How to Choose a Host, Domain and Website Builder.

Website builder and hosts

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Let’s face it, when it comes to choosing the right host and the best website builder for your website, we are all bombarded with different information and ads. There are many correct answers, but which host, website builder and domain name registration platform is the best for YOU and your new site?

Well it really depends on your needs.  We’ll break down how to make the best choice for your project, based on your skills, budget and goals.

But first things first…

What is a Host, Website Builder and Domain Name?

These three terms are thrown around a lot and  can be really confusing if you’re just starting out.  In order to know what you need, it’s important to know the difference (this can get particularly complicated as some platforms provide multiple services in one!).

Host: Any active and live website needs a website host. A host provides space on a web server, where you can store the files you need for your website.  Basically, your host provides you a space to add your content to the web.

Website builder: Not everyone is an experienced website developer and knows how to code. But there is a way around that. Website builder platforms like WordPress or Wix allow you to build your website without the necessity of coding. With the website builders you basically only need to learn the functionalities of the platform and can build your website very fast by dragging and dropping.

Domain name: The domain name is the name of your website and you can access the website through the chosen domain. A domain name can be a combination of letters and numbers and ends with an extension like .com, .net, or .live. An example is the domain of the website you are visiting right now: www.novaobserver.com

You need to register the domain name and pay a yearly fee in order to use it. 

Each domain name is unique and the price of your name depends on the popularity of the domain name, as well as the accompanying extension. (.com, .org, .net, etc.)

Where should you buy your domain?

Domain names can be registered through various companies, who are competing with each other. ICANN coordinates those domain names to be sure that no two websites have the exact same name.

Some of the best and most popular domain name providers are found below:

  • Domains.google offers domains starting at $9/year. One problem this platform has is that you cannot register your domain for a country where you are not currently at. Google detects your IP address and you have no chance to change the country of registration. Domains.google has no hidden costs!
  • Domain.com is the most popular domain name provider. This provider does only offer domain registrations, so no web hosting. A domain with a .com extension costs about $9.99/year. 
  • Bluehost is a great choice, as you will receive a free domain if you get their hosting services starting at $3.95/month for the first year.
  • Namecheap offers everything you need in order to get your website started. You can buy a domain name, get their hosting services, and an SSL certificate. This makes your initial set-up very smooth. If you have any problems you can count on their live tech support. For a domain, you would pay $8.88 for the first year and $12.98 for any renewals. 

You can even get a free domain via Freenom, but the catch is rather than a .com your website will have an unpopular extension, like .mf or .ga. 

You can buy your domain name outright, but be aware, many hosting platforms provide free domain names when you sign up for a hosting package.

Choose the right host for your requirements

There are many providers out there and it’s up to you to choose the right one for your needs. When it comes to the website host, speed and storage capacity are very important.

But do you really need to self host? Can you just use a platform that hosts for you?  Well that’s up to you! The most popular reason people want to self host (versus using a platform with hosting built in) is to monetize their content.  You can’t add advertising to a site you don’t really own.

The quicker your website loads, the faster the visitor can access your data and your website speed is part of Google’s ranking criteria. If SEO is important for you, and it should be, make sure that your host is one of the fastest out there.

Host Speed Basic price package/month Customer support Key features Comment
119 ms

Right now $2.95

Regularly $9.95

24/7 tech support
Gives back, unlimited email accounts, free SSL certificate, unlimited webspace
Our favorite for any website, as it's the fastest and greenest host out there as of now
137 ms

Right now $6.99

Regularly $14.99

 

24/7 tech support
10GB storage, 10.000 visitors/month, free SSL & email, 100% renewable energy
Fast & reliable
153 ms

Right now $3.95

Regularly $7.99

24/7 tech support
50GB, free SSL, unmetered bandwidth
Ideal for beginners, intuitive and quick to set up
143 ms

Right now $0.99

Regularly $9.99

24/7 tech support
10GB storage, 10.000 visitors/month, free SSL & email, managed WordPress
Great value for little money, great for beginners
687 ms

Right now $1.58

Regularly $2.88

 

24/7 tech support
20GB storage, unmetered bandwidth, 99,9% uptime, one free domain, hosts 3 websites
The cheapest option for good vaue, great for beginners, high priority in security and privacy
936 ms

Right now $4.95

Regularly $11.99

24/7 tech support
50GB, intuitive interface, free domain & SSL & email, free site builders
Cheap and great for beginners but slower than its competitors
1,191ms

Right now $2.75

Regularly $6.95

24/7 tech support
Unmetered bandwidth and storage, single email account, free domain 1st year and free SSL certificate, 99,98% uptime
One of the cheapest versions with a great free starter package, but unfortunately this host is the slowest in this list

So Which Host is Our Favorite?

Best Deal for New Bloggers:

If you’re just starting out and looking for a good on self hosting, Bluehost at $3.95 with 50GB storage is one of the best deals on the internet for beginners.  Bluehost’s platform is pretty easy to use and can easily be connected to WordPress. However, be aware that those prices will rise after the first year offer is up.*

Overall Best Options for Business Websites and Blogs:

Our first choice is Green Geeks, followed by SiteGround, due to the speed, great value for the money, webspace and the intuitive interface. 

