What I Learned About Web Hosting and Web Design

I started my digital marketing journey in earnest way back in September 2016.  I have been completely overwhelmed with the massive amount of information available.  At some point, I realized that I needed to cut through all the “fluff” and hone in on what’s really important.

Web Hosting

Having a technically sound, reliable website.  It sounds like a no-brainer, but in hindsight, I should have done more research on hosting companies. My primary consideration was cost, followed by consumer reviews on their service support.   I ended up choosing eHost.  The cost was great, and overall the reviews were pretty good.

But now that I have been working with eHost, I would have paid a little more money on the front end for built-in and configured performance tools.  For example, it would have been nice to have a built-in content distribution network (CDN).  CDN helps to greatly speed up your website by caching your site on servers around the world.  The end result is that your site becomes extremely fast to users no matter where their geographic location is.  Built-in security tools, and robust backup tools would also be nice.

Basic hosting packages will save you money in the short-term, but costs will grow when adding a la carte features. Another important consideration is that you have the responsibility to properly configure each add-on service/feature.  Not everybody can, has the time, or patience to do so.  Fortunately for me, I have extensive knowledge and training in technology. But even I had many profanity rants trying to figure out why something was not working!

The bottom line is how much are you willing to pay for convenience vs saving with a DIY approach?  The hidden benefit of DIY is that you will definitely earn your battle scars!  I have made so many mistakes, that I have learned what works and what doesn’t.  The downside of DIY is the time expended to learn, and the potential to make catastrophic mistakes.

Web Design

The second most import consideration is design.  Now that I have settled on a hosting company, I now needed to make my website.  My first choice was to use a drag and drop web design tool such as WIX. WIX is very easy to use, and even fun at times.  The nightmares began when I wanted to customize something, or the available templates were missing something I wanted.  WIX and similar tools are great for simple, well-defined sites.  However, getting under the hood to customize images, text, and many other things is challenging.

In the end, I decided to go with WordPress.  WordPress has a lot going on, and the learning curve can be steep.  But eventually, after many tears, I was able to create something I could be proud of.  I had a lot of help with YouTube videos, and hundreds of Internet searches on widgets, plugins, and themes etc.

I ended up using the Vantage theme, which has been very good.  However, each theme has its own idiosyncrasies.  For example, I bought another theme because it looked pretty cool.  After I installed the new WordPress theme, I had to learn how to use that new theme.  The layout was different, the methodology was different.  So I switched back to Vantage because I was familiar with it enough to be productive.

One serious consideration that came to light while working with WordPress themes is the theme’s overhead.  Themes are programming marvels in my opinion.  However, all that programming can dramatically effect page speed and page load times. To get your site’s performance optimized, you’ll need other programs to help.  consequently, adding additional complexity potentially making your site less stable.

What did I learn?

The take away is to spend more time clarifying your websites ultimate purpose (think big) and engineer your hosting and web design around that.