Clients: You Should Control Your Hosting
When engaging new clients we are often asked about hosting; if we do it, or if we have a recommendation of a hosting company to use. While many agencies offer web hosting as one of their services, Kodis does not. In this post we will talk about what to think about when evaluating who should be hosting your site and why we do not typically host for our clients, except in very limited cases.
When it comes to hosting, we use GoDaddy ourselves and recommend them to our clients. There are many other hosting providers who provide excellent service for value too. We have also used HostGator, bluehost and WP engine with success. We just happen to use GoDaddy because we have never encountered an issue with getting help from them when we need it; they are always quick to respond via phone, online chat, email, and Twitter.
Oh yeah, and their more recent ad campaigns, namely the ones with JCVD, make us laugh.
Paying for nothing
One of our catch-phrases with clients is, “we don’t nickel and dime anyone.” Web hosting is one of those ways that clients can be stuck paying an extra monthly or yearly fee to an agency for no reason. Once the initial server setup is accomplished, there is very little to be done on the server-side to maintain a website. So, if a client were paying us for hosting, they would be paying us (probably with some markup) to do nothing once the website was live and had been operating without any hosting glitches for a few months.
Breaking up is hard to do
Another issue with hosting with the agency who built your website is “breaking up” with them. Let’s say that five years down the road, you decide you want a new website, but your relationship with your current agency (and host) isn’t great. So you decide to engage another agency to design and build a new site. Getting the “keys to the kingdom” can be awkward and tricky. If you are paying the hosting fees yourself and have login credentials, there is no barrier to you or the new agency accessing any information about your website.
Four considerations for choosing the right hosting plan
So, what information do you need to know to pick a hosting plan?
- Operating System: Does your server need to be Linux or Windows? The answer depends on the language that will be used to build your website. The two main languages used on the web are PHP (Linux) and ASP/.Net (Windows)
- Storage: How much information will be stored on your website? Think about it like choosing an iPhone, do you want 16, 64 or 128 GB? Well, if you frequently travel and keep a lot of movies on your phone to watch while you are traveling, you want the 128. If you use your phone as just a phone and don’t use it as a media player, you want the 16. The same is true for a website. If you only have a few pages that contain some text, you don’t need that much storage. If you are self-hosting videos, you will want a dedicated server with more storage.
- Bandwidth: Bandwidth is the amount of data that is being shared between your users’ computers and the server hosting your website. The more users you have and the more data-heavy content (like self-hosted videos) they are pulling from your site, the more bandwidth you will need.
- RAM: The amount of RAM that you pay for through the host will affect the website’s speed. Think of Storage and RAM like your desk and your file cabinet. When you are actively using a file, it’s on your desk where you can quickly access it. When you have updated the file and don’t need to use it any longer, it goes into the file cabinet where it sits until you need to access it again. Accessing a file on your desk is a lot quicker than accessing it from your filing cabinet, but your desk is a lot smaller and can’t hold the same amount of files as the file cabinet. With more RAM, you increase the amount of users who can be concurrently using your site and its resources. Also, using a Content Management System (like WordPress) can also increase your need for RAM.
We want to work with our clients to give them the best possible solution. In our opinion, it works best if the client pays for and controls the hosting, while giving us access. This way, the hosting remains in the client’s control, and they have access to make changes or edits at any time without needing to go through us to do so. With this access, we can make edits requested by the client and help with a limited amount of “housekeeping,” like making sure WordPress/Drupal are up-to-date with the latest security patches and plugins are staying current (see our post on WordPress Site Security).
In this way, even our most tech-UN-savvy clients remain in control of their virtual demesne and are not reliant on us should they want to move in a different direction. It’s the best of both worlds for us and our clients.