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Digital Hospitality: 4 Ways Web Hosting Affects the Quality of Your Website

web development tips

Prime real estate space is highly valuable. This is why a plot of land of certain size in a certain area could be worth 10 times as much as another plot of land with a same size but in a less popular area. For new families embarking on a new beginning, a plot of land in a good neighborhood surrounded by good schools and good hospitals would be considerably more attractive than a plot of land in a lousy, remote neighborhood, making the former considerably more expensive. For businesses, the amount of traffic around and proximity to public attractions could weigh in your favor.

What happens though when this issue of space shifted into the digital world as online businesses are now the norm instead of the exception? You might think that the issue of where the website is located doesn’t really matter but it actually, just in a wholly different way. In the world of web development, businesses are so hung up on designing the perfect website that the discussion of where that website should be hosted isn’t a priority but I’m here to outline some arguments on why that needs to change.

Great hosts aren’t just for Airbnb

In this year alone, the Facebook family of apps, including Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp, suffers from several different outages, cutting off access to their billions of users. If you’re not among those billions of people, all the power to you but for those that rely on those services on a daily basis, these outages are highly infuriating because they were entirely unexpected. If there was maintenance and people were alerted ahead of time, they might’ve been more receptive.

I’m absolutely certain that Facebook as a company opts to use the best hosting option available for their servers but in the world of web development, even the best is far from perfect. Of course, with the number of users in the billions and where security threats are a constant, Facebook is a very extreme example but it does highlight the importance of web hosting when it comes to online businesses. The quality of your website isn’t just decided by the website itself; your choice of web hosting will also have a measurable impact on the quality of your website.

Website load speed

Let’s say you’re about load a shipment of boxes from a warehouse to a truck. Obviously, the amount of time and work you’re going to have to make depend on the amount of boxes you have to move but it would also depend on how the boxes are going to be moved. Using a conveyor belt would be faster and requires less effort than if you’re going to have to carry the boxes one-by-one through a series of hurdles. In this analogy, the amount of boxes is the size and complexity of your website while how the boxes are moved is the access provided by your web host provider.

The amount of access and resource available to your website is dictated by your hosting plan. A cheap, shared hosting plan means that multiple websites are hosted in a single server and the amount of resource and computing power of that server has to be shared between those websites which means slower loading times. A dedicated server, physical or virtual, doesn’t suffer from this limitation but they’re also considerably more expensive, especially physical dedicated server. Keep in mind that for a simple portfolio website, a shared hosting option might be enough so try to balance these options with what you actually need.

Website uptime

No hosting option will be able to guarantee you 100% uptime, that’s just simply a statistical impossibility, but the good ones should at least be capable of guaranteeing 99% uptime. The numbers however, are just one piece of the puzzle, you also have to ensure that the web hosting provider you choose keep the unexpected downtime to a minimum and that you’re always given a heads up when a scheduled downtime is about to happen. You know how the saying goes, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

Website security

There are two ways a website can be hacked, by invading the administrator section of a website and by invading the actual server where that website is hosted. The former is your responsibility but the latter is in the hands of whoever owns that server. There’s a type of service referred to as colocation hosting in which a business merely rents the server space where the server is located and the business is responsible for the managing of the server itself but typically, this is left to the hosting provider, which is why it’s imperative for you as a business to go with a provider that takes the issue of cybersecurity as serious as it should be.

Website scalability

For the forward thinking business owners, it’s typical for you to look at where you’d like your business to be 5, 10 years down the line. In the physical space, this means having a good foundation for your property so that when it comes a time for you to expand your wings, you could just simply expand the space you currently have now instead of having to hunt for a bigger location. This scalability issue is also present in the world of web development as as your business grows, you also have to contend with a bigger, more sophisticated website and more traffic.

If you think that going with a dedicated hosting option is a bit of overkill at this stage of your business, that’s completely in your discretion but you’d want to make sure that your hosting provider provides you with a seamless and easy way for you to upgrade and scale your website when the time comes. If you think that scaling in web development is easier than in the physical space, you’re right but it’s still quite a complicated process and you’d want to attach yourself to a hosting provider that knows what they’re doing.


