WhatsTheHost – Best Hosting Reviews by Real People https://www.whatsthehost.com Tue, 26 Feb 2019 20:17:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1 7 Best Website Builders for Small Businesses https://www.whatsthehost.com/5-best-small-business-website-builders/ Fri, 01 Feb 2019 05:43:12 +0000 https://www.whatsthehost.com/?p=2544 The post 7 Best Website Builders for Small Businesses appeared first on WhatsTheHost - Best Hosting Reviews by Real People.

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Listen.

I know it’s super hard to know how build your small business website.

You want something that looks like AirBnb, but you have a very limited budget.

You have to walk before you can run.

Rather than pay a local company thousands of dollars, one way to get off the ground is to build your own site.

We’ve selected the best website builders for small businesses below that are both easy to understand and build beautiful sites.

Ohh – and they don’t cost a whole lot!

Best Website Builders for Small Business

  1. Webflow
  2. Shopify
  3. Format
  4. Squarespace
  5. Wix
  6. Weebly
  7. SiteBuilder.com

Let’s dive deep into each of them now!

1. Webflow

Webflow is the cool kid on the block. It’s a very design-centric website builder that’s approachable for small businesses to start using right away.

I think it’s probably the best overall option for smart, somewhat tech-savvy business owners. It’s got the simplicity and guidance of Squarespace with the flexibility and customization like WordPress. I do believe it’s a perfect balance between those two.

It’s a visual website builder, a CMS, and now in beta, an ecommerce platform.

webflow home gif

Webflow’s selling point for a small business like yourself? Design and launch without code:

webflow small business features

Although Webflow is pretty new on the scene, but small businesses are already loving it:

Webflow praise

Best Webflow Features:

  • Build a site visually without code
  • But code is generated if you do work with developers
  • They handle the hosting – you don’t have to do yourself
  • Amazing looking templates for every business
  • Premium support
  • Affordable plans starting at $12/mo
  • Zapier integration – AKA update site from a spreadsheet!

 

Here’s an example of a site built on Webflow:

Pretty modern looking – and that’s pretty good for an accounting company!

Webflow Pros:

  • Amazing design templates ready to go – very creative designs
  • Easy to use for beginners
  • Lots of customizations possibilities for advanced
  • Hosted CMS – an alternative to WordPress
  • Ecommerce in beta – an alternative to Shopify if you aren’t ecommerce first

Webflow Cons:

  • Since it’s newer, there’s not as many Webflow pros to help you build
  • Not as much community support as WordPress or older platforms

 

2. Shopify

 

E-commerce stores require a ton of different elements than most other businesses. Because you aren’t trying to get people to come into a physical storefront, you have to make sure that all of your wares are easily accessible online.

Shopify is probably the e-commerce builder with the lowest bar of entry and one of the most powerful platforms. While you can add e-commerce features to other builders like Wix, Shopify is geared for those businesses that live online exclusively.

You can build a library of products and utilize a highly-efficient payment portal that will ensure your customers are satisfied every step of the way. Your only hurdle will be bringing more traffic to your store, and Shopify helps you with that as well.

3. Format

Format is a website builder made for creative professionals and it shows.

Format website builder

It’s very design-centric and great for photographers, artists, and more.

In fact, Format breaks it down by profession:

Format is great if you need to put up a quick porfolio that looks beautiful. It’s not really meant for professional bloggers, full-scale businesses with complex needs, or ecommerce sites.

It’s just a beautiful, straightforward portfolio platform built for creators.

Format Features:

  • Tons of pre-built themes
  • Ecommerce capabilities for online selling
  • Blogging capabilities
  • Low monthly cost
  • Premium support

 

Format Pricing plans: format pricing plans

Formats pricing an plans are very affordable, starting at just $6 a month – definitely priced for budding artists and creators.

What’s interesting is that they price by the image – something most website builders don’t do – but it goes to show how centered on creators they are.

Format Pros:

  • Built for creators
  • Image centric
  • Hosted platform
  • Built-in support
  • Affordable prices

Format Cons:

  • May not be 100% customizable to your needs
  • Not a fit for every business
  • Photo and page limitations on smaller plans

 

4. Squarespace

For some companies, it’s not enough to look clean and professional. Instead, you want to stand out from the crowd. If that sounds like you, then Squarespace may be for you.

Functionality-wise, this isn’t the easiest or most potent platform available, but it is one of the most beautiful and stunning. Squarespace is built for designers, which means that the images and templates available here are miles above anything you can find elsewhere.

Overall, Squarespace is easy to use and offers quite a few features (including e-commerce), but it’s best if you don’t plan on getting a ton of traffic. The servers they use are not top-tier, but they are more than sufficient for most small businesses.

5. Wix

Wix does have it’s fair share of detractors, but it can be great for a lot of people.

 

Simply put, no matter what kind of business you’re running you can create a high-quality site with Wix.

It’s a powerful builder that is both easy to use and fully customizable. You can also check it out with a free trial to get your feet wet and see how well it works before committing.

Although you will have to go with a paid plan to get the full suite of features (as well as avoid ads on your pages), the prices are manageable. Here are the highlights of what you can expect from Wix.

  • Drag and Drop Features – whether it’s images, blog posts, or other site elements, you can arrange them on your pages with ease
  • Mobile Optimization – everyone uses their smartphones to find new places, so it’s crucial that your site is optimized for smaller screens. Wix includes this as part of a paid plan
  • Custom Domain – pick a domain name that fits your business and takes care of it without having to buy it elsewhere
  • Vast Library – templates and images are abundant on Wix, enabling you to build the site of your dreams.

 

The other great thing about Wix is that it’s perfect for both newbies and veterans alike. If you are familiar with technology, you can add more tools and functions to your site without having to switch to a more high-powered service. All skill levels can create stunning pages in no time.

6. Weebly

Our final website builder is made for those who are technologically illiterate. If the idea of doing anything more than sending an email seems daunting to you, then you may want to choose Weebly.

Overall, this system is probably the easiest and most straightforward out of all of the builders on this list. A child could create a professional-looking site with minimal supervision, so there’s no reason you can’t as well.

The other part of Weebly is that it’s also not built for high-traffic sites. If you run a storefront and you’re just looking to have a website for your customers to find you, then this is the perfect option.

However, if you are looking to add more functionality, Weebly does have limited templates and features, so be aware of that.

 

7. SiteBuilder

Like Wix, SiteBuilder is both simple to use and powerful. It’s also highly cost-effective, making it an ideal choice for many small businesses.

What we like about this service is that it’s about as straightforward as possible. You pick a domain, choose a template, drag all of your different elements onto your pages, and you’re ready to go.

While there aren’t as many features as Wix, SiteBuilder is pretty intuitive and simple to master. Also, you can buy your domain through the site, and it offers both e-commerce solutions and mobile optimization.

 

As a small business owner, you know that you have to have an online presence to stay competitive. Even if you operate exclusively in a physical storefront, a website is critical if you want to be able to market yourself effectively.

The issue that many entrepreneurs face is that while they have the drive and determination to make this happen, they don’t have all of the resources necessary to execute their goal. Building a site takes time and money, right?

Well, if you use one of these five website builders, you can save on both and enable your small business to get ahead of the competition with sleek, professional pages.

The best option for small business owners would be to find web hosts that have the easiest website builders to use. Read more to find the best website builders for small business.

Yes You Need a Website in 2019

There’s Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Yelp that can put your business in front of some eyeballs.

But really there’s no substitute for owning your platform – that’s what you website is for.

Those other properties help you get distribution, but at the end of the day, they’re just rented platforms.

There are businesses that can get away without a website, but with millenials and the generation before and after them being internet-first, the winners will have a site, and the losers will fade away.

If you’re not going to build a killer site, your five closest competitors will, and will crowd you out of the space.

How to Choose a Website Builder

You have a lot on your plate, so building a new website from scratch can seem like an overwhelming task. Even if you know what you want, how can you get it up and running without spending weeks or months on it?

Fortunately, the website builders we’re going to show you are geared for small business owners just like you. Even if you have only a few hours here and there to get your site online, that’s all you need to make it happen.

But how can you be sure that you’ve picked the best website builder for your needs? Here are some fundamental elements to consider when making your decision.

First, Who are You Trying to Reach? Before we can get into the basics of building a site, you gotta  understand what you’re trying to accomplish in the first place. Depending on your business model, some features are much more necessary than others.

For example, if you’re an event planner, then you need a booking form so that clients can provide information about their event through the website. If you’re selling products online, then you need ecommerce features.

Both of these elements are crucial, but not every business needs them. So, to make sure that you’re getting ideal results, you want to ask what kind of customers you’re trying to attract, and what kind of experience you want to provide. So, with that in mind, see which of these site components are most critical to your success.

User-Friendliness

In this case, you want a builder that is both easy to use for you and your customers. No one will want to visit a page that’s complicated or confusing (or has broken links), so make sure that your builder keeps things simple and efficient. To make sure that the service is easy, consider these features:

  • Drag-and-drop templates and photos
  • Customizable layouts
  • Simplified control panel
  • Integrated add-ons (i.e., shopping cart)

Overall, you want to avoid any builder that requires anything like coding or programming to get the features you need. You don’t have the time or the experience to build items from scratch, so don’t waste time on those kinds of services.

When it comes to user-friendliness, you want to be sure that you can test your site before it goes live and that everything works the way it’s supposed to. Buttons, links, and other options (like videos) are all operating correctly.

Customer Support

Since you’re not an expert at creating a website, you will likely have a lot of questions when you get started. Thus, you want to pick a builder that will provide all of the support you need whenever you need it.

For example, if you only have time to build your site in the middle of the night, you want to be able to contact a technician through live chat to figure out any issues you may encounter. If you have to wait a few days for a response, the whole process can be much more laborious and intensive.

Social Media

These days, everyone has a social media account (or five). To stay competitive, you have to have a presence on these platforms as well. While you don’t have to manage a ton of social media accounts, you should try and keep up to date with the top three (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

When choosing a website builder, you want to be sure that you can integrate your social media profiles so that people who visit your site can see your social accounts and vice versa.

The more connected they are, the easier it is to engage with your customers. Also, see if you can manage your social accounts through the website as well. That way you don’t have to log into multiple services, and you can upload posts to all platforms at the same time.

Images and Templates

Chances are that you’re not a graphic designer, which means that you can’t create all of the different visual elements of your site from scratch. While you could pay someone to do this for you, it’s better to choose a website builder that offers a wide array of images and templates for you.

By leveraging pre-made pictures and layouts, you can save time and money while also ensuring that your site is both professional and free of legal problems. For example, if you download pictures from the internet, they may be licensed and copyrighted, which could become a huge issue for you down the road.

What about WordPress?

The elephant in the room – WordPress.

