We have all been hearing hype about online business--proponents declare that it's way of future; detractors claim that it will never replace brick-and-mortar business...which is reality?
The truth falls somewhere in middle: Online business will never replace brick-and-mortar, but an online presence will be integral to business model of any successful business. Already, e-commerce revenues are in billions, and experiencing exponential growth. Any business that wishes to be competitive in this new marketplace--including your business--cannot ignore power of e-commerce.
Many of you have taken that first step in putting your business online: You have done your research, identified your brand, and chosen and registered a domain name that speaks to your brand. That was easy part. If you haven't yet registered your domain name, don't fret! You can easily do it at:
After domain registration, what follows next may be one of most important decisions you make for your e-business...finding right hosting company. This is as important to quality of your business as finding right partner, and many people--even experienced webmasters-- find experience daunting. I would like to share my hosting experience with you-perhaps it will make your decision-making process a little easier.
Reliability. Hosting isn't glamorous, but as you know, it is backbone of your web-based business. That is why I refer to it as "silent partner." A good hosting company is dependable, with a steady "up-time" track record. After all, what good is a web site if it's down? A good hosting company should operate like electric company--every day you wake up, it's there, working. However, even most reliable companies need to periodically take system down for maintenance. Your hosting company should inform its customers in advance, and perform that maintenance at off-peak hours--so as not to unduly burden your web business.
The next things to look for I call "Four S's:" Service, Software, Support, and Space.
An extremely important (and often overlooked) factor is Service. Unfortunately, many hosting companies end their relationship with you moment server sale is made. This leaves unanswered crucial question, "Okay, I've got a server--now what?" This is critical when you consider that some companies are so controlling that web masters are discouraged from customizing and/or managing sites for their clients! Other hosting companies give you space on a server, but nothing more--you have to configure server and set up all back-end functionality manually!
As you have probably done this before, I don't need to tell you what a time-consuming and laborious task this is. My best service experience has been with Virtualis. So much so that I've spent last 2 years with them! If you have questions, they are on-call 24/7 to answer them--they even have discussion boards where fellow customers can offer advice and helpful tips. Good service means providing a community of resources throughout life of your e-business.
In addition to Service, ideal hosting solution also provides easy-to-use web management tools. This is third "S:" Software. Although many companies offer some of these features, my choice for hosting company with best overall tool suite is Virtualis. They offer tools that are easy enough for a novice to quickly understand, and customizable enough for a web master to optimize. In my experience, one of incredibly useful tools is Virtualis Email Manager.