This post will cover all those little niggly technology bits you should know about (even at a surface level) if you have your own website.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. We at TLD can guide you along – but a one stop overview can’t hurt. To explain things in more detail, we asked Sam Martin from hosting.co.uk for this post. Sam says:
You don’t need to be an IT wizard to be able to manage your website.
The key to managing your web hosting well is keeping things simple. While it’s always a good idea to learn as much as you can about technology, that isn’t always possible when you take into account the pressures of running a small business. And the truth is, it’s not entirely necessary either.
No one likes a slow website that puts a user’s patience to the test. That’s why loading speed is so important.
Did you know that over half of mobile users will abandon a website entirely if it takes more than three seconds to load? And with Google adding loading speeds to their all-important algorithms, slow loading times can also have a detrimental impact on SEO.
When planning your web hosting, loading speed should be high on your priority list. Of course, speeds can be influenced by factors other than hosting, but securing a good hosting provider is a key step in ensuring that your site loads quickly.
All web hosting providers specify an amount of bandwidth that is provided as part of their services. Bandwidth refers to the data that can pass from your site to a user, and is calculated daily or monthly.
It’s the same principle as data packages on smartphones. A hosting company provides a specific amount of bandwidth, and exceeding that limit could mean additional fees or problems for your website.
Top providers now often offer unlimited bandwidth, which means that businesses no longer have to worry about unexpected fees or related site outages. Keep an eye out for packages featuring this, particularly if your business offers file sharing, video streaming or cloud applications.
Server Uptime (and Downtime!)
Even the best servers go down sometimes. In March this year, Facebook suffered downtime lasting over 14 hours. Just a few months later in June, YouTube, Gmail, and Snapchat suffered a similar fate when they were hit by issues with Google’s cloud service, causing downtime lasting over four hours.
For online businesses, downtime can quickly become very serious. It has been estimated that downtime costs online businesses an average of £4183 ($5,600) per minute. So, it’s vital that server uptime and downtime is taken into consideration when thinking about your hosting options.
Usually you’ll see an amount of uptime displayed on web hosting packages. This is normally a high figure in the region of 99.9%, meaning that your site will be down for around eight hours and 42 minutes per year.
Security is a growing concern amongst users, with highly publicised security failings hitting the headlines all the time. So it’s vital that small business owners have a good understanding of online security protocol, and know what to look out for when weighing up their options.
Let’s start with SSL certificates. SSL certificates encrypt information that travels to and from a website, keeping it safe from hackers. SSL certificates come in different levels, and basic certificates are usually included in hosting packages.
Security threats are wide-ranging, but one of the most common is known as a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service). Attacks like these can render a website unavailable to users, so make sure your hosting provider includes specific protection from such risks.
Good providers also offer malware detection and removal, with support available designed to get your site back up and running should an attack occur.
SSL Certificates are small files filled with data that joins a unique key with an organisation. When this is installed on a web server, a user will see the secure padlock and ‘https’ in the address bar of the website they are viewing. If you see the padlock icon, it denotes that there is a secure connection from a web server to a browser. If a site does not have this, a user may be greeted with a message that the site they are about to enter is not safe, thus meaning your website loses out on valuable traffic. You can buy an SSL certificate from a trusted Certificate Authority.
Server PHP Versions
A majority of the things you see on websites, particularly WordPress sites, are there because of PHP. Alongside WordPress, Facebook and other popular sites utilise it. As mentioned above, PHP is a server-side language, meaning it is processed on the hard drive of the machine it is on, as opposed to an end user’s browser.
Because it is server side, any issues that arise from PHP have to be fixed by you. A user could have the most powerful computer in the world, if the issue is coming from the server and not their computer then it will not be rectifiable. As such, PHP is an extremely important element to site performance.
For performance reasons, the language is constantly being improved and worked on, meaning there have been multiple variations over the years. It’s vital to make sure you are updated with the latest PHP language possible, ensuring you have access to the latest improvements that have come with the language. If you let the PHP variation get too old, it can even become redundant and leave your website completely broken.
Think of your domain as the name of your online business. You’ll may well already have one set up, but if you don’t you might be able to take advantage of hosting packages that include free domain names for a specific period of time.
Even if you do have a domain set up already, there’s no harm in taking advantage of offers like these to register similar domains and avoid competitors picking up domains that are too close to yours.
Most successful online businesses have several domain names registered to them. If you’re hoping to expand your business over time, or you plan to venture into new markets as your business grows, it’s well worth thinking about the domains that you might need.
Whether you’re new to web hosting or you’re considering switching to a new provider, you’ll want to make sure you’re up to speed on the technology that really matters. Bandwidth, server uptime, domains, loading speeds and security are all key concerns for any online business, and the efficiency and availability of these can have a huge impact on the ongoing success of a company.
To learn more about different web hosting options and what they could mean for your business visit hosting.co.uk.