Choosing chat software for online community chat rooms can be a difficult process. There are many options available as web hosting companies compete to offer potential customers a variety of service choices. When choosing chat software for community chat there are five things that you, the buyer, should always keep in mind.

First of all, does the web hosting company offer you and your visitors any sort of customer/technical support? Many people have found that chat software is easy to install but not so easy to use effectively each and every time. It is important that you, the website owner, have proper support available to trouble shoot any difficulties that you or your customers have. Before signing up for web hosting with a company that includes chat software or purchasing chat software ask them whether or not they offer live support to you, the buyer, and the people using the site/software. If the software or hosting company does offer live support find out whether this support is strictly online or if telephone support is also include.

Secondly, find out how often the chat software and web hosting is down. Some vendors will not be willing to give you an honest answer so be prepared to do a little bit of research. Do a search using Google or any other major search engine using the name of the chat software or web hosting company and see if any complaints turn up. Also, visit the web hosting company’s blog or public support log to see what errors and downtime has been reported.

Third, establish how difficult, or easy, it is to find out how to contact customer support to answer questions. Does the web hosting company or software company offer a wiki with information on their chat software? Are the customer service email addresses and phone numbers easy to find? If you notice that information is hidden then you might want to consider other web hosting alternatives. When you or your clients are frustrated by a website chat software problem the last thing you want to do is spend time hunting around a web hosting site for customer support contact information.

Fourth, does the chat software for your community require any additional plug-ins or third party software to run properly? This might seem like a minor issue but if users have pop-ups disabled or strong firewalls they may not be aware of the reasons why the chat software is not working correctly for them. Try to use a web host that has chat software which requires no additional plug-ins or outside software.

Fifth and finally, test the new chat software for your community extensively before making it available to the entire community. This will help you and your technical teams identify any serious problems and malfunctions before making a public launch. Remember, failure to properly test your chat software could result in problems throughout your entire community.

These steps might seem like overkill to some website owners but having functioning chat software will help members of your community interact and get the most out of their social networking experience.