Over the years we have encountered scenarios where SME businesses come to us needing help with the current state of their existing website infrastructure setup and this current setup sometimes can be “suboptimal” presenting various issues that create inefficient for the business and also present control risks. 

It is also quite surprising how many businesses don’t have full awareness of how their website operates. By this, we don’t mean operating on a technical level because for many businesses they do not have the bandwidth to have the technical knowledge but any business needs to have at least an organisational awareness of how their website operates.

So in this post, we aim to outline some of the key website infrastructure best practices a business in Hong Kong should put in place, as part of their core business processes.

Key Website Infrastructure Best Practices

Be wary of using third party website management companies 

Based on our experience of working with certain businesses that have come to us asking for help on their website, they often do not understand how their website is managed and often have a third party company managing their website, as part of a wider IT infrastructure contract or just as a website management agreement and the company has provided little or no transparency on how the business can access services to manage and update their website and what they provide for the business as a service.

Whilst web management companies can help to eliminate the requirement for stakeholder technical knowledge in the business, they can end up restricting the amount of ownership that is really needed to have full control over your website, particularly if your relationship with your website management company turns sour, which often results in people within the business scrambling around to regain control and understanding of the website infrastructure in place. 

The key challenge businesses face if they feel they are not getting the services they need from a web management service is they start to realise that the company providing the service often holds all the keys to how your website functions and it can take some time and also additional cost to get access and the required insights into those “keys”.

At the end of this post we list all the key pieces of information you should keep centrally in your business to ensure you have all the “keys” to your website, as well as recommending how to store this information.

Ensure you have access to your registered domain and that you own it

One of the key elements to ensuring you have full control over your website is to ensure your business owns all your domains and has them in one online account that your business owns with a domain name registration company. 

GoDaddy Domain Management Account

Having your own login details to a preferred domain registrar account and ensuring your account has two factor authentication configured on the account (linked to an authentication code app, not a mobile phone and SMS codes) is an important best practice.

Use a reputable domain name registration company

As stated above, we recommend owning your own domain registrar account that houses all the domains you own for your business. You should have this process in place with one of the main reputable domain registrars that have an international track record of managing domains. Examples of companies that fall into this category in our opinion are:

  • GoDaddy
  • Hostinger
  • Namecheap
  • Bluehost

Your Domain and Web Hosting are Two Separate Services 

A common misconception of a website is that your domain hosting and your web hosting are the same thing.

What you need to remember is that….

  1. You rent a domain name for a specific agreed period from a domain registration company
  2. The domain name is then pointed / configured to a separate web hosting server (as part of a separate web hosting package you pay for).
  3. Your website is included (essentially as a set of files) on a server provided by the web hosting service you buy over a set agreed period

Have your web hosting with a different company to who your domain is registered with

Although this means you need to have a relationship and account with two separate companies, we recommend using a web hosting service with a different company and account to where your domain name is registered and hosted. 

This is because it’s much easier to move your web hosting than it is to move your domain to another registrar company. If you encounter issues with your web hosting company, and you wish to transfer both your domain and your website hosting away from them, you will need to go through the process of transferring your domain name to another registrar company which requires a fee and also can take 2 to 4 weeks to transfer a domain to another registrar. 

You can find more information on the process for transferring domains via the resources listed below:

Have your website hosted in a web hosting account that your company owns

Somewhat related to what we highlighted about having a domain registration account owned by your business, we recommend that you don’t have your web hosting service in an account with a third-party agency, as they will keep your hosting details in a centralised agency-wide or reseller account, which means they essentially have full control of your website. 

If you choose to have your website hosted with a third-party company then we recommend you still keep your domain registered in a different account that you own and also ask the third-party how easily they can transfer the web hosting package they manage for you to another account that you can own, if requested in the future.

Ideally, we recommend that you should have your own web hosting account with your own login details and also a web hosting account owned by your company with the login details (including 2FA details) and make sure you store these details in a secure place in your business, where multiple people have access. Again, more about some of the best ways to store website infrastructure credentials at the end of this article.

Choose domain and hosting services that provide subaccount setup for other users

If possible, we recommend you select a company that provides domain and web hosting online services that allow you to set up access to your hosting and domain accounts via other users linked to another user’s email address. Using a company with this feature will enable multiple users to access your key website infrastructure details and at the same time allow them to set up their own two factor authentication on their own account that only they are able to refer to. 

Some examples of domain and hosting companies that allow you to set up multiple users with subaccounts to access your website domain and hosting details are:

Host your website on a service that has cPanel 

Web hosting packages with different companies are provided in various different formats and technical setups. Many web hosting companies provide a universally, well-known web hosting management platform called cPanel, which is a platform interface that makes it easy to navigate, select and edit certain key elements of your web hosting configuration. 

We recommend choosing a web hosting package with cPanel included for the following reasons:

  1. If you intend to manage your web hosting internally within your company, then anyone who is responsible for managing the website hosting will easily be able to learn and understand the cPanel platform and therefore your website hosting configuration.
  2. If you decide to get a third-party company or agency to help you manage or upgrade your website, then they will be able to easily understand and manage your web hosting setup through this platform and most likely will already have experience in managing websites via the cPanel interface platform, because it is one of the most popular web hosting management platforms around the world.

