By: Lauren Whitson, Spokesperson for 1&1 Internet, Inc.
What are the options for getting a website online? There are two routes to take, each requiring different levels of technique, ownership and flexibility. For the person who has a general idea for a site but lacks the technical understanding, interest or the time, using an expert in website design or a developer is an effective path to take. Professional designers can build a site that includes all of the necessary elements and your special requests in a crisp presentation. The downside is the potentially increased budget that may be required for having a specialist do the work for you.
If you wish to have more control of your website or cannot afford a site designer, then take a look into do-it-yourself applications. The market is most certainly filled with various website tools offered from a long list of Web hosting providers. Researching available options to select the most fitting Web host and in turn a suitable product should lead you to consider a few key points for comparisons. As a guideline, here are some of the most important aspects to contemplate before committing to a provider:
The amount of space that your website will need is dependent on what the site’s primary use is and your expectations for its growth. For example, if you plan to incorporate many photos, videos or several pages into a website, it is worth exploring tools that can offer you extensive storage space. Some SMBs may be uncertain about how much storage they will need from a Web host, so looking into package options that provide flexibility to increase or decrease Web space as your company grows over time is ideal.
One of the most important elements a quality Web host can offer is significant bandwidth, or traffic volume. Ask the provider if they limit the amount of bandwidth that is available with a hosting package you are considering for purchase. Are there any fees for exceeding a specific level of activity? Sometimes, there is a cap to the amount of traffic a hosting provider will allow for each website they support.
Price is an important factor when comparing Web hosts. As with anything, there are providers at both ends of the cost spectrum but the key is to understand that expensive does not always equate to the best value. The same is said for seemingly cheap price points – the implication of affordable pricing is not an automatic symbol for poor performance. Instead, go by a list of required versus desired features as well as what fits within your IT budget.
The tools and features each Web host includes with different hosting packages dictate how much flexibility you will be able to exercise with your website when it is up and running. Template-driven site applications, for instance, may include a core set of features, like customized content for specific industries or interests, several designs and layouts to choose from, and pre-licensed image libraries to help jumpstart your creativity. Other elements can support visitors to your site. For example, consumer-based features can bring an interactive element to the site; therefore tools like feedback forms, Google Maps and social media integration are useful for engaging visitors. Besides content, there is also the administrative aspect to think about which should be provided for you to use as the site owner. Features including a user-friendly control panel and a site analytics program are elements that affect how well you update and manage your site. If important tools are buried, it is likely that frustration will deter you from keeping the site current and engaging.
Each type of website design application usually offers different levels to choose from, each building upon the core features set in place with additional tools for enriching your site. Mobile optimization is one to look for, as are marketing tools like SEO, newsletters and calendars to advertise special occasions.
A website is a great method for spreading information to a vast audience. Adding creative flare with unique use of color, special effects, and images gives your site a unique personality for communicating its content.
Lauren Whitson, Spokesperson for 1&1 Internet, Inc.