In the online world of the 21st century, you’re not on the map, unless you’re on the internet. It is indeed one of the greatest inventions to date that gives businesses a capable platform, a voice to anyone who has something to say and encourages communities and innovations. We’ve reached a point where pretty much anyone can have a website, but what things should you know before you start your online journey? We isolated the main points that can impact your site the most, and how you should consider them before you start. Think of this article as a handy checklist that will help you take that first step.
There’s no substitute for research
Before you start making decisions and purchases, you should take the time to consider some essential things. When it comes to research, you will have to outline two things. What will your project do, why you are creating it in the first place, and secondly, what are the must-have tools and features that will be required.
What is your story?
Are you a business owner? Maybe a freelance artist? Or you just want your voice out there? When you consider these things, you’ll be able to start making decisions that will lead you towards a smooth start. At first, it might seem, that a website is a website, but there are many complexities below the surface. Knowing what you’re making a site for will help you narrow down your needs. If you’re preparing a website that will require a lot of power, or maybe it will be an online service or application, you’ll need a vastly different set of tools, different from those used by a blog.
Once you know what kind of project you’re aiming for, further research can begin. Narrow down your options. If you want to create a heavy traffic website, you will probably need to go for a virtual private server hosting service, unless of course, you want to build your very own physical server (which would be very expensive and require a lot of proficiency).
How much you know, that you don’t know?
You may have seen where this is going. The next thing to do is access your technical knowledge. You might be able to use the Linux terminal pretty smoothly, or assemble a PC, boot an OS onto it and make it ready for use, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to start a website from scratch. Luckily today’s landscape is filled with tools that empower anyone to create a website. Almost literally anyone. The general pattern is, that the lower your technical knowledge, the more user-friendly and straightforward tool you will need, which means that your website is going to be a bit less flexible and based on templates. That is completely fine, but it might not be what you’re after or what you need. Once you know what you’re making, you know what you need to learn for it and where you should reduce or increase your ambition.
Considering this will make the choice of hosting provider easier, as the level of management and customer support provided will be clear as day. In addition, if you’re going to work with multiple people, that will help you along, having a conversation with them and accessing their capabilities should also be considered.
Where and how much?
We recommend one of two ways when deciding where you want your website to be hosted. To preface these methods: there is never one clear, solid answer. This isn’t an exact science. Hence this guideline relies on flexibility. It takes two different starting points and tries to help narrow down the list.
So the two main questions here are what is your budget and, by now you should know what the must-have functionalities to start are. Through researching the available options, you should either make a list of the service providers that have all the tools you will need, or a list of providers that are within your price range. This depends on which part you’re willing to compromise on, features or price. If you’re ready to compromise on price, take the list that has the features, and pick the one that will fit the bill. If your budget is limited, take the list that matches your budget, and see which one will give you the most bang for your buck.
Now, of course, there might be a perfect hosting service provider even for artists or musicians that will meet requirements at both function and price, but generally, be prepared to make some calls.
A plan for plans
The home stretch is here. Ideally, you have most likely picked a place to host your website, you know what you need, you’ve thought of a great domain name, the last thing you need is to pick a plan. Most hosting providers will offer three different kinds of services: shared hosting, VPS hosting and cloud hosting. Here are the definitions in short:
- Shared hosting will set you up on a dedicated server where you and other users have to share resources. You have your own private account, website, etc., but if someone on the server experiences a high-traffic period, your site might slow down too. The upside? It’s incredibly cheap. Often you can find a service that will be under two dollars a month.
- VPS hosting is the heavy hitter. VPS hosting users share a dedicated machine with other users, but the resources are allocated, so you’re entirely safe from downtimes because someone else is having high traffic. Usually, this service provides root access, lets you install a custom OS and has other intricacies. It is powerful and very flexible, but you’re both going to need a bigger budget and a lot more technical knowledge.
- Lastly, cloud hosting doesn’t use a single dedicated machine, but uses multiple ones, over a vast network. That takes the chances of downtime, or server failure to a bare minimum enables the simple features and panels of shared hosting services and theoretically offers limitless scalability. The downside is that most often, it is a bit on the pricey side, and it is still somewhat new technology so knowledge bases can be limited.
Lastly, consider how you’re going to scale. Do you really need that highest tier VPS plan, or will you grow into it in time, avoiding overpaying now? Maybe shared hosting is a bit too small to start with. If it’s just right, will you be able to transition into a more powerful plan?
Once these last questions are covered, you can consider yourself ready to start your website.
In closing and in short
Nowadays anyone can make a website. And if you have a voice that you want to have heard, a business you want to spread, or a portfolio to host you should make one. There is an abundance of tutorials, videos, and forums that will aid you along the way. You just have to have to know what you need.