View Full Version : Control panel and help/manual need help...LOT'S OF HELP

02-06-2004, 01:05 PM
I'm a new customer to WestHost. I just signed up for the Reseller 3 package after reading all the reviews and having a great deal of trouble with my current host. Even though my last hosting company had poor service, and lots of server blackouts, the one thing I really liked was C-Panel. It is very intuitive and easy to use, not just for me but for my clients. I told them that I was moving them to a much better, happier place...WestHost. Then...I logged in to my reseller account for the first time and was stunned to see how unintuitive and confusing the whole process was. I saw a "help" tab and though, "great I'll just reference that and I'll be on my way!". No such luck. The "help" contents were so counter-intuitive that I found myself sinking in my chair, feeling completely lost. Who writes this stuff? Obviously not someone with a knack for creative writing. I think one would need to be a super-geek in order to understand it's content. After calling support 4 times, once for each function I set up, I gave up calling because it was late at night and only one tech was manning the phone (long wait times). As if that wasn't bad enough, I logged on to my user control panel and began ANOTHER pain staking process of setting that all up. Again, not what I'm used to. Most of these features like MySQL and Webalizer usually come pre-installed with new accounts. The control panel is slow, and it takes a while to understand how it works. Definitely nothing like C-Panel, which my clients rave about. I don't know how I'm going to make them happy after I move them, other than the fact that the equipment and support rocks.

If I were in charge of WestHost, this is what I would do based on my first impression:

1. Re-write the online manual and "help". This is a fantastic feature, but it is WAY under utilized because I don't believe the writer even understands how this stuff works either. Add some "tips" from people who know the system well and can give quick advice on what to do and what not to do. Write the manual in layman's terms for crying out loud! We're not all super geeks. BTW, this will cut down on calls and email to the customer service staff, and save you MONEY! Woohoo!

2. Re-design the control panels for both users and resellers. It takes WAY to long to install the aps. When you want to edit a package you have to go through EVERY screen all over again. It took me almost an hour to get 2 packages set up...that included time spent trying to figure out the counter-intuitive interface. Separate each function with a clickable menu, rather than having to go "next, next, next...." and so forth. List the items that need to be installed first, like Python and MySQL. Other apps depend on them and you can't install these without getting an error "Python isn't installed". It took me 15 minutes to figure out that you can't just select everything and install. This too will cut down on calls and email to customer service and, yes....save you MONEY!

3. If you can't do C-panel, I suggest putting all of your features into categories that are icon AND text-based. More people can relate to recognizable images than just text. Plus, it will look nicer. Put little "?" icons next to each feature so users can click and get WELL WRITTEN and WELL DOCUMENTED, EASY TO UNDERSTAND help. Again, back to the customer service issue. And yes, you guessed it....AND you can show off the "ease of use" which is a selling point all to itself....making you happy customers, and more of them.

Other than the above, I wish to say that you DO have a great support staff. Therefore, be kind to them...and take this burden off their shoulders. I beg you! For all our sakes!

Best Regards,

-Midihead :!:

09-21-2004, 09:33 PM
I would have to agree. I've come here under similar circumstances and have been rather bewildered at the clumsy setup and control panel routine.

CPanel or Plesk options would solve pretty much all of the issues, but they aren't available.

Am considering yet another option on another host.

09-24-2004, 06:30 AM
Yes this is something that WH is very aware of and is working on changeing. They say they are close to releaseing thier changes. I think the new stuff is going to be much better since many of use have been giving input like you on what we feel would make it better. Hopefully you can stick it out till they get the new Site Manager and users manual going. We have seen small changes here and there over from time to time but I think they are waiting till they get all their ducks in a row before showing us the big changes.

Till that time feel free to ask us other users here on the forum. You may find some of the answers in old post although it can be hard to find them at times so don't worry if it is a question that has been ansewered. If we know of the post we can point you to it or answer again.

