Self-Hosted vs Hosted Websites
To the layman this may sound like a complicated thing to explain, but it really isn’t. Understanding the difference will help you to make the right choice when hiring a web designer (or not!) for you web development needs.
Simply put, it is a provider of technology and services that enable you to get a website up and running online and be found by those who want to access it. Servers owned by the hosting company store your website and the host uses space on these to keep everything your site needs to run safe, secure and accessible.
What is a hosted platform?
You may have heard of some of them: SquareSpace, Blogger, Tumblr, WIX, Weebly etc. They are a bit of a one-stop-shop; a jack of all trades, master of none type set up. They will provide the software to build your site and space on the server to host it. Although they will handle all of the software updates and the like for you, your options for customisation (and thus being able to stand out from the crowd) are extremely limited. The other major drawback is that you don’t own the property (your site). So if you end up in dispute your site could be closed down; and you can’t transfer it to another provider meaning you would have to start from scratch.
What does self-hosted mean?
A web designer/developer will build you a site using their preferred software and then a hosting company is hired to host the site. Fees vary but most hosts worth their salt charge around the $15 to $25 per month mark.
Self-hosted sites give you the flexibility in terms of design customisation that any series business needs; you can upgrade or change stylistically easily and you have complete control over the look at feel of your site. If you fall out with your hosting company, you can transfer your site elsewhere with the minimum of fuss; no starting from scratch here.
Always go with self-hosted. The flexibility and future proofing that self-hosting gives you is well worth the investment for any serious business or venture. It just simply is not worth risking your business continuity by going with a hosted solution and why would you want a cookie cutter website that looks like any other off the shelf offering out there? That’s not how you would choose to market your business so don’t end up with a website like that!