Month: May 2017

How to Choose the Right Web Hosting For Your Brand

web hosting

Getting Started with Web Hosting

Choosing the right website hosting provider and server type is a very intimate process. The hosting type you choose has to be the right fit for your business and needs. Most times, business owners tend to only care about the price tag, regardless of it’s a right fit for their needs. They don’t realize how many different types of web hosting providers are actually available to them!

The Importance of Website Hosting

The web hosting provider you choose has a bigger impact on your website than you’d think. Consider your website as a house. If it was built with an insufficient foundation, your house will crumble. As your website’s foundation, your hosting provider can directly affect your website’s performance.

Whether you realize it or not, there’s a lot happening behind-the-scenes you may not initially consider. All are important factors in keeping your website running at its peak performance. For example, if your server doesn’t have the latest coding languages installed, your website could break based on how it was built. In turn, this could result in a bad user experience and affect potential conversions.

Factors to Consider

There are many factors to consider when choosing which hosting platform would be best for your business. 


With any hosting provider you consider, remember, there is no such thing as 100% uptime. Even with large providers like GoDaddy or Amazon’s AWS, there are documented instances of downtime. Once you let that sink in, consider how these companies handle support in these instances. In some cases, if the main terminal is offline hosting providers offer load balancing. This is when the system will piggyback onto another, duplicated server.


I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “you get what you pay for”. This is especially true when it comes to choosing your hosting provider. Most shared hosting providers have similar pricing, which seems great. That is until you run out of space or bandwidth. Then, they tend to jack up the prices when you try to upgrade. Again, each site is different in the amount of traffic your website gets. In a perfect world, your website would get thousands of simultaneous daily users. In that case, you would need the most beefed up providers. Realistically though, we understand that’s not always the case and you could get away with a leaner server.


Your business is growing, great! You’re seeing increased traffic to your site, even better! Now you have to consider expanding your server to handle the increased traffic. There are different ways to expand your server based on which platform you choose. While some are easier than others, and some are more expensive than others, it boils down to what’s best for your business.

Web Hosting Options to Choose From

There are many different options available for hosting. Some are bigger, faster, and better than others. Our advice is, don’t make a decision solely on the price tag. Consider your estimated traffic, expandability, feature requirements, etc. If you’re putting your heart and soul into your business, it’s not smart to cut costs on the cornerstone of your presence.

Shared Servers

Shared servers are the most commonly used web hosting providers because they usually offer all-in-one packages for hosting, domain registration, and emails at an affordable price. Providers include:

While they do have some upsides, shared web hosting servers tend to have limited resources. Security also tends to become an issue with hundreds of sites running the same functions. The two biggest downsides to Shared Servers is the lack of control over key features including Apache (which is the backbone of any site) and the lack of customization.

Dedicated Servers

Dedicated servers are when you rent or purchase a physical machine separated from other server machines. Think of these as your own private island with the freedom to do whatever you want without any consequence other than yourself. This powerful setup definitely requires the proper support team, which will help during expansion and keep costs low. 

Virtual Private Servers

A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a segment of a server terminal, independent from others on the site, so there’s no risk of cross-contamination. The server specs are virtualized based on the entire terminal and are good for rapid expansion. Providers include:

For a beginner, diving into a VPS can be extremely intimidating as you are on your own for everything. When it comes to utilizing a VPS, you need to make sure you have the support of an experienced manager or agency who knows the server’s operating system to maintain and update.

DIY Site Builders

Do-it-Yourself website builders have become increasing more popular over the last couple of years. This is because they often have simple drag and drop editors and are fairly cheap. While they seem customizable, they tend to be very ‘cookie-cutter.’ There’s very little room for creative elements that could reflect your brand and makes you blend in with the crowd. Providers include:

Our Recommendations

We prefer to use a Virtual Private Server from DigitalOcean. They offer one-click stack installations, server statistics, unlimited backups, and much more all at an affordable price. DigitalOcean gives you the tools you need to setup the perfect environment and ability to expand for your website or application.

web hostingFor us, Virtual Private Servers are ideal because of the customization aspects. We can customize settings to fit our needs and works great for WordPress, our go-to content management system. For example, Shared Hosting providers tend to limit the maximum file upload size in WordPress with no ability to increase it. With your own VPS, you have the freedom to set your own limits.

