Web Host Siteground

I once heard a friend who owns a boat complain about the price of gas when he goes to Florida. I was sympathetic, but almost immediately replied, "Yeah, but you can't put a price on not getting stranded in the middle of the ocean."

You might believe a website builder that only provides a drag and drop site is getting over, but if you assign your own domain name to it (which, in order to be professional, is essential) the monthly fee could be about as much as that for a full fledged hosting account.

There are other posts offering opinions on hosted website builders, so I won't repeat them. Despite some advances in features, there are still a number of relevant crucial points.

If you've made the decision to be in full control of your resources; to have as much reasonable latitude in growing your business; in leveraging all the possibilities and cost efficiencies of online operations; to protect and maintain your online assets, then you'll want to consider Siteground web hosting.

Siteground hosting offers exceptional performance and security. It's one of the top hosting companies for WordPress. I chose it for this site and have remained for these reasons and because plans included a quality SSL certificate. At the time they were the only ones I found to offer this feature. They've continued to demonstrate innovation in their services as well as provide useful technical/business tips.

If you have 1 website the Starter Plan would be a great fit.

It's worth looking over.

I am an affiliate and will receive compensation for purchases. Thank you!

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The Site (Road) Not Taken

For many years I've strongly advocated for having as much control over your website as possible, as evidenced by
several posts in this blog. This perception has grown for the "committed technical novice" with many of the DIY products that have come along since I wrote "What A Website Can Do" in 2010.

But there are still limitations with website builders, not the least of which is the charge for the most basic
requirement, using your own domain; typically about as much as it costs for a hosting package complete with gigs of disk space.

However, let me say at the outset that I'm not as partisan against website builders as I was. They serve a purpose
of getting a presence on the net quickly, and some have a nice selection of templates.

But for a truly scalable and flexible long term solution, to name just a few advantages, there are better platforms.

As usual, knowledge pays.

I was recently contacted by a past client seeking help with their website, currently written in php. My first
contract with them, I implemented a WordPress site, upgrading from a website builder that allowed just 5 pages, addressing one problem of crowded content. A support plan was not negotiated. The WordPress site stayed up for a
while, then I noticed one day that it had switched to a website builder platform.

I don't know why it was decided to go back to a closed platform; I can only assume the WordPress admin dashboard
might have been intimidating (a situation that appears to be common among those who have yet to be convinced otherwise), or were overwhelmed by the nearly daily plugin update emailed notifications (updates which can be managed by -- say it with me -- a plugin).

Some years passed, during which I de-emphasized work for clients who decided to abandon provided solutions, feeling
it might create a negative perception.

Such was the case of the client I mentioned who now needed help updating content. As I said, when I'd last visited
their site it was using a website builder; now it was written in php (a scripting language that can generate html).
(When I learned this my first thought was '...but - but so is WordPress...?')

I agreed to provide an analysis which revealed a few things that went beyond their scope.

For example, I found pages where a tagline was rife with misspellings. I found text obscured by an image.

The template I use for detailing specs and tasks has space to show business rationale/advantages. I think it's important to be as explicit as possible in the hope that what is quoted is agreed to be fair and accurate. At least it helps.

That being said, ultimately the client determines what services they'll receive and the provider must decide if they are the right one to do so. It's not as if disclaimers can appear in mid-air like a holograph when work they may be credited with is viewed by the general public. Cost can be a primary driver, and it is up to all parties concerned what that cost, immediate and future, will be.

WP Admin dashboard example

Be Careful What You CMS For

The growth of Content Management Systems has been phenomenal over the past
several years for a number of reasons; one easily recognized is a need to
update the business website regularly and/or quickly.

User-friendliness can be objective (standard definition/best practices), yet can
also be a matter of personal taste in many areas. Appealing colors, read-able
fonts that contrast to background, navigation that is easy to access and
understand, strategic content placement, all seem obvious elements of a user-
friendly site.

Choices on types of color (can I get a witness to avoid yellow/green on
light blue?); whether backgrounds should have patterns that are intricate, simple,
or remain solid; the amount of content, all figure into how much traffic the
site gets and how long people stay.

To my knowledge the general rule has been to design sites to be compatible with
most commonly used media/devices, but with the proliferation of mobile and
tablets, not to mention wider monitors, "most commonly used" is relative. A site
that adapts to the device display is ideal.

What do you need to know to administer a CMS?

With a properly set up site you should still expect a degree of a learning curve.
After learning the basics you won't need to do more than enter content -- most
of the time. With WordPress for example, image uploads are simple and intuitive;
applying updates is a frequent but relatively easy task. However there is always
the possibility that you have to restore the database. This is one area where
you will need to work with other tools in your hosting admin panel suite.

The one thing you should not do is make changes or add things without
understanding as much as possible about the nature and consequences of
them (if any). If a performance hit or worse results, it is reassuring to know in advance what steps can be taken to recover.

One area where it pays to be cautious is in adding plugins. A  plugin is a software module designed for specific or multiple functions  depending on the implementation.

Too many plugins can slow your system down; duplication of underlying
technologies can cause a conflict and hang the system or crash the site. A host
provider may take your site offline (without notice) if they perceive "abuse."

How much is 'too many'? In my experience I haven't found it yet (knock wood).
I searched the WP forums on this topic and the consensus is it's only limited
by server resources and how well built the plugin is, and if they play well with
others.

To date I've only installed on shared hosting and have used a variety of solutions for
resource issues.

In cases where things are going wrong or breaking, one of the first
ways to diagnose the problem is to deactivate all plugins (easily done with a
couple of clicks from the dashboard) then reactivate them one at a time and
test to see if the problem recurs, so the plugin at fault can be isolated.

The challenge, as with most everything, is having the patience and persistence
to discover what is possible and where/how to obtain it.

Consider the following:

  • Get training or train yourself in the admin functions of your CMS.
  • Understand whether your site is concentrated on information or interaction.
  • What screen resolution are you expecting to optimally display your site?
  • How many of your anticipated audience will view the site at that resolution?
  • Should you have a blog in addition to a "company profile" site?
  • How much are you willing to delegate?

This is by no means an exhaustive list but will serve to guide your direction.

The CMS approach is a welcome, expedient and robust platform for developing
your web presence, and there are many to choose from. Some are preferred
for different purposes (i.e. WordPress for blogging, others for eCommerce), but
with so many plugins and themes available, functionality doesn't have to be
compromised and tradeoffs are not that hard.

Whatever you decide it's always a good idea to plan for scaling. Make sure your CMS can grow with you and in what it delivers.