First, you don’t have to know html to build a website. There are many website builders that create the html for you.
Second, a disclaimer. If the information below feels overwhelming, either hire someone to help you build a site and teach you how to maintain it, or hire someone who will build and maintain your site. In either of those cases, I strongly recommend WordPress.org as your platform because you’ll be able to find many others to help if your original person can no longer assist. (More on this later.)
Third, definitions. The platform is the software that runs the website—the website builder. For example, WordPress sites (the software that builds the site) do not have to be hosted on WordPress.com. The host is usually where your site live—it’s also called a CMS—content management system. They probably hold your domain name renewal as well, though someone one else can do that (a domain registrar). Hosting sites may have their own software, but it won’t be as easy to transfer to another host. Many of these will let you play around with a trial site for free.
This article, “How to Choose the Best Website Builder in 2023” is a good place to start. But you may also want to talk to friends about their experiences. I personally have used various WordPress sites on various hosts, and Weebly and Wix, each on a different site. I looked at Godaddy’s builder on a friend’s site and could not see an option to add a link to a box or image.
Let me add my comments on their feedback in the above article.
- WordPress.org – many people know how to use this software and it’s very flexible.
- Web.com – blogging functionality being limited would be a “no” for me.
- Wix – fairly easy to use; complicated to move your site to another software system.
- HubSpot – good for simple site, but does have WordPress plugin option.
- WooCommerce – is aimed at selling—not usually what an author or illustrator is primarily doing on their website.
- Gator – no free trial.
- Hostinger – not easy to change templates; can’t schedule blog posts.
- Domain.com – no free website builder; does not migrate well to another site.
- BigCommerce – again aimed at selling; more expensive.
- Shopify – a third aimed at selling; requires their own payment platform.
- WordPress.com – more limited than using WordPress.org elsewhere.
- Squarespace – a fourth aimed at selling.
- Weebly (now owned by Squarespace, so I found difficulty getting help) – again limited to what it offers.
- DreamHost – uses WordPress, but will require hosting elsewhere, so what is it they do?
- GoDaddy – limited set of features.
The article’s conclusion, and my own, is WordPress.org. If you just want a one or two page website where a lot doesn’t change, any of the non-commerce sites would probably be adequate.
So next up is choosing a host, which is where a monthly or annual cost is charged.
PCmag recommends Bluehost and WP Engine, “The Best Web Hosting Services for 2023.” Forbes has a list of ten, “10 Best Web Hosting Services (February 2023).” This site shares nine, “The Top 9 Best Web Hosting Providers.” Bluehost is mentioned in all three articles. WP engine in the first and the last. SiteGround, which I use, is mentioned in the last. (It was top-rated when I found it last year.)
I personally would compare prices and make sure they each support a WordPress website builder. Some will provide your domain for free, although there will still probably be an annual renewal fee. (Your domain is your url. Mine is susanuhlig.com.)
See what you think of the host’s website and how easy it appears to get support. Many offer searchable knowledge bases, online support, support chats, demos, a help desk, etc. If you can’t find this kind of information easily, that’s not a good sign.
Do they have any free WordPress tutorials? If so, that will be a helpful resource. My host does, and I’ve used them to lead me step-by-step through setting up a new site and migrating an existing site.
Looking at reviews, cost, and support should help you come to a decision on which host to use.
3 thoughts on “Choosing a Platform and Host for Your Website”
My first site, made by my daughter (then twelve years old) required knowing html. I managed it myself (updates and adjustments) and for the life of me I don’t know how, because I don’t know html. Needless to say, not recommended. It was retired by the web hosting company, and I made one from a template since, which is easy, admittedly less singular, but manageable. I think the latter is the most important aspect unless you have the writing income to justify having a professional service.
Someone just shared this helpful link with me: https://kindlepreneur.com/web-hosting-for-authors/
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