If you've come across the terms "hosted and self hosted" websites or blogs and was left feeling confused.com, I'm about to explain it to you, very simply, without the tech talk.
There are many variations in between these two hosting platforms, so this explanation is a simple and straightforward one, so you can understand it quickly and easily.
Okay, are you ready?! Let's imagine that you're either renting a house (hosted) or owning your own house (self hosted).
In the rented scenario, you're limited by what you can do to the house. You will need to ask the landlord's permission to paint the walls and the front door. If you wish to install special features then again you will you have to ask for the owner / landlord's permission. This is likened to running a blog or website on a hosted platform. I'll further explain this in a moment.
Next let's look at the Self Hosted platform...
On the other hand, if you own your own house, you have complete control over what you do.
For example, you can install new doors and windows, replace the bathroom suite, change the driveway, the list is limitless. Effectively this is like having a self hosted website or blog.
Examples of Hosted Sites (Rented) v Self Hosted (Owned) Websites
To give you some context, here are some examples of hosted websites that you may have heard of.
These sites are also known as "Builder" sites, as they provide you with the building blocks to create your website.
If you're just starting out and feel that you don't have technical skills to create your own website, these types of sites are a good place to start. There's no coding and you have the option of selecting a premium plan giving you technical support.
For a monthly subscription, you will get access to the software and the hosting platform.
Disadvantages & Builder Sites
If you wish to add features, such as a lead magnet (to collect email addresses), add a shopping cart and have more control over the layout, you will be asked to pay for an upgrade or employ a developer to do this. For some builder sites, such as Wix, even optimising for SEO can be restrictive.
Effectively, the more features you add, the more costs spiral and this was certainly my experience.
If you move your site to another platform, e.g. WordPress, you will almost have to rebuild your site from scratch, which is especially true should the company close; they will take your site with them!
That said, these are useful solution for a very basic website or blog such as an online brochure.
For a self hosted website, you or your developer will select your software e.g. WordPress.org or Joomla and choose a host provider such as Bluehost or Siteground (I recommend Siteground because of their excellent customer service, response times and overall value for money).
You have complete control and the ability to design your site as you like, with as many features as you like. This is a great opportunity to build your website as your business grows.
The second benefit is the price. If you build it yourself (this is very achievable).
If you're unhappy with your host provider you can easily transfer to another one, without losing your data.
If you are new to the online experience and in particular, not planning to grow your site beyond the basics, the Hosted or Managed solution will deliver for you.
However, if you have ambitions to grow your business and want the flexibility of additional features, I recommend you opt for the Self Hosted solution.
What's your experience of builder or self hosted sites? Have you recently switched? Are you planning to, if so, why?
Let me know in the comments box below!