Keeping Your Website in MINT Condition
In today’s digital era a successful business requires a website. But what you may not know – or realise, is that eye-catching graphics, incredible content, and even well-researched user friendliness isn’t quite enough to set your website in the “perfect” category. To achieve this optimal level of quality and give your business the just-as-important back-end boost it needs to set it apart and give your business its absolute best chance of online success, you also need to take into consideration who is hosting your website and how (and how often!) it receives maintenance attention.
The Importance of Finding the Right Hosting Provider
Your website cannot be seen online without a hosting provider, so if you have a website, you also have a web hosting provider. But beware: not all providers are created equally! And just as importantly, whether you have a freshly-designed website and are on the hunt for a hosting provider for the first time or whether you have been online for some time but are considering a switch to another, choosing the right hosting provider for your -and your business’, needs is a critical aspect to building the online presence you’re striving for, no matter your business or your industry.
So how do you choose the best hosting provider for you? Consider the following: Does your current hosting package provide sufficient bandwidth for website traffic and emails? Does it include an SSL certificate? Are you happy with how you’re treated by customer service? Is your site backed up on a regular basis? If you answered “no” (or even “I’m not sure”) to even just one of these questions, it’s time to start thinking about finding a different provider. Why? Let’s look at each individually:
• Bandwidth: There are two main reasons why having the correct (read: sufficient) amount of bandwidth for your website is critical to its success. The first is that bandwidth determines how quickly your website responds to customer interaction. If a picture, graphic, page, contact form, or literally any other element on your website is slow to load, the chances that your customer will go elsewhere are monumental. Even a few seconds wait is a long time by today’s instant gratification standards! Obviously then, the higher the bandwidth, the better the hosting provider, right? Wrong. While you can’t go wrong with extra bandwidth and having too much is definitely preferred to having too little, hosting packages can vary greatly in terms of price based solely on bandwidth allocation. A great hosting provider will help you determine the correct amount of bandwidth your site needs and provide a hosting package to suit, thereby keeping your website running in optimal condition without overcharging you for something you don’t need.
• SSL Certificates: Including an SSL (or Secure Sockets Layer) to your website is necessary as it adds a much-needed layer of data protection that protects any information your customers input into your website (including names and email addresses, passwords, credit card or banking information and more) from external sources. If your website doesn’t assure your visitors that their data is protected by including and displaying an SSL certificate, your site will lose credibility and your brand and your bottom line will suffer.
• Customer Service: Your hosting provider is offering you a service and as such, should be easy to contact, helpful and friendly when you have questions, concerns or requests. If they aren’t, it’s time to consider another and save yourself the time and hassle of working with someone you don’t mesh well with.
• Back-ups: Any hosting provider worth having will back up your website information, but how often is an essential question to consider. Regular and automatic backups are extremely important so that you don’t lose all the hard work you regularly put into having a fantastic website, as are off-schedule backups whenever you request them, especially after making changes to your website as part of it’s regular maintenance or content or creative updates.
The Importance of Website Maintenance
Even the best websites need to be updated on a regular basis to meet the changing needs of customers. Sure, design, content, product inventory, business information etc are all updates that need to be done to the front end, but just as important are back end updates, including off-site backups, WordPress core updates, theme and plug-in updates, PHP updates, security scans and performance scans. Keeping on top of all these keeps your website up-to-date, relevant and optimised, all of which are critical aspects to your site’s (and your business’s) long-term success. Consider the following:
• Off-site backups: Making sure your website is frequently updated to a cloud server means that should disaster strike and you lose your website due to natural disaster, a cyber attack, server failure, hardware failure, or human error, you can quickly and easily get it back up and running again, saving you valuable time and energy from re-creating it as well as keeping impatient customers and potential customers from going elsewhere in the meantime.
• Core updates: If your site is a WordPress site, regular core updates can mean the difference between having a website and having a working website, as core updates repair bugs and fix issues that you may not have been aware of. They also improve overall performance and add features that improve and enhance your site in general, so staying on top of them and updating your site accordingly is an important part of your website maintenance and should be done a regular basis.
• Plug-in updates: Improved code, including security updates, mean that plug-ins are constantly changing and although the ones on your website may (or may not) work, there may be better ones available which can improve usability, safety and more. Knowing when and how to update plug-ins, then, should hold an important position in your on-going website maintenance.
• PHP updates: This programming language, like core updates and plug-ins, is a constantly evolving technology and having an out-dated version can affect not only the aesthetics of your website but, perhaps more importantly, can affect its security, as once a PHP version becomes too out-dated (known as reaching its “end of life”), that version will no longer receive any security fixes, which can have severe negative impacts on your website.
• Security & Performance scans: Regularly and frequently scanning the back end of your website for potential security and performance updates and/or enhancements takes a proactive stance in having a beautiful, well-performing website that increases your business image, branding and reliability which are all directly tied to your financial success.
Website maintenance is a critical aspect of a successful business strategy, but many businesses may lack the time, skill, or resources to maintain their website to the high standards today’s online business world demands. If this sounds familiar, it’s important – but also easy, to outsource your website maintenance to a professional company that can not only keep up with all the changes and updates you require, but stay up-to-date on industry news and advise you of recommendations to build a better website and more successful company. It is an investment well worth making!
Benefits of a Local Provider
When choosing a web hosting and maintenance provider, finding a local service is usually more beneficial. With a local provider, website load times are generally faster (less travel time for your website information!), customer service is better (who doesn’t benefit from local knowledge and the ability to speak with someone at a time and place convenient for you and your business?), and even your SEO can be improved significantly as Google’s rankings will take into consideration your IP address to link local customers with local businesses.
At MINT, we are proud to be a part of the Gibraltar community to provide amazing marketing solutions including quality, reliable and respectable domain registration, hosting and web maintenance packages that meet the needs of any business and any budget, local or otherwise. Contact us today to find out how we can keep your website in MINT condition!