Yes, WordPress is extremely popular. No, it’s not free by any means.

Look, we use WordPress for this site and many others. It can be the right fit for you.

But if you’re building the site on your own, WordPress can be a nightmare.

WordPress is not free – unless you’re a developer. If you’re a small business with $5 to spend monthly and you have 100+ hours to learn how to create a WordPress site, then go for it. 

But it should not be the default. 

You really want a subscription plan to a website builder like one of the above that has built-in support and hosting. You don’t want to deal with that.

For medium sized businesses with lots of cash and very custom needs, sure go with WordPress.

For a up and coming small business, go with one of the above. Please.

 

 

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How to Host Your Own Website from Home https://www.whatsthehost.com/host-your-own-website-home/ Mon, 07 Jan 2019 00:54:29 +0000 https://www.whatsthehost.com/?p=2700 The post How to Host Your Own Website from Home appeared first on WhatsTheHost - Best Hosting Reviews by Real People.

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Host your own website?
 
What is this 1996? 
 
No. There are plenty of good reasons to host your own website from home, and we break down how to do it right here.
 

Looking at the options for hosting a website may have you wondering whether it might be worth the time to set up hosting on your own end. Building a server and then installing the appropriate software is a simpler process than you might expect. You’re already paying for an internet connection, so it may even be more cost-effective to not add another bill to the pile. Let’s take a look at how to accomplish that, and then we’ll also review some of the potential pros and cons of learning how to host a website from home. 

Getting Ready

It’s wise to have all the resources you need in place prior to trying to build your server and roll out your website. Most folks who decide to host their own sites from home elect to use some variant of the Apache-MySQL-PHP stack. If you’re comfortable utilizing Linux, the LAMP stack is an excellent choice. If you’d prefer to utilize Windows, there are a couple options worth considering there, too. For individuals who have minimal experience dealing with server administration, the WAMP stack is typically more appealing. 

You should check that your current internet connection allows you to host a web server. It’s not uncommon for home- or business-grade internet routers and modems to block the common ports used for HTTP transmission, such as port 80. A quick only port scan of your system will help you determine whether the port is available. If not, you will have to check the manual for your modem and router to see how to open it up to the outside world. In some cases, ports may also need to be opened at the operating system level. This is rare in Linux, but it happens with some Windows installations. 

You’ll need to obtain an installer for your server stack. If you already have a version of Windows up and running, you can visit WampServer.com to obtain an EXE file that’ll allow you to install the server through an intuitive interface that’ll be familiar to anyone who has installed Windows software before. Should you wish to have something a little more portable, XAMPP is an excellent choice that uses MariaDB, a community-supported variant of MySQL. Those who have Ubuntu running and are comfortable using the command-line interface can simply execute a series of instructions to install a standard LAMP server. 

Knowing the Components

From time to time, it will be necessary to be familiar with the software that underpins your installation. This includes: 

Apache is the web server that underlies the entire installation. It acts as the traffic cop, directing requests from website visitors to appropriate resources and then seeing that the resources are sent to the requester. Apache is very good at hosting both static HTML documents and dynamic code, and this has made it one of the most popular platforms on the web. It’s also highly modifiable, but for the sake of simplicity, we try to refrain from doing more modifications than are necessary to talk to the outside world. 

MySQL is a database system that’s commonly used for an array of purposes. If you’re simply looking to host static web pages, you won’t need to worry yourself about MySQL. Should you wish to store information that’s entered by visitors, MySQL is critical. It also frequently serves the role of storing information about pages if you’re using a blogging platform like WordPress. 

PHP is a scripting language that’s normally used to serve dynamic web pages. For example, a script named “account.php” might be used by all users on your website to see account information once they log in. The data would be stored in MySQL, and it would be displayed by the PHP script upon retrieval. This can significantly reduce the number of static pages you’ll be required to code. 

Installing WampServer

When you visit the website, make a point of identifying whether you need the 32- or 64-bit version. You can determine what version you need by clicking the Start button and entering the word “Computer” into the search box. When you see “Computer” listed in the available choices, right-click on it and then click “Properties.” An entry for “System type” will be included in a list of information about your operating system. This entry will explain whether you’re running a 32- or 64-bit OS. 

Once you’ve downloaded the .exe file, you can run it. Simply keep clicking on the “Next” button to accept the default values. If a security alert comes up asking about the firewall, make an exception for Apache. When the installation is complete, simply check the box next to “Start WampServer 2 now” and click the “Finish” button. 

Navigating the Server

Once the installation process is finished, you’ll likely want to make sure everything is where it needs to be. A WAMP icon should appear in the notification pane, and you can click on it. You may also navigate to it by visiting “c:wampwww” or whatever directory you might’ve entered during the installation process. The top level of this directory hosts the files that all requests will be directed to. For example, a request for “yoursite.com” will lead Apache to fetch the “index.htm” or “index.php” file, with preference being giving to the htm file if both exist. If you open a text editor and make changes to the index files, you can see what happens when you refresh the page in the browser. 

Configure MySQL

Any outwardly facing database should be configured as soon as possible. WampServer offers a phpMyAdmin panel in its menu. You should also be able to access phyMyAdmin by visiting “yoursite.com/phpMyAdmin” and seeing what appears. This is usually case-sensitive, so you may need to include the capitalized letters. 

You should now be prompted to enter a password. If you are just experimenting with a locally hosted setup, you can leave this empty for the sake of expediency. If anyone in the outside world has access to the server, please up a strong password before going further. You’ll also want to keep track of the password you set since a variety of software packages that use MySQL to store entries will ask for it. 

Becoming Publicly Available

When you’re ready to make your server available to the whole world, you can click on the WampServer icon and select the “Put Online” option. In general, this is only recommended if you’re prepared to have a site facing outward. If you’re just using it for learning purposes, you should be careful about this. If you’d prefer to edit the files yourself, you can locate the httpd.conf file that handles this function by navigating to “c:wampbinapacheApache2.2.11conf” and clicking on it. In the file, you’ll see a “Deny from all” entry, and you want to change the word Deny to Allow. 

You’ll also need to set up the hosts file in Windows. This can be found at “C:Windowssystem32driversetchosts” and needs to be edited to include an entry typing the A record for your DNS to the domain. An entry might look something like “75.75.100.100 yoursite.com” and nothing else. 

There’s a dedicated button in the WampServer menu that’ll allow you to reset all services. This will ensure the changes take effect. If you have problems connecting from an outside system, you may need to recheck whether your firewall settings are correct. It’s also important to see that port 80 is being routed to your PC through your modem and router combination. You should try using a computer off your network to test the availability of your website, as Windows frequently detects requests originating at and answered by the same machine as a type of loopback attack. 

Installing a LAMP Server

One of the advantages of using Linux versus Windows is the ability to handle the majority of the operations in the command-line interface. As an added bonus, the package manager system tends to do a very good job of identifying specific compatibility issues and remedying them on its own, so you don’t spend as much time worrying about whether you got the appropriate 32- or 64-bit version. Most production environments also employ some type of LAMP server, so you’ll also be working in a setting that’s closer to a typical professional environment. This can make learning how to host a website from home into a bit of resume builder. 

For the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume you’re using a desktop version of Ubuntu. You can begin the install process by opening a virtue terminal and entering the command “sudo apt install apache2 mysql-server php libapache2-mod-php7.0” and waiting for the package manager to process some things. You may be prompted for your admin passwords, and you’ll likely be asked to confirm installation of several different items. You’ll also be prompted once the installation is completed to enter a root password for your MySQL installation. When everything is done, you can enter the command “apache2 restart” just to make sure everything has fired up as expected. 

Installing phpMyAdmin

You’ll likely want an interface where you can work with MySQL entries more directly, so it’s wise to add phpMyAdmin to your toolbox before moving forward. The command “sudo apt-get install phpmyadmin” should get you everything you need. You’ll be asked some questions about the server you want to use it with, but the default is typically Apache2, so you should be able to hit enter since it will already be highlighted. You will be prompted at some point to enter the MySQL username and password you entered during the initial LAMP install. Once all is good, you can load your browser and go to “http://localhost/phpmyadmin/” to see that everything is working. 

Facing the World

You’ll need to configure Apache virtual hosts in order to tie your domain name to your server. The default setting needs to be turned off using the command “sudo a2dissite *default” and it will need to be directed to the domain. In the command-line interface, you’ll need to navigate to “cd /var/www/html” and add three entries. These are performed using the commands: 

  • sudo mkdir -p yoursite.com/public_html
  • sudo mkdir -p yoursite.com/log
  • sudo mkdir -p yoursite.com/backups

Each of these will create a unique entry that’ll hold the public files, logs and backups for the domain. 

You’ll also need to create a new host file for the site using the command “sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/ yoursite.com.conf” and adding some entries to the newly created file. 


<virtualhost> 
ServerAdmin youremail@ yoursite.com 
Server_Name yoursite.com 
Server_Alias www. yoursite.com 
Directory_Index index.html index.php 
Document_Root /var/www/html/yoursite.com/public_html 
LogLevel warn 
Custom_Log /var/www/html/yoursite.com/log/access.log combined 
</virtualhost> 

Hit control-X to save the entries, they hit Y and enter to commit them. With the command “sudo a2ensite yoursite.com.conf” you can then enable the domain name to answer on your serve. It’s also not a bad idea to run “apache2 restart” just to be on the safe side. 

Pros and Cons of Self-Hosting

The most obvious pro of hosting your own server is going to cost. Taking a server bill of the board can have immense advantages. You’ll also be able to configure your server to your liking. Many hosts impose limitations on what you can install on a server, while you can add whatever you like. This may be especially beneficial if you’re looking to use a specialized piece of software on your side of the process to do something like compile or compute data that’ll be served. 

Another big advantage is your ability to configure the server to your like. Hosting tends to come in packages, and that can limit how much computing power is put to work on a website. If you want to double the amount of RAM on your server, it’s as easy as popping in a couple sticks. 

The biggest downside to self-hosting is that you’re on the hook for everything. You are the tech support provider. You’re also the security consultant. If updates need to be performed, that’s also on you. 

Availability can also pose challenges when dealing with how to host your own website. For example, if your electric goes out, your website will go down. While backup battery solutions can be helpful, the reality is high-end ones that would give you days of availability are going to be expensive to the point they’d eradicate years of cost savings. 

Speed also tends to be a limiting factor. With the exception of a view business-grade internet packages, your connection is likely to be more of a speed bottleneck on a self-hosted solution versus one from a hosting provider. You’ll also likely be using consumer-grade hardware, which can also slow server response down. 

Security can be a major issue. It’s generally advised that you don’t self-host a highly transactional website unless you’re highly confident in your admin and coding skills. Even for a highly capable self-hoster, there’ll be a high level of dependency on automated monitoring tools. You also may incur major legal liability for control of credit card number and personal information. 

