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First Webs, Inc.

Rockford; Chicago; the World


Hosting Your Web Site

You've done your research into web design firms.  You're ready to arrange meetings with several web designers, but you're not sure about web hosting.  What is web hosting, and what packages does it come in?

Web hosting is the computer where your web site is stored.  When people go to Internet Explorer or Firefox and type, the browser connects those people to your web site where it is stored so that they can now view the pages.

Most small business hosting is "shared hosting" - meaning the disk space is shared with other businesses.  The opposite of shared hosting is "dedicated hosting" - meaning that your business would have your very own computer to run just your very own web site.  Dedicated hosting is a lot more expensive than shared hosting.

Today there are so many good web hosting companies that it usually is pretty pointless to consider having your own dedicated hosting in-house hosting.  There are also many web hosting companies that are "cheap" and don't offer the services you'll likely need for a professional business web site.  Here is a list of services that a good web hosting company offers:  

• First-rate phone support and 24x7 customer service.
• Track record of providing reliable service.
• Resources available for server needs (PHP/MySQL/etc...)
• Very low amount of downtime over a long time span.
• Availability of unique IP addresses.
• Packages that fit the budget for the project.
• Secure Server (SSL) encrypted website protection.
• Serious junk mail Filtering and virus protection at the server level.
• Personalized control of your plan through an account center.
• Access to detailed web stat analyzer tools on your site traffic.

Many hosting companies offer plans online that include all of the above characteristics.

Web Designer and Hosting Interface

If your putting up your own site (i.e. not using a web designer) you can get hosting at reduced costs.  But don't go totally cheap.  Cheap hosting won't provide the reliable service, security, and support that you will inevitably need.  Also, remember that you are the main contact person to the customer service support team at your host.  You'll have to understand the talk and know how to ask for what you want set up.

Using the services of a good web designer is well worth the incremental cost.  Knowledgeable web designers provide a level of customer service between your business and the hosting company.  Typical services a web designer provides within your web design package are:

  • Estimating your bandwidth needs (i.e. how bytes will your business need).  Most good hosting firms offer levels of bandwidth.  Your web designer will know how to pick the right one for your business based on what your web pages are set up to do.
  • Establishing your disk space needs.  Most hosts today have generous disk space that few small business put to the test.
  • Set up your traffic statistics so you'll get a report on who is visiting your site, what search engine they came from, what keywords were used to find you, and how your traffic is distributed by day, month, even by hour.  If you're selling online, you'll want to know those details.
  • Setting up your email accounts.
  • Setting up your email forwarding to Outlook or Thunderbird, or other client.
  • Setting up databases if you need them.
  • Setting up your CGI BIN and CHMOD privileges (if you're using Unix and/or forms processing).
  • Setting up other domains you may need.
  • Setting up redirects when you change page names and still want people to find the changed page under the old name.
  • Other services; the list goes on.

Clearly a knowledgeable web designer can provide a level of services with your hosting company that you would most likely not have time to learn and implement.

First Webs, Inc. works closely with a number of hosting companies to provide reliable service with 99.9% uptime.  Hosting needs are determined in the design proposal phase of your web site program.  Monthly maintenance and management fees are dependent on your required level of service.  First Webs, Inc. serves the Rockford and Chicago area locally, but may employ hosting service providers nationwide.

129 So. Phelps Ave., Ste 908

Rockford, IL 61108


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