The internet has pretty much revolutionized how we do business, both locally and globally. From gathering useful data to recruiting employees, the ways we can utilize the internet are vast and numerous. One of the great advantages of the internet to businesses is its cost effectiveness. Many tasks and processes have become automated, you’re receiving and sending information at faster speeds, which in turn can both save and make you money, online advertisements help establish a presence for online consumers and potential clients, and the list of benefits goes on.
Ready to publish your first website and get on the fast track to online success? Like most people, you probably don’t want to learn how to code or pay a developer gargantuan amounts to get a website built from scratch. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways today to skip this tech-heavy endeavor and get you publishing your content faster. However, there are two important choices you need to consider before you can move forward: to self-host, or not to self-host.
Self-Hosted vs. Hosted Web Platforms
By opting for a hosted platform, you’re essentially forfeiting customizability for ease of use. Hosted platforms make the process of getting a website published seamless. No need to have any tech-skills or even hire a developer. Self-hosted platforms such as A2 Hosting, on the other hand, require much more know-how, but allow for greater accessibility for customizing your website’s functionality and style. You or a developer have the ability to change just about anything. Hosted platforms, like SquareSpace, Wix, and WordPress.com, have limitations as to what you can change.
Before choosing one over the other, first consider the following:
● Does your website need to be published ASAP or do you have some time to work with?
● Does your website require any special functionality?
● Would you need to access the code to your site?
● Do you care about having customer support available?
● What is your budget for building out and running the site?
With these questions and respective answers in mind, let’s take a deeper look at the fundamental differences of self-hosted and hosted platforms.
Breaking it Down
Take WordPress, for example. WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) in the world and is used by nearly 75 million sites. What you might not have known is that there is WordPress.com, a hosted platform, and WordPress.org, a self-hosted one. Their hosted platform tends to get more love from small businesses and bloggers because they can get a new site up and running in a matter of minutes without every having to touch code or a server. You simply choose a nice layout and pop in the content through their easy-to-use interface. While this is great for small businesses and bloggers who don’t want to fork out hundreds if not thousands on a developer, it comes with some serious limitations.
Pros of using a hosted platform:
● Fast and easy setup
● Support staff
● Managed server
● No need to worry about security or updates
Cons of using a hosted platform:
● Limited themes and layouts to use
● No code access
● No customization
This option can be a weight off your shoulders, especially for smaller businesses, entrepreneurs, or bloggers who just want to get online quickly and cheaply. No frills!
So what about the benefits of self-hosting? Any website that requires more custom design or robust functionality would benefit from using a self-hosting platform. Sticking with our WordPress example, WordPress.org offers its users a huge database of customizable themes and plugins, some of which are free and some not.
Pros of using a self-hosted platform:
● Access to customizable themes and plugins, which add additional functionality
● Access to code
● Everything can be customized
Cons of using a self-hosted platform:
● You have to manage your own server, make updates, consider security
● Go through the process of installing and updating your site
● There can be bug issues you would be responsible for fixing
● You would have to rely on documentation for support
While a self-hosting platform like WordPress.org offers quite a bit, not everyone feels comfortable installing and updating files, connecting to a server, migrating data when necessary, and more to get the most out of it.
Any business, no matter how big or small, need some form of online presence. Choosing between self-hosted and hosted solutions can ultimately have a say in how successful your business is, which is why it’s important to begin by establishing what your website needs before taking the next step.