Everyone has their favorite amenities when they travel. Free parking. Fitness equipment. Pet-friendly. (My favorite hotel offered a fish. You picked up your fish, in its bowl, at check in.)
In our earlier post, we talked about the cost of a good web host. Now we’ll look closer at the amenities.
Some of the features to compare are fairly obvious:
- Speed (often dictated by having shared or dedicated resources)
- Limits on number of visitors
- Site backups
- Level of access to customer service
Other features are a little harder to identify and understand. Here is our list of highly valuable features to ask your prospective web host about.
- Pre-configured lower environments – Lower environments are copies of your site that provide a place to build (“dev environment”) and test (“staging environment”) any maintenance or enhancements before they go live (“prod environment”). The best hosts have lower environments fully baked into their platform. Otherwise you are left paying developers to create these sites, and usually in a moment of urgency like a site crash.
- Integrated version control – Keeping track of code changes is critical. But not all hosts come with an out-of-the-box code repository (e.g. Git). If they don’t, you’ll be paying for one to be created and maintained on the side.
- Code deployment functionality – Once code changes to your website have been built and tested, you need to deploy them. A robust hosting platform makes this simple, with easy options to either auto-deploy code using Git or full environment cloning. Without these features, any maintenance or enhancements to your site will require more developer time. The risk of deployment mistakes also increases considerably.
Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware)
There are many hosts offering lower prices without these features. But choosing to forego these features runs the risk of paying for them later in the form of downtime and unexpected IT labor costs. Even more frustrating is that some hosts imply that they offer these features, but they turn out to be less than robust.
So pay attention to those amenities. Don’t be hasty. Ask questions. Stay savvy. And if you need help, drop us a line.