What You Should Consider

The server type you choose goes beyond just hosting your website. It’s the foundation of your site and the options you have available ultimately determine how structurally sound your site will perform.


Any business owner can tell you about their growing pains. In the technology industry, you never want to feel constrained to one specification. With Shared Hosting, you’re often limited to how large your server can grow and would pay an arm & leg to have it upgraded. With a Virtual Private Server, however, you have the ability to easily scale your server specifications like bandwidth, hard drive size, and more at a touch of a button. Another advantage of using a VPS or Dedicated Server is having the ability to increase the maximum file upload size you can perform on your CMS. 

Uptime Monitoring

This is a must have tool for any site, and can be added to any web hosting provider. Tools like Uptime Robot will notify you in real-time if your server ever goes down. This is done by pinging your site on a regular basis and looking at the response code. If it responds with a poor code, it will email or text you in real-time. This instances could be due to a disconnection with the database server. Now, what do you do if your website is down? With Shared Hosting you’ll probably be on the phone with tech support for a while. When it comes to a VPS or Dedicated Server, you have the ability to tackle the problem right away. Usually all it takes is a simple reboot.

Ease of Use

We define ‘Ease of Use’ as how much control you have to upgrade and installing specific modules. These can include items such as SSL Certificates, updating code languages, etc. Usually, this is where Shared Hosting servers shine. For example, GoDaddy offers an easy-to-use cPanel dashboard for managing everything but doesn’t typically give you the ability to upgrade your core features that power your website. This includes the PHP code version, which is very important if you’re using a CMS like WordPress or Joomla. They’re constantly updating their frameworks to be in line with the latest code versions. While they are more complicated to manage, a VPS or Dedicated Server gives you the freedom to manage every aspect of your server.

Our Recommendation

We have used a variety hosting providers in our years of experience and after much trial and error, we have created our ideal toolkit for hosting client websites. For a web hosting provider, we use DigitalOcean for our Virtual Private Server in conjunction with CloudFlare to manage the domain’s DNS routing and Uptime Robot for monitoring. It may seem as a basic setup, but DigitalOcean Droplets give us the freedom to expand and manage every aspect of our client’s website. In turn, we’re able to meet their specific needs while CloudFlare provides great support for managing DNS records, caching, custom routing, and so much more. Lastly, Uptime Robot is just a great asset because it’s free for our needs!

In the End…

There are a lot of options out there when it comes to web hosting, so how do you know where to start? The short answer is it all depends on your needs. If you just need a small landing page, a Shared Hosting plan from someone like GoDaddy may be right for you. On the other hand, if your business has plans to expand, we recommend a Virtual Private Server. Working with a company like DigitalOcean will give you all the room you need to grow. For those companies that are building and selling your own applications, you may need to go as big as a Dedicated Server that you can control. Each option serves its own purpose and uses, but it comes down to you to decide what’s best for your overall goals.

Our Favorite Web Apps to Boost Workflow

You are only as efficient as your client. We kept that in mind when we created our process. Our goal was to arm our clients with all of the tools and resources they would need. Ultimately, we wanted to make it easy to collaborate, review and communicate with us. With this at the forefront, we created a toolkit of web apps we use to alleviate the risk of bottlenecks and keep everyone focused on the tasks at hand.

