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September 5, 2017

What to Look for in a Web Hosting Provider for Your Online Creative Projects

As a creative director focused on video production projects largely distributed to audiences through websites, I’ve developed some strong opinions – and preferences – for what a Web hosting provider ought to offer our industry. Websites are indispensable to the projects we do, as is the ability to easily control how they’re displayed and presented. In order to make our projects available to the audience we think they deserve, it’s crucial that these websites are accessible, always on, load quickly, and are simple to keep up and running. More than this, selecting the right Web hosting partner and forging a supportive relationship with a hosting company that understands your needs can offer advantages as a creative business grows.

Here are three criteria I would particularly recommend that anyone working on Web-based creative projects look into as they evaluate a hosting strategy:

1. Affordable pricing

This first point is the most basic, but also one of the most important. Running a production company or performing most any other creative work often means working within a budget where every dollar counts. It’s critical to understand the options that are available out there and find a provider that offers not just everything you need from a services standpoint, but also delivers it to you at the right value.

2. A control panel that helps users with multiple projects stay organized

Juggling multiple projects and, therefore, probably multiple websites, is often a necessity for creative foundries like our own. That said, it’s important to have a Web host that offers a control panel with an intuitive UI that helps tame this organizational challenge (rather than making it more difficult).

For example, I appreciate DreamHost’s control panel from a Web design point of view because it separates clients or projects by domain, naturally adding a helpful amount of clarity. This offers a lot of confidence that the changes you make in the control panel will be the ones you intended – it’s always clear which domain or project you’re working on. The control panel is also very easy to navigate, and makes it easy to set up multiple users. The design is fairly stable, and remains easy to understand even when changes are made, demonstrating the fact that an intuitive control panel doesn’t just happen by accident.

On the flipside, I recommend that anyone managing multiple creative projects look out for hosting providers with messy, frustrating control panels, especially those that keep controls within deeply layered menus.

When evaluating a provider, the controls should feel natural to use the first time – you certainly don’t want a system with a steep learning curve. The control panel is the command center of your Internet presence, and it’s important to find a web host that puts in the effort to get it right.

3. Effective, accessible customer service, as well as friendly and personal support

Issues will arise when managing multiple websites, making it critical to be able to get help when you need it. Your Web hosting provider should offer positive, engaged, and timely customer service when called upon, as well as easy access to support via e-mail or live chat. Case in point: when one of our sites had a security issue – leading to our files being corrupted – our host responded quickly to our SOS and resolved the issue, holding our hand until clean versions of the site and database were restored.

At the same time, a relationship with a Web host in an industry like ours should really be such that you feel treated not just as a customer, but like a partner. For this reason, I recommend finding a Web host that provides not only effective customer service, but does the extra work to nurture its users as a community and offer customized support based on a developed understanding of your own needs.

By partnering with a Web hosting provider that is affordable, intuitive to operate, and supportive of yours creative needs and goals, your projects will have that much easier of a time finding success online.


Josh Shayne is creative director at Good Worker, a company that produces unique, story-driven content for film, web, and TV in partnership with brands.