SmartCause Digital

The One Website Cost Your Organization Can’t Afford to Skimp On

Dec 20, 2016

 

It’s tempting to spend as little as possible on your website’s hosting.

“What could go wrong?”

“Aren’t all hosting companies the same?”

“We really need to save money.”

Your website’s hosting company can save your ass or it can make your life miserable.

Here are just a few horror stories from the clients that I’ve rescued over the years.

The One Website Cost Your Organization Can’t Afford to Skimp On

 

What happens when you choose the cheapest host

(All of the stories below are real nonprofits who came to me in an emergency. If you need help making sure your site is running smoothly, check out my Quarterly Updates service.)

 

Your site gets hacked

A nonprofit that worked with children reached out to me because their site had been hacked. It was showing adult content instead of their usual blog posts and case studies.

What happened?

They were hosting their site on a shared hosting plan. Another site on the same server was hacked, and the hackers used the infected site to gain access to other sites, including this nonprofit’s site.

 

Your site is slow

A nonprofit came to me with a freshly built site that was slow to load.

What happened?

They were hosting their site on a shared hosting plan. Other sites on their same server were pulling most of the resources, leaving their smaller site to struggle along with a small slice of available resources.

 

Your support goes M.I.A.

A nonprofit came to me to fix an outdated site. I needed SSH access, so I contacted their hosting company’s support team via email - the only method available.

What happened?

We waited. And waited. And waited.

I kept working and found another way to fix the problem.

We waited 8 days before hearing back from the “support” team.

 

You’re locked out of your account

A nonprofit in one of my trainings asked me to help them figure out a problem.

The previous communications staff person had left and now the organization had no access to their website.

What happened?

The organization itself had no documentation, and when they tried to reach their hosting company, they either had trouble finding a person to talk to or were unable to “unlock” their account because all the hosting company’s reference information was wrong or outdated.

 

“What could go wrong?”

Almost anything! I’ve seen nonprofits struggle with hacked sites, slow sites and even no site.

 

“Aren’t all hosting companies the same?”

Absolutely not! Some hosting companies are an asset to your team, and some hosting companies turn into another headache to manage.

 

“We really need to save money.”

Consider this: It costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to rescue your site from a hack or to work around server slowness. There’s no cost to improving a bad support team - because it can’t be done.

 

What to look for in a website hosting company

 

1. A high-quality support team

The support team is the most important part of any hosting company. They can be your greatest asset or the biggest pain in your ass.

Look for a company that promises a specific turnaround time for support requests.

Look for a company that gives you multiple options to reach support such as phone, email and chat.

 

2. Virtual private server (VPS)

A virtual private server (VPS) is like having your own compartment within a larger train car.

You get the security of your own space, while benefitting from the economy of scale of the larger server.

VPS is the best option for small and mid-sized nonprofits who want security on a budget.

 

3. Security

A good hosting company will provide you with security features.

For example, a good hosting company requires SFTP connections, rather than plain FTP connections.

And really great hosting companies make it easy for you to secure your site with an SSL certificate. For example, many hosting companies are supporting Let’s Encrypt, which provides free SSL certificates.

 

My Recommendations of Website Hosting Companies to Consider

(Listed from most to least expensive)

 

Namecheap

WHY: I have several clients who are happy with their hosting and domain services. Each time I have to contact support on behalf of a client, I get a timely and helpful response.

PRICING: Starts at $19.95/mo

GET STARTED*: Namecheap

 

WPEngine

WHY: I have a client who is happy with their hosting service. As their website person, I appreciate the easy backup service and staging sites. It’s not a perfect service (they block some of my favorite plugins), but it’s an overall solid mid-range option.

PRICING: Starts at $29/mo

GET STARTED*: WPEngine

 

WiredTree

WHY: I pledge my love for WiredTree as often as possible. They offer fantastic value for the price and I have never experienced a better support team.

PRICING: Starts at $49/mo

GET STARTED*: WiredTree

 

If you like the way I explain tech for non-techies...

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* These are affiliate links. I recommend each of these companies to my clients and students, and would happily do so without an affiliate link. I am also a client of WiredTree.

 

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About the Author

Yesenia SoteloYesenia Sotelo is the founder of SmartCause Digital. She works with nonprofit professionals like you to build you an awesome website & train you on digital skills.

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