Also on the Manual in case you had not realized it yet. There are two pages for many things like the Apps you can install. The basic install and then the Users Guide. When you go to the Users Guide you have to scroll down to see the content. I kind of looks like it is the same place or page but it is not.

09-24-2004, 09:18 AM
Unfortunately, I filled out the cancellation form about 6 hours before your post.

My problems aren't due to lack of ability - I've been tinkering online since before the days of HTML & the World Wide Web. My first computer was an AppleII, running AppleBasic and no hard drive and I accessed online things through the original Compuserve using an acoustic coupler (cradle type) modem. At one point, I had a T1 running into my house for operation of a Ripterm based Majordomo type BBS, which I charged folks $19.95/month or $9.95/5 hours for.

As recently as 1995, I had an account with a local hosting provider, with the option for shell or 'ppp' access - I had shell and connected through an ISDN line. My problem has to do with progress. I didn't migrate from DOS to Windows because DOS was faulty; I did it because Windows offered me more with less work. The same thing applies here.

I didn't move from a shell provider to one with a GUI front end because the shell was faulty - I did it because the GUI allowed me more capability for less work, while still allowing me shell access when convenient.

I used to code HTML entirely by hand, through Notepad. I now use Dreamweaver and/or FP, then copy & paste the results into a text editor or HTML kit for manual cleanup, then upload the resulting code. I find it much faster and less work. Many might call it laziness, but I don't care.

I have discovered something in this experience - I don't want something that looks like Plesk or CPanel, nor do I want something that tries to act like Plesk or CPanel. I want Plesk or CPanel, the real thing, with enough disk space and server capacity to handle the increased overhead.

My wife recently asked me why we were going through yet another computer upgrade (from P4HT 2.8 to P4HT 3.6) - I told her it was because I could do more for less effort and time. If I wanted to run DOS, I could happily return to a 286/386. So now we have new machines and the kids got the old machines, which were only about 14 months old.

When I came here, I saw the specs and read the reviews - all positive - and I still feel WH is a bargain and a top-notch offering. It just isn't what I need or want.

I am staying with my current provider until I can get new accounts setup - either with ServInt or PowerVPS. Both have CPanel and Plesk, along with all of the toys PLUS, like here, full shell access to the root. Both are under $50 monthly and both have good reputations for quality and service, just like WH does. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to setup either service until sometime this next week, hence the need to remain with my current provider.

I do appreciate your offer of assistance. I've been all over this community, plus your site and yet another one which offers assistance to WH customers. The help is thorough and friendly - you folks really don't have to do what you do, but you cannot be for me what I need and that is a higher powered hosting option. Just my admission of having to spend time here and on your sites, looking for answers (I always assume first that I am the weak link in the equation) is an indicator that something is wrong with this picture. I have spent more time in the past 24 hours on this and your sites than I spent on the support forums of my two previous providers in five years of being their customer.

Why am I leaving my previous provider? Simple - I left one 18 months ago to consolidate services to one company. One point of contact is so nice, plus one provider was lower cost, also with top notch performance. The one I went with (Ventures Online) was a top flight company, but was merged into Data393 recently. Data393 is not known (at least in my experience) as a company which does well with support or service. In 5 years with VO, I had a total of three problem support tickets and only one was caused by their error and all were fixed within an hour or two. In the past 90 days, with Data393, I've had eleven of them, with one not being resolved and the other taking over a week to complete. Six were for corrupted MySQL databases, which their system caused. On top of that, a recent request for more space required them to move me to another server, then tell me it would be $90 to move my files and $10 per database to migrate to the new server. When I complained about that, I received nothing but arrogant responses.

My contact with Matt and everyone here has been nothing short of stellar - the product just isn't suited to my needs. It would be well matched for someone who has the time and patience to install/update all of their own scripts and run a lot of shell commands; I am just too old and picky to go through that all again. The atrociously slow and clunky control panel cemented that feeling with me. I want to click and see things happen now, not 60-90 seconds from now, then have to go through the same routine for the next task. I want and need to scripts to be current, at least at startup, and be accessible through the CP.

