The Top 5 Hosting Company Irritations

I love hosting companies because they do what the small business shouldn’t do … host a website. It takes up-to-date hardware, on-site technical talent, and a safe, clean environment to operate a server. HOWEVER, there are several things that hosting companies do that are annoyances.

Bad Answers. There’s nothing more annoying than calling customer service and getting a “bad” answer to a technical question. Bad answers force additional phone calls to get “good” answers. I spent two weeks going back and forth with one hosting company when email wouldn’t send through an on-site form. I could get the same form to work on another site and a different hosting account (with the same company) which means it worked on a different server. They told me it was a configuration error. When I finally got hold of an interested rep who escalated the problem the found that there was a server problem on their end that had been causing the problem all along. It shouldn’t take ten phone calls to work through a question.

The 72 Hour Wait. This really is a bad answer but it deserves a category of it’s own. Remember when you were told by a hosting company to sit back and wait 24 hours for something to propagate? Then it went to 36 hours and now it’s 72 hours!

Server Installed Plugins. For WordPress users this can be a nightmare. I’ve had hosting companies who install plugins and the site will only work with them and if a client inadvertently deletes the plugin the hosting company has no means of re-installing the plugin. The latest issue is a plugin installed by a large hosting company on their WordPress hosting that requires the client to “flush the cache” every time they post to their blog. If they don’t, then the post isn’t seen on all devices.

“Due to High Call Volume…” This message every time you call a hosting company should be a red flag. If call volume is that high all the time… then hire more people!

Old PHP. The script and plugins that run WordPress require up-to-date PHP. Why would a hosting company offer a product specifically called WordPress hosting that doesn’t have options to update to the latest version of PHP? I’ve seen hosting companies charge client to move their entire site to a new server with up-to-date PHP rather than update their current server. Other hosting companies offer no option at all to upgrade or move to a current version of PHP.

I remain an independent consultant. I’m not an affiliate nor have I ever been one for any hosting company. If you need help getting your WordPress site launched and you want to start off with the right hosting. Give me a call and let’s work through your options.

GoDaddy Puppy Ad Looks Desperate and Damages Their Brand

My dog says Godaddy puppy ad sucks!

GoDaddy Puppy Ad is disturbing and hard for web designers to explain. What were they thinking when making this puppy commercial for The Super Bowl. They’ve had an ad or two before- I know many of my women clients wanted to see GoDaddy end the bodice-ripping females in their ads. I’m truly thankful that Jean Claude Van Damme isn’t in this GoDaddy ad as his creep-factor was off the scale!

Ad Taints GoDaddy’s Services

As a dog lover (we’ve got 3 rescue dogs) I find GoDaddy’s use of a puppy disturbing. No one likes to see a dog in distress or being so aggressively exploited. The shock factor (and this even surpasses the creep factor of Jean Claude Van Damme’s ads), is that the puppy looks like they are about to be rescued when SNAP! he’s traveled all the way back to the a puppy mill whose one goal is the “get ’em sold.” That’s pretty brutal. Dark humor? This may be one ad that’s going to need some explaining.

What does the ad say about GoDaddy and their services? I think the ad misrepresents the brand because it has very little to do with what GoDaddy does. I was eating lunch and watching Access Hollywood when they were discussing the ad. I guess a couple of tinsel-town hosts are pretty much average non-techy folk — they couldn’t even explain what GoDaddy does for it’s business (It’s something website-y, right?).  Did they confuse a whole segment of America who now may think make websites for shady businesses?

GoDaddy’s Competitors Already Rally

I think the worse thing about this Godaddy puppy ad — and it won’t be the screams from PETA or the ASPCA — is that people will think that GoDaddy’s services are for disreputable people, low-lifes– the kind of cruel and heartless people who run puppy mills.  Yuck, who wants to be associated with that! I got a good laugh out of the Google search for the GoDaddy puppy video– Host Gator, a competitor, has on their website that they “love puppies”— It’s a cartoon of Snappy their alligator mascot with a puppy. I don’t think I’d let my dog play with an alligator, but it’s less disturbing than the GoDaddy ad and pretty funny how they are aligning against the backlash that’s bound to hit GoDaddy.

GoDaddy Puppy Ad Too Hard to Explain to Clients

GoDaddy may have just crossed the boundary between getting good publicity and bad publicity. I really hope GoDaddy issues a statement because I’d love to hear how they explain this ad. PLEASE issue a statement… as a web designer who has recommended the quality of GoDaddy’s services for years I’d like to know how to explain this ad to my clients!  We may be at the point where they are beyond explanation.

TIP: 5 Steps to Vet A Website Hosting Service

Clients ask me how to pick a hosting company for their websites.   I can tell you who I like and don’t like, based upon mostly their technical limitations and response to major website problems. However who I like as a webmaster, may be very different that what an individual client needs from a hosting company.

When a client gets beyond the amount of disk space, bandwidth, and extras offered by a shared hosting account, there is only one thing that really matters—customer service.  The three key points that most web lay people want from a hosting company are the “3 C’s”: Convenience (Are they available through a  800 number and are they the there 24/7), Courtesy (Will they speak to me like a human being or talk down to me like I’m a toddler? Will there be a language barrier?), and Catastrophes (When something goes wrong will they put it right again?).

But how is the hosting consumer supposed to know if a hosting company will master the “3 C’s”? The Internet is a terrific resource to vet a hosting company. I recommend the following searches to get an idea of how a hosting company works… or in some cases uncover that a hosting company doesn’t work.

  1. Do they suck? It’s not my favorite word, but “sucks” seems to be the word of choice for the most dissatisfied consumers. Simply open up your favorite search engine and search the name of the hosting company and the word sucks. While this may not be the most scientific method to assess the performance of a hosting company, it will give you a window to a company’s most dissatisfied customers and give you an inkling of what may be in store for you.
  2. What the Tweet?  Another window to the performance of a host is Twitter. Search Twitter to see if they are a member. Search by putting a “@” in front of their Twitter username to see what others have posed about them. I also like to look at the companies Twitter profile: Has it been months since their last Tweet?
  3. Contact Info. Check out the contact information for the hosting company on their own website. Watch out for hosting companies where there are no means to contact them via traditional snail mail or telephone.  For consumers who only want to work with US-based companies this is where you can uncover the business location. 
  4. Free Customer Service.  A tough US economy has moved some hosting companies to charge for customer service. Be aware that discount hosting service may cost you more when you add a customer service package to their yearly fee.  How does this play out? You’ll see that these hosts offer assistance only via email and offer telephone customer service to those customers who purchase a larger hosting account.  
  5. Call ‘Em. I know this sounds like a nuisance, but it will tell you more than all of the first 4 steps. Your website is going to be the life-blood of your business—why wouldn’t you make a test phone call to them to be sure you will be happy with the hosting company? Making the call will reveal  how fast they are to pick up the phone, how long hold time is, if the phone system is confusing or a long process to reach a department. You’ll also learn if the person on the other end is polite and eager to help. I’ve made these calls and had some surprising results like reaching a rep who was a one man basement operation, or horribly rude reps, and the frightening poorly trained rep.

Congratulations, you are now ready to weigh the results of your investigation. While one bad review may not be a deal breaker and a bulky voicemail system may not put you off, these are all tell-tale signs. Know your tolerance and obey your instincts.  Vetting your hosting company will help you purchase shared hosting with confidence.