Conclusion

Self-hosting can be a fun way to handle a relatively minor type of website. It’s also cost-effective in many cases. It’s just cool to tell people you know how to host your own website, too. 

You should, however, be aware of the implications when hosting your own server. It’s also beneficial to have a full plan set out for your website before you start piecing together a solution. By picking a clear path, such as WAMP vs LAMP, you can ensure the deployment process will be as painless as possible.

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Coding Bootcamp vs. Computer Science Degree [Infographic] https://www.whatsthehost.com/coding-bootcamp-vs-cs-degree/ Tue, 06 Nov 2018 12:33:31 +0000 https://www.whatsthehost.com/?p=2307 The post Coding Bootcamp vs. Computer Science Degree [Infographic] appeared first on WhatsTheHost - Best Hosting Reviews by Real People.

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Looking to start a career in computer science and development?

Investing in the training necessary to write code professionally could be among the most secure career decisions a person can make for their future.

The computer science and IT field boasts a projected job growth nearly three times the national average and a large salary to match. What’s more, American universities cannot seem to graduate enough Computer Science majors to meet the demand for qualified employees: in 2015, there were nearly 10 times more open positions in this field than there were graduating CS majors.

So what’s keeping driven, capable individuals from this lucrative and in-demand profession?

coding school vs cs degree

Coding Bootcamp vs. CS Degree: Which is Better? Jump to Infographic

4-year degrees aren’t the only option

Computer Science departments at colleges and universities across the U.S. have grown rapidly over the last decade or so. From 2006 to 2015, undergraduate enrollment for Computer Science tripled. Furthermore, demand for these coveted admissions slots always far exceeds the supply. Due to size and faculty constraints in higher education, not every qualified, aspiring CS major who applies will get in.

A Bachelor’s degree (at minimum) in Computer Science & Engineering or a related field was once considered the golden ticket to job security in a growing and well-paid field. But is higher education really the only way to a career in coding? And with exorbitant and increasing tuition costs, is a CS degree truly worth the debt? And for those looking to break into the field later in their career: does learning to code really require going back to school to get another degree?

If the booming market for coding bootcamps is any indication, no. A traditional degree is not your only option.

What are coding bootcamps?

Coding schools promise to be a viable alternative to accredited degree programs in Computer Science & Engineering. The coding bootcamp model is simple and innovative: in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the price of a university degree, motivated individuals are taught the skills necessary to lead successful careers in computer, software, and web development. No previous knowledge or experience required. 

Having first launched in 2012, the coding bootcamp model has really caught on. In the first five years after the first coding school was founded, coding bootcamp enrollment grew more than 1000% nationwide. More than 23,000 bootcampers completed their coursework in 2017 and joined the job market. This is a hugely impressive statistic when you consider that 80,000 CS majors graduate each year. 

what are coding schools

Coding bootcamp vs. computer science degree: which program is better?

It’s easy to see why a coding bootcamp may be an attractive option, but can a coding school crash-course truly stack up to a four-year degree? Which is the better option? The answer is complicated and depends on a lot of personal factors.

If you are weighing your options in the decision of coding bootcamp vs. CS degree, the following infographic is for you. We’ve broken down the biggest differences between a four-year degree and a coding school education to help you pick the right fit for your goals. From tuition costs to hiring prospects to diversity statistics, here is what you should consider when deciding between a CS Bachelor’s or coding school:

Infographic: Coding Bootcamp vs. Computer Science Degree

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Infographic Sources

(July 2018)

Information featured in the infographic can be found at the following links:

Coding school vs. bachelors degree: which is right for me?

Coding bootcamps are making computer, software, and web development jobs more accessible than ever. But while they may be a feasible option for aspiring programmers, coding schools never set out to replace traditional four-year programs. Rather, they are structured to meet the needs of students who don’t quite fit into the Bachelor’s degree mold.

If you fall into one or more of the following categories, coding bootcamp may be the better option for you:

 

You already have work experience and at least one degree

For people interested in making a career transition after years of work and study experience, the thought of going back to a college environment is understandably unappealing. Coding schools offer programming that is more suited for adults than for teenagers. According to Course Report, the average bootcamper is pushing 30 and already has a Bachelor’s degree and several years of work experience.

 

You are reluctant to take out loans

Student debt is 1.5 trillion dollar industry. The average class of 2017 grad left college with nearly $40,000 in debt, and this number continues to grow. More and more young people are questioning whether the high cost of a formal education is truly worth it and are seeking alternatives.

For aspiring programmers who are already strapped with student loans from a former degree, taking out more debt for a second degree could understandably be a deterrent. For high school grads weighing whether to attend a formal degree program or go to coding school, the prospect of graduating sooner and with less debt than their peers could be a competitive edge.

Coding school comes at a fraction of the cost of a university degree, which makes financing a bootcamp education without loans much easier. While 70% of bachelor students graduate with debt, only about 25% of coding school grads do.

 

Four years of full-time studies are not feasible for you

Putting your life on pause for four years and dedicating yourself to full-time studies is simply not possible for everyone. For those who are parents, need to be working full-time to support themselves and/or others, or simply can’t spend four more years in school, coding schools may be the better fit.

With a lean curriculum and fast-paced learning environment, the majority of bootcampers graduate in about 3.5 months. That’s the equivalent of a single semester at a college or university!

Because coding schools are more flexible and accessible to diverse life situations, their student bodies also tend to be more diverse than your typical university CS department. Women made up only 14% of graduating CS majors in 2015 but 36% of bootcamp grads. Similarly, blacks and latinos made up only 10% of CS majors but 25% of bootcamp grads.

 

Conclusion: pick the best fit for your ambitions

There are many factors that need to be weighed the decision of coding school vs. Bachelor’s degree. In addition to considering the price, time commitment, and your own life situation, the quality of the program should be among the most important factors in your decision. Which coding languages you’d like to learn, which corner of the industry you’d like to end up in, and what kind of experience your instructors bring to the table should play a decisive role in the institution you choose.

Picking the best fit for your ambitions can be a long process filled with uncertainties. Inform yourself as much as you can, and don’t lose sight of your career goals. But whether you choose to go the traditional route and enroll in a college or university CS program, or you take intensive courses at a coding bootcamp, one thing is clear: the future looks bright for those who can code.

How does this tie-in with web hosting?

So this being a web hosting education and review site, how do coding bootcamps relate to hosting? A lot.

Web developers rely on solid hosting to get their website humming and working 24/7 for them. Without hosting, there’s no website. Without great coding chops, there’s no website. 

Developers love the speed and tech of hosts like WP Engine, and of course are always looking to get their hands on the fastest servers possible. 

It’s all part of the beautiful, yet complex, ecosystem of the web – and we’re happy to be a part of it.

 

The post Coding Bootcamp vs. Computer Science Degree [Infographic] appeared first on WhatsTheHost - Best Hosting Reviews by Real People.

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WP Engine Black Friday Cyber Monday 2018 Deals https://www.whatsthehost.com/wp-engine-black-friday-cyber-monday-2018/ Mon, 15 Oct 2018 03:34:34 +0000 https://www.whatsthehost.com/?p=2678 The post WP Engine Black Friday Cyber Monday 2018 Deals appeared first on WhatsTheHost - Best Hosting Reviews by Real People.

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Looking for the top WP Engine Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals? Watch this space, they’re coming!

Here’s a quick look at past deals:

  • Get up to 20% off WP Engine
  • Get 5 Months of WP Engine free when you pay annually
  • Get free Studio Press themes

WP Engine Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals

WP Engine was founded on speed. They started out primarily as a platform for developers obsessed with speed (and still are). These bad boys went all in on WordPress hosting before it was cool. Since then, scores of copycats have popped up.

Has it paid off?

Yes, to the tune of a cool $250 million in funding this year.

I’ll put it this way, if you’ve got a large, complex, WordPress site where every second counts – go with WP Engine, you won’t be disappointed (claim 20% off with this link).

WP Engine pushes speed like it’s the holy grail – which it is, sometimes.

wp engine speed infographic

 

Claim Your 2018 WP Engine Deals!

Watch this space and we’ll hook you up with the best deals for this year!

The post WP Engine Black Friday Cyber Monday 2018 Deals appeared first on WhatsTheHost - Best Hosting Reviews by Real People.

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7 Best Wedding Website Builders https://www.whatsthehost.com/best-wedding-website-builders/ Mon, 17 Sep 2018 15:20:59 +0000 https://www.whatsthehost.com/?p=2504 The post 7 Best Wedding Website Builders appeared first on WhatsTheHost - Best Hosting Reviews by Real People.

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This is one of the happiest periods of your life:

You’re getting married to the love of your life.

You have amazing wedding design ideas.

You have a beautiful story to share with your loved ones.

You have so much detailed information to display.

Now how do you make your website?

“Help!”, you scream into the abyss.

Saying “yes” to a wedding proposal is just the beginning of any couple’s journey together. The engagement period of a couple’s relationship can be a turbulent, exciting, hopefully, but also busy, overwhelming, and stressful time.

Couples not only have to adjust to their new relationship status and role but they also have to plan and prepare for one of the biggest and most important days of their lives. The logistics of planning for a wedding are not as beautiful and magical as the day itself. They may be a lot of indecision, clashing conflicts, and necessary or unnecessary stress involved.

Even though hiring a professional wedding planner is on the rise only 26% of couples to this day use a professional wedding planner (The Knot). This leaves the arduous work of planning a wedding to the couples, or should I say the bride to be themselves. Anyone who has been through this turbulent period knows this is no small task. One of the most important parts of planning a wedding is making sure that people show up.

In today’s increasingly technologically driven world the best way to get all the necessary information to your guests is through your own personal wedding website. The use of a wedding website has rapidly risen with 48% of couples launching a website in 2017 (tripsavvy.com).

This only makes sense creating a wedding website makes all of the logistical aspects of guest information and the process of inviting your guests so much easier. A couple can bundle so many different aspects of their wedding preparation on their website such as the story they met, email invitations center, day of location information, day of timing information, the all-important registry, RSVP’s, engagement, and all other necessary information the list could go on and on depending on the couple’s needs.

With the wedding website being an important hub of all necessary wedding information couples want it done well with comprehensive detail but with the addition of their own personal flair. So instead of making an arduous and intricate wedding site from scratch or using a boring blog, we recommend using a website builder. Website builders allow you to create a beautiful and professional website with your own personal touch that requires little painstaking effort and work. Now that you know what tool to use to create your magical wedding website the question is what do you look for in a potential website builder. Well, many couples have similar needs from their potential web builders. These Include

  • Affordable price or no price
  • Beautiful design template
  • Wide arrange of necessary wedding functions
  • Registry
  • Organized RSVPs
  • Interactive venue maps
  • Photo albums
  • Possibly video albums
  • Flexibility to personal flair
  • Ease of use

We’ve compiled a list of the top 7 wedding website builders that all other a unique format from each other and fit different personal preferences for what the happy couple wants. These website builders cover a wide range of needs some such as Wix and Weebly are high powered and widely used web hosts that are fine-tuned to support almost any website.

