According to most online articles on the topic and to the websites of most web hosting providers that you will find on the market, all you need to launch a website is a domain name and a hosting plan. You can then start adding your content and you should be all set. It sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? Of course, you can create email addresses with your domain name as well if you want your online communication to look more professional.
Is this really everything you need, though? We will look at five important things that people rarely consider before they start building a website. As you will see below, these are things that you should think about in advance as they can affect your website directly. These are all things that you actually need if you want to have peace of mind about the management of your site. Of course, sometimes launching a site may be as easy as buying a domain and a hosting plan, but only if you find a provider that offers at least most of the things you will see below as well.
Having a backup is something quite important and, unfortunately, something that people often think about only when they need it. If you want to avoid any loss of information, you should set up backups in advance, or you should choose a hosting provider that will take care of that. Either way, this is something you should consider before it is too late.
There are different reasons why you may lose information or your website may stop functioning properly – some update may go wrong, or a security vulnerability may lead to the site getting hacked, for example. In any case, you will probably need to restore a backup, so you should make sure that you have one.
Keeping regular backups will give you peace of mind, as you will be able to restore your content no matter what. This way, you will save the time and money you will have to spend to recreate the lost content if you don’t have a backup. You will also keep your business safe as losing your own information or any data provided by your customers can easily put you out of business.
Depending on the service you use, you may have to create backups manually (download the content regularly, use some plugin, etc.) or you can rely on your hosting provider if they offer such a service. If you choose the latter option, make sure that you double-check the terms of that provider. Sometimes you will have only a daily backup, or the provider will back up only a certain number of your files.
2. Good support
If you have any questions or experience any problems that you cannot resolve yourself, you will have to contact the support team of your hosting company. How fast they will reply and whether they will really help you can be quite important for your website. You may use the fastest and most powerful server, but it won’t matter if your website is offline for some reason. You will probably not know how good the support is until you need it, so this is something you should check out in advance.
You should find out things such as the methods of communication you can use to contact the company, their usual response time, as well as the reliability of the support team. For the latter, you can check testimonials or a review platform such as Trustpilot. The information you gather will tell you if you can rely on the support team should you need assistance. What good will it do to receive a reply to your query after 24 hours, while your website is not accessible? Or to receive an instant reply that only acknowledges your site is down without offering any solution?
A good support team that will have your back is something that you really need regardless of your level of experience. This way, you can focus on developing your site and on expanding your business instead of trying to figure out how something works or how to change some hosting setting. If any problem comes up, having a reliable support team that can assist you promptly and accurately can be priceless.
3. SSL certificate
Using an SSL certificate in 2022 is a must for any website. Surprisingly, there are websites that still do not have a security certificate, or they have one, but do not enforce the connection to use https. Either way, this is something you should address right away to make sure that your website loads over https at all times.
Using an SSL certificate has a number of advantages. The most obvious one is that any information exchanged between the site and its visitors will be encrypted. This way, even if an unauthorized third-party intercepts anything, they will not be able to read it. The certificate will also make your site more trustworthy as visitors will see their information will be protected. If you have any login or payment form on the site, it is doubtful that anybody will use it if their browser says the site is not secure. Last, but not least, https websites get a small boost in search engine results, so using an SSL certificate will bring you some SEO benefits as well.
At ICDSoft, all hosting accounts come with full support for free SSL certificates. We use Let's Encrypt and certificates can be enabled with a click of one button in our hosting Control Panel.
4. Good site builder software
The content of your website is very important. The design, the navigation and the loading speed are quite important as well. If you want to have a good website, though, you should also make sure that you use software that will allow you to build and maintain your website easily. No matter if you have a personal or a business site, you should be able to update it or add different functions even if you are not very tech-savvy. Of course, this doesn’t apply if you have a custom-made website and a web developer to maintain it. For most websites, however, a user-friendly interface and an easy way to add content and functions will be a great advantage.
You will find different options on the hosting market. You can go for a cloud website builder, for example. There are general use and e-commerce-specific platforms that are easy to use, but they have some disadvantages such as limited SEO options and lack of email service. If you prefer a hosted solution, you can use an application such as WordPress, Joomla or OpenCart, depending on the type of website you want to create. There are lots of other applications out there, but the idea here is to build your site with an easy-to-use one that will require little skills or previous experience.
Alternatively, you can use site builder software from your hosting provider, if they offer one. The advantage over the cloud site builders is that with your own hosting account, you will be able to customize your site much more while you can still build the site with ease. Some hosting providers offer in-house builders, while others use customized third-party software. When you look for a new hosting plan, make sure that you consider your options in terms of the software you will use for the site. You shouldn’t go for a hosting plan if you have no idea how you will build the site after that.
5. Additional security
This may sound too broad, but you will usually need some additional level of security to keep your website safe. Security has become a serious problem for website owners in the last decade, so you should consider additional measures. Using an SSL certificate and generating backups can help to avoid or mitigate certain problems, but you should consider other options as well. Some things may seem quite simple, but you will be surprised to see how many people neglect them. Here are a few ideas:
- Malware protection/removal. There are lots of content management platforms on the market, and a huge number of themes and plugins/modules for them. You may eventually use a theme/plugin with a security vulnerability that may lead to your website getting injected with malicious code. This is why, you need malware protection or cleanup service. It may be a plugin or a third-party service. Sometimes it may be easier or better to protect your site or clean it from malware than to restore a backup that may not have the latest information.
- Content delivery network (CDN). While this is something you don’t really need for the proper operation of your website, it is something that you and your visitors will appreciate. A CDN can speed up a website as it will deliver it to the site visitors from the nearest location. In terms of site security, it can prevent or mitigate denial-of-service attacks, hacking attempts, etc. If you have a popular website, a CDN may be something that you will actually need.
- Secure admin login page. While this is not applicable in all cases, some platforms allow you to change the admin area login URL, or to add captcha to it. Automatic bots usually try to log in on the default login page, so if you change its URL or make it harder to log in, you will improve the security of your website. If you use WordPress, for example, you can find lots of plugins for that, such as WPS Hide Login. If you want to add captcha, check our article on the topic where you will find how to do that for various applications. Alternatively, you can allow only certain IP addresses to access the admin URL and block all others.
- Site updates. Yet another simple thing that people simply ignore once they are done building their site. Updating the application along with any themes and plugins you use will not only add new functions, but it will also improve the security of your site. Updates are often released to fix security vulnerabilities. In this light, you should never neglect any new version of your site builder or any plugins/themes you use.
Building and managing a website usually takes more than buying a domain name and a hosting plan. There are a number of other things that you will need for the proper operation of the site. An SSL certificate, for instance, will tell your customers that the information they submit is protected, and will give you a small SEO boost. A good site builder (cloud or self-hosted) will make building and updating the site much easier. Of course, you should also be prepared if anything unforeseen happens. A CDN or a malware protection/cleanup service can help you to deal with malicious attacks, but ultimately, you should always have a backup of your website. After all, even a simple update can go wrong for some reason.
While these are all things that are not required for your website, they are certainly things you need if you want to have a successful website that you can manage easily without worrying that something can go wrong.