"What is Web Hosting?" — (A Beginner’s Guide)

If you’re like many web users, you look around at friends’ websites or the Internet in general and think, How are they doing this? How do they just know this stuff?

Their secret, simply put, is web hosting.

While web hosting can take some beginners years of trial and error and article reading to fully grasp, here we’ll cut through that confusion. Below is everything you’ll need to get started with web hosting — in one concise, sometimes witty, and hopefully helpful guide:

1. Intro to Web Hosting

Web hosting is simply the process of renting out or buying space to house your website on the Internet. Your website and its content have to be served up by a server, which is essentially a computer that connects other web users to your site from anywhere in the world.

In essence, a web host is the accommodating host computer that’s giving your site a place to stay, and that will present the content of your site to anyone who visits your web address.

2. Why You Need a Host

While it is physically possible to host your site on your own server if are especially tech-savvy, to do so would be signing yourself up for a laundry list of headaches.

Hosting a website yourself requires an expensive server with a constantly-running power supply, power backups in case of outages, a static IP address (your home computer’s IP is always changing or dynamic), and regular hardware maintenance.

This all requires a tremendous amount of technical know-how and hardware that’s both costly and complicated to maintain. Since you are new to the world of web hosting and likely lack the technical chops needed to set up and maintain a server, we strongly advise that you opt for a hosting service instead.

3. Recommended Hosts by Category

A hosting service (or simply, a host) is just a company that has tons of servers, and rents out that server space to people who want their websites to appear on the Web. Renting server space from a host takes just a couple of minutes and you can do so online in just a few clicks.

Besides the easy setup, hosts specialize in keeping servers running 24/7, and they provide you with the technical support needed to get your site up and running smoothly. Best yet, you can get all of this for as low as $3 a month.

To determine which host is best for you, the first thing to note is that there are several categories of web hosting to choose from: shared, dedicated, and VPS hosting being the three main types.

Each type of hosting has its pluses and minuses, so you’ll want to take a minute to understand what each offers before signing up with a web host. In the following sections, we’ll cover a breakdown of the main hosting types, along with our top-rated hosts in each category.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is essentially housing your website on a server shared by other sites. If you’re expecting less than 30,000 monthly visitors coming to your site each month, shared web hosting is probably the way to go. These providers tend to offer a free domain name, as much storage and bandwidth as you could possibly need for a small or medium site, and unlimited email accounts. Plus, you get all of this for about $3 to $10 per month.

Here are the top hosts we’d trust for shared hosting based on our tests of their hosting platforms, their ease of setup, their support staff, and their overall low costs:

CHEAP RATING
★★★★★ 5.0/5.0
  • Featuring easy setup and superb reliability since 1998
  • FREE domain and FREE Google marketing included
  • Unlimited disk, bandwidth, and emails
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $1.99
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Cheap Hosting Plans www.ipage.com/shared
Our Expert's iPage Review
Whether you're a first-time website owner or a web veteran, iPage’s excellent hosting services and fantastic list of extras make them one of the best values in web hosting. Unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and emails... read more +

Whether you're a first-time website owner or a web veteran, iPage’s excellent hosting services and fantastic list of extras make them one of the best values in web hosting.

Unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and emails are just a part of what makes iPage’s shared hosting plans a great deal. They offer very good "suites" of extras focusing on web hosting necessities like security, marketing, and support.

If you don’t yet have a site, they include a free domain and website builder to get you rolling quickly. We especially love their inclusion of eCommerce templates and online shopping carts for the same low price.

Support is one factor that’s very important to us, as it should be to you. For customer support, iPage has US-based phone, email, and chat available 24/7. For the DIY crowd, they also have an extensive list of tutorials and helpful documents.

One of the very best budget web hosts out there, iPage offers great hosting features and server performance for a low price. If you are searching for a cheap, reliable web host, iPage should definitely be near the top of your list.

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CHEAP RATING
★★★★★ 5.0/5.0
  • Known for performance at a low price
  • Endorsed by WordPress.org team
  • FREE Weebly site builder and templates
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $2.95
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Cheap Hosting Plans www.bluehost.com/shared
Our Expert's Bluehost Review
If you’re looking for an affordable host, Bluehost is a solid, reputable choice, but their low cost coupled with their supremacy in the shared hosting arena is what makes this provider such a value deal.... read more +

If you’re looking for an affordable host, Bluehost is a solid, reputable choice, but their low cost coupled with their supremacy in the shared hosting arena is what makes this provider such a value deal. The Bluehost name is listed toward the top of many of our reviews categories, and with good reason. They offer excellent hardware configurations, a generous list of extras, and fantastic support and reliability — all at a price point that’s, generally, lower than the competition.

