Sometimes potential clients come to me with an existing website that is “hosted by their old web designer.” This always makes me cringe, and the first thing I recommend doing – immediately – is getting the client onto their own hosting account.
This type of arrnagement, where the web designer “hosts” your website for you, is more common in low-budget package deals. Get a custom website for a thousand bucks, AND we’ll host your site for only $40 a month! Gah. Cringe.
Please. Don’t do it.
A maintenance package or retainer for updates and ongoing work is fine, but please, for the love of the Internet, buy your own hosting account and domain name. It makes life just a little bit simpler, and I think we can all use a little more simplicity.
The obvious reason for paying for your own hosting account (directly with the hosting provider, that is) is that you control who gets access to your website, plain and simple. Don’t like the web designer you’re currently working with? Change FTP and cpanel passwords. Want to work with a new designer? Create a new FTP account.
Plus, not having someone else own your hosting account (or domain name) means you can cross ‘website hostage situation’ firmly off of the worry-list. May as well.
Another way to look at it is this: what happens when your current web guy (that is hosting your site) stops responding to emails, gets too busy, or just can’t deliver what your business needs? Someone has to be responsible for migrating the site to a new hosting account. Who picks up the tab for the migration? Will it be the new designer? The old designer? You? I’m betting on the latter.
Not convinced? Even more reasons!
If your site goes down, you want a company with real people that you can talk to 24/7, not a guy who is white-labeling your hosting from god-knows-what hosting company. It just makes sense to hold the company who is actually providing the services accountable and to have direct access to their support.
If you’re paying WP Engine $30 a month on your own credit card, you know you’re getting solid hosting from WP Engine. If you’re paying your web designer $30 a month for hosting, chances are you’ve got a bottom-tier shared hosting account that should really cost $6/month. You just don’t know.
I touched on this above, but doesn’t it make sense to know that a) your website is on a secure server with a reputable company and b) that you know who has access to your website and c) that you can revoke access from people whenever you’d like?
And While You’re At It
Separate out your email hosting. Same deal: what happens when your current hosting isn’t robust enough and you need to upgrade hosts? You have to migrate emails. It’s not fun. I’ve done it and I can promise you so hard that it’s not fun. Use Google Apps, or Zoho Mail, or buy a separate hosting plan JUST for serving your email.