Poor Criticism: The Impact of Negative Reviews on SEO

SEO impacts

Back when I was still in high school, I peruse Wikipedia a lot when it comes to school assignments. No matter if it’s a biology project or for a history paper, I would usually check Wikipedia first in one way or another. This attitude persists throughout my early college days until I enrolled in a class where the professor practically outlawed us from using Wikipedia source. The reason? Because Wikipedia, and other similar wiki sites, crowdsource their information.

The basic gist is this, anything you see written in Wikipedia is put there by a dedicated member of community who may or may not be an authoritative figure in their field. Crowdsourced information has been the hallmarks of modern internet, with platforms like Yelp and Trip Advisor allowing members of the public to submit reviews on businesses. How these reviews affect SEO is a question SEO services and marketers have been struggling to answer.

21st century internet and the wisdom of the crowd

For the most part, giving the public more input in how companies are viewed is an excellent idea. Giving center stage to vox populi, the voice of the people, is the foundation of a democracy and customer and/or user reviews are simply another outlet for that idea. Every business these days have to contend with reviews in one way or another, as all anyone needs is an internet connected device to either badmouth or praise your business.

The old marketing adage states that any publicity is good publicity. What this saying means is that bad reviews could still be good for you as long as they spell your name right. In terms of SEO, where the goal is to increase traffic to your business’ website by raising your presence on the internet, that adage would seem to be true. The truth however is slightly more complicated than that and we’ll now discuss just how exactly could negative reviews impact your SEO efforts.

They could actually improve your credibility

This might sound strange but a couple of negative reviews could actually improve how your business is viewed. It’s statistically impossible for your business to garner nothing but glowing praises and people tend to look at businesses like that with a skeptic eye. I look at a restaurant with a rating of let’s say a 4.6 out of 5 and I would usually think to myself that it might be a good idea to eat there at some point.

On the other hand, when I see another restaurant with the same number of reviews but with a rating of 5 out of 5, I would immediately grow skeptical. Nothing could ever be that perfect and when I see something like this, I tend to suspect that there’s some funny business going in the background. The only time that unanimous praise like that is allowed is when you’re at a funeral.

They could give you some ideas on marketing

Here’s one nugget of truth when it comes to reviews, they are rarely, if ever, objective. People tend to judge products and/or services not based on their inherent qualities, but based on how a certain product fulfills their own expectations, no matter how misguided those expectations actually are. And it’s these expectations that you could manipulate, for a lack of a better word, with how you market your products.

For example, let’s say you run an omakase restaurant, the Japanese tradition of letting the chef choose what to serve you, and you received a scathing review from a customer complaining that the food that was served to them was different from what they expected. You could for example write a post explaining just how omakase works and that what the chef serves you is completely up to the chef’s discretion and what ingredients are available on any given day.

It’s not just about the reviews; it’s how you respond to them

A 2017 survey shows that online reviews make up about 13% on how Google handle local search results but Google implies that it’s not just about the reviews themselves, it’s about how you respond to them. If your customers could take time out of their day to perfectly explain to the world where exactly your business is falling short, the least you could do is to reciprocate and respond to their reviews.

If the complaint is something that you could immediately check for yourself and rectify, like if one of your employees is behaving irresponsibly, state what have you or are you going to do to fix this. If it’s something that would need further work behind the scenes, acknowledge that there are things that need improving and that you are working on them. Sometimes, all people want is the simple knowledge that their inputs are being heard.

The impact of reviews on SEO

Reviews are designed to benefit potential users and as can be seen, their direct impact on SEO isn’t especially pronounced, making up only 13% of how Google determines local search results. It’s how they affect potential customers that should be a focus. Instead of thinking of negative reviews as something to combat, you might want to start considering them as opportunity to identify areas in your business that you could improve.

Filling In: 4 Online Form Builders You Could Use for Your Website

web development tips

Back when I was still in college, my university has this thing where in order for students to see their grades online, they are first required to fill out a questionnaire related to that particular class and the teaching professor. The questions are typical but they’re numerous and since we have to do this for every class we take that semester, we pretty much skimmed through all of the questions and went with the default answers.

