Fresh Off The Boat

Which Comes First, Web Hosting Or Web Design?

Choosing your web hosting plan can make or break your online business.  It requires some level of technical knowledge and for most people, is too important a decision to be made on their own.  To be truly successful online, you should begin your search with a web designer and establish a relationship with that person.  They will then guide you in finding the best web hosting service to fit your needs. 

How well your website performs is strongly dependent upon your web hosting plan.  The hosting plan you choose directly effects the experience your prospective customers will have on your site.  When shopping for business web hosting, people often make the mistake of looking for the cheapest plan they can find. The problem with this approach is that you are not just paying for hosting, you are paying for bandwidth, which directly effects how fast your web page will load.  If your page loads too slowly your prospective customer will never see your site, but bandwidth is not the only factor that effects page load time.  Other factors include:

The number of people connecting to your site at the same time.

The type of content you have on your site (the number of images, flash, video, audio, CMS).

How well your website is coded.

Back up and restore capabilities

Pre-loaded open source software

Security features

Of the six factors listed above, #3 is the primary offender for page load delays. Poorly coded websites are most often the result of machine-generated code, from do-it-yourself website builder applications.

There are many choices for web hosting companies and many different types of web hosting services.  Knowing what web hosting you will need for your website before it even exists is difficult, if not impossible.  That is why you will need to begin with an experienced web designer.  That person will be able to build a custom website for you and will know what type of hosting will be necessary to accommodate your site.  When you hire a web designer, he or she will begin with gathering requirements from you in which you will discuss all the features and content you would like to have on your site.  Your designer will then choose a web hosting service that can handle all the requirements of the site that they are going to build for you. 

Another reason to begin with choosing a website designer or developer first, is that they will design your site based on the idea that they will provide the hosting and that there will be an ongoing relationship. Business web hosting often includes the hosting as well as some type of website support contract so that you will have someone you can go back to on a consistent basis.  You will get personal one-on-one attention and ongoing support from someone you have a history with, and who thoroughly knows your website and your business model.

If you begin with choosing your hosting plan first, then look for a designer, you set yourself up for several problems.  First of all most web designers will not take a job building a website that could potentially be more than the hosting plan can handle.  Secondly, many hosting services have different shareware applications that come with the hosting.  You could have trouble finding a developer who is familiar with the shareware that comes with your hosting plan. 

Another problem with choosing the hosting plan first is that a hosting company is concerned only with selling the hosting and nothing more.  If you encounter any problems outside of hosting, the hosting company will not be able to help you.  You will be essentially orphaning yourself before the project has even begun.  Most web designers and developers offer their clients web hosting as well as maintenance contracts, but if you choose the hosting company first, then the person who builds the site for you does not have an ongoing relationship with you.  Since there is no contract tying you to them, they have no vested interest is making your website successful.

Choosing a web hosting service for your website can be a complicated but very important decision.  You will have the greatest chance for success with your website, if you begin by choosing a web designer or developer first and then have a hosting and maintenance contract with that person.  That will ensure that your hosting plan will be appropriate for your website and that you will always have a website professional available when you need them.