So you’ve decided you’re going to redesign your website. You’ve carefully researched and selected the right web development firm. You give them the green light to start building your new site, and after spending an hour searching, you pass along the login details for your web hosting company. This is a pretty normal beginning to a website project. However, this exciting new project may already be in big trouble!
By necessity, you chose that web hosting service when you originally set up your website. But now that will determine the very tools your web developer uses to build your new site. Problem is, they may not be familiar with these specific tools, which will mean some very real road blocks on the path of your project.
Consider this analogy. You come into the office one day, and turn on your computer. Windows boots up, and you open Outlook and read the new emails that came in overnight. You quickly move on to that important quote due out this morning. You switch to Excel and start crunching numbers. You know all the shortcuts and formulas by heart, so it comes together in no time. Your sales meeting goes beautifully, you land the client, and get a promotion!
Now imagine this. The next day you arrive at your desk ready to tackle that new important prospect your boss has now decided you should manage. And hey, after all the success you had yesterday, you were the clear choice! And guess what? Your boss bought you a shiny new Macintosh computer for all your excellent work. You jump right into your work, but there is a problem. You have no idea where anything is! Simple tasks like reading your email have turned into a real challenge. You struggle all day to get that client presentation ready, but fall short. You lose the client and your boss lets you go.
And that, in an unfortunate parable, is what it’s like for your web developer to be faced with an unknown web hosting company. One system (or service) may be just as good as the other, but that isn’t the point. Your developer now has to struggle through your project, instead of just intuitively knowing where to find things and how they work.
Which brings me to the four reasons why I believe it’s in YOUR best interest to let your web developer select who will be hosting your new website:
1. It will be cheaper
You might be thinking, “cheaper? How can you offer hosting cheaper than $5 per month at GoDaddy?” Well, I’m not suggesting that the web hosting service your developer recommends will be cheaper. In fact, I almost guarantee it will be more expensive. But that is because he or she will be recommending a reliable service that appropriately fits your website needs and their development requirements.
The reason it will be cheaper is because your developer will be able to leverage years of experience in a particular environment (think of the above analogy) along with any previously developed code created and tested in that environment. When you throw a new web hosting server at them, a developer cannot be confident that their own code base will operate properly within it. The developer will likely estimate the project higher to cover these risks. Alternatively, they may choose to work with the unknown web host, on the agreement that any issues arising from it are billed as extras.
Remember, this isn’t about one web hosting company being better than the next. It’s about compatibility between your web developer and the tools they need to do their job. Why let a relatively inexpensive commodity add so much risk and cost to your web project?
2. You will receive a better product
Websites today are a lot more complicated than just the simple HTML documents we view online. There is sophisticated software running in the background doing all the hard work before returning one of these documents to us. This software resides on web hosting servers, and developers use it to make the amazing websites we have today!
However, it’s impossible for a developer to be fluent in every web programming language available to them. It’s equally difficult to find a web server capable of running them all. So what do developers do? They learn the languages that make sense to them, and then find a web server capable of running these languages.
When your web developer is able to work with the software they are an expert in, the end product will undoubtedly be better! They will have an intimate knowledge of the software they are developing with, and will know how to optimize it for your project. Developers who have to “fight” with unfamiliar software tend to hack things until they work, because that’s the most efficient workaround mid-project.
3. Your project will be completed on schedule
A word of caution, web development projects are prone to going over budget and past deadlines. While unintentional, a website redesign can grow into an unstoppable juggernaut without proper planning. Experienced web developers understand this and develop systems to keep projects under control, such as in-depth planning meetings and wireframing exercises.
However, most people don’t realize that their choice of web hosting company may drastically slow down the development process. Time is spent going back and forth with the host to install new software, learn how to access certain services or understand why something isn’t working when it should be. Or worse, a developer may find out that the existing code they planned to use on your project won’t run on that server, and they have to rewrite something entirely anew. Not only does this drive project costs up, it threatens project deadlines.
Working with an unfamiliar web host simply creates too many variables for a developer to truly predict the cost or completion date of a project.
4. It’s more convenient!
Don’t stress yourself out over a technology choice. Rather, use your efforts to research a reputable, experienced web development firm for your project. They will be able to review your site goals and objectives and make software recommendations that make sense for your project.
Still have a few months left in your previous web hosting contract? Don’t feel bad about losing them. Consider this cost in the larger project perspective. It never feels good to “throw” money away, but that’s exactly what you may be doing if you insist on staying with that host.
So, on your next website redesign project, first consult with your web development team before selecting a web hosting service. You’ll both be happy you did.