Beware of unethical web hosts, designers and developers!
Having been in the internet development business for over 20 years, we have run across many so called web designers/developers that make claims that are over exaggerated, who don’t follow through, who use technical jargon that confuses the customer and in many cases, do not do business ethically. These individuals/companies are what make people leery of all web developers. And that’s understandable – they can cause major headaches and even get your business sued and/or your website shut down by their actions or lack of ethics.
When it comes to choosing a company to design, program or host your website, there are certain things you should look for. As you continue your search for the right company to work with, here are a few things to keep in mind:
When choosing a web host, take into consideration the amount of time they have been serving their customers. Ask for references! If they cannot provide at least 10 references, there’s a reason for it. Most web hosting companies are actually just reselling space on a larger company’s server and have no root access to it. These larger companies provide those smaller hosting companies with 24/7 support, but sometimes it takes time for them to answer trouble tickets due to the extensive number of clients they handle. Does the company you are looking at have the knowledge and access to do their own trouble shooting while waiting for the larger company to respond? Most hosting companies are working with a 99.9% uptime, but it’s that 1% you need to worry about. Machines fail, get hacked, update software that might cause conflicts, etc. We lease our servers and have full access to troubleshoot and fix most minor problems that may occur. Does YOUR web hosting company know how to go in and fix such things? We have been hosting sites locally as well as nationally for years, but are still just a phone call away in order to provide top quality local support when YOU need it.
When you are purchasing hosting for a single website, you are sharing a server with many other sites. Some of the larger companies host websites which are subject to IP banning, multi-level and internet marketing company affiliates frequently get caught for spamming. If you are on the same machine as one of these sites, you could soon find your emails are not reaching their destination due to being marked as spam. SoftLayer, formerly known as “The Planet” is just one of the backbone companies you need to watch out for, as they are popular with these types of websites. This isn't just our opinion. Volumes have been written. Do the research! Is it worth the risk to save an extra $1.00 a month? Bigger is NOT always better.
Another consideration should be the location of the datacenter used to store and display your site. Where do your host provider's servers physically exist? There are a number of datacenters on the web. Nearly all provide support to the hosting company that has leased or purchased servers housed at the datacenter facility. But... what will happen in the event of a disaster in the area they are physically located at? How long will your site be off line? Mirage Net's servers are physically located in one of the top datacenters in the country, in a qualified disaster safe zone ensuring the most protection possible.
The MYTH about unlimited server space. We could say volumes here, but to make it short and sweet, servers have limited space that's shared between many websites. Anyone offering unlimited space and bandwith is banking on the fact that your website will not have excess visitors, will not store many audio, video and graphic files, etc. Be sure about what you are getting before you fall into that trap. Don't take our word for it - there are many resources out there that can explain this.
Design & Layout
When looking for a designer/developer, once again – check references!! If they cannot provide references, they are either new to the business or have something to hide.
Will your design be original to your business, or will they use easily available templates that will have your business looking like several other websites, and perhaps even your competitors? There are open source solutions for ecommerce, forums, etc. that can save you money, but will your designer be able to integrate them seamlessly into your website design? Your business is unique and should have a custom design, otherwise what are you paying for? When using pre-existing "themes" such as those used with WordPress... a GOOD designer should have the technical know-how to access and modify the code in order to make your site fit your business needs.
Also be careful of the ethics of your designer. If your designer uses graphics taken off the web without permission it could cost you dearly. Copyright infringement is a serious matter, and could result in your website being shut down, or even a high dollar lawsuit. Make sure your designer is using original graphics and photos!
Programming/Building Your Site
Watch out for the “one-trick” pony. If your developer insists on using a specific web development platform like WiX.com, or pre-built "templates", it’s most likely because they don’t have experience with the actual programming of a website. While this is not always a bad thing, and might suffice for some businesses, one “size” does not fit all, and it may be that your business would be better served with custom programmed pages. One issue with using some of these softwares is the limitations. Wouldn't you rather have the flexibility of making your site work the way YOU want it to? Adding features later not be done easily. In the long run, you’d pay more at some point to revise your site to handle your business the most profitable way.
Another caution in this area about copyright infringement. There are “open source” scripts out there that are free to use without fear of any problems, such as forums, ecommerce software, etc. However, taking a website’s code to implement features you may want is infringement unless specific permission is received in writing. If your developer cannot write his/her own code, you’ll either have to work around what they can find in “open source” or open yourself up to problems with infringement in the future.
In closing, ask questions, check references, and make an informed decision. Taking a few minutes before deciding who to work with could save you many dollars in the future. And, remember this: If they're comfortable with intentional misrepresention and/or "stealing" from other developers... they'll have no problem at all with ripping you off too!
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