So you’ve got an idea for a website or blog. Do you know how you’re going to go about hosting your website? Whether you know how to code or not, I think it’s always good to consider all your options before launching a new web project. In today’s post, I’m going to discuss some of the options you have at your disposal and compare them to help you make an educated decision.
What is a website builder?
Website builders are catered mostly toward non-developers. Users who might have some great ideas for websites or blogs without the technical knowledge to code their own. Often, these builders will include themes that users have some freedom to customize to their liking. Most also include tools to visually create website layouts using a drag-and-drop interface.
Using a website builder as a professional web developer definitely carries a stigma in a lot of circles. However, I don’t believe this should be the case. I have, at times, used website builders to launch a quick site here and there. It helps a lot when you are pressed for time or if a client doesn’t have enough money to pay for an entire build from scratch.
One thing to bear in mind is that all that convenience might come at the cost of customization options. If you need to implement a specific feature that isn’t supported by the builder out of the bat, you might have to write some ugly code to make it work or it might not be possible at all.
Common website builders
Below I’ve compiled a list of the most well-known website builders to check out:
Wix – Wix has been around for over 15 years and it has the most sites running on it by far. It offers a lot of tools and freedom.
Squarespace – Squarespace is another very popular option. It comes with the best-looking default templates
Weebly – Relatively unknown compared to the other options, Weebly is a solid choice with an intuitive builder.
What is self-hosting?
Self-hosting is an option that is most likely going to appeal to users who know a little bit about web development. Getting a website up on a hosting platform isn’t that much of a headache, but self-hosting also generally implies self-maintaining. If you’re self-hosting, you’ll be responsible for your own server maintenance, backups, and security.
The plus side, however, is the amount of freedom that comes with self-hosting. You can generally tweak the server to your liking and your website likely won’t be built using some sort of tool so you can customize it to your heart’s content.
What is managed hosting?
With managed hosting, you basically allow another company to host your website for you. This means that they also maintain it for you, removing a lot of the headache that comes with self-hosting. This also generally works out a bit cheaper than the self-hosting route.
So what’s the downside? Since your website is likely going to live alongside other websites the company is hosting, they’ll likely restrict a lot of your freedom.
The options compared
So now that you have an idea what each of the above options are. You’re probably still a little bit conflicted over what option will be best for you. So I think it’s best if I put it this way:
If you don’t really know anything about building websites, I would recommend using a website builder. They’re easy to use and it’s quick to get a website up and running. The platform won’t be very flexible, but that’s the price you pay for the convenience.
If you want a bit more control over your website but you’re not really keen on having to keep it running smoothly all the time, managed hosting is for you. You have more freedom than you would have using a website builder, but you won’t be bogged down with maintenance and support.
If you’re a seasoned web developer or you just want to be able to control every little aspect of your site, self-hosting is the only option for you. Having to maintain the site might not be the most fun, but it comes with having all the freedom in the world.
I hope this post made clear the main differences between the hosting strategies outlined above. I also hope it will help you make an informed decision when deciding how to host your next web project.