It’s so easy to sign up to hosted web solutions. Within a few minutes you can have your own blog, community, ecommerce shop, etc…but it can be so ‘dangerous’ too.

‘Dangerous’in the sense that you have no control how the business that runs the software will perform in the future and what decisions they decide to make.

An Example

In my search for solutions, I came across a hosted platform where anyone can run a hosted community / membership website. A few months ago I signed up for it out of curiousity, and as a result I get communications from them.

Today (note it is June the 8th as I start writing this), I got this:

Very soon we will be migrating your existing site from its current platform onto a different - and much better - platform
Your pricing plan will change as a result of this - if your site is currently free it will no longer be free
You have until Monday 18th June to decide what you’d like to do
If you do not wish to be migrated but would like a copy of your site’s content you still need to tell us
If you have not let us know either way by June 18th your site will be deleted and content will not be recoverable

If I had a vested interest in this platform - ie if I was using it to run a community and perhaps make money - then alarm bells and stress levels would be ringing.

They give their users 10 days notice of a massive change?
What if I’m away on holiday…I come back to find my site is deleted?

Wow…nice way to treat (potential) customers.

On top of that, they don’t really tell you the difference between the new and the old platform…and I can’t find anything looking at their website about the changes.

And their Twitter profile still says they do ‘free’ sites, but their email says otherwise.

Not here to have a dig…but it doesn’t look good.

I don’t like to openly criticise stuff. This feels somewhat uncomfortable, even if I haven’t mentioned who they are.

Questions to ask

It highlights the point that if you are trying to build an important website, then think carefully about how and who you sign up with.  If you run something on a hosted solution, how would you survive if they disappeared in 10 days? A month? A year?  Who is running the business? What do you know about how they run it? As individuals? As a business?

This example is about a membership website, but it equally applies to the likes of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  If you build your brand or business up on these things - how will you cope if they either chose to close down or users rapidly disappeared?