If you’re trying to launch your first website, you’re probably dealing with information overload. There are these things called domains you need to buy, web hosting services, website builders, and then HTML, CSS, and other coding languages are woven into this double helix of jargon that’s constantly evolving.
If you’re a bit confused, worry not. In this guide we’re going to:
- Break down the differences between web hosting vs. website builder
- Explain the benefits of each
- Show you how to get started
What is Web Hosting?
When you rent a home, you’re paying for a piece of real estate to live in. Usually you fill this home with your own furniture and memorabilia, making it feel like your own.
Web hosting follows the same principle, except you’re paying for a home in what is called a “server,” where the data, content, and the information of your website will live. In order for you to claim this piece of real estate on the internet, you must pay to have it hosted. The bigger the piece you want, or the bigger your website, the more you’re going to have to pay.
But, at the most fundamental level, web hosting offers a plot for people to build websites on. When it comes to the debate of “web hosting vs website builder,” a website builder would be useless if not for hosting services — how can you build if you don’t have land, or a server, to build on?
What is a Website Builder?
If you’ve ever wondered, “What is a website builder?” you can think of it this way: it’s a tool that allows beginners and experts alike to build a website, without needing to know code. The pre-coded platforms work by providing a large variety of website templates and themes to choose from, which can then be customized and tailored to your needs. These tools are built to be user-friendly and often come with tutorials and technical support seeing as they’re designed to complement the DIY (do it yourself) method.
Since website builders exist on servers that users can access anywhere they have internet, they are in a certain sense also hosting your website. The sites are hosted on these servers regardless of whether or not a website is finished or launched. By returning to the real estate metaphor, think of website builder hosting like owning some acreage and slowly building atop the land. Once the home is complete and you’re done building, it’ll still be “hosted” on that land.
Types of Web Hosting
Web hosting is an umbrella term and it refers to the act of renting space on a server; there are more specific types that fall beneath it. To understand the differences between web hosting and a website builder, it’s important that we break it down. The four most common types of web hosting are:
- Shared Hosting
- VPS Hosting
- Dedicated Hosting
- Website Builder Hosting
Shared hosting is like an apartment complex; multiple small businesses rent apartments and share the resources. It’s the most affordable and popular type of hosting available, and usually it’s the first type of hosting used by different companies and individuals as they launch their website. This type of hosting is perfect for people who have relatively small websites and have less custom or elaborate needs. There are often storage limitations and can be limited to one or a few websites that you own.
Dedicated hosting is more expensive, and rightfully so as it’s a personalized type of hosting. On a dedicated host, a company or individual has a server all to themselves. They don’t share any resources, nor do they allow for any third party to rent or squat on their space. This allows for a full customization of the server, a higher bandwidth for traffic, and better security. If you have a bigger business or a website that experiences high volumes of traffic, take a close look at dedicated hosting.
The acronym “VPS” stands for Virtual Private Server. Think of this type of hosting as a hybrid between dedicated and shared. This “combination” hosting is reflected in both its price-point and functionality. With VPS hosting you’ll still share a server, but each company or individual on it has their own dedicated piece. What does that mean for you? It allows for more traffic while experiencing less slowdowns, and a bit more flexibility regarding customization. If you’re a small business that’s seeing growth and venturing into the mid-sized business territory, VPS could be a great fit.
Website Builder Hosting
You can use a website builder with any of the hosting types discussed above. However, keep in mind that all Website Builders are in a sense hosts. Think of it this way: no matter if you’re a big business or a small business, you want a quick and easy way of creating a beautiful, functional website. That’s what Website Builder is for. But, if you are a business or organization that needs to accommodate high customer traffic and secure their information,you’d want to invest in a more advanced hosting option (like a Dedicated Server.) If you’re an individual or small business whose website doesn’t get a lot of traffic (yet) then you can use Website Builder to create your site and keep it “hosted” there as you build and grow. Check out Domain.com’s Website Builder — with every domain name purchase you receive a free, basic Website Builder that’s good for creating a 6-page website.
If you’re using Website Builder Hosting as your primary hosting then it’s a good idea to also look at options that provide more security and room for growth of your website.
