People these days have become very spoiled – and why wouldn’t they be, when they have all the newest gadgets and the vast unexplored pastures of the Internet to roam freely on. They quickly get bored with the old – they want new, shiny, funny, informative and colorful things on a regular basis. They need to get their fix of online magic, and they need it now. This puts companies, bloggers and entrepreneurs in a bit of an awkward position; one where they constantly need to provide material, make changes and outdo the competition to stay afloat. Web designers in particular have to work with an increasingly demanding market and with the technology that is improving on a monthly basis.
Take a random cool WordPress website for example; what you will find is sliders – a myriad of cool looking effects, high-resolution images, video material, big galleries, creative page layouts, parallax scrolling and all the impressive little design features you can think of. Many premium WP themes, even the more subdued ones, will be creative and offer aesthetically pleasing features. High-res images and HD video are becoming the bread and butter of many big blogs. Infographics, flash animation and interactive features are what people expect, lest their attention be diverted elsewhere.
Well, building bigger and flashier websites requires more than just creativity and know-how – you will need a place to put your beautiful creation, so to speak.
When mediocre hosting just won’t do
Hosting a big, functional and flashy website will require a lot of bandwidth. This is a very important thing to note for several reasons:
Going over the preset bandwidth limit will cost you extra
Some companies will simply pull the plug on your website if you exceed the limit
A good company will offer a scalable plan
Another thing to consider is whether the website will be compatible with PHP, a basis upon which WordPress and Joomla are built upon, if you are one of the many people who use these CMS platforms. The next thing to look at is uptime. A run-of-the-mill, cheap web hosting service will not provide any guaranties as to its supposed uptime, and might not even be very secure, allowing for many problems to slip through the cracks. Loading speed is yet another important factor, as it will dictate whether the visitors stick around and actually get to see all the cool features or get tired of waiting and leave. A useful feature offered by good companies is the customer support, a variety of hosting options and plans, be it VPS or dedicated servers, as well as additional services like monitoring, maintenance, backups, etc.
Couldn’t I just stick with a simple design and save money on hosting?
Well, you could – you could even go with free hosting – but this severely limits what you can do design-wise, which can hinder functionality and force you to keep things very simple. Although I strongly disagree with the technophobes that “want to keep things simple, the way it used to be, the way we are used to”, I will say that some people actually go a little overboard with animations, effects and similar things, and add too many features to their websites. The resulting mess is hard to navigate and confusing. That being said, we can’t let a few hideous examples scare us away from moving forward. A well-designed website will attract the viewer’s attention straight away and allow them to navigate through different pages with ease. Those flashy sliders? A great way to see the most important elements, get some basic info and start navigating towards whatever a particular viewer needs. Large media galleries with various cool effects? A perfect way to exhibit one’s work and make the viewing experience more enjoyable. A truly great website will be the perfect combination of shiny aesthetic features, functionality and tons of information – such a professional website will require an appropriately professional host in order to keep things running at the optimal level and minimize the chance of mishaps occurring.
To sum up, this is a time of brave, creative and ingenious minds coming together and blurring out the line between art and utility, and all of this using an exciting virtual medium. The last thing you want is to limit your potential to both showcase what you have and to attract an audience, because of something so trivial as a poor choice of web hosts.