Our Top Web Apps

Keeping all of this awesome information on these web apps to ourselves would just be plain greedy. Let’s take a closer look at some of our favorite web apps and how we apply them to certain situations:

  • Basecamp
  • Slack
  • Jira
  • UberConference
  • Google Apps
  • Invision
  • Coggle
  • Typeform


First up in our list of favorite web apps is Basecamp. It’s a great project management tool where you can have discussions, set tasks, deadlines, and share/store assets. Think of it as a task manager on steroids, complete with sharing permissions and more. 

best web apps

If you couldn’t tell, we’re big fans of Basecamp. We use it to map out our entire project workflow in their templating. It makes it simple for our clients to track what stage we’re in. Generally, we use Basecamp for two different types of approaches:

Full-Cycle Website Development

For our web development projects, we always start by onboarding the client into Basecamp. We send them a tutorial explaining how we use this dynamic system. From there we navigate through the project, using the platform to communicate and manage creative assets. Living within the Basecamp ecosystem helps us avoid missed tasks, emails and gives us the ability to keep everyone up to date in real-time.

Software Development

During a software development project, there are many times where planning and discussions are necessary without submitting tickets. When faced with these situations we dedicate our Basecamp project to becoming the forum for non-ticket discussions and storing all necessary documentation.  For all other software development related tasks, we use Jira, which we’ll cover later on.


Over the last few years, Slack has become an industry-recognized brand when it comes to communication. They just make communicating with your team extremely quick and simple. Emailing back and forth can be tough, especially if the person is working on a million other tasks. There’s a risk of your email being buried or overlooked, which could leave you unsure of what to do next. Slack resolves this issue through dedicated channels you set. That and a handful of other innovative features that makes it shine among the likes of Skype and Google Chat.

Best Web Apps

If you were to walk up to any Areli team member randomly, there’s a 99.9% chance they have Slack open. For us, Slack is great for quick chats that don’t require a documented thread. If we need to find out about an invite status for a meeting, we can do so without adding to the email fodder. With some of our partners and larger clients, we will actually create a separate Slack team with channels dedicated to specific issues and requests. This way we can stay in direct contact with them within a specific ecosystem.

When it comes to using the asset upload features of Slack we use it more for revision rounds and store the final versions in Basecamp. One of our favorite features of Slack is their customization capabilities including their custom welcome messages and iconography.


Jira by Atlassian is a great tool for any custom software development team. It helps teams use Agile methodologies to effectively ship quality code at a quicker, more steady pace. With teams of Product Owners, Project Managers, Developers and everyone in-between, compiling a list of tasks can be overwhelming to maintain. When using Jira, anyone can easily add a tagged ticket to the project’s Backlog.

Best Web Apps

Using our backlog list, we have weekly Scrum meetings to create Sprint iterations based on the priority of each ticket. We also consider other factors such as the client’s budget, and our team’s capacity to work on the project as a whole. Because the concept of a Sprint is to self-dedicate to a set number of tickets in the iteration to develop, test and release quality code as often as possible.

Best Web Apps

Photo credit: Valiantys

Jira helps everyone involved quickly see where tickets are in each Sprint iteration with another Agile practice known as Kanban views. Kanban views is a column system with various stages of the Sprint. For our approach, we break down our process into the following columns:

To Do

When tickets are selected for the Sprint iteration, items are marked as a To Do. This acknowledges that they are ready to be worked on.

In Progress

The ticket is moved to this column when the developer is ready to work on it. This column helps the Project Manager easily see what the developer is currently working on.

Quality Assurance

After the ticket has been addressed and the developer is satisfied with their work, the ticket is passed to Quality Assurance for testing. It’s a critical stage ensuring the ticket is functioning as intended. If something seems goofy, it’s sent back to development before it’s sent for client review.

Client Review

After the QA team’s approval, we send it to the client who performs their own test to validate everything is to their satisfaction.

Ready for Release

Once we have client approval it’s queued for release at the end of the Sprint iteration.


We’re at the last step in the process, hooray! Now that all of the tickets that were committed on during the start of the Sprint should be developed, tested and readied for release. Once released, Jira assigns all tickets to a version number, organizing a changelog of what has been completed in each release.


When it comes to conference bridges, you don’t have to break the bank with a robust system or expensive applications from Citrix. You can get the same features for less through UberConference. Once you sign-up you get a dedicated URL, conference line, and the assurance of never needing a PIN again. UberConference’s variety of features makes it simple to communicate with clients or your team wherever you are.