While the others are more specifically geared to wedding websites. When determining how much to spend on a site try to look at what you are actually getting for your money for Wix and Weebly you may not need to buy premium plans because they may give you unnecessary storage, bandwidth, and marketing features.

Wix

 

Wix is one of the most widely used website builder and web host. That being said they have worked with and have modeled their website builders for many specific website purposes. A frequently used one being individual couples’ wedding websites. Wix provides a great website builder for a wedding website. The free plan provides all the essentials a couple needs to create a comprehensive wedding website. What they offer:

  • Access to an extensive collection of images, clip arts, and icons. All fully customizable and 100% FREE to use on your Wix site.
  • 500MB of storage and up to 500MB in bandwidth
  • unlimited access to all of the Wix Support step-by-step walk-throughs, articles, video tutorials, and more
  • Wix ShoutOut allows you to send electronic wedding invitations
    • Includes pre-set wedding-styled invitation templates – complete with in-email RSVPs
  • Wedding website templates with pre-included registries
  • Day of real-time information features such as a countdown, weather conditions, and other updates.

As mentioned before for Wix the premium plan is not really necessary for a wedding website because they offer a lot more than what is usually needed for a wedding website. That being said the Wix free plan displays Wix ads on your website so if you don’t want that on your site you may want to opt for the combo premium plan which is $11/month.

Weebly

Weebly is a very popular and widely used web builder and host that offers all the essentials for creating a wedding website. Weebly offers very a customizable color scheme as well as other design features to fit your needs. Although some have complained that their templates are a little dated to older website design layouts. If you want a simple, flexible, and free wedding website builder Weebly is a great option. One small issue couples may have with Weebly is that their free plans have Weebly adds on their site and would also be under a Weebly.com subdomain. In terms of helpful wedding logistic features, Weebly has got you covered.   This is what is offered with the free Weebly plan:

  • 500MB standard storage
  • Drag and drop web builder
  • SSL Security
  • Specifically Tailored wedding sections
    • Including an about Us, Our Proposal, Ceremony and Reception, Wedding Party, Our Registries pages and more
  • Separate RSVP section

Another unique feature that you have the ability to add on to your Weebly wedding site is an online store for items you purchased for your wedding that you don’t need anymore. If you want a hosting plan that does not include Weebly ads it would cost $8/month (paid annually).

Wedding Woo

Wedding Woo is a highly praised and popular wedding website builder. Wedding Woo is another great option because it is specifically tailored for couples creating a wedding website. Wedding Woo provides a wedding website platform that is very easy to create, edit, and customize. The layout of the templates offered by Wedding Woo is favored by many couples because its design really puts a focus on the couple itself.

Wedding Woo makes it very easy and painless to create a beautiful and unique wedding website. The website builder does require payment as there is no basic free plan. The cost of a wedding website for one year is $49 and for two it is $69. Although you have the option of trying out the layout, design, and features for 7 days for free. This gives the ability to play around with the features and tool offered to see if your wedding woo creation is the right fit for your wedding website.

There is also a 30-day money back guarantee if your need more than 7 days to make your decision. Here are the wedding website building features Wedding Woo offers:

  • Drag and drop web builder
  • Easy to use widgets such as
  • A countdown widget to track your wedding date, the SoundCloud widget to play music, and the Bing Translator to bring instant, in-place translations.
  • Online RSVP that is highly customizable
  • Easily import photos from facebook and Instagram
  • Recieve song requests
  • Online Registry Password Protected options
  • Unlimited Photos Custom Domain
  • Unlimited Bandwidth

Joy

Joy is a simplistic wedding website builder that is widely used among brides and has won much praise. Joy provides a website building platform that is very easy to use with all the essential features needed to create a wedding website. Joy offers extensive and very useful features that compile all the chaotic factors of wedding planning into an easy and manageable platform. Joy’s designs are simplistic but beautiful.

This wonderful wedding website builder is offered completely free of charge. In fact, the free wedding website builder by Joy is the only plan they offer so there are no hindrances to the free service or pressure to upgrade to a premium plan. Joy is a great option for couples who want a quick, simplistic, easy, free wedding website builder. It would also be the perfect platform for a couple who unsure about what they want in a wedding website.

Since signing up and using Joy is completely free couples can play around with and design a rough idea of what they want their site to look like without losing any money! One issue that some may have with joy is that there is really only one layout that is offered, which would be restricting for some. The design of other features is customizable but the overall layout is restricting to one singular type.

Here is what you get with your free Joy account:

  • Planning Dashboard
  • Unlimited photo storage
  • Free website hosting
  • Unlimited guest accounts
  • Digital invites and RSVPs

Wedding Window

Wedding Window offers a wedding website creation platform that is easy to use and tailor to a couples specific design vision. Creating a wedding website through Wedding Window requires no specific skill for a neat and clean modern wedding website.

Wedding Window offers many important web building features such as a drag and drop website builder that allows you to easily design each page. Wedding Window’s integrated features and widgets also bring flair and organization to the wedding planning process. Wedding Window allows you to integrate photos and comment sections from Facebook, create an extensive photo or video gallery, as well as incorporate interactive google maps. Wedding Window allows couples flexibility with price as well as customization.

There is the free option that provides all the necessary wedding website features and more and there is also the affordable premium plan which is $54/year. Wedding Window offers different themes and a diverse portfolio of templates that you are able to easily customize.

A couple issues that some couples may have with Wedding Window is that some of the designs may look repetitive and there is no mobile editing or customization mode.

Here is what Wedding Window offers:

Free Plan:

  • 50MB of Storage
  • 13 Pages – Live Preview Editor
  • Music
  • Video or Photo Background
  • Simple RSVP
  • Standard Planning tool
  • Free themes

Premium Plan ($54/year):

  • 20GB of storage
  • 60 Pages
  • Everything the Free plan includes
  • Premium themes
  • Custom photo and video backgrounds

 

Glosite

Glosite is a quite the wildcard of wedding website builders to make this list. It is kind of the newcomer on the scene of wedding website building. But nonetheless, we included Glosite because of its glowing reviews and great value.

When choosing a wedding website builder many couples have to decide between a beautiful and creative design and stunning and useful features. That choice is not an issue with Glosite because it offers both beautiful designs and stunning features. Glosite’s beautiful design themes blend elegance with the couples own creative flair.

The general themes that Glosite offer resemble an old classy stationary design. Their themes are very mature and adult but still have a fun energy to them. Glosite allows you to use stunning wedding website builder features that few other wedding website builders offer. You can manage an online guest list, manage RSVPs, including downloadable documents, and many more.

Glosite offers a wealth of features that make all the chaotic aspects of creating a wedding website much easier. Especially if you have to deal with complicated guest logistics such as multiple languages spoken by the two different families, Glosite is able to have multiple translations for your wedding website.

An issue that some couples may have with Glosite is that even though their themes are beautifully designed and very elegant many of them seemed pretty similar in an overarching sense. Glosite offers three different packages: light, intimate celebration, and large celebration. Most couples may want to opt for the light package because it the least expensive option and its features cover almost all wedding needs.

Light package $19.99/month or $75.00/year:

  • Guest List Management:
    • Unlimited Guests
  • Website with Unlimited Pages:
    • Add Photos, music, downloadable documents, widgets, & custom HTML.
  • Unlimited events & RSVP questions:
    • Add to your website and select which guests are able to view.

Minted

Minted is one of the top wedding stationery and wedding invitation companies. In an effort to make the dramatic shift from paper to digital wedding invitations Minted created they own wedding website plans. Minted’s effort to adapt to the ever-changing wedding market worked out well. Many couples have used Minted’s wedding website platforms and have given it great reviews.

Their beautifully design stationeries and invitation designs transferred perfectly to their wedding website templates and themes. They have a rich and wide array of themes and designs because they source them from hundreds of artist all around the world. Minted makes the wedding website creation process very quick and simple only taking around 10 minutes to set up.

Minted’s templates are very interactive and are very customizable. Minted’s free wedding websites come with all the features you need, from easily editable designs to sections for gift registries, maps, and guest accommodations. Minted’s premium offering provides a photo gallery, a personal URL like couplename.com, and a website privacy feature that requires guests to enter a password to access your site. The premium offering comes at a great price of only a $20 one time fee.

Conclusion

It is very difficult to give a decisive answer about which wedding website is the best. No two couples are the same. Between each couple, there are so many different needs and requirements for their perfect wedding website.

That been said you can narrow it down to best according to your specific needs. If you have many complicated logistics and moving parts such as multiple spoken languages between the two families Glo site may be your best option.

Some couples may have an exact idea of what they want and find wedding geared hosting sites too restrictive. In this case, Wix or Weebly would be your best option because you can pretty much design your site any way you want. This is for those couples wanting to build things from scratch instead of getting inspiration from pre-designed templates.

 

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7 Fastest Web Hosting Companies https://www.whatsthehost.com/7-fastest-web-hosting-companies/ Tue, 31 Jul 2018 23:23:24 +0000 https://www.whatsthehost.com/?p=661 The post 7 Fastest Web Hosting Companies appeared first on WhatsTheHost - Best Hosting Reviews by Real People.

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We want it and we want it fast.

Everything all the time – especially our web hosting.

It’s not secret, faster is better.

Google engineers have found that many Internet users get frustrated by waiting even 400 milliseconds for a Web site to load.

High speed hosting services not only increase your user satisfaction, they also:

  • Have a positive impact on search engine ranking (Google admitted it)
  • Increase amount of time on site because users are comfortable browsing more
  • Helps with resource delivery
  • Make you more attractive

Ok, the last part was a lie. But the reality is, in about the time it takes to blink your eye, you could lose a visitor to your site. That could mean losing a $250,000 deal, losing a new donor to your charity, or losing a new friend.

Don’t lose friends because of your lazy speeds.

The engineers also found that if your site is about 250 milliseconds slower than a competitor’s site, they will more likely choose your competitor’s site.

Competition is F-I-E-R-C-E.

The Basics of Super Fast Hosting

It’s important to remember that the loading speeds can vary greatly based upon the hosting plan sites are using. A shared hosting plan, for example, won’t always run as fast as a VPS or dedicated server plan.

When you’re choosing a host, balance the speed performance and the pricing options. While higher-priced options often include more features, fewer limits on space and bandwidth, and faster speeds, analyze your needs.

