Website Technical Considerations
Your website must be technically fit for purpose
Let’s now take a look at the technical sides of things. In many ways this can be the least bothersome of the four areas of concern for business owners. (Click here for the other areas) Website delivery includes a lot of technology and it is vital that all this is handled correctly as short comings will be apparent early on. Unless you are well skilled in this area and have a real liking for the nitty gritty of computers there is no point doing this yourself you simply will not have the time! What you must do however is to ensure that the third party you contract to is up to the job. You will need to know how website issues are dealt with and what happens when the webserver crashes. So, your responsibility here comes down to picking the right person or company for the job. You can also take comfort from the fact that if you do get this wrong you can always transfer the hosting without losing the much more serious investment in time and money you have made in your actual website!
Find out the answers to these questions.
How is the webserver supported when the web designer is not available?
Many smaller companies like my own purchase computer web servers that are monitored and supported 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These servers are very reliable and there is always a crew on hand when things go wrong – as they will! Usually the supporting company will be alerted to faults and deal with them before you become aware of them. In addition, these experts are close to the server technology - usually Apache and a myriad of applications. These experts get informed of security patches and issues and are best placed to keep the server up-to-date, safe and reliable.
Expect to pay about £10 per month for an average size business website and email.
How does the Email work?
When you buy a domain name and have it hosted you can also have email sent to you at that domain name. You can have any number of email addresses and you control if email is forwarded on to any of them or onto your own existing email.
Most of my customers have a least one general company address that is sent on to several other staff. Others prefer to have some emails sent onto personal email addresses like Gmail. Your web provider should be able to explain all the options to you and advise on the best set up for you based on your business needs.
Questions to ask are:
- Is email included in my website hosting fee?
- How many email addresses can I have?
- How do I create new email addresses?
- What are the disk-space limits on email storage?
- Do I get webmail and client email?
- Is the email secured and backed up? How often is this done?
Will my website be secure?
Security covers a range of issues. Chiefly there are two areas to consider, these are your website application and the remote web server. The website application is the responsibility of your web designer and not the hosting company. The security of the live website on the live webserver will mostly be down to the hosting company. They should have the procedures and software to detect if malicious scripts are uploaded to websites and have security against the deliberate attacks attempted against popular well-known sites. Most of them are pretty good at this. Ask your web designer which company provides their hosting and then look at the hosting company’s website and check out some Google reviews. If you are satisfied, then nothing more needs thinking about here. The actual website application though is the responsibility of your designer. They should be able to answer these questions for you:
- What software is being used to make my website?
- How are you made aware of security vulnerabilities?
- How often do you patch security vulnerabilities
- How up-to-date are your backup copies of my website? How many copies are there? Where are they stored?
At Computers-in-Kent the software used to build websites is noted for security. It is used by the US White House and many Government and quasi government organisations in the US and the UK! When security patches are released then all website maintainers are told. These notices are sent by email and are also visible to any administrator visiting the website. I endeavour to install security patches within a few hours of being notified. There is an admin reporting screen on the website where myself and the website owner can at any time see the status of the software and any outstanding updates, be they for security reasons or otherwise. You will always know the status of your software.
Backup copies should be a regular automatic feature of any regular web-hosting. These will normally be taken daily.
How much does it cost?
Expect to pay £10 per month for the facilities above. For a new website it is at best a guess how much storage space and bandwidth you will need so after the first year in excessive cases you may need to buy more storage. As an example, an average business website and email will take up about 200MB. For the facilities above with 20,000MB (20GB) expect to pay about £15pm.
That is about all you need to know about the technicalities at this stage, so in a nutshell your responsibility as a business owner is to check your website designer uses trusted software and hosts the website on a trusted platform with professional support.
Oh, one final thought ….. all these services – hosting – email etc have user credentials and passwords. Make sure you are given a copy of the access URLs, usernames and passwords needed to:
- Manage the domain name
- Manage the web hosting
- Manage the email
Even though you may never intend to do these things yourself, you will need these details to give the job easily to someone else to do!