Hosting Industry Demystified

Hosts, Website Design and Trust

Business or buying decisions based on the beauty of the website are not unheard of. I’ve even read statistics indicating that website design is one of the most important reasons for which people choose one host over another.

That may have something to do with the fact that many of those searching for hosting take things for face value. Most consider that complicated, beautiful, expensive web design is a mark of seriousness and success.

Unfortunately, web design beauty has very little to do with the quality of the hosting service. A nice design basically signals two things: the hosting company knows how a great website looks like and – maybe – was so concerned about it that it did what had to be done to have a great looking site.

Also, what some may regard as exquisite web design others might perceive as pure ugliness. It all comes down to each person’s taste, background and experience, which, needless to say, vary enormously among individuals.

What you see is not necessarily what you get-
Nicely designed websites are not necessarily expensive because they’re not necessarily unique.

A cheap website template is the solution found by most new hosts. Now, you’d think that a cheap template must be screaming ‘cheap’ and be ugly too, but that’s not the case.

One odd thing has to be noted: most hosts go for a web design that also has a flash presentation. That supposedly makes the site seem more professional and although this might’ve been true sometime ago, it has become now somewhat of a kitsch, which is also true about those pictures of servers taken from all kinds of angles.

Flexing the financial muscle-
Some hosts realized that web design plays a very important role in driving sales, establishing trust, projecting an image of success, branding and other things. That’s why many hosts choose to pay for a breathtaking original website design as soon as they can afford it.

No company will spend tens of thousand of dollars to go out of business the next day. Also, if the company has a history of a few years and is quite successful, it may very well be that the expensive web design was purchased because the company felt almost compelled to reveal its new status. If you’ve got the money you almost have to move to a bigger house. You might think that’s something only a snob would do, but it’s not really true. Say you know someone who has a lot of money; you expect him/her to have a higher standard of living, otherwise you’d call him/her a cheapskate. It’s just human nature.

No financial muscle to flex, but no eyes to see?-
At the opposite pole are the hosts with no budget and basically no idea of how things work on the internet. However, they insist on having a web based business and not just any business – a hosting business! They decide to spend $0 on web design and build the website on their own or ask a good friend do it for them.

A decent person with a bit of Internet knowledge would definitely know better. It’s generally easy to spot clear ugliness or outdated web design if you have a bit of ‘net surfing experience.

A host is supposed to know how the Internet works intimately and at the surface, so they should have an eye for web design. Rather than having an ugly but original website design, a free template that looks acceptably should be preferred in my opinion.

They can’t they spell either?-
Mistakes can happen to the best of us, but unreasonably repeated grammar and/or spelling mistakes signal lack of professionalism and even more than that. They’re a sign of carelessness and lack of respect towards potential customers, both of which I find very dangerous.

So? What to do then?-
My opinion is that generally website design is just a marketing related thing. There’s no direct relation between it and the quality of the service. Quality hosting, trustworthiness and quality website design don’t always go hand in hand.

Thus, website design is not a reliable measure of service quality. One should try very hard to not take this factor into account at all, with a big exception: when the design is obviously unprofessional. I expect quality web design because I think it’s a form of respect towards potential customers and a sign of thoughtfulness, which I like in a host. But that’s it!

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