payment details.

A web designer or a web host will be able to advise you on the best approach and in which order you should tackle the process, the advice being tailored to your specific website needs.

Another important stage is buying the right web address (also known as the domain name or URL) for your website (see below).


6.         Does my website have to be designed by my web host?

No – you can purchase a web hosting package (including the domain name) before going to a web designer to have your website built. All you would need to do is to provide your web designer with some login details to upload your finished website onto the internet.

However, it is probably best to talk to either a web designer or a web host before committing to a particular web hosting package or web design service, as your website will need to be suitably tailored for your specific business needs.

Many online web host providers will actually offer their own website building software with which you can use to put your own site together. However, such software is often fairly rudimentary as well as a widespread, which can result in a website that is too simplistic for your business requirements and which will also have a generic look than can undermine the visual presence of your online branding/

7.         Do web hosts write/ design my website for me?

As I have already mentioned, web hosts look after the amount of space your website takes up on the internet, they do not write or design your website.

For the design of your website you will need a website designer and a website developer; the designer creating the look of your website while the developer makes sure that the website works (i.e. pages link correctly) – the website designer and website developer is often the same person.

However, neither the web host or the web designer will actually write the final content for your website. This has to be done either by yourself or a professional copywriter who knows how to adapt marketing content for websites.

Most web designers will know of a copywriter who would be appropriate for your website, or you can look to commission one independently if you so wish.

If you are planning on writing your own content for your website, make sure you talk to your web designer about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) considerations (see below). You may also want to hire a professional proofreader to check your website copy for any typos or other embarrassing errors.


8.         Can a web host store and maintain more than one of my websites?

A good web host will be able store whatever number of websites you own or require, although the cost of doing so will be dependent on the type of websites and will vary from web host to web host/


9.         When do I need to get a web address/ domain name/ URL?

‘Web address’, ‘domain name’ and ‘URL’ mean all all the same thing; it is the address of the website that people have to type into their web browsers to visit your website.

Web addresses usually start with ‘www.’ then feature a chosen name (i.e. the name of your company) and then finishes with a suffix such as ‘co.uk’ (which you can also choose). The suffix is important as it often denotes either your geographical location or the type of institution that your business or organisation is. An example of a web address is www.diamond-discovery.com.

You can only use web addresses that are available and have not been bought and used by someone else. There are many ways to buy domain names from different online vendors, but talk to your web designer or web host to see which vendor they recommend. You may also want to consult with the web designer and/ or a professional marketer as to which domain name would be appropriate for your business.

You may also want to consider buying multiple domain names with different suffixes to prevent competitors using or owning them. Just because you have bought www.yourcompany.com (to take a random example) does not mean you automatically have the right to own or usewww.yourcompany.co.uk; you will have to purchase both and then decide which address is going to be your primary address that will appear on your business literature.


10.       Does a web host buy my internet address/ domain name/ URL?

Many web host providers will provide the domain name for free when purchasing a hosting package so it can be cost effective to do it this way. However many that do this may actually be offering an inferior or restrictive hosting packing that may not be appropriate for your business so this is probably a false economy.

Talk to your web designer or a web host to find out what the costs are of them buying the required domain names on your behalf.

Alternatively, this is something you can do yourself independently of any web host and it may work out cheaper to do so; just make sure you know what you are doing and that you are buying the right domain name appropriate for your business or organisation.

© Tomasz Zajda - Fotolia.com
© Tomasz Zajda – Fotolia.com

Most ongoing business concerns have an online presence of some sort these days.  If you are not online, you are not going to be found by people who may want to use your services or buy your products, and this can be disastrous for your long-term professional prospects.

While some businesses are content with a listing in an online directory or a rudimentary social media presence, professional concerns should have their own website.  Your website is your shopfront to the world, and it is therefore important that you get things right when setting one up.

As well as contemplating the design and content of your website, you should assess the options of where your website will be hosted.  Web hosting is the service that determines where and how your website and associated services are kept on the internet.  People or businesses that provide this service are known as Web hosts.

Web hosting is often independent of the actual design of the eventual website (although some web hosts do offer rudimentary site-building functionality), and web hosts can offer associated services relating to internet connectivity, such as e-mails and the registration of domain names (the ‘web address’ by which your website can be found via web browsers).

The actual processes behind web hosting can vary, with customers either buying or leasing space on a web host’s own internet servers or by setting up a server at their own premises.  A popular new hosting method is through the Cloud, whereby the website is hosted on the internet and backed up on different, multiple servers.  Websites or individual webpages or electronic files can be uploaded to the purchased or rented web space through a process known as File Transfer Protocol (or FTP for short), and the space can be configured to different Content Management Systems (or CMS) that allow for easy editing of the eventual website.

