Where to Host: An Important Choice

As discussed in Choosing A Website Developer, there are some options when deciding how to begin developing your online presence.  Depending on the initial direction you take, your developer may or may not include hosting in the services they propose.  But whether you are making the “hosting decision” as part of the initial consideration, or it is something you won’t evaluate until the actual site development is done, there are several things to bear in mind regarding the selection of your hosting provider.  Here is a fairly comprehensive list that covers the bases:

1.     Technical Support – Does the company provide technical support via the phone?  Or is it available via email only?  Is there an extra fee?  Is the support unlimited, or do the technicians have quotas or a limit on the time they can spend on each call?  Consider all the details.  For example, Company A offers 24-hour support and charges extra, whereas Company B provides support during normal business hours for free.   Will you typically need support at 3am every night and be willing to pay extra for it?

2.    Security – You do not need to be an online security expert to ask about a hosting company’s record regarding online security.  Your developer can help you find a reliable company that had a track record of exceptional performance.  You should not accept anything less.

3.    Traffic / Bandwidth – Are there limits to the amount of traffic your website can handle?  Are there limits to the amount of bandwidth your website is permitted to use each month?  Inexpensive hosting often involves hidden glitches you may not recognize until after you have signed on with a provider.

4.    Additional Services – As your business grows, will the needs of your web presence?  What does your hosting company offer in terms of what you may need in the future?  For example, are they providing full support of your email and ecommerce/shopping cart needs?  And what is their history and track record?  Will they continue to be around for you?

In the case of web hosting, you definitely get what you pay for.  Cheap hosting is often just that…cheap.  Make sure you find out why a deal may seem better than the rest, and use the above information as a guide.

Published in: on January 1, 2009 at 3:48 PM  Comments (8)  
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Reasons to Not Consider a Website

Does that sound like a strange title of a blog post from a website developer?  Granted, there is some sarcasm in my words.  Here’s a list of reasons some business owners shared with me about why they do not need a website:

a.    I am about to retire.
b.    We are changing our name.
c.    Our business is being sold.
d.    The company will not be in business much longer
e.    I only give my website out to my customers.
f.    That’s handled out of our Corporate office (click).
g.    I am a manufacturer’s rep…I work for dealers/distributors only.
h.    We are a wholesaler…we work directly with only retailers.

All of these reasons, while the business owner may really believe they have some relation to a lack of need to consider a website, all suffer from the same flaw: they are illogical.  If the business owner woke up, went to work, and opened their office….in short, if they answered their phone…then they should – at a minimum – consider how a website could help them grow their business.

As a business owner, does it not stand to reason that one should be open-minded to any opportunity that exists that might enable expansion of business or provide expansion or additional stability to the client base, regardless of what extraneous circumstances might be going on with the business?

After all, you are still in business, right?

At least for now.

We Had a Website Once

As I travel around, speaking to business owners about the power of web presence, I am not often surprised by what I hear. However, one thing that always seems to catch me off guard is the comment, “We had a website and we let it go.”

Usually, this is offered as an explanation as to why they do not have a website, but even more bizarrely, as justification as to why they do not need one now. This is simply nuts and here’s why.

If you once had a website, then you probably understood the benefits of a powerful web presence, and made the decision in favor of it. But what happened? Obviously it did not perform as expected or customers and prospects would, right now, be able to find you online.

Why didn’t it deliver results? Perhaps it was an ineffective design or poorly maintained. Perhaps no one could find it because it was not effectively marketed. In any event, it was not because websites do not work.

Imagine this:

You mistakenly print a competitor’s name and address on a marketing flyer and distribute throughout the tri-state area. While customers flood to your competitor’s store, you wonder why your flyer isn’t working. Do you blame the concept of a marketing flyer, and decide that using marketing flyers is not an effective way to advertise your company? Do flyers simply not work? Of course not! It was the way you used the tool that was flawed, not the tool itself.

So, why does the fact that you once utilized a website incorrectly lead to the conclusion that websites don’t work?

What can you do? Well, you can find a website developer with a proven track record of building and marketing successful websites for small businesses. Do your research and, the second time; use the right tool in the right way! Websites work. The Internet is here to stay. Don’t dismiss the effectiveness of this powerful tool simply because your first attempt did not work. Wise business owners make the time to understand mistakes so that they can adjust and respond more effectively. Be the wise business owner you know you are. Build a website that works and you’ll be very pleased that you did.

Choosing a Website Developer

Years ago, a Traditional Website Developer was the only choice.  Now, a business owner has options!  And making the right choice when it comes to the developer of your website is a very important decision, indeed.  Here are some basics to get you started.  In today’s world of technology, there are basically three ways to devleop your website:  (1) hire a Traditional Developer (2) purchase a do-it-yourself software package or (3) choose a turn-key solution provider.

A Traditional Developer will typically develop your site by using a lot of programming and code that is far beyond what any business owners even cares to begin to, or needs to understand.  After all, your business is YOUR BUSINESS, not the details of how to develop a website.  In general, a Traditional Developer will give you exactly what you want in exactly the way you want it.  The drawbacks to using a Traditional Developer are primarily cost and timeframe.  This is likely your most expensive option, and you will also be at the whim of the timeframe and workload of your developer not only for the initial site design but also for future changes and updates to your site.  Nevertheless, if your needs are complex and, for example, you need your site to “talk” to other sites and interact with other software programs used in your office, then a Traditional Devleoper is likely your best option.

You could also go to the local office supply store and buy a “do-it-yourself” webpage design software program. This will provide you with a website at the lowest cost, but likely will box you in to a limited type of design that has a “standard” look similar to other pages developed with the same software.  Also, there is a learning curve to learning how to use the software, and you will still need to educate yourself on and discover the appropriate way to host your site.

Finally, there are several Turn-key Solutions available in the marketplace wherein you can work with a development consultant the will help to understand your needs and use a website development software package to not only develop your initial site but also to help you maintain the site in the future.  A Turn-Key solution has much less limitations (though there are still some) than the Do-It-Yourself options while also being more cost effective than a Traditonal Developer.

SPECIAL NOTE:  Beware of a “freelancer” who has done nothing more than purchase a do-it-yourself package but is trying to pass himself off as a Traditional Developer.  You will likely pay Traditional Developer fees and get a very basic and lackluster webpage with no features.

Doing your homework is important to helping you make the best decision.  Being an informed consumer is better for you and your developer.  For more detailed information on how to make the best decision, consult Tom Elliott’s book, Website 411, available by following the link to the right.

Published in: on February 8, 2008 at 4:48 AM  Comments (4)  
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POTW chosen for National Directory

Commensurate with the publishing of his book, “Website 411 – Business Survival in an Internet Economy,” author Thomas M. Elliott has also launched his National Directory of Web Solution Providers, for which Power On The Web has been chosen for inclusion as a respected website developer in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area.

Tom has been developing websites and working in the internet marketing, e-commerce, and search engine optimization fields for several years, and the publishing of his book (available at http://www.website411book.com) is only the latest example of his committment to educating today’s business owner on the power of the internet and the value of web presence and internet marketing. To anyone considering the impact a website and internet marketing can have on their business, Website 411 is a must read.

Along with the publishing of the book, Tom has also launched the Website411 book Website. Included in this website is not only access to purchase your own copy of Website 411, but also numerous special features – some available only to those that purchase the e-book version – as well as the National Directory of Website Solution Providers. POTW is proud to announce that we have been chosen for inclusion in the directory.

Published in: on January 5, 2008 at 5:15 AM  Comments (1)  
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