Website Must Haves Part 1: Choosing A Hosting Service
We all know that we need a website for our practices- but what's the best way to set it up for maximum efficiency and minimum expense? How do you choose a website hosting service and a domain? What even is a hosting service?
If you have those questions, I have the answers!
The first thing you need to know about websites is that hosting, design and domain are all different services.
The name you type into the address bar is the domain, the software that you use to create your site is the design, and the host is the service that "hosts" your site on the internet. You need all three in order to have a working, useful website.
All web hosting providers also offer design and domain services, but you don't have to choose them- many people choose a different web hosting provider, design, and domain providers to save money.
The major web design services that also offer hosting are
All offer domain and hosting services as well. To choose between them, ask yourself
What is my budget?
Take into account that the monthly price shown for the design sites does NOT include hosting, although they all offer that service. All of the plans except Squarespace offer free plans, which will have branding within the pages and the address (i.e. "privatepracticeslp.wix.com" with "Try Wix for yourself" -type ads on some pages). I don't recommend a free site for your business, because it just looks tacky. You don't need a "commerce" or "business" account unless you're planning to offer hard goods for sale through your site.
How much coding knowledge or tech savvy do I need?
With the exception of Wordpress, all of the design services listed above are "drag and drop" builders, which means you need very little knowledge of HTML coding to create your site using their templates. However, because of that, they are not completely customizable. If you want total customization, Wordpress is the best option- but it comes with a price tag and the need for coding knowledge.
How much time do I have available to spend on my website?
This is a big question and one that most people (myself included, when I started) don't think about. DIY design/hosting providers are great if you like and have time to be getting into the behind-the-scenes of your website, but it will take a lot of time. Ask yourself if you have the hours needed to set up and maintain your website- at least 10-15 hours to set it up, and 1-2 hours a week to maintain/improve it after you get into a groove. If you're going to be blogging, that adds even more time.
If you want a turn-key service and don't want to mess around with designing or maintaining a website by yourself, you can choose a compete web design package from companies like Cued Creative. They will guide you through choosing a host and take care of the design and maintenance for you. This is much more expensive than DIY design, but if the time savings is worth it to you, it's a great option.