A Comparison of Website Hosting and Website Builder
When comparing web hosting and a website builder, semantics play a major role in defining the two. Here are some points to use to compare these products:
- Web hosting allows an individual or company to rent a space on a server, which will host all the data and information of their given website. This space can take many different forms and is often chosen based specifically on the needs and budgetary requirements of an individual or enterprise
- A website builder cannot host more than one website or act as a server for anything other than the website you’re building with it. It’s not designed as a hosting platform, it’s both a storage locker and construction ground for your website. Remember, “website builder hosting” is a bit misleading, what’s being hosted is the Website Builder software, not the website being created by the Website Builder.
- Web hosting is rented space or digital real estate, it’s not a service that allows you to build a website. If you purchased hosting and want to build your website with it, you’re putting the cart before the horse. Think of it this way: you need a website in order to host it. Some hosting packages will offer tools to build a website, but that’s an added feature and not a standard feature of web hosting.
- A website builder allows the user to actually create the website they’re going to host on a server. Website builders provide pre-coded and templatized “sections of websites” that you get to put together and customize to create your own website. Domain.com’s Website Builder offers drag and drop functionality, making it a breeze to use.
At its core, the main difference is that web hosting is a piece of land, while a website builder is what allows the construction to happen atop that land.
A Website Builder Explained
As we mentioned, a website builder is a software platform used to build a website. Engineered for both experts and beginners alike, they are usually offered alongside a hosting platform to create an all-inclusive package. There are two types of website builders:
- An online website builder – the website builder is hosted on the same server as the website and can be accessed anywhere there’s internet. This means that the user will never have to download or install software and can access their “build” — at any stage — so long as they have a healthy internet connection. These are more common than the following type.
- An offline website builder – typically thought to be geared more towards users with technical knowhow, an offline website builder is exactly as it sounds; a platform that works offline. This means the user will have to download the software and save the files locally, then upload them onto a server once they want to launch the website
If you choose to use a website builder hosting package that doesn’t mean that you’re bound to that specific hosting plan once your website has been built.
What Should I Expect (And Want) from a Website Builder?
A quality website builder provides all the tools you need to build, maintain, and expand upon a website. A few common things to expect are:
Variety of Templates
The allure of using a website builder is that it’s pre-coded. This means that someone with zero knowledge of coding can utilize the user interface to create their own website. This is done by way of templates. Each website builder will have their own catalogue of templates which are pre-coded, designed, and color coordinated. Once selected, these templates can be customized to fit a brand or personality.
A good Website Builder will have an image editor, “drag and drop” functionality, and customizable templates. The functionality of a website builder should be easy to use and versatile.
It’s no secret that people are just as likely to visit your website on their mobile device as they are on their computer. Today, mobile formatting is not only important for websites, it’s an imperative. If the website builder that you’re considering doesn’t format for mobile, run away. You can’t risk losing customers because a website doesn’t load properly on their mobile device.
User-Friendly Interface & Technical Support
Website builders are designed to be user-friendly, allowing even the most computer illiterate of us to easily create a site. To that end, every website builder should be backed by a reputable and diligent technical customer support team. If anything in the website happens to break, or if certain pieces aren’t fitting together, then a good provider would offer customer support to troubleshoot the problem.
Analytics Tools & SEO
Analytics and SEO (search engine optimization) are now utilized by every successful website, so you should expect your website builder to offer some form of both. This can mean offering a flawless integration of Google Analytics, or even some ground level keyword generation for SEO. These types of tools will allow a user to understand how well they’ve positioned themselves on the internet, what they’re doing wrong, and where to improve.
When it comes to spelling out the differences between web hosting and a website builder, it’s best to separate them entirely. Some key takeaways:
- Web hosting hosts both websites and website builders but by its definition is incapable of building a website.
- A website builder does not host a website so that consumers can access on the internet. Rather, it hosts the tools and pieces needed to create that website, allowing the user to build.
- Both web hosting and website builders work best in packages, where a website builder is utilized to create a website, then the website is hosted through the same bundle
I Understand Now, How Do I Get Started?
Now that you understand there is no choosing one or the other, rather it’s about working to integrate both web hosting and a website builder, how do you get started?
First, you need a domain name. Your domain name is going to be the name of your website, which should hopefully align with your brand or company. From there, you can choose what type of hosting and website builder package you want.
If you’re still confused about all the options or have any questions regarding domains, hosting services, and website builders, then feel free to reach out to the experts at Domain.com and they’ll provide the answers you’re looking for. You don’t need to be an expert coder to create a fantastic website, you just need a solid website builder and a decent web hosting plan.