I regret having to make the decision to leave. WH comes so highly recommended, but the recommendations are for reliability, speed and integrity - all well earned. I need those, but I also am willing to pay a little more for the things I want, too. But I am not willing to pay retail for things like my own CPanel/Fantastico/RVSkin licenses, when I have competitive alternatives which include them, with enough resources to compensate for the additional overhead. My two previously mentioned alternatives have these things, with 10GB space and 150-200GB monthly bandwidth and the requisite dual Xeon 2.8-3.06 processors and OC48 connections through various backbones. If I need more space, it is available, either in easy account upgrades or ala-carte. For $13-16 per month more, I get twice the space and bandwidth, plus the features I need and want. With my high end connection, I can backup my current files and upload them to the new accounts in under an hour - add another hour for reconfiguring the dozens of email accounts we use. With WH, I've been at this for over 10 days and still don't have a properly functioning site.

Considering my pay scale, the $13-16 savings here buys about 12 minutes per month of my time - the primarily shell access commands cost me far more than 12 minutes. Instead of a hour of shell administration, I'd rather take 2 minutes to point & click through a competent control panel and use 58 minutes to write another article, read or play with my children. I just don't have the desire to fiddle with this stuff.

09-24-2004, 11:19 AM
Great reply StreetsOfGold, I am sorry to see you move on to another hosting company although I understand your reasons. I think you would have been a great addition to the forum community here. Thank you for takeing the time to come back and reply. I'm sure WH well note many of the things you have mentioned. Perhaps in time they might suite your needs and if you find the need to switch well be an alternitive for you.

09-25-2004, 12:16 AM
You know what? I could have simply vanished into the ether and no one would have been the wiser as to why. But, I like to let folks know why I do business with them, why I don't do business with them and why I'd like to stay to do business with them, but can't.

As you can see from my last post, mine is really the latter.

If I just left and said nothing, no one would ever know what to improve upon to keep future customers around. I do know that there are many happy Westhost customers. I was once a happy shell account customer. If I were 20 years old again, without a ton of responsibilities, I still could be.

I stopped liking shell commands about the time I decided hacking wasn't any fun anymore (which also coincided with the apparent demise of the hacker's honor code).

Here's my ultimate suggestion:

WH has great service and value, along with a first rate network. Many are happy with it, just the way it is. So, I'd suggest to keep it this way - but add a few optional account setups to make cranky people (like me) happy. The optional 'premium' or 'convenience' accounts could mirror the offerings of a Servint or a PowerVPS account. More disk space, more bandwidth, Plesk and/or CPanel (I think CPanel is better - but others disagree) and a higher price to go with the extra features.

This way those who can eat/sleep/drink UNIX would be happy and could save some money, while those of us who are too lazy to do it anymore would stay.

I once left the best hosting provider I ever found, to merge everything into Ventures Online accounts (mentioned in my past post) - I had the top account options at Precious Seconds (http://pseconds.com), a small host in Minnesota. The owner, Scott Anderson, was the best guy anyone could ever do business with. We would share pictures of our children and talk about anything. A support call might last 2 hours, between us, even though the issue was cleared up in five minutes. In other words, we'd become friends who'd never met personally.

I could hear the hurt in his voice when I called him to tell him I was cancelling service. But my needs were taking me elsewhere. Scott was not offering MySQL or php. The service was terrific and the reliability was near perfection. But, he wasn't ready to okay the install of these needed features on the servers, even though there was a premium price.

PSeconds is still around and still has enough loyal customers to keep it all solvent. And I still occasionally call to see how things are going for him.

So, it won't be out of the question for me to occasionally stop over here and offer help or even look for some. And, who knows? If the future offerings include the things I need and want, I may just be back. I am not a fan of the large corporate type hosts.

09-25-2004, 04:20 AM
I have a hosting account with WH and with another provider that uses C-Panel.


That's all that WH is missing.