Building a website and making it accessible to everyone out there is a piece of cake, right?
Absolutely not! There has to be a strategy for web hosting as well as building a website.
If making a website go live was so easy, everyone with the required software, add-ons, and tools could have done it. In reality, things don’t work like that.
There are four things you need to do to start a website:
- Register your domain name.
- Find a web-hosting company.
- Have relevant content ready.
- Build your website.
In this blog, we will talk about web-hosting and building a website. Both may sound like Greek and Latin right now, but this blog will shed some light on their importance, benefits, and much more. So let’s get into it.
What is web hosting?
To know about web hosting, you need to understand what a website is. A website is a collection of images, text, HTML documents, audio files, videos, and other digital material hosted on one or multiple servers accessible via computer, mobile devices, LAN, or the internet.
A web hosting provider provides you with web space for your website to host all your files. Essentially, you are paying for the space allocated to you on the internet. However, a hosting provider’s job does not end with providing you with that space.
It requires time and effort to maintain the web space; that’s what clients pay them to do. These hosting specialists or hosting providers invest in complicated, advanced servers, plus employees with relevant hardware and software knowledge.
Apart from the above, it is vital to ensure that all hi-tech server equipment is stored under optimal conditions to provide seamless and flawless hosting services. Even though website owners don’t think about all this, web-hosting goes on in the back.
Your website can function even without hosting, but there are disadvantages. There is no guarantee that your website won’t crash and be accessible at all times. What use is a website if people can’t access it?
This juncture is where a hosting provider comes into the picture. The hosting provider ensures that your website is functional at all times; that is what they aim to do. Of course, nobody can guarantee 100% uptime (the duration for which a website is operational), but a hosting provider’s primary responsibility is to make every possible effort to increase this uptime.
What is a website builder?
A website builder is software or an application that enables you to build a website. It is a CMS (content management system) designed specially to build websites.
Conventional content management systems were developed to cater to massive websites, but online website builders are more suited to create smaller websites. A website builder’s best feature is that an individual can operate it with zero coding or programming skills, no technical knowledge required whatsoever.
Why do people opt for website builders? There are plenty of reasons for it –
- User-friendly interface
- Several drag and drop options
- A great choice of web templates & preset styles
- More control
- More flexibility
There is no need to install any software on your computer or laptop to build the website. All the tools you need will be available online. All you need to do is use them effectively to build a website.
However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind while choosing a website builder. First, select a website builder that allows you to choose a unique domain name and does not compel you to use its URL extension.
Control over content is also critical; make sure you have it. Functionality and aesthetics are both of equal importance. Don’t just be mesmerized by the flashy, attractive templates; focus on aspects like e-commerce, customer support, app integration, etc.
Before choosing an app-builder, confirm that it provides the required functionality to carry out daily tasks, plus features you may need in the future. Customization is the key; the app builder should allow you to add plugins & extensions as and when required.
Apart from lead-generation, multi-media support, and customization, there is one thing that is the most vital of all – SEO. You need top-notch SEO to usher in traffic and make your website rank. So put your money into the software with outstanding SEO features or one that enables app integration to facilitate robust SEO practices.
Difference Between Web Hosting And Website Builder
Web-hosting and website builders are two services that are poles apart. Let us discuss the differences between the two in detail.
1. Mandatory Hosting for all websites
Web-hosting is a necessity, but a website builder is not. The disadvantages of running a website without hosting are many. Say, for instance, you choose to run a free website on WordPress; no doubt your website will be visible to people on the internet, but all this comes with several risks.
First, your website can crash unexpectedly, and you would have to spend hours fixing it. Secondly, you would have to manage with basic templates, plus you won’t get customer support, and neither can you enjoy the functionality that comes with managed hosting.
Hiring a graphic designer, few developers, and other staff requires money. However, if you decide to learn to code, you need to devote time and effort. Both the options above are achievable but still challenging.
The easiest and most economical way to build a website is to use a website builder.
Also Read: How To Host A Website In Simple Steps
Web-hosting is where your website thrives. Like renting a flat where you pay to have a roof over your head, a web-hosting company gives your website a secure space on the internet. But, of course, the amount of money you pay depends on the hosting package you choose.
Web-hosting has nothing to do with aesthetics. So what does web hosting affect? First, it affects your website loading speed, loading consistency, and functionality in general. On the other hand, a website builder needs to have features that create a website that combines aesthetics and functionality. Compromising either of the two may affect your reputation and how people perceive your business.