Forms are inescapable on the internet. Almost every concert tickets I’ve ever bought began with a form. Product giveaways tend to have a survey as a prerequisite. Even now, 5 years since leaving college, the odd questionnaires and surveys still land on my inbox, usually from undergraduate students from my alma mater. A lot of these came through Google Forms, which is functionally decent but for businesses aiming for professionalism, there are other form builders out there you could use that don’t require any web development background.

The landscape for online form builders

For the purpose of lead generation, forms and surveys are still deemed to be one of the most useful tools. Compared to two decades ago when surveys have to be done directly through visits or telephone calls, the internet has made data collecting easier, giving businesses access to a more robust set of data. With the advent of services like PayPal, digital subscriptions have also been made more accessible, enabling people living in Gold Coast to subscribe to the New York Times by filling out a simple form.

It is in light of this that you should start giving forms a proper consideration. The familiarity and ease-of-use associated with Google Forms might be attractive but its blandness and lack of customization options can be crippling. The following is 5 form builder services available across the internet, with a mix of free and premium services, which you should take a look at if you feel Google Forms isn’t enough.


American-based JotForm is one of the most popular form builders. With JotForm, users have the option of using one of the plethoras of templates and themes available within the platform or by building their own form using a selection of several building blocks available within the platform. JotForm also enables the use of conditional logic and branched-out forms for a more complex data gathering.

The service operates using both a freemium and tier scheme. While most of the templates and themes available are free, some of the higher-quality ones are not. Additionally, while it is possible to use the service without a paid subscription, free users are limited to 100 monthly submissions, 5 forms, the addition of JotForm branding on your forms and other restrictions.


For the more artistic types, you should consider using TypeForm. TypeForm realizes that there aren’t a lot of things that could be more mind-numbing than filling out a form and they subvert this idea by turning forms into more of an extended conversation. They do this by focusing only on one question at the time and allowing users to attach multimedia contents into the form itself. The name itself comes from the fact that TypeForm is designed so that users can fill out the entire form by simply typing out their answers.

TypeForm operates using a tiered scheme. The basic version is free to use but comes with a restriction of 100 responses per month and only 10 fields per form. Other restrictions include being limited to basic questions only, the use of conditional logic, payment field and no file uploads. The Pro tier comes with all of those for an extra US$30 per month.

Ninja Forms

Ninja Forms isn’t a full-on form builder in that it is actually a WordPress plugin, which means that this tool is limited to WordPress websites. Since it’s a WordPress plugin, Ninja Forms should be considered one of the default options for WordPress website thanks to its integration capabilities. Ninja Forms comes with support for robust customization options and the ability for more complex fields available out of the gate and the use of drag-and-drop form builder.

Ninja Forms pricing plan is a bit trickier though. While the free version comes with the above features, some customization options like conditional logic, payment options and file uploads are locked behind a paywall. Instead of a tiered subscription though, these features are locked behind add-ons, which you could purchase one at a time to use for a year. Alternatively, some of these add-ons are also bundled together for those looking for a more conventional subscription scheme.


Now working under the analytics company Survey Monkey, WuFoo offers robust collecting and analytics tool on top of the more common features like payment options and conditional logic. On top of that, WuFoo also offers the capability to create a device-responsive form, one that could suit both desktop and mobile devices for a more comprehensive set of data. To add to its analytics capability, WuFoo offers integration with CRM software maker Salesforce for comprehensive reports.

Of course, these features don’t come cheap. The basic free version is limited to 5 forms and 100 submissions with a lack of payment options, confirmation e-mail and feature integration. These features are available with a Professional subscription, which comes with a price tag of US$29 per month.

It should be noted that these are all for forms, which while still can be used for surveys aren’t especially suitable for the cause. For surveys, you might want to look at dedicated survey tools like Survey Monkey which has been mentioned before. Filling out forms can be boring but it doesn’t have to be and all four on this list, with special mention to TypeForm, can be used to inject a certain class to your lead generating tool.