When many catering companies come to us in need of a new or enhanced website, it’s often because they are experiencing a breach in security, email spam, missed software updates, slow speeds, broken links or other common and frustrating issues.
Those who build your site shouldn’t just know how to build it, they should know how to personalize it, maintain it, keep it organized and up-to-date and ensure its safety. This is why allowing a trusted and knowledgeable team of web professionals to host your site may be a good idea for your business.
Before overwhelming you with technical jargon and the official languages developers spend years learning in order to communicate with and build the internet, take a look at this quick cheat sheet. It includes many of the terms we will use in this post. We understand this is a lot to remember, so feel free to refer back to it!
What’s hosting? And how does it apply to your site?
Having the right team in place will ensure your site’s longevity, credibility and safety. Here are some factors to consider when it comes to hosting:
Email delivery system
A lot of clients experience various email delivery problems, especially spam. Using an SMTP provides clients with a trusted delivery system that easily recognizes spam, gets mail delivered swiftly and makes the contact form process more manageable. Email delivery via an SMTP server will ensure proper delivery to the client’s inbox. Don’t lose those leads!
Updated software stack
A problem with a lot of hosts is that they don’t update their software stack. We use a combination of Nginx (web server), Varnish (cache server), PHP 7 (with some customization), MySQL (customized database) and WordPress, and let’s just say it’s aggressively up to date. Using updated software increases stability, security and speed.
Sometimes sites require major updates, and they need to be taken offline or moved elsewhere. We avoid this process altogether by cloning it or creating a staging site. This gives us a whole second server and separate WordPress instance, saving time and energy. When it comes time to push the new changes live, we simply hit one button and it overwrites the live site.
Virus removal and monitoring
Most clients have no server-side security at all. So when they get a virus, it is oftentimes a huge, costly endeavor to get rid of it. What’s worse is it’s easy for web visitors to recognize. Most people won’t want to submit on your form if they see the site is broken. Having an automatic server-side malware system prevents this from happening through a rigorous monitoring and removal process. So even if your site gets a virus, the system will see and remove it without us doing anything.
SSL certificate—the key to site safety
Hackers are a massive issue when it comes to security, as they can easily monitor and copy all your information if your site is not secured. Encryption turns it into undecipherable data, and only a key is able to decipher and rearrange this information. The SSL certificate is that key.
Benefits: Privacy! The SSL certificate prevents cyber criminals from stealing user submitted data. Second, it’s great for your SEO power (Google likes to promote safe sites). And as it turns out, Google recently said all sites require SSL certificates in order to be trusted by Chrome 68 and above.
Another added benefit: Some companies charge up to $900 to install an SSL certificate. We charge nothing to install an SSL certificate—it just comes with our basic hosting package (about $25 a month).
WordPress and the birth of flexible content management systems
Close to a third of all of the websites in the world are on WordPress. That’s 10 million websites. And the best part is that it’s open source, which means that the public creates the code while still remaining free. Millions of the best minds work together to solve problems and figure out the best way to understand and use the latest technology—all on WordPress.
One of the biggest pluses to using this platform is that it’s a flexible content management system. While the core to any website remains the same, we can give it any extra functionality we want. This means we can edit everything. With some platforms you’re not allowed to edit certain files. WordPress, on the other hand, allows us to edit the core and theme.
Is hosting right for you?
Having a team of experts look after your website long after it’s built is a big endeavor that should be thoroughly researched and discussed with the rest of your leadership team. In any case, if you are investing in something as costly and time-consuming as a website, you should strongly consider a process that involves continuous updates and monitoring. Technology changes very fast. If anything is to go wrong with your site, your hosting providers will be on top of it.
We love building custom sites
Live Instagram feeds, interactive slideshows, dropdown menus, custom post types, custom taxonomies, filter lists like venue finders, HiDPI-ready images, custom advanced forms and other special features—these are just some of the puzzle pieces we work with on a daily basis that can be customized for any individual site. To us, building a website is not just throwing pieces together, and there is a lot of intent and careful structuring behind its creation.
A unique site that makes a catering company stand out and illustrates its services in the most authentic light is important to a lot of businesses. It’s important to our clients, and to us too. We want to feel proud of the work we create just as much as you do. Here are just some of ways site customization can set you apart:
Custom themes paint the picture you want
Custom WordPress themes give you more control over your site. They allow you a bigger selection when it comes to your layout and unique features that match your brand and the way you present your business to the people you’re trying to reach. Then again, customization shouldn’t result in a disorganized back end of a site. Our web team is passionate about creating custom themes with minimalist, easy-to-use back ends.
Clean code is good code
What do we mean by “minimalist back ends” exactly? It means we write our own plug-ins, keep our code orderly and don’t implement anything unnecessary. Our code does exactly what we want and need, and we have complete control over it. Everything has structure. Everything has a place. Coding requires proper indentation, spacing and commenting that makes it legible and easy to understand and manage, saving clients time in the end.
Custom post types, taxonomies and more
Depending on your needs, a developer can create custom post types, taxonomies (categories and tags) and image sizes. Many sites use a default image size that’s too large, which is why oftentimes a page will take a long time to load. Developers can use code to target a new size and build a library of picture sizes outside the default size.
If user has a high-resolution monitor, we optimize the images so they will remain crisp. This is done by testing the dots per inch (DPI) on the monitor, and if over a certain limit, the images will be swapped with double resolution versions. It has no negative effect on standard/low-resolution monitors, and your site will remain fast even with this technology.
When you open a website on your phone or in a small window on your desktop, it should be sized to fit. All of our sites are completely customized for all phone and screen sizes. Even if the site is large, nothing is locked to a specific width, and instead everything is coded via percentages so it looks great at any size.P
We hope this article gave you a lot to think about when it comes to the web building process, all that’s involved and what kinds of customization most interest you when it comes to your website. If you have any questions about the specifics in this article or our web process in general, we’d love to hear from you!