The speed and performance result from very modern hardware and a global content delivery network. They also offer nearly unlimited everything, including storage, emails, and bandwidth, and many other perks. For example, they include a free domain and marketing credits to get your site off the ground — adding to their value.

We rank Bluehost at or near the top for their WordPress, VPS, and dedicated options and if those fit your needs, please check them out. You’ll be happy to note their incredibly competitive pricing across the board.

We are convinced Bluehost has the goods to meet your hosting needs today and in the future, but more importantly, they are too. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee should you become dissatisfied with any of their plans for any reason; however, we’re willing to bet you won’t be.

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CHEAP RATING
★★★★★ 4.8/5.0
  • FREE BoldGrid builder and templates
  • FREE website and cPanel migrations
  • FREE SSD storage makes your site load up to 20x faster!
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $2.95
Money Back Guarantee 90 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Cheap Hosting Plans www.inmotionhosting.com/shared
Our Expert's InMotion Review
InMotion offers an excellent business-class shared hosting plan. While carrying a higher price tag than other cheap hosts, it has a very nice list of features to help justify the extra cost. For the... read more +

InMotion offers an excellent business-class shared hosting plan. While carrying a higher price tag than other cheap hosts, it has a very nice list of features to help justify the extra cost.

For the IT crowd in the audience, you’ll appreciate SSH access, as well as support for PHP, Ruby, Perl, Python, WP-CLI, and other popular languages. You’ll also appreciate the 20-times faster speed, which comes from all-SSD storage and your choice of datacenter locations. You needn’t worry about data security as InMotion plans include data backups.

For the rest of us, we can appreciate the convenience of the free website transfers and 24/7 US-based support. A free domain and website builder with eCommerce support are also appealing.

The overall package and business-class hardware make InMotion’s shared hosting a great choice for businesses or those looking for a little higher-end hardware. And, as one of the few remaining independently owned hosting providers left on the market, InMotion has taken every effort to remain cost-competitive.

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By far, the majority of websites fit into the shared hosting bucket. Sharing a server is a great option for first-timers, small business owners, personal sites, and even popular web properties. It’s also the most affordable option to boot.

Dedicated Hosting

On the flip side of the server spectrum is dedicated hosting. This subset of hosting is intended for sites that are expecting so much traffic (more than 100,000 monthly visitors) or need so much storage and RAM that they require a server solely dedicated to their hosting.

This type of hosting can get costly — about $80 to $2,000 per month — but it is worth it if you’re getting a ton of web traffic and need your own server to meet that much demand. Here is our #1 choice for dedicated server hosting based upon our tests of multiple dedicated hosts:

DEDICATED RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • FREE incoming bandwidth and choice of operating system
  • Custom configurations with SSDs and instant provisioning
  • Auto-migrations, backups, and 24/7 Sonar Monitoring™
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $79.00
Money Back Guarantee N/A
Disk Space 211 GB - 1,775 GB SSD
Domain Name New or Transfer
Dedicated Hosting Plans www.liquidweb.com/dedicated
Our Expert's Liquid Web Review
Liquid Web's strong suit is their managed dedicated server hosting. They own and operate three state-of-the-art datacenters in the US and have over 50 developers working tirelessly to build and maintain custom solutions for added... read more +

Liquid Web's strong suit is their managed dedicated server hosting. They own and operate three state-of-the-art datacenters in the US and have over 50 developers working tirelessly to build and maintain custom solutions for added performance and security.

Fully, Core-, or Self-Managed — Plus Storm® Servers

Liquid Web offers single, dual, and quad processor servers with fully, core-, or self-managed plans. All dedicated server customers reap the benefits and support of the Heroic Support® team and the 24/7 protection of the Sonar Monitoring™ team.

Redundantly Built, Multi-Tiered Network

Featuring top-of-the-line Cisco equipment, the Liquid Web N+1 network is redundantly built to allow routing devices to quickly self-heal. They're designed to bounce back and correct system failures without interrupting the customer's connection. With the integration of premier providers, Level 3, Verizon, Comcast, Cogent, and Equinix, the Liquid Web network is optimized for rapid and fault-resistant performance.

