How to host a website?
(updated on 16 November 2022)
Hosting a website is not difficult at all! When you see the possibilities available to you, it seems endless!
And this is true. You can host your website in hundreds of different ways with thousands of different host providers. But that’s maybe where it gets tricky for beginners.
- 1. Online web builder vs Plain Web Hosting
- 2. Choose your hosting provider (or online website builder)
- 3. Pick the right web hosting plan for you
- 4. Register your domain name
There are so many offers out there, you get even more confused about what is the good choice. And it’s perfectly understandable. The web is overwhelming. Let’s step back and relax. Let’s see what we can do and what are the different options you need to consider before picking the right web hosting solution for you!
1. Online web builder vs Plain Web Hosting
First thing first, be aware there are two main directions to build and host a website:
- Use an online tool to build your website with a predetermined design and limited features and possibilities.
- Use a CMS or plain HTML, CSS, or PHP and move your codebase to a web host provider.
The online web builder: the no-code solution to go online instantly
Call it a webpage builder, a website builder, or an online web builder… Most web hosting companies have now their own web builder. It’s a tool that lets you create your own website template, from the internet, for the internet. No need to install any coding software, everything is online and your website can be available right away.
It’s a great solution when you have no high expectations for graphic design and UI design.
Don’t get me wrong, you can have a good looking website using an online web builder, but you’ll soon reach the limits of this kind of tool. It cannot extend indefinitely, it cannot let you have custom features or custom pages. It’s a limited experience, but it works and it’s straight forward.
Most web host providers have their own builder, but you can also use wordpress.org, Squarespace, or Wix. They are the most well-known online website builder in the market.
The Regular or Plain Web Hosting
You can also have your own website ready to go live, or you are planning to use a CMS like WordPress and manage your website as you wish, without relying on a closed and limited web builder ecosystem… Then classic web hosting is the way to go.
You have two ways to host your website:
- use a web host provider
- host your website at home
The web host provider is the main solution for website hosting. It has a cost, but it provides you with a clean and stable environment to host your codebase website.
All the maintenance of the server which hosts your website is done by the provider. Security updates, Server configuration… It’s a great investment since you can find all kinds of providers from $1 to $500 a month. That’s up to you!
It’s a great solution if you want to pay no fee to a provider. Simply host your website at home. It requires some network knowledge and having a server or a computer constantly connected to the web, at home.
You’ll learn a lot about networking, but you might be overwhelmed by the security danger it involves. The hackers are always looking for a breach, and if you are not updating and upgrading your hosting environment and your hosting toolings, you are big risk.
I wouldn’t recommend this solution to beginners. But it exists!
2. Choose your hosting provider (or online website builder)
You can count thousands of host providers around the world ready to host your website in a few clicks. They all have the best offers, obviously. But before going for expensive hosting plans, you should identify what are the needs of your (future) website.
What type of website you have
From a portfolio website to an online shop, websites can be extremely different and have totally different needs. Remember if your website is mostly a showcase, where there is a little updating to happen, you can definitely go with cheap web host plan.
On the other hand, if your website has a database of products, and prospects, and let your user interact by buying, communicating, and updating profile page and preferences, then you need a plan that has better performance and resource.
How much money you can spend
It all comes down to rates! If you have a $100/month budget, then you can have access to a super stable and dedicated web server that will serve your website with amazing reliability.
If your budget is limited, take time to compare web hosts and see where the limitations are the most annoying for your use case. With a small budget of around $10/month, you can still have decent service, as long as your website is not draining thousands of users a day.
3. Pick the right web hosting plan for you
If you are going with a web hosting provider, they usually have two main types of plans:
- shared hosting
- dedicated hosting
It’s a little bit like in a hostel! The shared one is a dorm room where you share your space with more people. The dedicated one is your private room with your own key.
Shared web hosting plan
A shared web host plan is a plan where you share the same server and a pool of resources with other website owners. It’s a good choice for small websites that do not have more than 50 000 visitors a month.
The great point of shared hosting plans is: They are much cheaper than dedicated hosting plans!
Dedicated web hosting plan
The dedicated hosting plan is a server only for your website. Like having your own hard drive and processor just for you online. It handles all connections to your website and gives you a chance to configure the server as you wish.
Usually dedicated hosting plans come with better support since you pay more.
4. Register your domain name
Independently from hosting your website, you also need a name to reach your website. It’s the address people will use to connect to your website. It’s not indispensable, but I’ve never seen a website without a proper domain name. Why? It’s much easier to remember for humans.
A domain name can cost you between $0 to $15 a month. I identified too ways to buy your domain name:
- buy it through a web host provider
- buy it through an independent registrar
Register with your web host provider
The main advantage of registering your domain name with your web host provider is that everything is manage via a single and same dashboard. No need to connect to two different plateforms to coordinate domain name and hosting.
Another main advantage, a lot of web hosting provider gives away the domain name for free as long as you use their hosting plan. That’s a great advantage, but not all companies do it.
Register your domain name independently
You can go with a different plateform to register your domain name and manage your hosting plan. It’s totally fine, they can easily communicate with each other.
The advantage is to be able to change your hosting provider easily. Since the hosting plan and the domain name are not tightly link by a single company.
However it’s a little more difficult to set up when you are not a network expert.