The investment points on the road to owning a website parallel the ones you encounter when renting an apartment, or buying a home. You spend a lot of time scouting neighborhoods and looking over finances before you make a decision. This is similar to searching for an affordable server space with the back-end support that you need for your website. Though, you may soon find out that the initial prices offered by current hosts may not cover all of your needs.
Why Bother Doing it Yourself?
Websites are ubiquitous in current culture, so much so that they do not seem difficult or expensive to produce. You can go get a free wordpress.org template up and running within the hour. But, when it comes to putting together a custom designed and developed website; would that it were as simple as clicking download and install. Think about it like you are weighing the pros and cons of cutting your own hair. You could do it yourself for free, but a professional could surely do it better the first time with fewer wasted resources.
Grab a Host Server
Before we do anything we need server space and a domain name. Websites live on servers, so right up front you’re going to be met with a non-beginner choice: How will you serve your website? You can either set up and maintain your own server, or lease space from a host server. Either choice comes with a steep learning curve and maintenance obligations. Some hosts offer curated bundles with hosting plans to make the backend process easier to manage. They may even offer to secure your domain name. Once you find a host that you like the next step is selecting a lease plan. A plan generally ranges between $1.99/mo to a conservative $110/mo for static sites without e-commerce.
Now you have server space, and it’s glorious. You just want to look around and appreciate the space. It feels like signing the lease on a new apartment. It’s clean and clutter free, plus you can make this space absolutely your own. Ready to move in? Get your website files transferred over, and — where are your website files? You don’t have website files? Your host has website files that you can use at a cost between $15 and $499 for a minimally customized template. Your host may also offer to further customize your template, usually for a one-time fee. A few months from now you will need to update the website, and a year from now your introductory fees will increase by up to 800% from year one. The point here is that you rarely enjoy a set-it-and-forget-it relationship with your web host, no matter what platform you choose.
The Right Security
Wow, look at that! We have a website up and visitors are already starting to see your nice new page. Now is the right time to talk about securing your slice of the internet by setting up encryption on your server to keep your files safe. A host will offer some protection for the server, and for your site, but you will need your own encryption service, not to specifically mention the other services that integrate into a server to make it safe and user friendly.
Don’t be scared, it’s really not that bad, but before you commit yourself to one direction, consult a pro for help. Save the time and the trouble of having to learn from mistakes, partner up with designers and developers that do this stuff because they love it. Those are the right people to work with.