When individuals, startups, or companies coming late to the digital game decide that they “need a website,” many are surprised at the processes that are actually involved in making that decision a reality. Some solutions allow experienced website users to have a new Web home up and running in an hour or two. For the rest of the world, however, it is an environment that requires learning the language and understanding the lay of the land before making informed decisions that translate into the best possible result.
Website building vs. web hosting
One of those is understanding the difference between a website builder and web hosting. While the two terms often occupy the same space, they refer to very different parts of the process. The simplest way to explain and compare the two is to think about real estate. Every house needs a plot of land to sit on, whether that land is in your name or the bank’s name. You can use a developer who constructs a house from a series of templates with your customizations. You also can buy a piece of property and put whatever kind of custom structure you want there, as long as it meets a few basic codes. The same holds true for a website. No matter how it’s built, a website needs to reside somewhere on the Internet. Without an address, there’s no place for it to go.
Web hosting is a lot like buying your own property in that once you invest in a space on the Internet, your website can be just about anything you want it to be. You can build it yourself or hire someone else to do it, but whatever unique properties you want can be written in.
A website builder is much like a developer. Not only are they providing you the space and a name for your website, but they are also building it for you, typically from a premade design with a few personalized customizations. Website builders can give your website a domain and host your site, but there are usually limitations such as how many megabytes or gigabytes of space and storage you get and how many visitors per month the site can handle.
Website Builder Strengths
Website builders are intuitive, meaning they can quickly present you with the choices related to building a site. They are the best choice for people with a lack of coding experience or the budget to hire someone else for the job. Instead of having a new website owner choose every single detail from scratch, website builders present popular themes and templates. From there, users can customize things like fonts, colors, text, and images to make the site uniquely theirs.
Website Builder Weaknesses
Some website builders offer to build your site, but don’t have anywhere for you to put it. Others do offer web hosting capabilities as part of the package. Wix and Squarespace fit this mold, but they usually have limitations on how much space and storage you can have. Another restriction is how much bandwidth you are entitled to each month for people to visit and download information from your site. Additionally, websites created by a builder may end up on a specific platform, which could make it difficult to make edits or improvements in the future. In this situation, customizations or scaling might also be a chore.
Web hosting strengths
Once you fork over funds for your own plot of the Internet, there are virtually no limits to what you do with it. As long as you have the coding abilities from yourself or someone else, the sky is the limit for what your site looks like. You can also scale the size and scope of your site easily in terms of storage space and bandwidth. That doesn’t only mean buying larger, more costly packages. Of course. Most web hosting sites can scale your site up or down for specific periods of growth or recession. Some web hosting sites come with their own website builders as well. They are typically more robust than the competition, offering more one-click installation modules for experienced coders to install a la carte.
Web hosting weaknesses
There’s a steep incline, both skill-wise and financially, to using a web hosting site successfully. Learning the coding skills to build your own professional site is a tremendous workload to take on. Hiring someone to do the same can be a pricey endeavor for a small business. Less expensive forms of hosting, like shared hosting, exist, but they are far less favorable. Shared hosting is reasonably priced, but involves multiple websites sharing the same server, and thus competing for resources like bandwidth and storage space.
Armed with knowledge on website builders vs. website hosting, we hope you can come to an informed decision on what you want for your site. Remember to do your research and choose what suits your needs the best.