Unlimited domains may be an attractive feature for larger companies that owns a shedload of domains; if you are looking to publish a blog and can still get blazing speeds on a one-site shared host plan, that might be a better option. Even among shared hosting plans, customers can see different speeds based on the features, data center locations and times of the day.

In addition to the hosting plan you’ve chosen and your physical distance from the hosting company’s data center, particular design elements on any hosting plan can also affect how fast your sites load. If your site has been optimized, you’ll be using less bandwidth and lower processing unit percentages.

Optimizing your site can mean compressing and editing images, compressing scripts, including meta descriptions, title and header tags, and adding image titles and file names.

Various speed studies have placed these seven hosts as the fastest options for 2018 and beyond:

1) A2 Hosting

Average Speed: 155 ms

A2 Hosting has staked their reputation on trying to be the fastest web host in all the lands. They event put it front and center on their home page:

A2 Hosting Speed

But the important thing to know is that you don’t get 20x speed on the start plan, you have to go for the Turbo Plan (great name) for that:

A2 Hosting Plans Compared

If you want to get more into the details of their plans, here you go:

  • Shared hosting with CloudLinux: Customers can use a site building tool or do their site’s coding themselves. The first two options include standard speeds; the fastest option is hosted on the Turbo server and features the A2 Optimized Site Accelerator. Once customers have outgrown the shared hosting, they can upgrade to a dedicated server.
  • A2 offers two dedicated hosting options: Flex for developers and experts and Managed Flex, a user-friendly route that tosses in cPanel for free. A2 guarantees 99.9% uptime and blazing fast speeds.
  • Managed and unmanaged VPS hosting: The unmanaged hosting offers client-designed packages that can include Linux OS and A2’s own installer program, or managed hosting, which includes software, hardware, network, and security monitoring.
  • Cloud hosting: on the SwiftServer Platform, which features page loads up to 300 percent faster than standard drives.
  • Reseller hosting: has three separate plans, all of which offer resellers unlimited client accounts.

The offer around-the-clock technical support at all levels, and have combined the best of OpenCart, WordPress, Drupal and Joomla to provide customers with fast page load speeds.

2) WP Engine

WP Engine was founded on speed. They started out primarily as a platform for developers obsessed with speed (and still are). These bad boys went all in on WordPress hosting before it was cool. Since then, scores of copycats have popped up.

Has it paid off?

Yes, to the tune of a cool $250 million in funding this year.

I’ll put it this way, if you’ve got a large, complex, WordPress site where every second counts – go with WP Engine, you won’t be disappointed (claim 20% off with this link).

WP Engine pushes speed like it’s the holy grail – which it is, sometimes.

wp engine speed infographic

3) Kinsta

If you’re looking for super fast WordPress and WooCommerce hosting, Kinsta is a brand new alternative to WP Engine.

They are laser focused on creating the best hosting for WordPress users who want managed hosting, secure hosting, super fast speed, and even better – on the Google Cloud platform.

There’s fast, then there’s Kinsta fast.

They even said it themselves:

wp engine site speed

The thing I love about them is how elegant they carry themselves. Yes they want to humblebrag a bit, but they back it up with actual testing and education for other site owners.

 

4) SiteGround:

SiteGround is probably the best overall host for most people.

They combine a deep well of technical knowlege, with excellent customer service and rock-bottom prices that compete with the best.

To make their hosted sites super fast, they’ve implemented a good amount of technologies to make your site faster than a rocket.

How do they do it? A few ways:

Custom SuperCacher

siteground supercacher

The SiteGround SuperCacher comes in three levels, depending on what you need for your site:

  • Level 1: Static Cache is the simplest and makes a copy of your static content, such as images, CSS, javascript, and more – and saves them on the server’s RAM rather than the hard drive. This makes access much faster.
  • Level 2: Dynamic Cache is great for dynamic sites like WordPress – which caches the HTML which was generated by the PHP code. Instead of generated the PHP code every time and making calls, it just references the saved HTML. All you need to know is that it’s better this way.
  • Level 3: Memcached is hardcore – it’s technology used by sites like YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia and a host of other huge sites. Rather than digging into the database for queries every time, it caches them directly on the RAM. So if you have a database-powered site, this is the way you want to go.

Free Cloudflare CDN

siteground free cdn

With SiteGround hosting they integrate with the free CloudFlare CDN. While the CloudFlare CDN starts at free anywhere, it’s extra helpful to have it directly integrated into your host – that’s one less thing to do.

SSD Drives not Solid State

siteground ssd drive

To be fair, a lot of hosts have moved to SSD drives, so SiteGround isn’t the only one, but bear in mind that it’s extremely fast compared to the “old-school” way of doing things.

Not only are they fast, they’re nice. They’re efficient. They’re there when you need them. You want to take them home to mom.

 

5) InMotion Hosting

Average Speed: 182 ms

Since 2001, InMotion Hosting has been customer-focused, and offers data centers in Los Angeles and Virginia Beach – and allows customers of certain individual packages to choose the data center that works best for their clients’ Web sites.

  • InMotion offers three different shared hosting plans with free SSD and a free domain name. Coding is available in several languages, they provide integration for Google apps, and secure IMAP email.
  • Six dedicated server options offer free cPanel and WHM, free SSD – with faster load times – and 99.99% net uptime. They offer managed hosting, and launch assist, a one-on-one admin setup program that can help optimize your site, speed up your pages or set up your server.
  • VPS hosting includes free SSD, a free domain name, a free full cPanel license, and unlimited domains and MySQL databases. InMotion Hosting runs CentOS 6 Enterprise Class Linux.
  • Resellers can choose from three plans, which all include free SSD, eNom accounts, WHMCS billing software, dedicated IP addresses, full cPanel licenses and transfers and backups.

InMotion support is available around-the-clock, with support chat and Skype options. They offer a 99.9% uptime guarantee.

6) Linode

Average Speed: 610 ms

Since its founding in 2003, Linode has been growing, with customers in more than 125 countries and eight data centers – four in the US, two in Europe and two in Asia Pacific.

Linode refers to each Linux server instance as a Linode, and VPS hosting is dependent on the RAM for each of nine plans. All plans offer a 40 Gbps network in speed, and provide variable storage and network out speeds.

The company guarantees a 99.9% uptime guarantee, and with data center options around the world, companies are free to change options down the road. They offer several facilities speed tests to determine each client’s ideal location.

7) HostGator

Average Speed: 188 ms

As a host of more than 8 million domains and 850 employees, HostGator provides a wide variety of options:

  • Three shared hosting plans, all with unmetered bandwidth, ranging from a one domain option to a business plan that includes private SSL, dedicated IPs and a toll-free number.
  • Eight total dedicated hosting plans, with four each on Linux or Windows servers. All Linux servers include cPanel, and all Windows servers include Plesk.
  • Five CentOS Linux VPS plans, ranging from the Snappy 500 to the Snappy 8000 offer have semi-managed options; higher options also include a cPanel option.
  • Resellers can choose from five different plans, all with unlimited domains

HostGator, which was founded in 2002, has been providing speedy service since the beginning. The company has a 99.9% uptime guarantee, responsive customer support and additional hosting options for WordPress and applications.

 

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Web Hosting for Students https://www.whatsthehost.com/web-hosting-for-students/ Sat, 02 Jun 2018 12:04:24 +0000 https://www.whatsthehost.com/?p=1886 The post Web Hosting for Students appeared first on WhatsTheHost - Best Hosting Reviews by Real People.

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These days, anyone can start a website.

But that doesn’t always mean it’s cheap or easy.

Almost every student has an Instagram account. A few have YouTube channels. But if you really want to be a real interneter (new word) you’ve gotta have a website.

Right now you’re like this:

student reading tiny red book

But pretty soon you’ll be like this:

genius student with smart website

You probably want to create site and therefore need hosting for one of a few reasons:

  • You’re being forced to by your professor for a class (sorry)
  • You’re building a site for a side project (super cool)
  • You want to become a famous blogger and live independently after school (amazing!)

There are many reasons, all the matters is you get it done easily and don’t get sucked into some weird spam in the corners of the internet.

So you’re sold on building the site, but strapped for cash?

We hear ya – we were students once.

Luckily there are a number of companies that offer free or discounted web hosting for students

We’ll cut to the chase: got $2 a month? Get SiteGround student hosting.

It’s super high-quality hosting, their support is great, and when you graduate the pricing is very competitive.

Don’t have the money? Try a free host (see below) but be very careful with spam and quality issues.

Free Web Hosting for Students

It’s easy to see why the promise of free web hosting may be appealing to cash-strapped students. But as always, these words of wisdom apply: you get what you pay for. In the case of free web hosting for students, the services likely aren’t robust enough for you to launch a business and may not be the best bang for your buck after you graduate and need to start paying normal rates. Furthermore, some companies require that you submit a video and following the hosting company on social media in order to receive free hosting. 

But if something is free, what is there to lose?

The main issue we see with free web hosting services is their limited capability. Most free web hosting platforms do not offer simple and often crucial features. Free web hosting for students often does not include one-click auto installers, software scripts, SMTP email, DNS settings, root directory access, or other common features that even the cheapest hosting plan might have. Furthermore your site may have incredibly limited bandwidth and disk space, mandatory ads, security vulnerabilities, and no customer support services. Not to mention, up time and loading speeds are generally poor. These are not platforms that you will want to build a long term business on, so we don’t recommend them if you plan to scale your website.

However free web hosting can be a great option for a few different objectives. If you are simply looking to test some content or software scripts out before purchasing a more robust plan, free web hosting for students may make sense. Free web hosting could also be an option if you want to test a bunch of different AdWords campaigns before launching a site. For these objectives free web hosting platforms may be a good option because they off contract-free accounts that you can terminate any time with no hassle.

But despite the equal cost (or lack thereof), not all free web hosting services for students are created equal. Some packages are simply far better than others. Here are the details on a few of the best free web hosting options for students: 

AccuWeb

Free web hosting for students through graduation.

What You Get

  • cPanel/WHM control panel
  • Pure SSD storage
  • PHP 5.x, 7.x, Perl & Python Support
  • mySQL Database Support 
  • Multi-Layer DDOS Protection
  • IMAP / SMTP / POP3 protocol support
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee
  • Ad free

Requirements

  • Verifiable as a current or incoming college or university student
  • Following AccuWeb on all their social media accounts
  • Publishing a 2-minute YouTube video detailing your prediction for the next big technology trends

Interserver.net

One year of free web hosting for students.

What You Get

  • Unlimited storage and transfers
  • Weekly backups
  • FTP accounts
  • SSD cahcing
  • 10GB Cisco 
  • CloudFlare CDN 
  • 99.9% Uptime
  • 24/7 Support

Requirements

  • Verifiable as university student
  • Student e-mail address
  • $5/mo after first year

Gwiddle

Sadly Gwiddle is shutting down Nov 1, 2018.