Best Web Apps

For us, UberConference continues to prove its value each and every time we use it. With team members across the country, a dial-in for weekly scrums and client kick-offs they can access via phone or the web make things simple. The environment also gives you the same great features of applications like Citrix, making it extremely adaptive. Some of our favorite features from UberConference are the Screen Sharing and Recorded Transcripts. Both come in handy in client and internal situations for review, accountability, and task management. With a free and paid service, UberConference is definitely a resource to check out!

Google Apps

Let’s go beyond Google’s search engine, AdWords, Analytics, and WebMaster Tools. They’re all extremely valuable, ESPECIALLY Google’s App Suite. It’s a treasure trove of tools and features including branded emails, cloud-sharing, and online apps for document creation. Additionally, their storage and document creation ecosystems make it effortless to share and collaborate with co-workers around the world. 

To say we use Google Apps for everything is an understatement. With a virtual agency like ours, collaborating in real-time is crucial. By using their apps, workflow handoffs are seamless while locating the necessary client material has never been easier. Google’s sharing permissions keep roles organized and group email aliases keep the inboxes tidy.


Invision’s prototype web app offers the ability to review and collaborate on project iterations every step of the way.  Similar to Google Apps and Basecamp, you can set various permissions to every project, keeping everything organized. With Invision, you have the ability to invite clients to comment, offer insight on design choices or potential features using Tour Points, and much more. Their user interface makes it easy to identify prototypes pending approval, what is still in progress and keeps the focus on the prototype. A running transcript of comments also helps keep track of any outstanding issues or items that still need to be addressed.

Our clients and team members have fallen in love with everything about Invision. For our clients, they love seeing the mockups firsthand and being able to comment on it directly. Other annotation tools can be clunky, and no one wants to waste paper when they don’t have to! We’ve been able to create an invaluable experience to our clients through the use of their Tour Points and Boards. Our team went head-over-heels for all of the integration features with Sketch, Photoshop, and Zeplin, in addition to gaining a centralized area for all creative inspirations. Their blog posts also offer amazing insights on everything from the business-centric to whimsical. If you ever have some time to kill, definitely check out some of their posts!


Sometimes, during the early stages of a project, nothing beats a blank workspace for planning. Visualizing the bigger picture and breaking it down task-by-task can be a pain in a text document or spreadsheet. Mind-mapping is a great way of staying organized and Coggle provides you with everything you need to plan away. Furthermore, whether you are strategizing, writing a book, or developing a website, Coggle’s interface and features can visualize your project at hand. Using their branches, colors, linking abilities and more you can stay organized while ensuring everyone always has an eye on the bigger picture.

Initially, we only used Coggle for Sitemaps and Information Architecture. We would plan out a website’s framework using branches before submitting it to the client for approval. It didn’t take us long to understand Coggle’s potential within our company, and started using it for anything related to planning. Now, we use it for everything, including content strategy and biz dev planning.


Customer experience is the cornerstone for all strong brands. Over the last decade, there has been an increase in brand surveys and reviews. To be honest, most of these surveys suck. They usually lack anything engaging, which makes them ineffective. That is unless you’re using the web app Typeform. With their platform, brands are able to create an experience rather than a survey. Their customization features allow brands create surveys in-line with their identity while adding their own personal touch in their questions.

Best web apps
Our projects always begin with a Discovery phase, where we identify pain points, locate assets, and review overall client goals. By using Typeform, our clients now have an easy and efficient way to provide us with all of the answers we’re looking for, without being invasive. Along with branding our surveys, we are able to create questions in our own voice. The process remains as a conversation than an interrogation which has resulted in better insights.

To Sum It Up – Our Favorite Web Apps

For us, all of the web apps we mentioned above are irreplaceable. The exceptional results that our clients have come to associate with the Areli name because of this toolkit we’ve created.  Explore some of the web apps above and be adventurous! While these are our favorites and work well for our needs it doesn’t mean they’ll do exactly that for you. Don’t be afraid to try out some new web apps and see which work for what you’re trying to accomplish.


If you’d like some more ideas on other web apps that could help, be sure to check out our other post, the 10 Best Apps for Startups.