Highly Available Sites with the Tech of 50+ Developers

Liquid Web boasted an incredible 99.995% uptime rate in 2014, a bragging right that's helped shape their reputation for performance. With the maintenance of 50+ developers, the Liquid Web infrastructure is engineered to evade and survive typical site disasters.

24/7 Proactive Protection from the Sonar Monitoring™ & Heroic Support® Teams

Should disaster strike, the Sonar Monitoring™ team is trained to catch the issue first, performing system-level health checks and patches 24/7, so they can hopefully have it handled before you're even aware of the situation. Meanwhile, the Heroic Support® team of 300+ experts is available anytime to help with any troubleshooting need.

Storm® Servers & Add-Ons

For the dev nerds out there, one of our favorite facets of Liquid Web as a hosting provider is the commitment to in-house-built technology. All of their team members' experience and expertise becomes very evident once you check out their custom Storm® Platform.

All the Power Plus All the Flexibility

If you're in need of dedicated resources, drawn to the customization of the Cloud, and know you need screaming fast performance, the Storm® Dedicated Server may be your solution. These custom server systems allow for cloud-like flexibility that traditional dedicated servers aren't capable of, like instant provisioning and automatic migrations.

Added Extras Make the Dedicated Cost a Done Deal

The Liquid Web development team is constantly coming up with new Storm® Add-Ons, like Load Balancers, Block Storage, Object Storage, and a VPN. Think you can't afford such full-featured and flexible hardware? Think again. With pricing starting around $110/month, the Storm® Platform is great for the cost-conscious dedicated server shopper.

Liquid Web Dedicated Servers in Review

If you want feature-rich dedicated resources and relentlessly reliable technical support, Liquid Web should be on your short list. They're known for strong managed service offerings, but the drawback to managed hosting is usually the cost. Liquid Web doesn't leave you hanging there though — in-house solutions like the Storm® Dedicated Server keep the cloud-level flexibility and performance up and the cost down.

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Dedicated hosting is going to be the most expensive of the hosting categories, but you usually get what you pay for: tremendous power, extensive storage, and expert assistance.

VPS Hosting

Finally, the mid-range hosting type is the most difficult to explain. If instead of wanting to share space on one server or buy your own dedicated server you fall somewhere in the middle, virtual private server (VPS) hosting may be the route for you.

In this instance, your site is renting space from multiple virtual servers in the Cloud. This type of hosting is great for seamless scaling as your site grows. Think of VPS hosting as a huge network of mega-powerful computers that are working together to host tons of sites. What’s great about the Cloud is that VPS hosts usually charge by the hour, and usually only for the resources you actually use, rather than a flat monthly fee. The cost works out to about $15 to $50 per month.

We’ve tested all the top VPS hosts and highly recommend this service as the #1 choice:

VPS RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • 50% off the first month with added discounts the first year
  • Real-time redundancy powered by a cloud infrastructure
  • FREE cPanel/WHM licenses with enterprise-grade CentOS
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $19.99
Money Back Guarantee 90 days
Disk Space 75 GB - 260 GB SSD
Domain Name New or Transfer
VPS Hosting Plans www.inmotionhosting.com/vps
Our Expert's InMotion Review
Boasting market-leading VPS hardware, slick management software, and free SSD drives and backups, InMotion offers the most attractive VPS plans you'll find anywhere. Each VPS plan comes with free SSD storage arranged in RAID 6,... read more +

Boasting market-leading VPS hardware, slick management software, and free SSD drives and backups, InMotion offers the most attractive VPS plans you'll find anywhere.

Each VPS plan comes with free SSD storage arranged in RAID 6, which is incredibly fast and secure. Each of their plans also come with an awesome amount of RAM for the server cost, so the speed-to-dollar ratio is high with this host.

InMotion’s VPS packages run on CentOS 6 Linux operating systems and all feature a license for cPanel. Each plan also comes with Web Hosting Management (WHM) software, making it super-easy to resell some unused server resources.

InMotion's reputation for uptime is second-to-none, with a solid track record as a large-scale VPS host and a large, friendly support team available at any time.

Lastly, InMotion has a 90-day money-back guarantee and offers a choice of datacenters, which are nice customer-centric features. Their support is top-notch and 24 hours. We highly recommend you check them out if you are looking for a VPS with great hardware and reseller options at a low price.

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If you’ve outgrown the shared hosting environment, but are not quite ready for the cost of a dedicated server, VPS hosting is an option that gives you tons of resources and lots of control over them.