3. Increased control
As discussed above, your website’s appearance carries a great deal of importance. A lot goes into creating the perfect visual experience like color, images, text, design, etc. These are the things that people see when they visit your website. With a myriad of features that a website builder provides, you can create a personalized experience for your visitors.
From the number of pages, the website structure, to the menu, you can customize everything with a website builder to facilitate better navigation for visitors. The entire
user experience includes both website appearance and how it works. An efficient website builder will address both aspects while creating a website.
4. Facilitates easy web design
Hiring a web designer can be expensive and time-consuming. Website builders are ideal for people with minimal experience and skills. Be it a novice or a veteran; a website builder has something for everyone. A beginner need not undergo training or watch long tutorials online to create a website.
With an ideal website builder, an individual can create a website in a blink of an eye or longer, depending on the number of features and templates you want to add. If you want a quick, easy, and economical fix, a website builder is an answer for a business owner.
What to expect from web-hosting?
Don’t just blindly jump onto the web-hosting bandwagon. It is crucial not to overlook essential considerations before choosing a web hosting provider. There are many types of hosting plans, plus needs can differ even with the same industry. Let’s talk about some of the aspects that you should look at before investing in web hosting.
Also Read: Web Hosting Guide For Beginners
1. Not all hosting is the same.
When you start hunting for a web hosting provider, you will realize that there are many kinds of hosting, and each of them is unique. Get one thing clear; there is no such thing as free hosting. If anyone tells you that they offer free hosting, it’s a scam. At first, it may seem free, but the lack of features plus poor performance will compel you to switch to paid hosting.
Let’s talk about some of them in detail. Shared hosting is the cheapest and most basic of all hosting plans. In this kind of hosting, your website will share the same server as hundreds of other websites.
Resources like RAM, disk space, CPU are shared with other websites, making shared hosting a very affordable option for small businesses or ones that don’t require many resources. The downside is that you won’t get access to additional resources when you need them, plus a shared hosting plan won’t be able to bear the increased traffic during certain times of the year.
A VPS hosting plan is for those who are not ready to invest in dedicated hosting or can’t afford it. With VPS hosting, you can enjoy more customization, more control, and increased access to resources than shared hosting.
Even though multiple websites share the same physical server, each website enjoys an allocated share of resources. It means that you don’t have to compromise on resources, install software of your choice and handle huge traffic spikes with ease. The best part is that you can still manage a VPS server even if you don’t have any technical knowledge.
Finally, dedicated hosting provides you with complete control over the server, software installation, and root admin access. You don’t have to share resources with other websites. Sounds great, right? All these rewards come at a prize.
A dedicated server hosting can cost anywhere between $100 to $300 a month. So if you have the budget for it and need it, go for it, or else you can wait until your business is ready for it.
Other noteworthy mentions would be –
- Reseller hosting – With reseller hosting, you can start your web hosting business without making a significant investment.
- WordPress hosting – WordPress hosting is the ideal kind of hosting for WordPress websites, ensuring better performance, scalability, automated backups, malware protection, pre-installed plugins, and managed WordPress maintenance.
- Cloud Hosting – Relying on one server totally can prove to be disastrous in the case of a server crash; you would be offline with no option but to wait till things get back to normal. Cloud hosting allows you to load a live version of your website immediately. More uptime, faster speed, and scalability are some of the salient features of cloud hosting.
2. Bandwidth and data transfer are two different things.
When people talk about data transfer, they often confuse it with bandwidth. They are not the same. Let us understand the difference between the two.
1. Bandwidth – The maximum data transfer rate of a network or an internet connection.
2. Data transfer – It is the actual amount of information that can be used over a given time.
Your web hosting provider might offer 20 GB bandwidth but, you might only be able to transfer around 1 GB of data. Talk to your hosting provider and get things sorted before you sign the agreement.
3. Is it indeed unlimited? Get the correct information.
Many web hosting companies make tall promises like unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage, unlimited data, etc. Should you blindly believe these claims? No, you should always analyze these claims and read the terms and conditions properly before you sign the agreement.
Things like bandwidth and storage may be subject to terms of usage as per company policies. For example, if your website experiences a steady spike in traffic, your web hosting provider can provide you the right plan to deal with it. However, if you think that they will permit you to download 50 TB and upload 100 TB data each day, sorry to say it’s not going to happen.
Talk to the hosting provider’s representative. Understand the pros and cons of their services, what they will allow and disallow. Once you are satisfied with their offerings, you can decide.
4. Area of specialization
A web hosting company may have the right enterprise plan, but it might not suit your growing business. On the other hand, a company may have an affordable shared hosting plan, but you want something extra. What should you do in this case?
