websites are an essential part of business life, but in recent years many companies have fallen foul of some unscrupulous web developers who try to cash in your lack of technical knowledge. I’ve heard horror stories of small businesses being held to ransom by unscrupulous developers or others losing the ability to change their website after their web developer stopped communicating with them. It’s worth remembering that although web development and web hosting are related, it’s always good practice to keep separate.
1) Own your company Domain
Think about your website as being similar to private number plate. Over the years your car may change, but its registration plate stays the same. This is exactly the same when it comes to a website domain. Ownership of a domain shouldn’t be confused with the website itself. Owning your web domain outright enables you to point the domain to where your website is being hosted. This means, should you wish to change your hosting provisions in the future, you can do so very easily.
Registering a website domain is a very simple and straightforward process. Most domains can be purchased for a period of between one and ten years. Registering the domain yourself means that you can keep track of renewal dates and manage this process by yourself.
If a web developer offers to register the domain on your behalf, always ensure that the domain is registered to your company name and the ownership rights are transferred to your business. Similarly always ensure that the domain is registered to your company, rather than to an individual within your organisation.
When websites are registered to an individual, technically the company cannot claim rights of ownership, which may lead to a lengthy and costly legal battle, should a dispute in the future arise.
2) Purchase an SSL Certificate for your website
SSL certificates are small data files which provide a secure connection to your site. SSL certificates are essential if you are planning to sell goods online. SSL Certificates help to provide protection for data being shared with the site, such as credit card details or login details.
Last year Google announced that websites carrying an SSL certificate will be taken into account when ranking websites, so it’s worth remembering that adding an SSL Certificate to your website will not only make your website safer, it will also help to increase its performance in search engine rankings
3) Understand where your site will be hosted
When it comes to web hosting, there are many different options available to you. Generally speaking, there are three commonly used hosting options:
Hosted on your own servers. This option is typically a very expensive one for most SMEs and relies upon a significant investment in hardware and bandwidth Hosted via shared cloud servers. This should be considered as an entry level option, and one of the most cost effective ways of getting your company online. When you choose this option, you will be sharing your bandwidth with other companies and can mean that if another website on the server is compromised it may impact upon your own website/ email. Similarly if another website shared on the server receives a large amount of traffic this may impact on the performance of your website. Dedicated cloud servers. A dedicated cloud server offers the benefits of a physical server as well as the flexibility of a cloud-based server. Unlike a shared server, your bandwidth is offered exclusively, helping to minimise the risks of your website being compromised by others and will provide a consistent performance.
It is important to have a basic understanding of web hosting as some unscrupulous developers may play on your naivety to charge excessive rates for web hosting. Some may charge additional fees for undertaking essential maintenance on the site.
If a web developer forces you to use their hosting services, always treat this as a warning sign, especially if maintenance is not included within the contract. You can almost certainly expect to receive large fees in the future!
Remember, that if your web developer is hosting your site, you are dependent upon them entirely to update and maintain the site. You will not be able to access your server and it is likely that any future work is likely to incur additional fees.
4) Have separate server hosting for your email
If you have a company or business email address linked on your website, consider using a separate hosting service for the email. This ensures that your email and website are not dependent on the same server, so if your website goes down your email will still be up and running and enable your company to still send and receive emails.
5) Back-up your data!
Some web developers offer data back-up so should the worst happen, your website and data is safe. If you are using a web developer to manage your website, clarify they offer back up. If you are not working with a web developer or you are and they don’t offer back up services, inquire if there is another way to do this and speak to hosting companies that can provide this service for you.