Some web hosts offer such services at heavily discounted, sometimes negligible rates but this can be a false economy.  Many people or businesses when building a website for the first time do not appreciate the complexity or the levels of support that they may require going forward, and often they can get caught out by having to buy additional services beyond what was the initially attractive price.  Conversely, ‘off the shelf’ web hosting packages often include many features that the standard business will not use, so they end up needlessly paying more for website hosting than if they went with another, dedicated provider.

Here are 8 things to consider when looking for a web hosting service for your website:


  •          Customer Support

This is arguably the most crucial element with any web hosting service; are you able to contact a person if or when things go wrong or if you need assistance? Many of the cheaper web hosting service providers don’t have advanced customer support services, with customers either being referred only to online technical support materials or to chat room type interactions, often with operators based on the other side of the world.

At the cheaper end of the market, you may also be engaging with staff who are not fully qualified or trained to deal with the issue you are raising or who may not take ownership of the problems you are encountering with the web host services.

By dealing with a smaller, dedicated hosting company, you should find a personalised and personable service that does not treat you as just another caller in queue.


  •          Services that are tailored to your specific needs

Do you really know what you are buying when it comes to web hosting, and do you really know why you are buying it?  Many off the peg web hosting solutions work on the assumption that one size or a pre-determined choice between, say, three different hosting packages meet the requirements of their users, which is often not the case.

Sometimes, users of web hosting services find that they have to quickly upgrade their package with their provider because what they initially bought was not fit for their purposes.  Even worse, the upgraded packages often contain advanced features or provisions that users might not need, so you can end up paying over the odds for one particular facet of web hosting services by default.


  •          Back-up services for your site

Does your potential web host offer backup services for their servers and, in particular, your website?  In other words, do they ensure that your website is protected in the event of any catastrophic error that can affect the server, whether that be a computer virus/glitch or something more tangible, such as a fire.

A good web host should be able to retrieve your website from a very recent point in time in the event of disaster.  This is even more important if your web host is also your web designer, as sometimes sites built by web designers (who are independent of the web hosts) may have their own backup you can use.  If web designer and web host are one and the same, you will not have that option.


  •          A guarantee of uptime

While no web host can guarantee 100% uptime of your website (in other words, your website being accessible online at all times), a good web host will take steps to minimise outages and to offer continuity of service.  Any downtime that is scheduled in advance by the web host should be advertised well ahead of the outage and at a time of day convenient to your business (at night or at the weekend, for example).

If your site goes down (or offline) for any period of time, you want to know that your web host will be aware of the issue themselves and will be doing their best to rectify the situation.  You don’t want to be the one to discover that your website is down, nor do you want to be the proactive element that triggers the repair; a good web host will do that automatically on your behalf, without prompting. 


  •          Ease of access

Most web hosts will have an online control panel with which you can monitor the usage, functionality and status of your account with them.  It should be easy to use and to access, both by you and/or your web designer (if they are independent of the web host).

Having ease of access to, and a range of controls with which you can use, features offered by your web host will minimise the amount of time that you have to interact with them or their customer services.  Once you have rented or purchased your space on the web, you will be wanting to use it unhindered and without complication.


  •          Domain name registrations

Your website will require a web address for your site to work, and it makes sense to buy this through your web host, who should be able to offer this service.

The web host should also be able to advise you on which domain name suffixes you may require (.com, .org, .co.uk) to make the most of your online presence and to protect you from others (such as competitors) who may want to purchase similar domain names to undermine your efforts.

You should also have the option to auto-renew your chosen domain-name(s), as you don’t want to inadvertently lose the rights to the domain name that you have been using, especially as trademark protection does not extend to domain names.


  •          Associated services

A good web host will offer other associated services that are necessary for a modern business, such as e-mails. While there are free e-mail services available from companies such as Microsoft and Google, you are going to be subjected to those companies’ terms and conditions and you will have no guarantee of ongoing service; you can’t seek compensation for service failure if you have not paid anything for that service in the first place!

Also, it helps a company’s image if it has professional looking e-mail addresses that are associated with the domain name of its websites. joe.blogs@companyname.co.uk is preferable tojoeblogs@gmail.com.

Hiring or buying space on a server offers other options to a company as well, such as document back up or hosting of other company electronic processes (such as computer software or remote working via virtual desktops). Often these processes can be consolidated with your web hosting agreement in one service level agreement, cutting the costs of your business’ overheads.


  •          The option to change your web hosting provider without hassle or complication

The time may come when you want to change your service provider for web hosting, either due to cost considerations (you have found a cheaper provider elsewhere) or if you have become dissatisfied with the service offering or customer support. In this event, you will want to know in advance that you can do so relatively easily and without complication.

There are anecdotes in business circles of web hosts becoming either difficult or obstructive when a customer chooses to take their custom elsewhere, so you want to know from the outset what the process is for moving your website and what contractual costs are involved in doing so.

With luck you will find a good web host first time around, but both businesses and circumstances change, and you should have peace of mind that you can switch your website to another provider without unwarranted complication or intimidation.