What’s a Self-Hosted Website and Why It’s Important for Your Business

November 10, 2021

7 mins

If you’ve ever created a website or a blog, you’ve surely heard of WordPress. It is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world. What started out as a blog site grew into a robust platform for creating and sharing content online. With an endless library of plugins and themes, WordPress has made it easier than ever to quickly stand up a live website. There’s only one problem: before you begin you must understand the difference between self-hosted WordPress and hosted WordPress.

Say what?

This can be a super confusing point for folks who are just starting their web development journey. Maybe you talked with a friend or fellow business owner who mentioned that their website runs on WordPress. So you Google “WordPress” to learn more, only to discover that there are two versions! On one hand, you have WordPress.org (the self-hosted version) and on the other, you have the company-hosted version which is WordPress.com.

If you’re trying to make sense of it all, keep reading. In our last blog post, we unpacked the details about content management systems, what they do, and why they are important to website management. In this post, we will explain more about hosted versus self-hosted websites. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll have enough information about both to know which is right for you.

Self-Hosted vs Hosted WordPress — What’s the Big Deal?

What’s a self-hosted website? We’re so glad you asked!

Self-hosted websites are websites that are hosted on the web hosting service of your choice. A web hosting service like GoDaddy or BlueHost provides website owners with domain names and server space for their websites.

The website owner (you) has total control of the website, similar to owning your own physical server in a data center. When you choose a self-hosted option, you will be responsible for setting everything up on the server and making sure your site is secure.

Read More: ​​What’s a Content Management System and Why is it Important?

Benefits of Self-Hosting Your Website

There are many benefits of having a self-hosted website. For example, self-hosting a website gives you the full range of flexibility and customization you want to have over your website. Your options for custom design features, custom domain names, plugins, and more are virtually limitless.

The only catch is that you have to know how to do these things yourself or hire a web development company to do it for you. The big risk here is messing things up if you don’t know what you’re doing, especially as it relates to keeping your website secure. When you self-host, there are critical steps you must take to ensure that your website is safe from cyberattacks, spam, theft, and other threats.

But what if you don’t know how to do all that backend server stuff (or don’t want to) and need something easier? In that case, WordPress.com may be a better choice but be forewarned, the convenience comes with some significant drawbacks.

Read More: 10 Questions to Help You Hire a Dedicated WordPress Developer

What Are the Benefits of Company-Hosted Websites like WordPress.com?

After our shining review of self-hosted websites, you may be wondering why anyone would NOT choose a self-hosted site. Despite the limitations, there are benefits to company-hosted websites which we will describe now.

People who want a website or blog and don’t want to pay someone to do it for them may choose to go with a company-hosted website service like Squarespace or Wix.

These services offer different levels of free and freemium services based on what you’re willing to pay. On one hand, there’s no coding required so you can get a website that looks good without needing specialized coding languages. On the other hand, your customization opportunities will be limited and you may not have control over specific aspects that are important to you.

With self-hosted websites, your website is hosted—or stored—on a server that you maintain. With company-hosted websites, they do the hosting for you. This may sound great at first but there are drawbacks.

A company-hosted website, like WordPress.com, is one that exists on a third-party server, such as the company’s own servers or those of a third-party hosting company. The main advantages of hosting your site on a .com server are that you don’t need to worry about site malfunctions, downtime, or security breaches. And these basic services are often offered for free.

Also, the free hosting will always come with a domain name + the company name, e.g. yourbusiness.wordpress.com. Clearly, this isn’t as professional of a look as yourbusiness.com. These services will sell you a redirect but it’s usually a mirror to the domain on their own servers, which can hinder your SEO efforts.

If you do decide to go with a .com server, you won’t have the freedom and full control you may want to do things like advertising or e-commerce. These .com sites advertise marketing and e-commerce solutions but these will always be limited compared to a self-hosted website solution.

Lastly, there are some disadvantages to not owning your content on a hosted site. One of which is if you ever wanted to change hosting providers you would have to recreate all of your content in an entirely new system and it would be difficult or impossible to migrate all of your data from one provider’s system to another.

Reasons to Choose Self-Hosting

Self-hosting is a popular option for those who want to have total control over the design and functionality of their website. While it has certain disadvantages, such as the need to manage hosting, security, and other backend or technical maintenance updates on your own, it may be worth it for those who want to have full control over their site’s overall functionality and design.

Here are some reasons to choose self-hosting on a site like WordPress.org:

1) Full Control

You can customize your website and get any design you want without worrying about the limitations of the platform.

2) Customization

You can adapt your site to suit your needs and marketing goals. There is open-source software, plugins, and themes to help you make the site do exactly what you need it to do.

3) Pricing

Self-hosting is usually cheaper than using a platform for hosting. There are several hosting plans to suit your needs ranging from personal plans to business plans.

4) Security

You have more control over security settings and you don’t have to worry about the company going out of business or being hacked.

5) Analytics

Self-hosted websites offer ultimate control over analytics and search engine optimization plugins or other features that allow you to rank better and track your traffic effectively.

Ultimately, self-hosting offers you better control over your website. You will be able to use any plug-ins, e-commerce platform, or advertising premium theme you want (rather than ones chosen for you by the hosting services). The benefits of self-hosting are that it makes your website more personalized, provides better security, and maintains your data if the company that hosts your website goes out of business.

The cons of self-hosting are that you need to take care of your site more often—in order for it not to break down or get hacked—and you also need to know how to perform regular maintenance to ensure your website runs quickly and can handle varying amounts of traffic.

(Read More: Web Design or Web Development? How to Know Which is Best)

Not Sure What to Do Next? Give us a Call!

Website development and design is no simple task, but rest assured, we are here to help! There are definitely WordPress pros and cons to consider before moving forward.

Whether you plan to do the self-hosting heavy-lifting yourself or outsource the work to a team, WordPress.org is definitely the option you should choose. We build all of our websites using WordPress and have seen the benefits first hand.

If you’re ready to learn more or get help self-hosting your own website, please give us a call and we will set up a meeting to learn more! We look forward to working with you!

Cross & Crown

About Cross & Crown

Cross & Crown is a team of creatives who are passionate about solving problems through design and technology, taking what is there and making it better. Based in Chambersburg, PA, we strive to help educate, advocate, and thrive in a digital world.

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