As a website owner you will need to make decisions about buying web-related products and services. The job of setting up a web property requires a fair investment in terms of work and money plus a degree of ‘lock in’. Naturally you want to make sure your choice of an online service is the right one.
Below is our checklist/guide to buying web-related products and services:
What online services are you talking about?
By online services I’m casting a fairly wide net – things like website hosting, content management systems, do-it-yourself website builders, and shopping cart platforms. You could even apply these guidelines to services such as music streaming, photo sharing or even social media platforms.
But I don’t know the answer to these questions!
Some of these items will need you to research and dig deeper to find whether the service stacks up. Search the web for reviews or ask a sales representative about them.
- User friendly admin area, i.e. the area you go to update your website, account details, profiles, etc.
- User friendly front end experience, i.e. the part of your website that visitors see.
- Good range of templates and functionality.
- Modern and effective visual design.
- Offers a free trial period?
- Carefully consider the pricing plans and monthly v annual plans.
- Are you being upsold on the way to the checkout? Don’t purchase unnecessary extras.
- Is the mix of monthly fees and transaction fees going to suit your business model?
- Can the service handle local taxes, e.g. Australian GST?
- Does it have the features you need at the right price?
Storage and bandwidth performance
- Does the plan allow you to upgrade disk space and bandwidth quotas at a reasonable price?
- Can the server handle spikes in traffic?
- Is the platform fast to load pages?
Domain name and branding
- Can you use your own domain name?
- Does the platform name or branding appear on your website or profile?
- Is the platform and its technology modern and streamlined – read up reviews.
- Is the platform mobile-ready?
- Is the platform SEO friendly, e.g. can you edit basic on-page SEO details?
- Is it possible to export you content from the platform if needed?
Support, reputation and T&Cs
- Can you deal with a real person over the phone if needed?
- Is the quality of service acceptable? Read reviews.
- Can you live with the terms and conditions? You might need to read them.
- Is the company behind the platform respected and likely to remain in business over the long term?