Our choice of an internet hosting service, is just such a case in point. A Google Search on “Internet Hosting Service” comes up with 167 million hits, a good percentage of them from companies touting for your custom.
A good number of these will be offering ‘free’ hosting and even a ‘free’ facility for securing and registering your new site.
These offers are great for someone looking to put up a family site keeping your nearest and dearest up to date with Junior’s progress at ballet class but highly unlikely to be man enough for you to be able to mount a commercial site there.
Competition ensures that you can get a good deal, suited to your needs for a few pounds, or dollars, a month. In internet hosting one size does not fit all!
At this stage there are five key questions.
1. A URL Search and Registration Service
Registering your business name (www.my shop.co.uk) for you.
2. Search Engines
Unless your target clients already know you, they are likely to have found you by conducting an internet search. This puts the success of your site firmly in the hands of the Search Engines.
They encourage visitors to the net to type in a few key words and then list sites that purport to service that topic. A search on the key phrase “flat screen tv” comes up with 80 million hits, or about 5 million pages of links and visitors are unlikely to search more than the first two or three pages.
The process of getting your site onto the first couple of pages in known as Search Engine Optimisation and an internet host who doesn’t help you achieve this is not worth considering.
3. Data Bases
A data base is no more than an organised collection of data but as computers are often used to store vast quantities of this data the organisation of data bases has been standardised to allow all sorts of different programmes to access them.
Any online shop, and certainly any online community type site is likely to need one or more data bases.
Does your selected host provide them?
If you need them at all you will need at least two, one for your working site and one for your development site where you build and test new pages etc.
There are several database formats but ‘MySQL’ is the most commonly used. Check out what your basic software will require.
4. eMail Addresses
Your email addresses are an important part of your branding. An email address like “firstname.lastname@example.org” will always mark you out as a small-time operator. That might be OK for your business but not for most.
Even small start-up businesses will need several email addresses:
Make sure your package offers you as many addresses as you could possibly need.
5. Software Upload
Any decent host will upload your chosen CMS package for you, setting up the database and putting in place the basic data for your site including (but not limited to)
- Site Name
- Administrator (your) Login
- Contact details etc
All these and more should be in your package of choice. Don’t be bamboozled, if the Internet Hosting Service you are talking to doesn’t offer them all ring off and try another.
Roger Webb is a retired CEO from Small and Medium Sized (SME) companies in the UK and Continental Europe. In thirty years’ experience at life at the top he has been instrumental in turning around and setting up a number of specialist subsidiaries in Europe, Africa and beyond, in every case producing stable profits in some of the most testing corporate environments imaginable.