We see it all the time - business owners whose IT providers are making life difficult for them when it comes to succeeding on the internet.
Now, let me say right away that this blog post is not intended to slander IT providers...for the most part they do a really good job at supporting an increasingly complex world of computers, networking and smartphones. But they do sometimes get into trouble when they try to offer services that are outside of their comfort zone (as sometimes happens to us too), and unfortunately website design and hosting are often among those issues.
Potential problems from having email and websites tied together
Here are a few real life situations we've had to help business owners deal with:
- The one man IT person they were using is now either working for someone else, or no longer in the business. Hopefully that person doesn't own your domain name too :(
- You are unable to update your website because you can't get your IT person who hosts it to update it. They tell you they'll get to it but never quite do.
- The website content management system is totally out of date making it difficult to update.
- A referral source calls to tell you that your website was hacked, and there is no recent backup of the site to restore.
- The IT provider offered you a 1 page brochure website that gets about as much interest as your business card.
It's a difficult situation for business owners to understand because for many of them, technology and websites seem like another language. You know that you've invested thousands of dollars into your website, and it's reasonable to expect it to work when you need it.
Our Advice: Treat IT and Websites Separately
Just because these sorts of problems SOMETIMES occur doesn't mean they ALWAYS are problems, and it certainly doesn't mean that many good IT companies can't handle both your email and website needs.
The purpose of this blog post is simply to educate business owners that you do, in fact, have a choice when it comes to choosing vendors for these services. That's why we recommend that instead of assuming both services must be handled together, treat them as separate services and make sure you understand what you're signing up for.
The fact is, websites and email have both become somewhat complex services with technology considerations which differ for each one. Treating them the same limits your choices and this is never a good thing in today's world of flexible technology.
You could take this a step further and extend it to domain name services as well. After all, just because you bought your domain name at someplace like GoDaddy or Network Solutions you certainly don't have to host your email and website with them.
Practicing What We Preach
The best advice we can give you is to have an honest and frank discussion with your providers, and find out what their capabilities are. A trustworthy company should be willing to tell you what they are good at, and what they are NOT good at.
Over the last two years, we've moved away from email hosting because we don't have the personnel or expertise to support it. In the beginning, it was difficult for a technology based company like ours to admit this, but in the end the honesty has paid off many times over as we've been able to provide better service by focusing on our core competency - websites. AND, we've had fewer problems with email support that used to drain our time and resources because we've recommended alternate solution providers that provide better service for things like email and IT.
If you are local to the metro New Orleans area and looking for help with things like email, hosting or any other type of IT solution from a provider that will provide you with an honest assessment of how their services can help your business, we can highly recommend Bridgenet Technology Consultants to do exactly what we've outlined in this blog post, and you can trust them to be honest with you about what they will or won't be able to do.