Clunky Control Panels…

Control panels are the lifeblood of any good hosting company. They are the main face of your company from the customers standpoint. We currently use a highly customized version of Cpanel (Cpanel.net). We have wrapped a TON of our own code (Billing system, customer info, affiliate system, install software, etc) into Bluehost.

While I believe we have a good Cpanel for our customers it is VERY clear that the control panels that hosting companies use are developed by programmers. I know this as I was once mediocre programmer :) The interface should be updated to ajax applications across the board. Even though it is on the web, the control panel should act intuitive and as fast as a desktop application.

July 19th-21st is Hosting Con (A web hosting industry trade show). I plan to take my complaints and many of yours directly to Cpanel. We are one of their largest customers. Just because the other hosting companies think status quo is fine doesn’t mean that we at Bluehost do. We are always going to push the limit and try to make things better. Although we are all stuck with a very 20th century interface, it shouldn’t be too long before we can enjoy web apps as they were meant to be used. Give us a while and if the current companies don’t respond we will write our own :) Really! We will!

Good luck,

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com

18 Responses to “Clunky Control Panels…”

  1. Avi says:

    Maybe I’m the vast minority here, but I chose Bluehost partially because of the fact that you use cPanel. I’ve been at other hosts where they use propietary panels, and they are either not powerful enough, too complicated, and/or, too slow.

    I think that some AJAX in the panel would be fantastic, but as for the UI, I don’t think the changes should be too drastic.

  2. omerhasan says:

    Hi, I too would like to see some improvements to Bluehost’s control panel. But I would love to see an ajax based control panel. it would look beautiful but would be a ton of work. I can live with CPanel but there are definately shortfalls in general about CPanel for example it’s installation procedure. Anyway I hope you guys roll out something new for us. and thanks for the great support

  3. industriality says:

    cPanel is the reason I have most of my clients hosted with Blue Host. I used to go with iPowerWeb, but they switched to vDeck which I found lacking in many of the features that cPanel has, and has an annoyingly oversimplified Win XP-esque interface. Go Blue Host.

  4. Autarkis says:

    Greetings Matt!

    This seems wonderful to me that you will try to push the envelope with Cpanel (great application, good support forums ;) ) at Hosting Con. An Ajax control panel would be wonderful, the thought of it makes mr all drooly!
    Let us know what happens at Hosting Con.

  5. Bijan says:

    i must say, i love everything about bluehost except cpanel. the ‘new layout’ is good, but if you could have the option to make it default, that’d be great. Lesser companies like Netfirms and 1&1 have much nicer, probably custom built ones, and IMHO, thats what you guys should work towards. No matter how terrible 1&1’s domain and hosting services are, and Netfirms lack of standard access features and terrible customer support, their control panels own bluehosts, and that makes me sad. truely! Now of course you guys don’t have an unlimited budget, and creating a custom control panel is not for the weak of heart, but if you guys ever have the opportunity to, please do, because cpanel is teh sux0rz.

    thats my $0.02 CAD. so thats like… $0.0005 USD with the exchange rate, haha. no its not that bad now, that joke used to work better when the CAD was at like .5 usd. oh god i sense another ridiculously long post coming. i’ll just stop here.

  6. Capn_Tripz says:

    I too would like to see an improved control panel. A nicer file manager would be nice or webdav support. I would like to see Fantastico offer up more current versions of it’s installations. I agree that the control panel is your basic contact with the customer. It’s the face that most see. I would like to see user support forums added so Bluehost users could communicate amongst themselves with some oversight from Bluehost tech support. Not to replace the ticket system, but to supplement it and allow users to exchange thoughts. Put a link in for this blog as well. I bet most customers don’t know this exists and that’s a shame.

  7. dvessel says:

    If it doesn’t break anything then I’m all for it. Ajax is killer for enhancing the interface. If anything depends on it then expect a lot of complaints.

    I don’t know all the options out there but I’m not impressed with cpanel. Looking over their website I noticed WebHost Manager. It looks more like what I’d want. How about using that? ;) Disable some of the options you wouldn’t want to give us or maybe for a VPS option? I’d go for that as long as the .25 cpu limit was rasied.

    I admire what your trying to do but please, with all due respect, more action to match your statements. -thanks

  8. vaXzine says:

    Matt,

    I second the motion for a “remember user preference” default button for the control panel view. In my opinion you should be courageous and do away with the old format all in all. The newer view is a step in the right direction, no need in having the past linger.

    If you don’t decide to delete the old control panel view and if it’s too much trouble to create a default button, consider reversing the blue host control panel default view to show the “new” view. If a user would rather stick with the old, make them select the show me “classic view” button.