What You Get

  • 2 domains
  • 10 mailboxes
  • 4 MySQL databases
  • 3GB bandwidth
  • 3GB disk space
  • Unlimited Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates
  • Node.js and PHP support

Requirements

  • Verifiable as a current or incoming college or university student
  • Student e-mail address

Discounted Web Hosting For Students

Unlike free web hosting, discounted web hosting for students offers competitive packages at extremely low prices. That means students can get top-tier hosting packages that professional sites run on at a fraction of the normal prices. Take Siteground for example, which is considered one of the best web hosting services worldwide. They offer a discounted rate for students at $1.99/month, which is 80% off of their regular $9.99/month rate. These are the sorts of packages that you can host your site on long term, and not just for the time you are in school. If you plan on scaling your website, we recommend taking advantage of one of the discounts offered by premium hosting services for the time you are studying. After graduation, you can easily transition to their normal packages.

Check out the following discounted web hosting packages for students below:

Siteground

$1.99/mo hosting for students, an 80% discount.

What You Get

  • 300ms – 400ms load response
  • SuperCacher & SSD Drives
  • Automatic daily backups
  • 99.99% uptime guarantee
  • 5 data centers
  • 10 GB storage
  • CDN, FTP, SSH & Git
  • Unmetered traffic
  • Unlimited MySQL DBs
  • cPanel with Softaculous

Requirements

  • Verifiable as university student
  • Student e-mail address

Bluehost

Premium student bundle for $4.95/mo, a discount of 67%.

What You Get

  • Free domain name, 1 Year
  • Drag and drop site builder
  • Custom email accounts
  • Real human tech support
  • CloudFlare integration
  • 2.4GHz, Processors 8, Type16-Core AMD Opteron
  • SimpleScripts 1-Click installs
  • Unique SSL certificate
  • Spam filtering

Requirements

  • Verifiable as university student
  • Student e-mail address

InMotion

Students get 50% off any plan.

What You Get

  • Preinstalled & Ready
  • 90-day guarantee
  • Drag and drop site builders
  • Free data backups
  • $250 worth of ad credits
  • Business-class hardware
  • Full SSD storage
  • Automatic WordPress updates
  • Spam filtering

Requirements

  • Verifiable as university student

Web Hosting 4 Students

Enroll while you are a student and you can renew at the same rates for life. Plans from $25/year.

What You Get for $50/year

  • 3 Websites
  • 10 GB Disk Space
  • Unlimited bandwidth, databases, and email accounts
  • cPanel
  • FTP, SFTP, SSH and Git

Requirements

  • Verifiable as university student
  • Student email address

Squarespace

Students get 50% off any plan.

What You Get

  • Unlimited, pages, galleries, and blogs
  • Unlimited bandwidth storage
  • 2 contributors
  • Mobile-optimized templates and drag and drop builders
  • Website metrics
  • Free domain
  • SSL Security Included
  • 24/7 Customer Support

Requirements

  • Verifiable as university student

Conclusion: Web Hosting for Students

If I were you, I would go for a deeply discounted paid host.

The free stuff is fine, but it’s just not going to be as good. There aren’t many businesses out there trying to give away free stuff to students, as nice as that would be.

PLUS, get a good host now and the transition after graduation seamless and worry-free, and your site can scale with you.

For those who are simply looking for a no-strings and cost-free way to experiment, free web hosting might be worth considering. Even though free is free, we recommend that you opt for a quality free hosting service and avoid spammy and incredibly limited ones. 

Bottom line: got $2 a month? Get SiteGround student hosting.

Don’t have the money? Try a free host but be very careful with spam and quality issues.

Hey, if your site takes off and you get an awesome job, you can look forward to doing this all day:

woman going beast mode on computer

One day.

 

 

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Best Free Blogging Sites in 2018 https://www.whatsthehost.com/best-free-blog-sites/ Thu, 24 May 2018 00:16:37 +0000 https://www.whatsthehost.com/?p=1879 The post Best Free Blogging Sites in 2018 appeared first on WhatsTheHost - Best Hosting Reviews by Real People.

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If you’ve never done it before, starting a blog sounds scary.

Uncertainty, fear of failing, not knowing where to start. These are all common reactions.

But looking at famous bloggers making serious money online is enough to keep you going.

Where do you even begin? How do you pick the best place to start? We’ll tackle a few of these below.

Before we talk about the technical decisions, we need to get the mindset down and make sure your vision is aligned with practical ideas.

3 Things To Do Before You Start

Before you start, you’ve gotta plan a few things out strategy-wise that will help you long term.

1. Pick Your Niche or Focus Area

Newsflash – you’re not going to become the next personal finance blog millionaire overnight.

It takes grit and perseverance. One of my favorites – Mr. Money Mustache – clocks in a bucketload of money now, but he put in the hard work with over 100 passion-filled blog posts since 2011 (his first post).

Hate technology? Well don’t start a laptop blog just because you may think it’s profitable.

Should you write about mermaids? I thought it was a terrible idea that wouldn’t make money, but apparently it works for the Everything Mermaid blog.

So choose something you can write about for 10 years. Even if you only plan on blogging for 5.

A few example of niches you may consider:

  • Travel
  • Mommy/Parenting
  • Food
  • Health
  • Fitness
  • Technology/Internet
  • Entertainment
  • Finance
  • …the list goes on

This is not a conclusive list, and each of these can be broken down even further!

In actuality, it’s better to start smaller and then ramp up to an expanded niche from there.

2. Write out Your Themes Ahead of Time

Remember how in school when a paper was due you’d sit there and stare at it for hours?

That happens a lot with blogging.

Except if you’re the only one setting the deadline, you’ll be so prone to procrastination you’ll look back and realize you haven’t blogged in 6 months.

One tactic is to batch your processes and plan out everything ahead of time. So instead of thinking about what to write every time you sit down, ideally the outline would be already written.

Before you start your blog, think of five general themes you want to cover within your niche. These will be your high level concepts that your posts will be about.

Then spend three hours every three months writing post title ideas that fit into one of these themes. You should write about five good blog posts on each theme before you create a new theme.

Then once a month, in one session, write out an outline for the upcoming posts that month. If you’re writing four posts that month, then you’ll do an outline for each post.

Then when you’re ready to write – boom – it’s super easy. The outline is already set up, you just need to fill in the gaps for your post.

3. Differentiate Yourself

You should love your niche, have your themes, and be ready to grind it out for awhile with no pay and no praise.

But before you do all that, you need to know the industry. Likely you’ve already read a bunch of blogs in your niche, but you should take a tactical approach here.

You need to choose how you’re going to stand out. What strategies are they taking? How can you learn from their best strategies, but also add on your own twist?

If your top competitor is all about writing short posts and social media, can you stand out by producing authoritative guides that move the needle?

Those are the things to consider first.

Alright, let’s dive in.

 

First: The Best Free Blogging Sites

 

WordPress.com

Did you know that WordPress is now powering almost 30% of the web?

Wow.

As you can imagine, that means that this platform has a lot to offer for both bloggers and businesses. Overall, you get much more functionality and performance with WordPress than you would with any other blogging site, which is why we rank it as number one.

But why is WordPress so special? Well, it all comes down to customization. This platform is open-source, which means that anyone can go in and improve the coding to make it better. Since its creation, there have been countless upgrades to the system, which enables users so many more options when creating their blog.

That being said, you should probably self-host your blog through WordPress, rather than hosting it on the site itself. We’ll get into the benefits of self-hosting later on, but this does mean that you have to pay for a hosting service to get started.

However, if you’re not sure what you want to achieve with your blog, you can get started for free and then go from there. We recommend that you test the waters and figure out what direction you want to go in so that you can find a hosting service that fits your needs and goals.

WordPress.com Summary

Pros

  • Easy to use – small learning curve
  • Incredible customization
  • Thousands of templates and plugins
  • Ideal for advertising and marketing
  • Easier to make money than other platforms

Cons

  • To get all of the best features, you have to self-host
  • There is some coding involved

Blogger

Formerly known as BlogSpot, this service has been around for a while. It’s also backed by Google, so that’s a pretty impressive pedigree already. Blogger is a perfect platform if you’re not looking to put a lot of time or energy into the backend (i.e., coding). Because the site is super easy to use, it’s ideal for casual bloggers or those who write more for the fun of it than the money.

That being said, you can use Google AdSense to try and monetize your blog if you wish. While it’s not as comprehensive as WordPress, it does provide you with the option of making some side income with your writing.

Overall, if you’re a beginner and you want to have a blog without any complications, Blogger is an excellent choice. However, if you do plan on expanding or becoming bigger in the future, you may decide to migrate over to WordPress instead.

Blogger Summary

Pros

  • Simple set up and onboarding
  • Potential to make money with AdSense
  • Backed by Google
  • Stable and user-friendly system

Cons

  • Not as much functionality
  • Limited customization
  • Less support than other options

Tumblr 

Technically speaking, Tumblr is more of a social media platform than a traditional blogging system. Rather than creating posts that you can link to and share across different profiles, Tumblr posts are more akin to something you would find on Facebook or Instagram.

That being said, there is a bit more control over your content and how it’s shared across the system. Overall, Tumblr is tailor-made for images and short text posts, rather than long-form blog articles.

One advantage that Tumblr has over other blogging sites is that you can access it and manage your account with a mobile device. It’s much more user-friendly on a smaller screen, which enables you to update your blog wherever you are.

Overall, we suggest getting started with Tumblr if you’re not sure what you want to do with your blog ideas, or as a way to augment your current site. Tumblr can be a simple tool to share your views over the internet, making it ideal for most beginners.

If you want to make money on Tumblr, it’s a bit more complicated than other blogging platforms. That’s not to say that’s it not doable, but it is more challenging. In the end, we recommend using Tumblr for promotion of your other materials, rather than trying to monetize it directly.

Tumblr Summary

Pros

  • Easy to use – start publishing in minutes
  • Manage multiple blogs easily
  • Mobile-friendly experience

Cons

  • Harder to make money
  • Not great for long-form writing
  • Harder to stand out from other blogs

Wix

If you want to make the most out of your blog, then you have to operate it as your own website. Doing this allows you to have a custom domain (i.e., www.myblog.com), and you have more control over everything that happens on your site.

Wix is a website builder, but it offers a free option for bloggers who want to get started without any investment. That being said, you will want to upgrade if you plan on expanding your blog (getting more traffic) or making money from it. Still, it’s a great way to begin your blogging career since it provides a simple setup and operation.

Wix offers a variety of themes and plugins, although you will have to go premium to access them all. It also enables you to promote your blog with various marketing strategies, such as SEO.

Another advantage of Wix is that you can add apps to your site (with premium), so you can use it as an online store or make it more interactive for your audience. Ultimately, though, it still doesn’t offer as much functionality as WordPress, so keep that in mind.

