Ok so now that you have polished your idea into a well thought out business concept, designed a logo and developed a few graphics you are ready to take on the world, and begin building your website. But where do you begin? Do you spend thousands of dollars right out the gate on a fully developed site with all the trimmings before you know if your concept is even marketable? The truth is that you could however, there is a lot of risk involved right out the gate and the average person doesn’t typically have a couple grand laying around to drop on a whim. If you are one of those people however, then by all means feel free to take advantage of this option. If you are not, then please continue reading below as we discuss domain names, web hosting and development.
Web Hosting & Site Development
First off, what is web hosting? Web hosting, is just like it sounds a place for you to host your website. Companies charge annual fees to host your website and its data on their servers and equipment while providing a constant connection to the web to allow people to access your site and its data. By opting for this method you are then allowing another company to take on the burden of maintaining servers, storage arrays and other high end IT equipment and support which is not only expensive but time consuming. By paying a small fee you are freeing up your time allowing yourself to focus on the site itself and the business structure, and many web hosting companies offer many other useful site hosting tools and services that you may be able to take advantage of. Please continue reading below for a brief overview of some of the more prominent companies that provide web Hosting and site development services, along with some of the pros and cons of each to help you in your decision making.
I have used Wix many times, they offer a very user friendly service ideal for inexperienced site developers. They provide drag and drop functionality and site templates to help you achieve your site goals and price options for every price point including FREE! The actual site editor interface was simple and intuitive, a user is not expected to rely heavily on customized code and customer support. If you do need to contact customer support however, they are typically very helpful and easy to get in contact with, whenever I had issues it was resolved within a timely manner. The biggest disadvantages I have found with WIX is the inability to do advanced customizations, there were a lot of limitations I had personally with the site builder and design features. However, if you are a novice designer and just looking for something simple and functional to get you started this probably won’t be an issue. You will also find that Wix sites like to host Ads and self-promotion branding on their hosted sites as well, I was able to customize the html file to remove most of the ads, but some users may find this to be a problem. Another issue I had with Wix was that in the world of integration, collaboration, and simplicity I found it to be too much work to get the site set up with some features we have come to expect in today’s market. I am always left feeling like I want more, and as a general user unless I do loads of research I am not quite sure where to find what I am looking for and for this reason Wix I would recommend for student purposes, portfolios, but not for a small start-up.
Who hasn’t heard of GoDaddy, hasn’t everyone seen that commercial during last year’s super bowl with the cute little kittens touring the house on iRobot’s Roomba vacuum cleaners? If not, you can check it out on YouTube here. Commercials aside, GoDaddy is one of the larger brand names in the web hosting industry, I have actually worked for a few larger corporations that utilize Go Daddy heavily. As a user though with a much smaller bank roll I had very little success with GoDaddy and ultimately opted to host my site elsewhere in the end :/ That said I liked that GoDaddy was a one-stop shop. From a user perspective, I did not have to go to a lot of outside resources to find and purchase a domain name, hosting services, site development email, SEO, and security features GoDaddy offered them all…for a price. For a price being the key word. With GoDaddy I felt like everything was designed to make customers empty their pockets. When searching for a domain name .com was almost always available through GoDaddy for over $1,000.00 however you could find the less marketed extensions such as “.co, .net” available for less than $10.00. I have heard a lot of conspiracy theories relating to this topic from other users as well. Once you have found a domain thru GoDaddy it functions as you would expect, I have several domains that I have purchased through GoDaddy without a problem, but as I mentioned finding a “.com” extension was just not in the cards for my price point.
Once you have the domain purchased and you are ready to play around with the website builder/designer in GoDaddy this is where it can get Tricky. Keep in mind I work in IT for a living, specifically as a Developer and Database DBA and for me trying to build my site and customize it to meet my level of standards and general user expectations were nearly impossible. There is no drag and drop capability, the page layout is stagnant and not easily customizable. Every design solution I found came with a price, and the basic out of the box tool set limits you to where your almost sure to need additional purchases. GoDaddy is more than willing to utilize their design team to get your site up to your standards however it was just too expensive for me to utilize especially when my business venture has yet to be profitable. But if price isn’t really a concern for you GoDaddy offers you the benefit of being able to have all of your site services bundled together in one platform and all of the separate cost points such as your email and domain are easily integrated with each other. But any features that you want to add such as social media integration, be prepared to pay for it.
WordPress is an open source hosting company, meaning its free. That said if you are not a developer by trade then it may be a little hard for you to get your site up and running without hiring a developer of some kind. Even if you choose to utilize their services on WordPress.com its going to cost you a pretty penny and take a bit to navigate your way around their system. That said tho, once you learn WordPress you will find that the sites structure runs fairly well, they have lots of plugins that will assist you in areas like SEO, analytics and everything else you can imagine, and unlike Shopify most of these plugins are free.
To Be Continued….