And Many Other Hosting Types

While shared, virtual, and dedicated server hosting are the three main leagues of web hosts, many subsets have spiraled off of them. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular offshoots of standard web hosting:

  • WordPress hosting is for those specifically using WordPress as their platform of choice in building their site. These hosting plans offer features like 1-click WordPress installations, multiple WordPress sites on the same domain, and built-in caching compatible with the WordPress platform.
  • eCommerce hosting is for website owners who are looking to sell products to visitors directly from their website. Therefore, eCommerce hosts typically enable quick shopping cart setups, easy acceptance of credit cards on the site, and many other features that enable online sales to take place on your website 24/7/365.
  • Domain hosting and email hosting are for those looking for a hosting provider to host their domain name (e.g., mysite.com) or email account (e.g., name@mysite.com). These niche hosting services can be found in the shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting buckets.
  • Managed hosting is a service that takes care of the hardware, leaving you to manage the software. Newbies, don’t let the words hardware and software scare you off. Most shared hosts serve as a managed hosting service; they maintain updates, bug fixes, and repairs to the server and operating system, so you’re free to focus on your content management system or blog platform (i.e., Drupal, WordPress, or Magento). Managed hosting becomes especially helpful for VPS users or dedicated server customers who are not quite ready — either don’t have the time or don’t have the knowledge — to manage their system themselves. Why not have some always-on-call experts do it for you? It can get pricey, but many say the payoff is worth it.

4. Features of a Good Host

When I started writing this, I thought I’d put some perspective on the table. I wanted to look at how many web hosts there are in the world and then dive into how to weed out the amaze-balls hosts from the duds. As it turns out, I couldn’t find a definitive stat on the number of hosting providers worldwide — there are that many — which perhaps supports my point even more.

With the ridiculous volume of hosts to choose from, we need some metrics for narrowing down the list. Some key buzzwords to look for are uptime, disk space, money-back guarantee, and reviews.

Uptime

Don’t over-think this. Uptime is exactly what it sounds like: the amount of time your site will be up (or online) on average when hosted by a given provider. So if a host touts 100% uptime, they’re saying that your site will never go down. Now, realistically this is improbable. At the very least, hosts actually have to schedule downtime for maintenance, plus accidents and system shortages happen. In reality, 99.9% is pretty much an industry standard and five nines (99.999%) is considered very, very, very good for an uptime guarantee.

Disk Space

Disk space is the amount of storage space you’re allotted with a host. The amount of disk space you need depends on the amount of content, files, and overall data you plan on storing on the server. Typically, shared users are going to be fine with a minimum of 20 gigabytes of storage. Many shared hosts will actually promise unlimited storage too.

A Note About “Unlimited” Storage

Note that while this sounds über appealing, “unlimited” or “unmetered” storage actually has a limit. Yes, this is what one might call the fine print of the hosting world: unlimited hosting really means you can use as many resources as you want — to a point — which varies from host to host.

Think coupons for a minute. Shoppers see a sign for Buy One, Get One FREE and they go bananas. Who doesn’t love BOGO? Well, just because my dark chocolate peanut M&Ms are BOGO doesn’t mean I can buy as many bags as it takes to fill my 1-bedroom apartment. That would be over-doing it. My cat would complain. This is why limits exist.

Usually, if you exceed whatever said limit is with your host, it’s a sign that your site is starting to outgrow its current environment. Really good hosts will point this out to you and walk you through the scaling process — whether you’re a shared user who’s ready for a VPS or a cloud customer in need of dedicated resources.

What are SSDs?

It’s worth noting that there are also two types of hard drives that your host could provide you with for storage purposes: standard hard drives and solid-state drives (SSDs). Both of these drives are just the disks (of the aforementioned “disk space”) that house the content, files, and data your website will need stored. SSDs are a highly-performant type of drive that use what’s called flash memory — but all you need to know is that they help websites load (show up in your browser) really really quickly.

What is RAID?

Last thing on storage: Your hard drives can be configured so that one drive’s failure doesn’t take down your entire system. As you’re perusing web hosts, you may come across the terms “advanced configuration” or “RAID” with various numerals to follow. Don’t fret. You don’t really need to know about this when picking a host at the beginner level, but if you’re curious, read on.

The advanced configuration options are done using a technology known as RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks). RAID groups many drives into one. Three popular configurations are RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 5, outlined in the image below.

These RAID configurations affect the speed and manner in which the drives read and write the data they exchange. Advanced configurations with RAID can optimize your drive’s read and write speeds, but it should hold very little bearing on which host is the right fit for you. At least now you can say you recognize the random array of letters if they come up in your research.