Wix Summary

Pros

  • Easy to get started
  • Independent domain
  • Added functionality and customization

Cons

  • Must upgrade to premium to get the full suite of services
  • Limited selection of themes and plugins

Weebly

With other website builders, you always have the option to go into the code and change things around as you see fit. While most blogging sites will require you to have premium access to do this, it’s still something that’s available to you if necessary.

With Weebly, however, it’s strictly drag and drop. If you’re just starting out and you want a simple way to build your blog, this is much easier than trying to program it or use code. That being said, though, other platforms allow you to drag and drop while still having the option to adjust things on the back end, so keep that in mind.

Overall, Weebly is a lot like Wix. It offers you the option of having a unique domain name, and you can build your site as you see fit. Like Wix, you have to upgrade to the premium option to get the full range of services, but you can get started with no investment.

Weebly also offers mobile-readiness so that you can update your blog on the go. However, some plugins or layouts are more mobile-friendly than others, so take that into account.

Weebly Summary

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • No coding required
  • E-commerce option

Cons

  • Limited customization
  • Less control than other options

Other Free Blogging Sites

Although the sites above are going to provide the best solutions for your blog, that doesn’t mean that they are the only options. Here are a few more places where you can get started.

  • Medium: this site allows bloggers of different disciplines to share their work. It’s simple and easy to use, but it does have a lot of limitations. Namely, how much control and customization it offers.
  • Penzu: functioning more as an online journal, you can either write privately or publicly. It’s an excellent way to get used to writing regularly, but not if you want to make money.
  • Svtble: if you’re struggling with how to get your ideas onto the page, this site will help you craft better content. As such, it’s a good tool to use to develop your work, which you can then migrate to a more marketing-friendly platform.
  • Webs: this is another website builder. It’s effortless to get started, but it does have a limited number of themes and plugins. However, it does offer an e-commerce option if you want to sell products on your blog.
  • Squarespace: overall, this site is designed for creative professionals. You do have to pay to use the site (although it does offer a free trial), but it gives you a lot of control and customization.

Best Place to Start a Blog: Self-Hosting vs. Blogging Site

When figuring out how to start your blog, one of the first things you will want to determine is if you are going to host it yourself or have the site provide the hosting for you. When you self-host, that means that you pick a hosting service that will keep your blog online.

There are many different hosts out there, and a lot of them are really affordable for blogging. As long as you don’t need a ton of back-end features (such as a dedicated server), you can get started for as little as $3 a month in some cases.

Alternatively, you can choose to start a blog with a platform that provides its own hosting. Every site that we’ve shown you has that option, which makes it much easier to get up and running.

Here is a brief comparison of the two options.

Control

If you want to maintain complete control over your blog, then you have to self-host. Although using a site that does this for you is easier on the front end, it does mean that you have to follow their rules and restrictions.

Ease of Use

For the most part, self-hosting requires a bit of computer know-how to make it work. If you’re completely illiterate on the computer, then you probably don’t want to start paying for something that you may or may not be able to use. Overall, hosted blogging sites are much better for beginners, and it will allow you to see how the process goes before committing any money to it.

Monetization

Are you starting a blog to make money? If so, then self-hosting is going to be your best bet. Although there are platforms out there that allow you to promote yourself and earn income, they are never going to provide the same level of monetization that you could get by hosting it yourself. Also, in many cases, they may even take a cut of your earnings.

How to Start a Blog for Free

At first, beginning a blog can be a bit overwhelming. With so many different options out there for getting set up, as well as options for promotion and monetization, it can be hard to know how to get started in the first place.

So, with that in mind, we want to provide you with a simple step-by-step guide to get your blog off the ground. From there, you can see where it takes you.

Overall, it could take years for your blog to get the kind of traffic you want, so you have to be patient. That being said, don’t give up just because it’s taking longer than you’d like.

Blogging Sites That Pay

So far, we’ve been talking about how to set up your own blog from scratch. However, what if you want to create content without doing all of the hard work of building a site and promoting your material?

If that sounds appealing, then here are a few places where you can submit material and get paid for it. While this does mean that you have no creative control over your work, it can be a great way to get some side income and exposure, which you then can use to create a blog of your own.

  • HubPages: this platform allows you to write about anything you’re passionate about and make money doing it. Your articles are published, and then related ads are placed next to it. You keep a percentage of the money earned by those ads.
  • ListVerse: if you like writing list-based articles, here is a place to post them. They pay a flat rate of $100 per piece, but they have to have at least 10 sections to be considered.
  • ProBlogger: here you can find a job board to provide content to a wide variety of clients.
  • Freelance Writing Jobs: this is another site that can connect you with jobs that need high-quality content.

Search for different sites that pay contributing writers and submit your material for approval. In many cases, you can earn up to $100 or more per article, and the best ones will offer a percentage based on how popular your article is.

Conclusion

Now that you know what it takes to start blogging, what’s stopping you? Get out there and make these free blogging sites work for you. It’s your passion, so why not turn it into something real?

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6 Best Web Hosts for Amazing Technical Support + Customer Service https://www.whatsthehost.com/6-best-hosts-for-site-owners-that-want-amazing-support/ Sat, 12 May 2018 05:18:25 +0000 https://www.whatsthehost.com/?p=592 The post 6 Best Web Hosts for Amazing Technical Support + Customer Service appeared first on WhatsTheHost - Best Hosting Reviews by Real People.

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Bad customer support leaves you confused, angry, and losing money.

It’ probably the #1 most important thing for web hosting.

Why?

Unless you’re a web developer or IT pro, you’re going to run into issues with your web hosting.

It’s a fact of life, like death and taxes.

So who can you trust to get stellar customer support? We’ve searched high and low for the best and brought them to you here.

1. SiteGround – The #1 Best Support Host

SiteGround absolutely knocks it out of the park with their customer support.

They’re fast, polite, and go above and beyond to support you.

This website is hosted on SiteGround because they’re simply amazing.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had bonehead issues and they’ve helped me right away.

In fact, their customer support times are the best in the business.

My own testing shows that they reply in under one minute on live chat, and under ten minutes when you post a ticket.

Now this is just my own testing for now, but many will say the same.

If you just want the overall best host for customer support – go with SiteGround. I mean it.

PC Mag said this about SiteGround: “you pay a bit more for a bit less in the way of technical features, but the solid security, customer service, and tutorials make this Web host extremely friendly for small businesses and new webmasters.”

2. WP Engine – The Best for Business Sites on WordPress 

One of the greatest benefits of the WP Engine platform is their built-in backup and malware scan services. Since this is included within your domain hosting service, you can save tons of money every month.

WP Engine is known for providing some of the fastest domain hosting on the market. Many consumers have cited site speeds scoring up to 100% uptime after migrating to the company’s servers. Additionally, the easy migration process makes it simple to rehost your website on the WP Engine domain, no matter what website building software you’re using.

Customer support also shines at WP Engine. For those using WordPress to build sites, the WP Engine staff is particularly well versed in troubleshooting issues on the popular site building platform. Customer reviews have cited the passion of the domain hosting company, saying that they felt appreciated, and that their issues were a top priority.

Perhaps the best features of WP Engine as a hosting provider, however, is the excellent staging site feature. With this feature, you can easily run your site as if it is online before publishing, allowing you to check for bugs, and other important potential issues.

Review publications are keen on WP Engine as well. Qualities such as unlimited data transfers, daily backups, malware scanning, and their site staging all combine to make WP Engine a popular platform.

3. Rackspace – The Original for Stellar Support

Does your company attract tons of traffic to its websites every day? If so, Rackspace is a powerful hosting solution that will save you time and money. Known for providing servers that are expertly tuned to handle high volumes of traffic, Rackspace can handle big spikes in traffic, and ensure you don’t experience slowdown during opportune business moments.

Users who have media-heavy sites will also find a lot to love about Rackspace. Thanks to fast loading times and great storage capabilities, you can easily host sites that feature multiple videos and other asset-heavy features, without slowing down your loading speeds.

Customers will appreciate the varied amount of support features Rackspace provides. Firstly, the Rackspace Tools app allows you to keep track of server data from anywhere at any time. If you need to check how your traffic is doing on a particular day, but you’re away from the office, simply launch Rackspace Tools on your smartphone or other mobile device to get an in-depth report.

Tech support for Rackspace takes proactive protection and customer service to the next level. According to PC Mag, the reviewer received a check up call from a brand representative within an hour of setting up his cloud. If you want a service that is available 24/7 to solve any pressing issues, Rackspace provides a great investment.

4. Pagely – An Underdog that Loves their Customers

One of the most consistently high-praised hosting sites on this list, Pagely is currently the rockstar of the hosting world. Known for blisteringly fast loading speeds, and site performance that rarely falters, Pagely provides a web experience that ensures your customers can interact with your brand seamlessly.

Pagely’s tech support team is one of the many reasons it has been dominating the web hosting market. With a full support staff of licensed engineers, you are sure to be given a solution to even your most frustrating troubleshooting issues. Finally, their support staff is friendly, and available around the clock, guaranteeing smooth operations on your company’s website.

Security features at Pagely are state-of-the-art. If you constantly worry about the security functionality of your web host, you can rest easy after rehosting your site on Pagely’s servers. Automation plays a big role in site security at Pagely, allowing your site to automatically update to new security standards. Their cyber security settings are tuned to be proactive about threats to your sites, and will keep your brand out of harm’s way.

According to PC Mag, Pagely “has a deep set of features that let it compete with the big boys in the managed WordPress hosting space.” Try out the site if you want a secure, fast, and visually satisfying web hosting experience.

5. InMotion Hosting – 100% US-based Support Team

Customer service is often put up front and center in InMotion’s marketing, and for good reason. With a 100% US-located customer service team, you can rest assured that you can easily communicate your issues to the professionals at InMotion. Thanks to the wide variety of support options, including chat, email, phone, and other support functions, you can get in touch immediately from anywhere in the world.

InMotion has proven that the uptime rates they provide to sites that rehost on their servers is desirable. Industry standard uptimes of 99.9% are consistently reached, and they have completely avoided any major meltdowns, as some other hosting site companies have in the recent past.

Review sites enjoy pointing out the many free tools InMotion provides to their clients, as well as their excellent customer service options. In fact, PC Mag chose InMotion as their top choice for managed WordPress hosting.

6. A2 Hosting – Super Fast Hosting and Support

Providing high-end packages for power users, A2 Hosting is a great choice for users looking for premium hosting services. A2 offers auto-server configuration services, which allow WordPress pages to load up to 6 times faster. Additionally, you get access to unique WordPress login URLs, and automatic A2 optimized updates. To finalize the benefits they offer to WordPress users, A2 allows users to access ReCaptcha technology on their WordPress login pages.