    The new view is cleaner, refined and a more user friendly design. Sure it’s not sweet AJAX but Much less “clunky” for sure. I left Aplus.net for many reasons but primarily because their control panel was my greatest nightmare. I hosted some 60 domains with them at one time, and am now in the process of transferring what I have left over to your servers.

    Also, I wish you well with the Cpanel negotiations. Keep leading audaciously and you will revolutionize your industry.

    Regards,
    PARKS

  9. Lou says:

    Am I alone in thinking that the current control panel isn’t great? The customization we’re allowed to have is rather limited (such as being able to remove the standard email apps – I only want to support and configure 1) and I don’t get all of the information that I need.

    Matt, we run our corporate website on your company’s platform, but we’re dissatisified with the control panel. AJAX is a fine technology but I have no idea how it would help cPanel. What you need is a refined interface and a better control structure that allows me to manipulate my site the way I need to and a way to get the information I need without installing tons of custom code.

  10. Constantine says:

    I love the power of cPanel, I just plain love it, but if you could find a way to write a more pleasant/organized looking cPanel, I would do some sort of dance for joy.

  11. Minh Nguyen says:

    I would like to see more integration with cpanel. AJAX would be nice, but integration with the affilliates program, support, etc. would be fantastic.

    I love bluehost… but instead of spending so much on advertising (let your customers do that for you, I know I do), hire a programmer or two to work on a modified version of cpanel with more integration.

  12. Marc says:

    You can put me down for updating the cPanel across the board, starting with the new layout. I find things easier with the new layout. However, I have to go that extra click to get to it ever single time. The best idea is to take the old layout away completely so that whenever a person needs to go back “home” they can get the newer layout every time. That plus the fact a lot of the links need to be updated. Some links (at the very bottom of a page) take you to the previous menu and others just take you to the previous menu, which actually causes a loop link. It gets frustrating when you have to back to square one to return to square four from square five.

    A specific request for cPanel would be ensuring that the Sub domain Stats when clicked open in a new browser window. The stats work fine, but not linked back to the cPanel in any way. Not that I would expect them too, but would be nice just to have the information open in a new window so when I’m done mulling over everything I can close the window and jump to another website stat or something.

    If there is a suggestion box where these comments/ideas may be sent, please let me know.

  13. Michael says:

    I agree with all the other folks that suggested making the “New” Layout the default. The old layout is impossible to use and having to click past it each time is pretty annoying.

    As far as making the control panel better and slicker I don’t see the point, but I guess I don’t even understand how you would manage a site without using a SSH session. Perhaps I’d feel diferent if I ran an e-commerce site but with the small amount of tasks that need be done through C-Panel it’s hard to see what the fuss is about.

  14. Steve says:

    how ’bout distrobution lists?!?!? using “mailing lists” as distro’s is SUPER annoying to say the least. control panel upgrade or not, you guys NEED to have normal distrobution lists that mimic Exchange server’s way of doing it. useing mailing lists and having to “approve” a normal user that sends to “managers@yourdomain.com” is lame.

    ok, with that said, how bout making the “password protection” for directorys a one stop activity? as of now, you have to tick the box to enable protection, click SAVE, wait for the page to reload, then create a user, password, then click add user. (or vise versa on the order, meaning create the user first then tick the box).

    if you could enabe the directory, pick a statement to display if you want (ex. “Restricted Area”), create a user, password THEN just click SAVE. that would be great. and save a lot of time too. :-)

    BlueHost has been great so far!!

  15. Andrew says:

    Hey,

    I read this post a little while ago then forgot about it until I came across an article on slashdot about a slick ajax based control panel. The bad news is it’s proprietary to another host (and their packages look like crap compared to bluehosts), but if they’re doing this, then you can bet the folks at cPanel must have something like this in the works. Check out their control panel demo, it’s pretty neat: http://www.webfaction.com/

    If Bluehost were to implement something like this, it would be pretty sweet.

  16. sean says:

    count me in as a person who chose BH for cPanel . . . and Fantastico. while i thnk AJAX integrated into cPanel would be nice, i just hope that we are able to stick with cPanel (and fantastico) in the long run.

  17. Boon Chye says:

    Hi,

    Still pretty new to Blue Host though I have subscribe to the hosting service a while back.

    One area that need improvement is the webmail feature. The current options are restrictive. I have another hosting at ICDsoft and I like the web mail better. Especially when the webmail url is simple to remember. Eg. domain-name/webmail.

  18. both cPanel and DirectAdmin are great tools for managing hosting accounts and vps servers ”

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