One thing that makes the Complete Hosting Guide different is that we have a unique philosophy on content, that in many ways, we wish more companies would adopt. Being frustrated with the state of knowledge bases and support guides, especially in the hosting space, we see the need for a new way of thinking.
Here are some of the ideas behind the Complete Hosting Guide.
A Professional's Guide
We are desiging our guide to be used both by the public at large, as well as the web hosting industry. That is why we include links to web hosts and companies in the industry.
We full expect employees from web hosting companies to use our website to answer their customer's questions, and are designing it to be the knowledge base you wish your own company had. We know the biggest users of any hosting knowledge base is web hosting support staff, and are designing our guide with that in mind.
Search Isn't Enough
Most knowledge bases are called "bases" because they are essentially a database of articles that you have to search to find what you need. The problem with that is you have to know what to search for. And if you are trying to learn something new, knowing what to search for is your first challenge.
That is why, unlike other knowledge bases, we have not only categorized each page, but have also placed them in a distinct heirarchy, and then interlinked the articles to related content. That way, even if you don't know exactly what to search for, if you can at least navigate to something similar, you will probably find a link to it within a couple of hops.
Assumed Knowledge & A Diverse Audience
Another big challenge of any knowledge base and support guide is balancing too much information with not enough information.
On one end of the spectrum, you have web developers and software engineers who are trying to find exact steps to do something. They already know the terminology, and don't want to waste their time on explanations of things they already know. They are there for the answer, and want to find it quickly.
Then on the other side of the spectrum, you have someone who is completely new to hosting, doesn't know the terminology, and needs things explained to them.
And most people are somewhere in between. Most notably, web hosting company level 1 technical support staff, which know how to handle common issues and know enough to look up stuff, but not enough to be a system administrator. While they have a lot of knowledge, they do spend a lot of their time searching for answers. The difference is they know how to search for it.
So you don't want to assume knowledge, while at the same time you don't want to slow down power users. So where possible, we have made our content skimmable, where power users can skip to the content they need, while someone who wants to understand more can read about how it works. We also try to interlink to content that explains important terms and concepts, so you can take a quick detour if you neeed to better understand the concepts before you continue.
Linking to External Content is Good
These days, so many websites get greedy with linking out to good content, afraid they will lose traffic, or that a visitor will discover a website better than theirs. Well, we are on a mission to be the best hosting guide on the planet, and we are not afraid to link to other knowledge bases for several reasons:
- Links to other sources validates our content as being authentic and authorative, since we have references to back up what we say.
- Since most other knowledge bases are hard to search, people will start coming to us to find links to other websites, since ours is organized better.
- If we need to update a page, links to reference materials are already in the article making research easier for us.
- If our content, heaven forbid, is out-of-date, perhaps one of the websites we link to is more accurate.
- Everyone has their own spin on explaining a subject, so perhaps someone else's content makes more sense to you.
- Some websites we link to may have more information than what we feel fits on our website.
- We can't and won't cover everything, but at least we can help you find what you need.
And for those naysayers, I would like to point out that one of the most popular websites in the world, google.com, sends you to other people's websites, and makes a lot of money doing so. Enough said.
Simple Design is Not Always Better
We know the trend right now is towards simpler designs and removing features not used by 80% of the users. But we are going to go against that trend for several good reasons.
- A complex subject with interconnected information is easier to navigate with more navigation, not less.
- While many websites jetison features that only power users use, catering only to the masses, we believe that power users are the most loyal users and should be rewarded with power user features.
- It is more important that you can find the information you want, than having a slick design that looks great but is not that functional.
While we try to keep things as simple as possible, being able to find stuff is more important. These extra links and information may clutter up the place a bit, but in the end, it will be more useful with that extra content.
Integrity / Not Just Who Pays Us
We have seen a lot of guides only include web hosts they receive affiliate commissions from. And then you have all those review sites that are really nothing more than advertisements. They often go so far to hide relevent information to try to funnel you through affiliate links they make money if you use.
While we love commissions and money, we also want to be the best guide in the world, and that means including content from all the major players, not just those that pay the highest commission.
Sure, we are going to have advertisements and affiliate links, where we can. We have to compensate for our time and server resources somehow. But we would rather be a trusted source of information that you refer back to again and again than try to make a quick buck off of you. We believe this strategy has more integrity, and will pay off in the long run, by establishing us as "the" authority on web hosting.