How to host a website

So you want to know how to host a website? When it comes to hosting your small business website, you have several options. You can use one of the best website builders, get managed hosting from the best web hosting services, or self-host your website.

Your business website is essential for interacting with your customers and selling your products. The best web hosting services offer the speed and reliability you need, providing fast and available web browsing for every visitor.

In this guide, we’ll cover all three options, explore the features of each, and explain how to set up your hosting. The right type of web hosting will ensure that your website is there when your customers need it, whether it’s running an e-commerce store, building trust in your small business, or simply providing information.

Top 3 Ways to Host Your Small Business Website

Web hosting companies provide the technological infrastructure that runs your website. You decide on the structure of your website, structure your website, build it and add content. The hosting provider makes sure your website is running on their servers and networks, so people can access your content through their web browser.

Generally speaking, web hosting comes in several varieties:

  • As part of a website building platform such as Squarespace, Wix, or Shopify
  • As a managed service from a hosting provider, where they take care of all website hosting needs
  • As a self-hosted service from a hosting provider, where you do the heavy lifting

Let’s dig into each of them.

How to Host a Website on a Website Building Platform

Screenshot of the Wix Template Library

Wix is ​​just one of many website building platforms available, all of which host your site for you once published. (Image credit: Wix)

Website building platforms offer an all-in-one solution for your small business website needs. They feature pre-made templates as well as drag-and-drop editors that make it easy to create a professional-looking site. Web hosting is standard. Once you’ve designed and published your site, these services take care of all the infrastructure to keep your website running.

Features of website building platforms for web hosting include:

  • Quick, simple and easy to use
  • No need for a separate service for web hosting
  • Everything is included in the price of the subscription to the site
  • Can handle a low to medium number of concurrent visitors
  • Perfect for businesses that only need standard website functionality
  • May not work for businesses with highly technical needs
  • Subscription prices can be difficult for businesses on a tight budget

Here are the steps you need to follow.

Step One: Choose a Website Building Platform

You have plenty of choices on the right platform for your needs. You’ll find our guide to the best website builders useful, and we’ve given a more in-depth look at the best website builders for small businesses and the best e-commerce website builders.

Step Two: Design and Build Your Website

All website building platforms offer in-depth tutorials and training to build your website. You can start with a professional template, add the pages you want, create navigation, add content and images, and then test it all out.

Step Three: Get a Domain Name and Subscription Plan

You can often buy a domain name through the website builder platform, or buy one separately and link it to the website builder. Once you’ve done that, choose the right subscription plan for your site – each platform offers multiple pricing tiers, depending on the features you need.

Step Four: Publish and Enjoy Hassle-Free Hosting

Once you’ve created your website, just click publish. The website builder platform takes care of all your hosting needs, so all you need to do is add content and keep your website up to date.

How to Host a Website Using a Managed Hosting Provider

two men walking and talking in a server room

Managed hosting means everything about hosting is handled for you by the provider (Image credit: Getty Images)

Managed hosting providers offer the servers you need to publish your website, as well as a range of other services to keep your website fast, safe, secure and reliable. These additional features vary from one managed hosting company to another, but often include:

  • One-click installation for many website frameworks including WordPress, WooCommerce, Drupal and similar content management systems
  • Background security features, such as installing patches and updates and protecting against denial of service attacks or malware
  • Balance loads and traffic across network and server infrastructure, so your website is resilient and responsive
  • Backup and restore data so your information and content are protected
  • Other services, depending on the site host

Why Choose Managed Web Hosting:

  • Relatively easy to configure and install your website framework and content management system
  • Provides a range of out-of-the-box services with minimal configuration required
  • Can handle medium to high number of concurrent visitors depending on your hosting plan
  • Ideal for businesses that may need more complex functionality
  • Subscription prices vary widely between hosts and the add-on services you need, but can be a challenge for budget-conscious businesses

Here are the steps you need to follow.

Step One: Choose a Managed Website Hosting Provider

We have a comprehensive guide to the best web hosting services, with a breakdown of their prices, features, and add-ons. These providers offer a range of plans, from full-service, managed to self-hosted.

Step two: Install your website framework and create your website

Once you have chosen a provider, you can install your website framework and content management system. WordPress is a great choice – it’s pretty easy to learn the basics, there are a ton of tutorials available, and plugins allow you to customize WordPress to do exactly what you need.

Third step: get a domain name and choose your additional services

Some hosts offer a domain name purchase service, otherwise you can purchase one separately and update the corresponding parameters. After choosing a domain name, review the additional services you get with each plan and choose the tier that’s right for you.

Step Four: Publish and Know Your Website Hosting

Your publishing options vary depending on the website structure you use. Once you’ve published, log into your hosting control panel every two weeks to make sure everything is going well.

How to self-host your website

three colleagues working on computers in front of the server room

Self-hosting means that while the provider is still in charge of the servers, you are in charge of updates and other services (Image credit: Getty Images)

Many hosting providers also give you the option of self-hosting your website. They still provide the servers and networks your website runs on, but you’ll have to take care of anything other than those basic services. This means that you will be responsible for:

  • Installing website frameworks
  • Fix and update security and software
  • Data Backup and Restore
  • Other domains, depending on the host

Why choose self-hosting:

  • This is the cheapest option for budget conscious businesses
  • It can handle a low to medium number of visitors depending on your hosting plan
  • You may have speed and bandwidth capacity limits
  • This may require additional engineering expertise and setup

The steps you need to take to set up self-hosting are very similar to managed hosting, with one exception. During the third step, you will need to review all the services you need and what is provided on your hosting plan. If a service is not listed, you will need to support it.

A quick summary of how to host a website

Let’s put it all together:

  1. Decide which hosting option you want – through a website builder, through managed hosting, or a self-hosted package
  2. Use a website framework to design and create your website
  3. Get a domain name and understand if you need additional add-on services
  4. Pay your subscription and publish

For a business without complex website needs, a website builder is a great choice. You get design, simplicity and speed in one convenient package. For more complex websites, managed hosting is a good option, as it will take care of background tasks and security. Self-hosting is a choice for businesses on a strict budget, as long as you are aware of the limitations.

Time to go build that website!


Further Reading on Web Hosting and Website Builders

An alternative not discussed in detail above is to use WordPress, creating a site with the best WordPress website builders and then hosting it through the best WordPress hosting platforms. If you’re looking for specific types of hosting, check out our guides to Best VPS Hosting, Best Cloud Hosting, Best VPS Cloud Hosting, Best Unlimited Hosting, and Best Cheap Web Hosting.

Edwin S. Wolfe