In the following section, we will provide additional details about the last three tiers and criteria: Support, Features and Pricing. 24/7/365 support is important when you have managed services (or even unmanaged in some cases) included with your package. You want to have access to the technical support team when you need it (for example when a server is unreachable, etc). If you live in a different timezone region than the support team, the 24/7/365 support coverage will become more than important for you. The quality of support is another aspect to be taken into consideration to ensure that your issues are handled by a professional team within a reasonable amount of time. You can learn more about the technical support team of your provider by asking questions, visiting their website and reviewing the service-level agreement (SLA). Usually providers have different tiers of support to guarantee an efficient and fast resolution of the technical support requests and issues.
As described in the previous article, “The Web Hosting Pyramid of Needs™” can be used by customers in order to help them choose the right web hosting partner who will be able to provide the perfect offers that fit their needs within their budget in the location of their choice. At the same time, it is used as an audit checklist for web hosting providers to help them implement the required improvements (tools, processes and people).
The Web Hosting Pyramid of Needs™ is a five-tier model combining thirty-five (35) evaluation criteria. Every person and business has specific needs and their focus depends on the importance of every need to them. When a deficit need is more or less satisfied it will go away, and we start focusing on meeting the next set of needs that we have yet to satisfy. The five levels are as follow:
- Availability: This represents the most critical and important aspect. No one wants to have a web hosting service (shared, VPS, dedicated, colocation, cloud, SaaS, etc) which is poorly designed and maintained, frequently down, not stable, not reliable, not secure, etc,
- Security & Trust: Once the first tier needs are satisfied, security and trust represent some of the very important aspects. People and businesses want to ensure that the web hosting provider is a trusted professional entity to ensure the security of their valuable data, personal and non personal information, payment information, etc,
- Support: This represents an important aspect, not only for fully managed services. Web Hosting providers have to ensure they are providing a quality support/customer services for their customers. This includes self-support via a Knowledge base and other tools, human support via phone, ticket or chat, etc.
- Features: These are specific requirements to each customer. They include the different service offerings (shared, VPS, dedicated, colocation, domain names, SSL, etc), multi-location availability when needed, integration tools and options (API, etc), any freebies (free services, upgrades and features), the services’ technical specs (storage, memory, CPU power, account limitations for shared hosting, etc), etc.
- Pricing: Getting excellent services with affordable/good pricing is the ideal scenario for customers. But for most people and businesses this is not very critical compared to previously listed needs (Even for those looking for free services). Everyone wants to get better for less whenever possible. We do consider monthly fees, initial setup fees and any other hidden or known fees in the evaluation criteria.
In the following section, we will provide additional details about the last three tiers:
- 24/7/365 Support: This is important when you have managed services included with your package. You want to have access to the technical support team when you need it (server is unreachable, etc). If you live in a different timezone region than the support team, the 24/7/365 support coverage will become more than important for you. The quality of support is another aspect to be taken into consideration to ensure that your issues are handled by a professional team within a reasonable amount of time. You can learn more about the technical support team of your provider by asking questions, visiting their website and reviewing the service-level agreement (SLA). Usually providers have different tiers of support to guarantee an efficient and fast resolution of the technical support requests and issues.
- Ticket Support: The ability to communicate with the support team using email (usually via the provider’s panel). Checking the response times of the support team is important, especially for urgent tickets when you need a faster response.
- Chat Support: Some providers offer chat support. This is a great differentiator to get quick answers for your technical or non-technical questions when needed.
- Phone Support: Not all the providers offer phone support, because troubleshooting complex technical issues via the phone is not effective. Phone support is a good option when other channels are not available or if you need to talk to a manager or the non-technical teams.
- Multilingual Support: Nowadays, physical distance does not matter. With globalization, customers and providers can be from everywhere in the world. Having access to a multilingual support team makes everyone’s life easier. An English speaking support agent cannot be efficient in handling a Spanish speaking customer. Online translation may work, but creates more troubles and frustrations for both sides. So, ensure that the provider’s team members speak, understand and can communicate in your language.
- Self-Service: Most providers have self-service sections in their portals to allow customers perform some tasks (reinstall a server, renew, cancel, install, uninstall, etc). This is very useful to avoid wasting time on tasks you can do by yourself. For providers, this helps them increase their operational efficiency and stay competitive.
- Knowledge Base: A set of technical and non-technical articles (how-tos, video and text-based tutorial, etc) where you can easily find answers to some types of questions. Many providers have rich knowledge base systems with frequently updated and newly added articles. Having access to a multilingual knowledge base makes customers lives easier and helps reduce support workload. Some providers translate their knowledge base content into different languages to make their lives and those of their customers easier.