Understand the hosting company’s area of expertise and select a plan accordingly. Conduct research on the web, read reviews to know more about the company.
Test the company’s services before signing up. Don’t just trust the representative’s sales pitch and dive straight into it. Most hosting providers offer the cloning option wherein you can clone your website, and once you know that it delivers excellent results, you can sign up for it.
What are the other aspects that you need to consider while choosing a web-hosting provider?
- Server reliability
- Refund policy
- Automatic backups
- Customer support
- Server performance
- Choice of data centers
- Payment terms
- Content management system
- Loading speed
- Error monitoring
Ask the questions below before you zero in on a hosting provider.
- Do you conduct automatic backups regularly?
- Do you provide site backup options in the admin control panel?
- Are there any options for manual backup?
- Do you provide options for site backup?
- Do you assist with site restoration?
Every hosting plan has its significance. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all hosting solution for websites. Depending on the organization’s needs and objectives, you need to choose the appropriate hosting plan. Figure out what is best for your company, avoid overspending, and don’t compromise on performance. The key is to fight the right balance.
What should you expect from a website builder?
1. A template is your savior.
When you want your website to go live quickly, time is not a luxury. In such circumstances, templates are your knights in shining armor. You don’t have to start from scratch, plus the time and effort consumed are way less than conventional website building. So save yourself from endless hours of coding and programming plus back and forth changes.
The existing templates provide the necessary structure for a website, and all you need to do is customize it, make slight modifications to suit your needs.
Think about the ease of use, pricing, design, functionality, customer support, data ownership, portability, etc., before choosing the right website builder. Also, think about what kind of design templates you need. Does the website builder have the correct options for you?
2. Drag and drop feature
A drag and drop feature is a must-have for a website builder. It allows you to click on the object, move it across the page to where you want to drag it, and then once you know where you want to place it, you need to let go of the mouse.
A drag and drop website builder facilitates smooth designing plus many modern website builders enable you to add images, change colors using inbuilt menus. The features are similar to popular apps with editing capabilities.
3. Mobile compatibility
These days, you cannot imagine a website or an application that is not mobile-friendly. For example, more than half of all Google searches take place on mobile devices. When you use a website builder, keep in mind that the website must be compatible with digital devices & not to put visitors at an inconvenience.
If you happen to find a website builder that provides responsive templates, there is nothing better than that. Responsive templates ensure that the website adjusts itself on the viewer’s device, thereby providing him with an optimal user experience.
Also, look for the website builder’s preview feature, giving you a fair idea of how the website will look on various digital devices.
4. Free is not always good.
Not all website builders are the same. With website builders, you have paid versions and free versions. However, free website builders may come with a catch. If they don’t charge anything upfront, understand that they have other ways to make money, either by advertisements, branding themselves on your website, or by limiting the features.
The software will ask you to shell out more money to upgrade and unlock your website builder’s full potential and enjoy unlimited functionality. It all depends on your goals. If you just want to create a simple website to showcase your amateur blogs, image collection, or communication with friends and family, then a free website builder might do the trick.
However, if you want to establish yourself as a professional in the market and want to be taken seriously, choose an affordable website builder. The investment will pay off in the long run.
5. Web Hosting and domain are essential.
Congratulations, you have purchased a website builder, but the mission is far from over. A web hosting provider and a domain name are an absolute necessity. If the hosting provider doesn’t offer a website builder as a part of the package, you have to make additional investments.
Depending on your business requirements, you can always get a hosting and domain name at economical prices. Look for package deals that provide the best value for money. Keep in mind that you need to set aside money for future upgrades, marketing, operational purposes, etc.
As discussed above, a website builder and a web-hosting plan offer different features ultimately. However, both are essential; none of them is a replacement for the other. A good web hosting provider will provide both a web hosting plan and a website builder.
However, it depends on the hosting provider whether he wants to offer a website builder as a part of his plans or just the top ones. You can choose to team up with a hosting provider that provides both or just one of them. It all depends on your organization’s requirements and budget.
If you decide to go ahead with a WordPress-powered website, a managed hosting provider would be the best choice. If you are unsure about the kind of content management system, you wish to implement, developing a website using a website-building tool would be ideal.
Every method has its pros and cons. For more clarity, understand your requirements, consult a few experts or try both of them to see which one suits you best. Our take on it – if you want a basic, elementary website, like a portfolio website or a blogging website, a website builder will do the job.
However, if you want customization and extra features, invest in professional website development services.
Bottom line – There is no cookie-cutter approach to website development and hosting. A specific approach that works for your competitor may not work for you, analyze your needs, conduct research and make the right choice.