If you’re considering launching a website, or are looking to revamp an existing one, you’ve probably looked into WordPress. It’s the perfect platform for an individual or business without web development skills to get a site up and running cheaply and quickly.
WordPress provides the back end that makes the whole thing work, and you simply pick a theme, add the words, images and other media you want, and you’re good to go.
Well, almost. There’s also the small matter of hosting your site. That’s where the website is stored on a server that runs 24/7 and allows anyone in the world to access your content.
There are two options when it comes to hosting: self-hosting, and using a third party to host the site. In the former case, you need your own server, which is connected to the internet on high speed lines and able to cope with whatever bandwidth your visitors put on it.
You’re responsible for keeping it up and running, maintained and secure. For the latter method, you’re handing hosting over to a professional company. They are experts at hosting, and will simultaneously be hosting hundreds or thousands of other websites.
While you’ll be responsible for your own site’s content, security and so on, they will make sure it’s running at all times.
WordPress comes in two flavours, which are known as wordpress.com and wordpress.org. We’ve covered the differences in an earlier article, so check it out if you’re unsure.
Basically, however, wordpress.com is a business that allows you to launch a site simply by creating an account and creating your design, while wordpress.org is where you download all the code (it’s open source and free) and you host it yourself, or have it hosted by a third party.
If you go the .com route, you don’t have to worry about upgrading the platform, as that is done centrally. With a .org site, it’s up to you to keep your version updated.
If you’re happy to have WordPress host your site, there are a number of options to choose from, each of which comes with its own price tag.
At the bottom of the pile is free hosting. It’s fine for a personal site or a temporary project, but it does come with some limitations. For example, you won’t be able to have your own domain name (it’ll be something like yourname.wordpress.com), the site will carry advertising, you won’t be allowed plugins or themes, and you’ll have limited access to analytics.
As soon as you start paying, things improve, and your site will take on a more professional appearance. You can have the domain of your choice, there will be no advertising, themes and plugins will be allowed, you’ll be hosted on faster servers, and you’ll have access to a helpline, all for a few pounds a month.
As your site grows, you might want to improve the experience for your customers and give yourself more power, so it’s good to know there’s a series of hosting options that might cost a little more, but will give you more control. If you’re running an eCommerce site, there’s a specialist Commerce plan to help you handle payments and shipping.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with letting WordPress host your site, except that you will have a choice of just one host, and you won’t have full control of everything that happens to your site. For most businesses running a standard website, that isn’t a problem.
The choice usually comes down to price, and what capabilities and capacity your website requires. Whichever you choose, you’ll always be able to change your mind and migrate it at a later date.