Where ever you go these days, you’ll see adverts for online website builders: software services that let you create websites easily without the need for any coding knowledge. These services can make creating a website very easy but, when you use them, you are often tied to the company’s hosting service which might not offer all the hosting features your growing business needs. In this post, we’ll compare web hosting and website builders so you can make up your own mind.
What is Web Hosting?
Whether you use a website builder or another program to create your website, you will also need web hosting. Web hosting is a service which provides the server on which your website and all its content is stored. Without it, your site will not be accessible on the internet. The web host you use is responsible for making sure that the server your website is hosted on is managed and maintained. In other words, they’ll ensure that the server keeps your website online and that important software needed to run the server is updated and correctly configured.
When you choose to use a website builder, although you get an easy way to create a website, you may be compelled to use the hosting services of the website builder company. This is where many companies find themselves running into problems.
Website builder hosting vs traditional hosting
Areas of expertise
The first thing to be aware of is that online website builder services specialise in creating software to build websites. Web hosts, on the other hand, are experts in hosting. So, whilst you might find it easy and quick to get your website online, once it’s up, you may not get the same quality of hosting you would from a web host.
If something goes wrong with your website, a good web host can provide 24/7, 365 days a year, expert technical support. If this happens with a website builder company, expertise on the technical side of running a website might be lacking, it may even be contracted out to a third party.
Getting the right type of hosting
When choosing a hosting service, there are a number of basic things you will need:
enough server storage space to host all your website files and content
enough memory and processing power to ensure your website can carry out all its functions
enough monthly bandwidth (the amount of data your site can send and receive) to serve all the visitors it might get
When you look at website builder hosting, you may find that these things are limited or are only available at the right levels in more expensive, premium accounts.
And these are only the basic things. There is much more to consider. If you run an online store, for example, you’ll need an SSL certificate to make your site secure enough to take online payments. Some website builder companies might not provide that functionality or, if they do, they might not provide the support to help you manage its implementation. You’ll also want to consider site security, backups, email accounts, additional websites, domain management, and a host of other things that come under the bracket of hosting not website creation. Check that any online website builder will provide support for these before making a choice.
Potential for growth
Most companies start their websites using what is known as shared hosting, where lots of small websites are hosted together on one large server. This is why most website builder companies offer nothing but shared hosting. For web hosts, however, shared hosting is the most basic form of hosting they offer.
Once your website takes off and your business expands, you may need a more superior form of hosting such as VPS, dedicated servers or cloud hosting which allow you to run much bigger websites, handle far more traffic and carry out many more functions. Some companies use these to run all their software, not just their websites.
If your site grows and you need VPS, dedicated server or cloud hosting, you may have no choice but to migrate your site to a traditional web host. This can be a complicated task at the best of times, however, if the website you have created has been built using bespoke software only available from your website builder service, it’s unlikely that it can be supported by another host. In which case, you will have to build a new website from scratch.
If you use traditional hosting, moving from host to host or from one type of hosting to another is far less complicated. A good host will even migrate your site for you – something an online website builder service may not have the in-house expertise to do.
Beware of service limitations
If you choose to go with an online website builder service, check the limitations of your account carefully. Some basic accounts, for example, mean that your site will carry adverts for the service or even have their name included in your website name – all of which can make your site look less professional.
Some accounts limit the number of products you can have in your online store or the number of pages you can have on your website. Even worse, some website builder accounts will actually charge you a percentage of every sale you make from your website in addition to your monthly hosting fees.
None of these limitations take place with traditional web hosting.
Check out the differences in pricing
When comparing similar levels of service with a web host, you may find that a website builder service is considerably more expensive. One of the reasons for this is that a web host will be using its own data centres to host your website; a web builder service may actually be hosting your website on someone else’s servers. It will cost them more to do this.
They are also aware that when you compare prices, your focus will be on website builder functionality, not on hosting. You’re likely to only look at other website builders. However, when you compare similar hosting packages of a web host and an online website builder service, the differences can be considerable.
Is a website builder the easiest way to build a website?
Website builders do provide an easy way to build a website, but they are not the only easy way. CMS software, such as WordPress, is not only very easy to use but has far more features. WordPress, for example, is completely free to use, works on any Linux hosting package, can be installed in one click from your website admin dashboard (or even come preinstalled with some accounts) and doesn’t require any coding skills what so ever.
What’s more, you’ll find WordPress has far more free themes and plugins available than any website builder, enabling you to create any kind of website without the need for additional spending or account upgrading. As it powers more websites than any other in the world, 28% of them, there is also an enormous amount of free online support available to help you overcome any difficulty you may face.
So, if ease of building a website is the only thing forcing you to choose a website builder over traditional web hosting, take a good look at WordPress first.
Website builders offer users with little or no experience a very easy way to create small-scale websites. However, using a website builder can tie a customer to hosting services which are quite basic, offer limited scope for growth and can be pricey when compared to standard shared hosting packages. Easy alternatives for website creation, such as WordPress, give users a far wider choice of hosting options and make it easier for upgrading when your website grows.