- Multi-Service Offerings: For a long term relationship and in order to be able to expand smoothly when needed, choosing a provider who does offer different types of services (shared hosting, cloud, VPS, dedicated, Colocation, etc) may be a good idea to be taken into consideration from the beginning. Another approach is to select multiple specialized providers to reduce the dependency level and ensure service continuity as part of your disaster recovery and redundancy plans. Each alternative has its own pros and cons. Evaluate them and identify the right approach that fits your business needs.
- Multi-Location: Some providers have their service offerings in different locations (countries and states). This allows you to build a robust infrastructure and implement an effective disaster recovery strategies when needed. Services pricing usually vary from location to another, this makes your choices easier to meet your budget, performance and architecture design requirements.
- Specifications (Specs): These are the technical specifications of the services. For dedicated servers, they include CPU model and manufacturer, RAM capacity, number of hard drives, their types and capacity, RAID configuration, number of IPv4 addresses, IPv6 addresses, monthly bandwidth and more. For shared hosting packages, they include the number of allowed domains, monthly bandwidth, number of email accounts, number of databases, number of FTP accounts, storage space, etc. For VPS servers, specs include the number of CPU cores, RAM capacity, hard drive type and capacity, number of IPv4 addresses, IPv6 addresses, monthly bandwidth, physical server specs and more.
- Integration Tools: Some providers (especially cloud, dedicated server providers, etc) provide a set of tools to allow an easy integration with your external applications and products via API or other ways. This is important if your IT team wants to automate your internal processes (deploy, create, reinstall, start, stop, etc) or other types of tasks.
- Freebies: This includes any freebies given for free by the provider when your subscribe to their services. This may be one or multiple options: free SSL certificate, free domain name, free upgrades, partners’ discounts or free services, free service for a period of time, etc.
- Monthly Fees: This represents the monthly fee charged for the service. Check if the communicated price includes taxes or not. Some providers attract customers by displaying the monthly price to be paid if a long term contract is chosen. In other cases, a very attractive special discounted price for the first month is displayed as the monthly price. In this case, providers usually charge a higher price for subsequent months. So be careful and check the pricing details before placing your order. In order to provide better services with competitive pricing, providers invest on automation, self-service when possible, continuous improvements and increasing operational efficiency. In the web hosting industry in general, customer acquisition costs a lot of money. Providers offer very attractive discounts for long term contracts. As an advice, try to avoid any long term contact especially if you are a new customer and you are not sure if the provider/offer will perfectly fit your needs.
- *Setup Fees: Many providers charge an initial one-time setup fee for some or all of their services. Double-check your order before confirmation, because sometimes the setup fee is not displayed in the main pricing page but added at the check-out step.
- Money-back Guarantee: Some providers have a money-back guarantee period, where you will get a refund if you are not satisfied with the product and services. You have to carefully read their terms and conditions to understand the duration, amount to be refunded and any limitations related to this program to avoid any bad surprises.
- Free Trials: Some providers have the option to let you try their services for free during a period of time. This is a great opportunity for you to see if the service really fits your needs from different angles (support, performance, uptime, availability, security, capacity, limitations, etc).
As you can see, there are many aspects to be taken into consideration in order to select the best provider who will be able to offer your the right services that fit your needs within your budget in the location of your choice.
You have to take the time to evaluate, identify and understand your needs first. This will make your selection process easier. You can read more about these 7 Tips For Small Businesses to Optimize Their Web Hosting Expenses
The Web Hosting Pyramid of Needs™ is used as part of our new WebHostingTrustIndex (WHTrustIndex™) which will be gradually integrated to our Servers Comparison Engine https://wh.perfectdeals.today.
This is the first version of the Web Hosting Pyramid of Needs™, additional improvements may be added in the future. We believe that web hosting customers’ and providers’ lives can be simplified. Let’s change the status quo together!
WebHostingSaver.com (Formerly WH.PerfectDeals.Today) is a FREE Meta-Search and Comparison Engine built by CITWeb.ca. Comparing Thousands of Web Hosting offers usually takes hours or even days. With this new Easy-to-use solution Web Hosting Meta-Search and Comparison Engine, the same task can be performed instantly. It helps professionals and businesses save time & money, get better for less. Offers comparison is based on aggregated reviews (200.000+ reviews), technical specs, location, pricing and more! WebHostingSaver.com is the ONE-STOP solution that helps IT professionals and businesses find the perfect & cheapest Web Hosting Offers that fit their needs within their budget.
Your can read more here WebHostingSaver.com