If you want to design your own dedicated website for your business, the first thing you need to do, is to decide whether you want to opt for a hosted website, or a self hosted one.
Let’s take the example of a car and a bus. Which one are you more likely to use as a means of transportation?
Cars let you go anywhere you want, speed up or slow down, stop when you want, play your favorite tracks, and customize them the way that you want. Whether you want good mileage, a custom paint job, or more storage space, the car is completely yours to do with as you wish. You would, however, need to pay for the car yourself, alongwith the maintenance charges; and if you do want to customize it, you need to either do it yourself, or pay someone to do it for you. If you prefer the freedom that your own car provides, then you are thinking of a self-hosted website. A self-hosted website is hosted on servers which you can purchase through hosting providers like Rackspace, Magento, and Woocommerce. To use it, your organization needs to set up and manage the hardware and software system that your website is built on.
Now on the other hand, buses would also take you to places most people go to, at a decent speed and there is no maintenance or purchasing cost incurred by you either, except for much lower monthly fees as opposed to an upfront payment for a car. However, in spite of there being several buses available, you cannot choose your own time to board the bus, change or customize it the way you want, and you have to follow their rules if you want to avail their services. A bus will not take you till your doorstep, and if you move to a new place, you’ll have to get used to a completely new bus system. If this is what you prefer, then you are thinking of a hosted website. A hosted website is hosted on a server that you do not have any access to, at all. For example, hosting services provided by Shopify and Big Commerce don’t let you have any direct access to the servers.
The best and most important feature of a self hosted website is the ability to customize it any which way you want. As your organization and business grows, as it definitely will, in the future, you need to be able to expand your website, accomodating and integrating new features into it, which will have become necessary by then. If your website is on a hosted server, this is going to become difficult, as your ability to customize and edit its features will be very limited, compared to the self hosted one.
When you use a hosted service, neither do you own the code, nor do you have access to your content or any of your sales stats. So if the hosting provider decides to suddenly change its rules, you would be in a huge mess, and getting your website back up and running is going to be hell. As opposed to this, if you host your own website, it will always exist on the website exactly the way you designed it. Even if another platform gains in popularity, you can still choose to stay on your existing platform, or shift to another one, if you want to. You’re the one who owns the code, alongwith unrestricted access and rights to the content on your website.
This is one point in which hosted websites have an edge over self hosted ones, since hosted websites already have everything pre-built and pre-designed, and all you need to do is basically sign up for it, and use the web interface to access it. With a self hosted website, you are responsible for writing the code, maintaining the server load, the packages, databases and a host of other backend things which a hosted website takes care of by itself. However, it’s a small price to pay if you’re serious about building your own website and transforming it into a successful enterprise.
Another win for a self hosted website, you can choose your own domain for your website, instead of having to use the hosting company’s domain. Hosted websites usually have to use the company url, since a separate domain would involve the implementation of very complex SSL, which is hard to do and takes a lot of time and resources.
If your site needs to be global, with multiple stores and a multi-lingual status, a hosted solution is a bad choice. Complex hosting like this allows you to run multiple websites on a folder or subdomain, and then lets them share common resources such as your product database and customer list. If you use a hosted solution, you might need to set up several different shops corresponding to each region you target.
A self hosted website might seem to need a lot of initial investment to get set up and become ready to be launched, but in the long run, it pays off, as you can integrate the specific features you want without having to pay for unnecessary additional features. For a hosted service, you might need a specific feature or plugin that you don’t have, only to discover that you need another one, once you get that, as they are not specially designed for your website in particular.
So, to sum it up, you need to weigh your options carefully and consider which of these satisfy your specific requirements. However, it goes without saying that if you are serious about your website and plan to have a continued online presence, which will make significant advancement and expansion over the years, you most certainly need to choose a self hosting option.