The official week to celebrate love is upon us. Stores flooded in red stand ready to offload cards and gifts to the celebrants and reluctant observers of Valentine’s Day. As we go about our work designing web applications, writing proposals, and meeting with clients, we started thinking about things that don’t get much love, like pleats, white bread, analog watches, and, well, hosting. Building a website requires a lot of time and resources, and most people don’t want to be tasked with making yet another decision, especially about something that they don’t fully understand. In the spirit of the week, we want to explain why hosting deserves more love and why it’s important to find that one special hosting provider.

The strategy behind a web project is taken into consideration during each step in the design and development processes. The frameworks, methodologies, tools, and designs are chosen for how well they will enable a good user experience and how easily the website can be maintained by the staff. It’s also necessary to give serious consideration to where the website is going to be hosted. The importance of choosing the right hosting provider cannot be overstated, and it is a decision that should have a good amount of research attached to it. As New Target’s CEO and President Brian Newsome sees it, “Some people see hosting as a commoditized service and rely on hacks or inexperienced firms to set up an environment, which incidentally, no one then manages. These and other bad behaviors impact performance and cost folks more in the long run from websites that perform poorly. Hosting is not an infomercial rotisserie oven; nothing is “set-it-and-forget-it in our business.” In honor of what this week stands for, we want to help you find the ultimate hosting provider. Here’s a checklist of qualities to help you know when you’ve found “the one.”

It keeps you secure: Keeping your website secure is a shared responsibility between you and your hosting provider. While you will need to maintain security on your website with things like plugin selection, permission/password management, and site certification, your hosting provider should be running robust firewalls, utilizing malware programs, and managing access. On the physical side, a good hosting provider will deliver multi-level physical security including video surveillance, biometric hand scanners for access, and uninterruptible power supply systems and emergency back-up diesel generators to power your site during a blackout.

It’s there for you: Website downtime can wreak all sorts of havoc. Choosing a high availability hosting solution means that each piece of interconnected hardware and software works independently so that a single component will not take down your website. High availability also gives you better flexibility which means your website will be able to compensate for events like high traffic surges. Another thing to consider is a carrier-neutral model. This means that different vendors are providing hardware and software within the data center which ultimately gives you the best performance possible.  

It’s excellent at maintaining the relationship: Once you’ve selected a provider, it shouldn’t be a set-it-and-forget-it agreement. Servers should be maintained to the highest industry standards, and patches should be applied where applicable. And, these upgrades should be performed on off-hours and within clearly defined schedules. Some providers, including New Target, offer custom maintenance schedules.    

It always backs you up: There are a few scenarios that might necessitate the need to access a backed-up version of your website. In this case, you’ll want a version with the most recent changes/updates, and you’ll need it fast. Make sure that your provider makes daily backups and retains them for a week or two. Having a monthly back-up schedule for redundancy is also a good idea and considered a best practice. 

It will support you 24/7, 365: Hosting issues can arise at any time, that’s why it’s important to select a provider that is proactive and guarantees a high level of uninterrupted support. Look for a company that provides 24/7 service and offers guaranteed response times.

We hope that your search for the perfect hosting provider leads you to a reliable, long-term partner. And, if you’re still looking or need some advice, simply fill out our form to contact us! New Target provides a range of hosting services for clients with whom we’ve developed web applications. For us, hosting is an extension of development, and we are committed to an integrated experience. Our development and hosting teams work together throughout the process which provides many advantages in terms of dependency resolution, performance optimization, and security management.  

With offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, Ca., New Target provides digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, web development, branding, website hosting, and creative services for prominent nonprofits, companies, and government.