The Internet. The World Wide Web. The Information Highway. A vast network of data, cables, and servers that provide the world with the connective tissue to transmit content and information. All of the text, images, and videos that you see online have to be stored somewhere accessible by the network, just like your computer stores your files for easy retrieval and future use.
Think of your web site as a law office, with all of the contents that make it useful to clients such as your desk, supplies and yourself. If that law office was located in the forest of the Yukon, it wouldn't be too useful to potential clients. It needs to be in a place where it can be connected to roads, water, and electricity to make it useful.
Enter website hosting.
A website is a combination of text, images and other media, covering everything from encyclopedia content to funny videos. With the right know-how, you could easily make a website on your computer right now that displayed anything you'd like, but there's one major problem — no one else would be able to see it.
Web hosting connects your web site to the rest of the world network via web hosting companies, which can range in pricing from free (with ads of course) to millions of dollars per month for the Internet's largest companies. With its suite of websites and apps, Google spent over $7 Billion storing its data on Internet-accessible servers in 2013.
In order to make your website visible to your clients and the world, you need to put the files online with a web host.
Going back to our law office analogy, let's assume you have your website hosted: your "office" is thus located in an area with streets that connect your front door to the rest of the city. Now you just need an address to give to potential clients so they can use the network to find you.
That's where your website's domain name come in. The "address" for your web host is a string of numbers that looks like 126.96.36.1998. This string of numbers is impossible for your clients to remember. A domain name — that is, your .com, .org or other name, such as "themodernfirm.com" — acts as a nickname for that string of numbers. The code behind the Internet will translate "themodernfirm.com" into the appropriate numbers. Rather than have customers have to remember your full office address (14234 Main Street, Western Yukon Forest, B.C., Canada), they can just remember "themodernfirm.com" — or do a simple search for "The Modern Firm" — and their browser will bring them to the right spot.
As mentioned above, website hosting can range from extremely inexpensive to a shockingly large bill. So how do you decide where to put your hosting money?
Ask yourself right questions when choosing a host:
Uptime is the percentage of time that your website stays online. Due to the occasional upgrade or technical error, websites often aren't up 100% of the time in a year. While its acceptable to not be perfect, this number shouldn't stray anything below 99%. Imagine this — you have your office, you've moved it to a great neighborhood, opened your doors and no one is there. You look down the street and a huge sink hole has broken your firm off from street access, not allowing customers to come visit. You want the percentage of time that this occurs to be as small as possible.
With an incredible increase in the speed of the Internet through fiber optics, people are accustomed to websites loading quickly — or they will leave. Google found that slowing search engine results by 4 tenths of a second decreased searches by 8,000,000. Both the way a website is designed and the quality of web hosting contributes to your site loading promptly for your clients. Google has even indicated that one part of Google's ranking formula is site speed. If the road outside of your law office was 10 miles long and 5 MPH the entire way, how many people would visit you?
When it comes to comparing costs, you clearly don't want anything too slow. But how about avoiding paying extra for more speed than you need? A website for a law firm should load the information quickly, but law firm websites tend to be a lot "lighter" — centered on text educating the customer and a nice graphical design. There generally aren't too many "heavy" elements like hours of videos and ads popping at you 10 different ways, needing a ton of resources. Just like your law firm doesn't need to be in the median of an Interstate or have a helipad to bring customers to your door, your hosting can be properly balanced as well.
Many hosting companies offer extra benefits, such as automatic backup, easy install for CMS systems like Wordpress, and varying levels of customer service for when issues happen. Since different hosts have different offerings, pick the company that offers you the support and benefits that are important to you. For instance, we offer free basic maintenance so that clients can reach out to us and not worry about getting billed for little things.
Behind the scenes, we at The Modern Firm use a specialized WordPress hosting company called WP Engine to host our client sites. Their extremely fast speeds, full nightly backups, and 99.99% uptime for all of our sites allows our sites to stay online, load fast, and rank well in a competitive marketplace. And when combined with the personal free basic website maintenance and continual software updates we offer to all hosting clients, it's an outstanding deal that makes the website worry free.
Talk to our Sales Team today to see how moving your hosting to The Modern Firm can help bring your website more visitors and your firm more clients.