A big plus of Green Geeks is that they are the industry’s leading eco-friendly green web hosting provider putting back 3 times the power they consume into the grid in the form of renewable energy.

* It’s important to note that you’re not locked into your host.  You can always switch if you’re unhappy after the first year, or if prices increase and you want to save some money!

Choose the right website builder for your project

If you’ve opted not to hire a web designer and are building your website yourself there are many different things to consider depending on your project, skill level and budget.

Friendliest Platforms for Beginners:

Wix, Weebly & Squarespace are all very user-friendly and subscription-based. These website builders are the easiest to start creating your website even without any know-how or prior experience.

They are rather built for simplicity and if you need a website with many functionalities these platforms aren’t for you. However, they have a limited amount of templates and plugins and aren’t as versatile as WordPress. Squarespace, Weebly and Wix are also self-hosted platforms, meaning that you don’t need to pay an external host.

These are best for:Portfolio websites, landing pages and small businesses that need a web presence

Most Flexibility:

WordPress is very versatile and it’s relatively easy to get the hang of the CMS (content management system). If you want to go into depth with WordPress it can get difficult very fast and you need some knowledge of coding and the CPanel.

It’s easy to make small changes on your website such as fonts, color and formatting.  WordPress is great for any website project you might have, as it comes with many functionalities.

The downside is that it can become very slow easily due to unwanted page loads and too many plugins. You will be required to update your themes, plugins and you need to backup your files regularly. Overall we recommend WordPress for the intermediate web designer or user with some understanding on how the backend works.

38% of all websites are powered by WordPress, most likely because of its open source system grants you maximum control.  It also offers many free plugins and themes to get you started.

There are two ways to utilize WordPress:  One is to build a website via WordPress.com, a self-hosted platform (meaning you DO NOT need to work with an external hosting company).  However, this limits your monetization options.  The second way is to purchase extra hosting and then once you have created your website you can work with WordPress.

Cargo is a website builder for artists and a great choice for creating simple and cheap portfolios online. On top of that if you know how to code HTML and CSS you will be able to edit quite a lot and you can create stunning websites. This platform is recommendable for front-end web designers and is one of the cheapest website builders out there. The advantage of this website builder is that it will never load a lot of unwanted data on your website and will always stay fast, unlike WordPress.

Best for: Portfolios and sites with a bit more control.

Best Builders for Selling Merchandise or Digital Files:

Shopify is the best and most trusted builder for any e-commerce website. They do charge a monthly subscription fee, but for $29/month and without much know-how you will be able to build a nice website with a great design for desktop and mobile.   Shopify is specialized in webshops and will offer you the best solutions for your online store.

Shopify updates and backs up for you, has an intuitive drop and drag builder and you can connect your Shopify store with a WordPress site.

On the downside, Shopify comes with a higher price tag compared to other website builders, and your store will be difficult to be exported and transferred to another platform once created if you decide to switch.

However, you won’t need to get a host for your website, Shopify will host it for you. You only need to buy a domain, which you then connect to your Shopify account and have your store live within one day.

Best for: Websites designed for online sales

Magento is another great builder for e-commerce websites and is used by many big companies like Coca Cola and Ford, but it can get quite expensive fast.  Magento provides many extra features like data collection and discounts.

A great reason for choosing Magento is the open-source platform. Experienced web developers have the opportunity to completely adapt the webshop to their requirements.

Magento is more flexible has some special features other e-commerce website builders don´t offer, but a big con is the slow loading time. You need to get a very fast loading host to keep your overall loading time within an acceptable range.

Best for: Larger companies looking for online sales

So which website builder should you choose?

Looking to sell your own goods, digital products or open a dropship store? We highly recommend Shopify as it’s an easy platform to sell your items from.  You’ll be able to create a gorgeous online storefront that will help convert visitors into customers.  If you have an issue, their support team is top-notch!

If you’re a beginner to web design and need to create a simple website for your small business to have a web presence, are creating a landing page for a campaign or are looking to show off your work with a gallery, Wix, Weebly and Squarespace are ideal. Their drag and drop functions mean you can create a site on your own and have it up and running in no time!  If you’re looking to start a blog and want the simplicity of this type of builder but also want to monetize your site with ads, Squarespace is your best option.

If you’re a bit more particular and want full control and have some experience with web design or looking to learn how to build a fantastic fully customizable website WordPress is for you.  It’s great for building stunning websites and blogs with some complexity to them.  For the same amount of customization but for simpler projects like beautifully designed portfolios, you must check out Cargo.

              

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The web design and marketing agency Feencode was founded by the German web designer and marketing expert Rahel-Katharina Biehlig. After completing her bachelor's degree in International Business and Languages ​​in Holland, her master of multimedia applications in Spain and years of work experience in marketing and web design, she has become self-employed to realize her own project and her passion: Feencode.