What can happen when you ask your web host support to “fix” your website?
Surprisingly often, I receive emails with requests that start with “I asked my host to help with my website”, followed by something like “and now my website is down and they won’t help”, or “it crashed and they don’t have a backup” or just the other day “GoDaddy messed up our site moving it to different server. Now they refuse to fix it, saying they didn’t change anything”.
People contact me in a panic because the site is down and they don’t know what to do.
Your web hosting company provides services to host your website and manage the web server your website code resides on, not provide website management services.
What is the role of a web host?
A Web host provides space (an account) for you to put your website code on their computers called web servers. These computers are connected to the Internet so globally anyone can see your website when they type in your domain name. You rent server space from them, and they manage the web server for you. Compare a web host to an apartment landlord. You rent from them, and they maintain the building for you. If you have a problem with the building, say a leaky pipe, you contact them to get support.
Their primary focus is administering them web servers to make sure they are secure, accessible, and perform well. This includes:
- Server Maintenance: They take care of everything related to the hardware (computers) where your website data is hosted.
- Security: Implementing measures to protect your site from external threats.
- Uptime: Ensuring your website is available to visitors around the clock.
- Data Management: Handling the storage and backup of your website account.
While support may have some general knowledge about how websites function, they do not support your website code.
The role of a Web Developer
A web developer does not focus on managing the hardware that your website lives on, but on the actual website code. (aka software). Many people don’t think of a website as software, an application or computer program, but that is what they are. They are typically built with code and a database that is put onto the computer the web server. Web developers skills and expertise include:
- Building and Maintaining Website: Web Design, Development, Testing and Deploying websites.
- Customizing and Expanding Websites: Modifying the look and adding/removing functionality to meet your specific business needs.
- Improve User Experience: Analyzing and improving how visitors interact with your site, which can lead to better engagement and sales.
- Optimize Performance: Ensure your site runs smoothly, loads quickly, and is optimized for search engines.
- Troubleshooting and Updates: Websites are software, they need ongoing maintenance and code updates to keep the site secure and up to date with constant evolving technology.
Why Keeping Website Support and Web Hosting Support Separate Matters
You wouldn’t ask the electric company to fix your Internet access, so why do people ask their web host manage their website code? (The bigger question is why does web hosting support touch a customers website code when they know that is not what their job it.)
The same concept applies with the hardware and software of your website. As mentioned above, a web hosts expertise is with the hardware needed to run a website, where a web developer’s expertise has to do with building and managing websites.
With the big hosts like GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator where you are paying a couple dollars a month for service, the tech support is not too experienced. If they can’t solve your problem by going through a check list, they may pass you on to more experienced support (if you ask them to). Do you want them modifying your code? No.
As a small business owner, you need your website online all of the time.
Understanding the distinction between the experience of first level web hosting support and that of an experienced web developer is crucial for the health and success of your online presence.
Contact the right professional provider for website support
If your site is down, or showing errors, contacting your host can be a quick place to start (if your host replies in a timely manner). To rule out the host being the problem. If they say it is a code issue though, don’t ask them to fix it. Consider the following:
- Expertise: Web hosting support has experience with their product, the hardware. They are not trained on how web applications are built, how to modify code, or how to debug them.
- Risk of Errors: A web host tinkering with your site’s code could introduce errors or conflicts, potentially breaking your site or causing security vulnerabilities.
- Customization Limits: Web hosts often use standardized solutions that might not align with your unique business needs. (ie A web developer can offer tailored solutions.
- Response Time and Focus: Web hosting support teams deal with a wide range of issues across numerous clients, often not replying the same day. A dedicated web developer can offer more focused and timely support.
Your website is a vital part of your business. It’s the online face of your brand and often the first point of contact for potential customers. Entrusting its development and maintenance to a professional web developer, while letting web hosting services focus on what they do best – keeping your site live and secure – is a smart business decision. This approach ensures that your site not only looks great and functions well but also remains a reliable and effective tool for your business.
Investing in the right kind of expertise is not just about solving problems; it’s about preventing them. As a small business owner, your focus should be on growing your business, not worrying about the technical intricacies of your website. Leave that to the right professionals. Half the battle is having someone on hand when you need them. Most people don’t think about website support until something breaks.