A2 Hosting has been rated as one of the top sites for providing up-to-date transparency options about uptime statistics and rates. Consistently, the company has provided standard uptime rates of 100% to their customers after they rehost their site on the company’s servers.

Security for users is another top priority of the A2 Hosting team. With server rewind backups and free HackScan services, you are guaranteed not only secure domains, but money saved on otherwise expensive security and anti-hacking services.

Finally, A2 Hosting is dedicated to customer service initiatives. In fact, the BBB gave the company an A+ rating in customer service. When your company has only four registered customer complaints in a three-year period, you know you’re doing customer service right. A2 frequently offers customer surveys to keep their support practices progressive.

Anyone of these amazing hosting site choices will completely revolutionize your business practices. While small businesses may function fine with basic WordPress packages, businesses of any size will greatly benefit from upped loading speeds, better security, and 24/7 customer support options.

Want more reading? Check out our A2 Hosting vs SiteGround post to read which of the two we think is better.

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Shopify vs Squarespace: Which is best for you? https://www.whatsthehost.com/shopify-vs-squarespace/ Tue, 08 May 2018 17:54:52 +0000 https://www.whatsthehost.com/?p=1856 The post Shopify vs Squarespace: Which is best for you? appeared first on WhatsTheHost - Best Hosting Reviews by Real People.

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You have a dream:

Create the best ecommerce store in the world.

Your idea is genius.

Your product is beautiful.

The brand name is perfect.

Now how do you make your website?

“Help!”, you scream into the abyss.

shopify vs squarespace square

The Challenges of Choosing

Millions of new ecommerce business owners face this dilemma every year. It’s tough.

It can be very expensive to build your own site from scratch and hire a developer. Thankfully have two stellar ecommerce builders to choose from.

One of the biggest challenges that face anyone who wants to build a website that includes shopping cart capabilities is selecting a platform.

You’ll obviously want to be working with a system that’s robust enough to deliver years of dependable service. Two of the most recognized names in the industry are Shopify and Squarespace.

Making a choice about Shopify vs Squarespace isn’t a simple process, and it’s important to look at several critical factors before committing to one platform.

Shopify vs Squarespace Commerce Features Comparison

Let’s quickly look at the features that you get from each company on their most basic plan. We’ve chosen Squarespace Commerce Basic to compare apples to apples, since you most likely are looking for an ecommerce store if you’re comparing Shopify and Squarespace:

Shopify vs Squarespace Comparison

wdt_ID Feature Shopify Squarespace Commerce
1 Free Trial 14 days 14 days
2 Lowest Plan Name Basic Shopify Basic
3 Monthly Price $29.00 $30.00
4 Annual Price $26.10 $26.00
5 Credit Card Fees 2.9% + 0.30 3%
6 Transaction Fees None None
7 Number of Products Unlimited Unlimited
8 Support 24/7 24/7
9 SSL Free Free
10 Abandoned Cart Yes No

Shopify Pricing, Plans, Pros and Cons

Quick look at Shopify’s home page, they clearly are catering to ecommerce store creators – which is hopefully you.

My quick gut recommendation is that if you’re definitely going to create an ecommerce store, and ecommerce is the main portion of your business go with Shopify.

If you only have 30 minutes to decide – go Shopify.

But….you’re smarter than that! You want to compare all the features between Shopify and Squarespace. So keep on reading.

Just know that Shopify is the market leader for small business ecommerce stores and you can’t go wrong.

SHOPIFY HOMEPAGE SHOT

 

Shopify’s plan pricing can be anything from “you want me to pay $29 a month?” to “wow $299 is cheap for my million dollar business” (side not if you’re a million dollar biz, check out Shopify Plus).

While $29 can be a lot to swallow for someone selling their $5 greeting cards online for the first time (as a quick example), really when you compare it to building your own site on WordPress and hiring a developer, it’s a pittance.

Let me tell you, just a few hours of development work on a WordPress site can be hundreds of dollars – the entire annual bill for Shopify – but I digress.

 Shopify Plan Comparison GridThe quick highlights (pros) of Shopify:

  • I love that you can have unlimited products – who wants to worry about that?
  • File storage – unlimited – great
  • 24/7 support – trust me you need that
  • Fraud analysis – not 100% sure if you’ll use, but great to have
  • Abandoned cart recovery – can instantly boost profits up to 30%
  • Free SSL certificate

Cons of Shopify:

  • It can be somewhat of a commitment to pay the $29 a month if you’re just starting out
  • No free domain name
  • Only 2 staff accounts (on lowest plan)

 

Squarespace Pricing, Plans, Pros and Cons

Look at how beautiful Squarespace’s home page is:

SQUARESPACE HOME PAGE

They clearly get branding. They really focus on designers, creators, makers, and small businesses.

When people don’t know where to turn to make a website themselves, they often go to Squarespace. The commercials are unavoidable, and the branding is burned into our brains now.

You think GoDaddy for domains, Squarespace for easy websites.

We’re focusing on Squarespace Commerce today, but just to quickly show you their standard site pricing (no ecommerce) this is how cheap they are monthly:

SQUARESPACE BASIC PRICING

I definitely applaud them for bringing cheap websites to the masses.

Now…there are some out there that say this is still too expensive.

Oy vey.

I mean I get it, but if that person could see how far we’ve come in 20 years, this stuff just wasn’t possible.

Competition is good, it’s brought cheap and beautiful website builders to us all.

Ok, now looking at Squarespace Commerce plans:

SQUARESPACE Commerce Plans

Clearly the pricing has gone up a bit – but ecommerce is harder, that’s for sure. It takes more support, more technology, and frankly there are more risks involved.

The quick highlights (pros) of Squarespace:

  • Like Shopify, you get unlimited products – great
  • Free domain name (with annual plan) – bonus (but see con below)
  • SSL included – a must for ecommerce
  • 24/7 support – trust me you need that
  • Mobile optimized (but that’s a given) – would be a deal breaker if not

Cons of Shopify:

  • You only get this displayed price on the annual plan, monthly is more expensive
  • They don’t mention file storage restrictions – usually that means there are some
  • Domain name renewal is $20+ – way above industry average (see details here)
  • Abandoned cart not included in base plan (Shopify does at same price)

 

Feature by Feature Comparison of Shopify and Squarespace

And now, we compare, feature by feature.

Who comes out on top?

1) Ease of Use

The most obvious contrast between building a Squarespace store and a Shopify one is in terms of ease of use. In general, Shopify should be thought of as the more robust platform and Squarespace should be seen as the simpler one. For those who are coming the choice as non-developers, Squarespace wins big points, especially for its ability to integrate with other types of functionality, such as services pages and blogs. On the flip side, Shopify is highly specialized for the online store sector.

Winner: Tie – Squarespace wins for simplicity, Shopify for being specialized

2) Cost

Shopify’s business model is constructed around the number of items that clients want to post to their stores. A basic plan starts at $26.10 annually, and an advanced plan goes as high as $299 per month. Each transaction includes a 30-cent fee, and an additional 2.25 to 2.9 percent charge may be added, depending on the specific plan you select.

Squarespace prides itself on a much more simplified pricing structure. There are two plans, the basic and advanced plans. There are never any transaction fees, and customers are allowed to post an unlimited number of products. The basic plan costs between $26 and $30 a month, depending on billing structure. The advanced plan costs $40 to $46 per month.

Winner: Tie – the cost is just about the same.

3) Support

When an online store goes down, it’s safe to say that you’re going to be a little freaked out and want a clear response as quickly as possible. Both platforms offer clients to live chat and email support, but Shopify is the only one that provides phone support, and it does so on a 24/7 live basis. In other words, while Shopify is typically more expensive, it’s a case of getting what you pay for. If you’re able to work with a team of Squarespace pros who can provide the missing live phone support that the company doesn’t, you may want to take advantage of that to lock in some cost savings.

Shopify also tends to offer a larger and more robust community. You’ll have an easy time tracking down information from other users, an advantage that folks with some development capabilities will find interesting. Qualified expert advice is also close at hand.

Winner: Shopify

4) Extensibility, Features and Customization

The more advanced you expect your site to become, the more likely you’ll want to utilize Shopify. The tools it makes available also allow skilled developers to get a lot more done. Squarespace does provide a developer mode, but it takes a little effort to enable it. Conversely, Shopify offers access to a massive app store that allows site owners to employ more than 1,400 different apps on their sites.

The HTML and CSS system is one of the things that attracts a lot of Shopify pros to the platform. Shopify allows a higher degree of customization. For those looking to get less into the guts of their sites, though, Squarespace may seem like a more appealing choice. This makes the platform especially popular with folks who don’t need any e-commerce capabilities.

One small advantage Squarespace offers is integration with Getty Images. If you’re looking to speed up the process of getting images onto product pages, this may give a small boost.

Shopify scores a bit of a win thanks to its integration with AMP, a system that’s designed to speed up the delivery of mobile pages. The complexities of mobile and responsive design are increasingly critical to success in search engine results pages, so this is something to keep in mind. You’ll especially want to consider Shopify for a more mobile-focused website that’s targeted at a younger audience.

Winner: Shopify

5) Going International

Thanks to Shopify’s strong focus on e-commerce, the platform tends to have much better support for international sellers. If you’re looking to sell products to customers in Europe, for example, the ability of the site to quickly compute and deal with the EU’s VAT requirements is a big plus.

Winner: Shopify

Overall Recommendation: Shopify

When it comes to choosing an ecommerce website builder, not just a general one, Shopify wins.

I believe we’re seeing specialization win out here. Squarespace is great for general website, but Shopify is investing in its ecommerce platform month after month.

Shopify has grown exponentially over the years, with huge stock market gains to follow. We think Shopify is going to win out for quite awhile.

Alternative (Crazy) Idea: Why Not Both?

I don’t recommend this if you’re starting out – just start one.

But if you’re a crazy person, with a wild look in your eye, you might be able to pull this off.

Squarespace offers support for integration of Shopify cart buttons. If you’re happy with an existing Squarespace site, this can be especially beneficial. Rather than trying to transition a whole site over to Shopify, you may simply want to build a store or cart subdomain that utilizes the platform while keeping everything else on Squarespace.

Again – I’d rather you pick just one. But it is possible to jerry-rig a system together like an old pirate and make both work.

Conclusion

The big issues that potential customers need to look at when choosing between Shopify vs Squarespace are cost and functionality. If you’re worried about how much does Squarespace cost, you’ll see it’s the clear winner, especially for those who want to be able to scale up massively. On the other hand, Shopify pros tend to love the platform’s high level of extensibility and support. Each system comes away the clear winner in certain aspects, but the differences in specific advantages will compel you to think about what your online store is now and what you intend it to be in the future.

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