Some web hosting companies that include the cPanel hosting management platform are:

For a full list of web hosting companies that include cPanel as part of their shared hosting services can be seen at https://www4.cpanel.net/shared-hosting/  

Choose a suitable size of hosting in relation to your website size and features 

When choosing your web hosting package to host your website you should research the level of web hosting you require.

If you have a small website with less than 50 pages that mainly just includes text, images and perhaps a contact form, then it’s likely you will only need a small web hosting package that uses shared hosting. This type of hosting is the most affordable and you should not need to spend more than HK$1,500 per year on web hosting 

If you have a website that has many videos hosted on the site or has eCommerce functionality, then you may require a web hosting package / server with a higher specification. As a next level up from shared hosting, usually web hosting companies will offer either VPS hosting or Dedicated hosting.

These services are typically a lot more expensive, compared to shared hosting pages and so you may need to take this into account and work with a hosting companies’ sales team via email or their live chat function to get the most suitable web hosting service for the website you have, and its key features.

Be wary of the 2nd term cost of your web hosting package 

One key point to be aware of when it comes to web hosting fees is that most web hosting companies will charge you a cheaper introductory fee for the initial commitment term of your web hosting package period (such as the 1st month, quarter or year) and then in the 2nd they will charge a much higher fee (in comparison). 

It’s quite common for website companies to charge introductory rates that are often up to 80% lower than the second term pricing for say a 2nd month or your second year. This is particularly common for shared hosting services.

To avoid this pitfall, we recommend where possible to choose a web host that charges a similar fee in the second term as it does charge during the initial hosting period committed to.

Some web hosting companies to consider that do not have significantly higher second term fees are:

  • Alibaba Cloud (highly suitable if you want to host your website in Hong Kong or China) 
  • HostXNow (suitable for websites that will be suitable to be hosted in Europe)
  • Stablepoint (suitable for hosting in all international locations across, America, Europe, Asia and Australasia)

Host in a suitable location depending on your local or international business model 

Make sure you choose a web hosting provider that allows you to select a suitable data centre country location to host your website.

Secured Intenet Network

 

Whilst it is less important from an SEO perspective now on where your website is hosted, it’s still important to host your website in a location where the majority of your website visitors come from because this will help to provide them with optimal page load speeds. So think about what key locations your business targets and then select a web company that hosts in a location that is most suitable to your business model.

If your business in Hong Kong drives website users from predominantly across the Asia region, then hosting in Singapore is a good optimal choice. 

If your business in Hong Kong mainly has visitors from Hong Kong (SAR) and Mainland China then hosting your website in Hong Kong is likely to be the best option. This is particularly the best option to avoid users encountering slow website load speeds from Mainland China, due to the China Firewall and can also improve the ability for your website to be indexed well in baidu.com.  

If your business in Hong Kong targets customers from all over the world then hosting in Europe or the USA could be a good option.

Keep centralised access of all your website details (preferably in a password manager)

Keeping the following website element access details in a structured, secure and centralised place within your business should be a top priority for your business continuity plan.

Website ElementFunctionCredentialsExample Providers
DomainDomain Name that is linked to a web hosting server for which a website is hosted on, hosted with a domain registrar and accessible via an account online.Domain Registration Company URL, Username / Email Address, Password, Two Factor Authentication App Code, Mobile NumberGoDaddy, NameCheap
Web HostingA web hosting server package that a website (including relevant architecture and files) can be hosted on.Web Hosting Company URL, Username / Email Address, Password, Two Factor Authentication App Code, Mobile NumberAlibaba Cloud, Fastcomet, HostXNow, Stablepoint
cPanelA user friendly interface platform that helps to manage various elements of a web hosting server.cPanel Platform URL, Username, PasswordcPanel
Website CMSA separate set of login details that allow users to access the back-end platform of a system that manages the content on the website and allows you to update and edit a websiteCMS Login URL, Username, Password, Two Factor Authentication Credentials (optional)WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Webflow
Web Management or IT Infrastructure CompanyA third-party company that a company may choose to work with in order to help manage their website infrastructureKey Contact Name(s), Email Addresses, Website Address, Login Portal (potentially)
Web AnalyticsAn online software package that the business can access to monitor usage and performance of the websiteEmail Address(es), Password, Two Factor Authentication CredentialsGoogle Analytics, HotJar, Google Search Console

Store and Manage All Website Access Credentials in a Password Manager

We often experience a lack of structure and organisation some businesses have when it comes to storing and managing the key access and management credentials that are part of running their website(s).

To help manage all credentials within a business between specific stakeholders, we recommend Bitwarden as a best in class password and credentials manager. With Bitwarden you can create individual records for each website element and share them with other stakeholders in your business (as long as they are a user within a Bitwarden organisation you have created). You can also store two factor authentication codes within each record, which removes the need to have authentication codes stored only on one authenticator app on one device.

Pay as You Go / Monthly Web Management Packages

Need help to manage your website and to implement best practices?
We have website management and maintenance packages starting from $35 per hour

Recommended Website Solutions

Here are some recommended options to help you build the right website infrastructure for your website:

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