Why Hosting Matters

Let's face it, hosting isn't the most glamorous aspect of website design and development.

For a start you can't "see" it, it doesn't manifest itself as a cool animation, page transition or element of interactivity that can be clicked and admired with glee. In fact, it's the digital equivalent of a filing cabinet and only the most OCD of people feel the slightest pang of excitement at the thought of filing.

But, ignoring your hosting setup is a risk that's definitely not worth taking and in this post I want to explain why and I'll try my best to do it in layman's terms.

Hosting in its most simple terms is the process of creating an online storage area for the files that your website is made up of. When someone enters your website's URL into a web browser (e.g. ours is www.enovate.co.uk) or arrives at your website from a search engine those files are served (or displayed if you like) and the person can see your website and explore the pages within it.

A laptop computer on a desk

With me so far? OK. That all seems quite simple, right? It's even a bit like having files saved in an online storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive so you can get to them from anywhere. But we're just scratching the surface because hosting is linked to one critical factor that determines the success of your website and your return on investment and that's: performance.

We've all been to a website that's slow to load and we all do the same thing: leave and try another site in the hope that it's faster. But think about that for a moment, the site you left is someone's corporate website, a project they might well have invested countless hours of work into and thousands of pounds of investment and you spent a matter of seconds waiting for it to load before heading elsewhere. Now, consider your own website ... does your website download quickly? If the honest answer is no then you're not only losing money and clients you're investing time and effort into a website that visitors are turning their backs on simply because its performance isn't good enough. And that's why your hosting setup is critical.

Google commissioned Deloitte and 55 to run a study on the impact of site speed. Over a 4 week period, they analysed mobile site data from 37 retail, travel, luxury and lead generation brands across Europe and the US. Results showed that a mere 0.1 second change in load time can influence every step of the user journey, ultimately increasing conversion rates. Conversions grew by 8% for retail sites and by 10% for Travel sites on average. With a 0.1s improvement in site speed retail consumers spent almost 10% more, while lead generation and luxury consumers engaged more, with page views increasing by 7% and 8% respectively.

So a 0.1 second improvement in load time resulted in converting 8% more retail consumers and combined, those consumers spent 10% more money. Just 0.1 seconds!? That's mind-blowing. And yet that's precisely why we've invested thousands of hours into our own web hosting architecture at Amazon Web Services (AWS) and taken the time to become AWS certified solutions architects. Finding these tiny improvements in performance seems trivial but 0.1 seconds really is significant, the figures don't lie, and they can make the difference between hitting your sales targets or having your best ever quarter or falling short.

A similar study, carried out by BCG and Ryte, The Real Cost of Poor Website Quality, had similar eye-opening findings:

...assuming 1 million potential visitors, the decline in future visits when load speed falls is precipitous; every additional second costs, on average, between $3,000 (for food and grocery sites) and $9,000 (for business and industrial). In terms of marketing spend, this translates into a 10% reduction in effectiveness.

So if you invested £10,000 in your shiny new website but failed to commission an agency that cares about hosting you'd ultimately be wasting £1,000. Can any business afford to do that?

Now don't get me wrong, well-configured hosting isn't a panacea that'll solve all your website's problems, there's also caching to consider, file compression, code minification, and lot's more but the point is that any agency that cares about web hosting will already be aware of these things and actively ensuring they're baked into their projects, just like we do here at Enovate.

So, to wrap-up, don't underestimate the importance of web hosting to the success of your website and your investment in it and if you want to speak to a company that will happily talk for days (or ten minutes if you'd prefer) about why we are passionate about website hosting or you want to discuss why your website isn't performing the way you want it to just give us a call.

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Dan Walsh by Dan Walsh