Prior to working on a hosting company, my experience with web hosting as a customer has been:
University-Hosted: When I was a student and Mosaic was the dominant browser.
Brand X Internet: When I lived in LA, I got a recommendation and used these guys. We’re talking late 90s. Man look at the beautiful design of their pricing page.
DreamHost: I used DreamHost for many years. I never thought they were a bad host, despite all that “unlimited” malarkey. Their web control panel is a custom in-house job.
Big Corporate: I used to admin web servers and related services. But I’m unlikely to ever run a hosting business on high-end Sun servers with a SAN.
Self-Hosted: I am a VPS junkie and have hosted a lot of sites on my own VPSes. Usually Debian Linux with nginx+php-fpm.
The point of this chronology is that at no point have I been the classic cPanel shared web hosting customer. Dreamhost’s panel didn’t give me a cPanel feel, and hosting with nginx/php-fpm is not shared hosting experience.
So I signed up with a semi-random cPanel shared hosting company out of the WHT listings. I did an hour’s research and picked one, moving one of my personal sites to it.
The experience was interesting. I noticed the following:
- The customer experience is a jumble of WHMCS, their help desk software, and cPanel. The look and feel on each is different and it was really kind of confusing, as it was possible to open a ticket in each area. I found myself having to refer to my “IMPORTANT EMAIL” many times for links.
- Other things are not integrated – posting in the forum is a separate registration.
- As a customer, I was content to open a ticket and get a reply a few hours later. I never really had the expectation that support would live chat with me or respond in 30 minutes or anything like that. I mention this because some hosts really emphasize the response SLA.
- No complaints on the service, speed, etc., though all I’m serving is very light PHP.
I don’t really have any complaints, but it’s been interesting to see how another company does things. As a customer experience zealot, some of the different logins/looks/etc. would drive me nuts. Then again, perhaps I am emphasizing unimportant things.