The core objective of web hosting automation software and control panel software is to minimize the human interaction required to accomplish common hosting tasks. Hosting automation software helps companies reduce the costs of hiring personnel for server management, while allowing users the ability to accomplish those tasks with automation software solutions.
Considering that the basic objective of such software is to empower end users to be able to accomplish basic hosting tasks, it is important to minimize the learning curve for using hosting automation software and ensure that even technically challenged customers are also able to operate the software.
For this very reason, it is important to choose a hosting control panel which has high usability, low learning curve and familiarity for the end user. This simply helps companies reduce customer support costs as the more that people are able to accomplish tasks by themselves, the less they will need to be supported by your support personnel.
Here are various considerations that should be kept in mind when deciding on which hosting automation control panel software to choose:
- Customer Familiarity. The more familiar the customers are with the interface of the control panel, the less learning curve is required by them to use the software. Existing familiarity with software is one important reason why a lot of companies choose to use an â€œout of boxâ€ control panel software such as Parallels Plesk.
Actually, customers sometimes feel uncomfortable using certain control panels which they are not familiar with and chose companies which offer a control panel they have experience using. For this reason, some hosting companies choose to provide the customers an option of choosing between various control panel options.
If a company decides to create a custom control panel, it is a good choice to keep the basic design structure of the software similar to the popular hosting control panels available in the market as that reduces a learning curve for the end customers.
- Standard Icons / Text. Some hosting companies have a temptation to use marketing buzzwords or their proprietary icons or terminology in the control panel software for obvious branding and marketing reasons.
From a usability standpoint, such practice is not advisable as it simply confuses the customers and makes it harder for them to realize what the icon or text is supposed to mean. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to stick to using the standard icons or text within the control panel software. The more familiar customers are with the software icons and texts, the less support they will need.
It is also important that the grouping of various functions and features is done in an intelligent way and proper consideration is given as to which features are grouped together. The easier it is for a customer to find a function to accomplish a certain task, the less confused they will be and less support will be needed by them.
- Easy-to-Read Fonts. Modern browsers give web designers a lot of freedom with using different fonts and styling. However, it is important to ensure that the web site is consistent in design across various browsers and versions. Apart from that, it should also be ensured that the fonts being used in the design are easy to read.
If it is hard for your customers to read the font or styling, their job will be made more difficult rather than easy. This can then result in more valuable time being spent by technical support staff.
It is important that priority is given to usability of design rather than styling for the sake of styling. For a lot of designers, it is difficult to sacrifice a cool styling for the sake of usability, and hence it is advisable to use an external agency or usability consultant to evaluate the usability of design.
- Detailed Help-Text. It is important for companies to maintain detailed help files and tutorials for their software and services. The more information that is available within the help sites, the less contacts customers will have to make with the support team in order to understand how something works.
If a company uses generic out of box software, then such software usually comes with well written help files. However, if any custom modifications have been made to the software, it is usually a good idea to modify the help files in order to reflect the modifications so that end customers do not get confused by reading outdated help files.
Providing detailed help files and tutorials becomes even more important for companies using custom software and hence proper consideration must be given to developing detailed help files for the same.
- Video Tutorials. For a lot of customers, it is difficult to read through large amounts of text and execute the instructions. To overcome this issue, a large number of companies provide video tutorials for accomplishing various tasks. It is therefore much easier for customers to take a look at video tutorials and follow the instructions provided visually.
A few out of box hosting automation software solutions provide generic video tutorials which customers can watch to learn how to accomplish various tasks. There are also some companies which are in the business of making instructional videos for hosting companies, and some of them also have stock video tutorials for sale.
If a company decides to use a custom developed hosting automation software then it is even more important to have video tutorials available, as the learning curve for custom software is usually much higher and hence they will need more support.
As the recent recipient of the 2009 Editors Choice Award for best CRM provider, Parallels understands that the SaaS Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is probably the largest Software as a Service (SaaS) market.
Parallels is a worldwide leader in virtualization and automation software that optimizes computing for consumers, businesses, and service providers across all major hardware, operating systems, and virtualization platforms. Founded in 1999, Parallels is a fast-growing company with 800 employees in North America, Europe, and Asia. Parallels virtualization and automation solutions are used by more than 10,000 hosting providers and their customers worldwide.
To learn more, please visit:Â www.parallels.com.