Money-Back Guarantee

This is pretty self-explanatory, but money-back guarantees are key in web hosting.

When you sign up with a host, you’re embarking on the start of what will hopefully turn into a fruitful partnership. A host that doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee is more of a gamble than a host that is so confident in their services that they’re willing to reimburse you if you’re dissatisfied in the beginning.

That being said, a host with no applicable money-back offering isn’t necessarily of poor quality. Hosts that do offer this feature just come with a zero risk for signup appeal.

Good Reviews

When pulling the trigger on a web host, do your research. What’s being said about them? It’s well worth your while to check out their reviews online, but be aware that customer reviews are essentially hearsay and not always the most reliable. Remember that the loudest voice in the room is often negative. When was the last time you were really happy with your bank teller and decided to hop online and rave about their customer service on Yelp? If the answer is anything other than “never,” you’re a really great person, but you’re also the exception.

As in any other case where you’re seeking guidance or direction, you should turn to someone who knows a lot more about hosting than you do for assistance when choosing a web host. For example, a team with over 50 years combined experience in hosting and tech-related fields would be an excellent confidant.

In case it wasn’t obvious, that’s us! Check out our reviews of web hosts here. We signed up for accounts with each of the best hosts to do our testing, and we’ve considered everything from cost to uptime in putting together our ratings.

5. Will a Host Build My Site?

Hosts generally don’t build websites for their customers. Instead, they focus on the technology and support needed to keep websites up and running.

However, some hosts offer very simple drag-and-drop website builders. These website builders are easy-to-use tools that allow you to construct a site without any coding knowledge. Their drag-and-drop, or WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), interfaces allow you to simply move around site elements with your mouse using any of a number of beautiful templates. You can also type in wording, change fonts, and place pictures very easily without being tech savvy.

Want to build your own site in minutes with a drag-and-drop tool? These are our top recommendations for hosts with amazing website builders:

WEBSITE BUILDER RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • No coding skills needed with drag-and-drop website builder
  • 100s of templates with industry-specific designs
  • Add features via the App Market
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $5.00
Money Back Guarantee 14 days
Disk Space 500 MB - 20 GB
Domain Name Transfer
Website Builder Hosting Plans www.wix.com/site-builder

Our Expert's Wix Review

Website building is where Wix shines. The thousands of templates, the intuitive editor, the industry-leading designs that cater to a variety of specific fields and use cases — all these facets represent a platform that... read more +

Website building is where Wix shines. The thousands of templates, the intuitive editor, the industry-leading designs that cater to a variety of specific fields and use cases — all these facets represent a platform that excels at facilitating easy web design for the non-tech-savvy user. Sign up with your Facebook account or email address and get started for free.

I'll admit, the Wix Editor may appear daunting when you first meet it, but get to know the interface. Once you familiarize yourself with the environment, you'll realize that what first comes across as overwhelming is actually empowering — the customization functionalities to be had are many, and they're awesome. There's no need for coding of any kind. Just drag and drop elements of your new site and BAM: What You See Is What You Get (i.e., Wix is a WYSIWYG website builder!).

You don't have to design your website from scratch with Wix, though blank templates are available. There are thousands of templates, each one categorized by design need and further classified into industry niches, and the site's look can be molded to match your brand or personality very easily. Layout and design options include parallax themes (where the viewer scrolls down the screen and one page rolls seamlessly into the next), custom sliders, multiple columns, mobile-specific and mobile-responsive displays, and tons of button and menu navigation tricks.

While Wix isn't our favorite host in terms of expert support or top-of-the-line hardware, it's an industry-leading platform for website building. It's popular for many reasons: the simple startup process, the ease of use, the array of customization options, and the WYSIWYG results, as examples. Its reputation precedes it, and we can totally see where the rave reviews are coming from.

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WEBSITE BUILDER RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Choice of Weebly or WebsiteBuilder by iPage
  • #1 Pick for WYSIWYG site building with FREE domain
  • 100s of professionally designed, customizable themes
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $1.99
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space 100 GB - Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Website Builder Hosting Plans www.ipage.com/site-builder

Our Expert's iPage Review

Do you want your website built today? If you answered "yes," you should look no further than iPage. In fact, it's possible for you to be online before you even finish reading this article. Thanks... read more +

Do you want your website built today? If you answered "yes," you should look no further than iPage. In fact, it's possible for you to be online before you even finish reading this article. Thanks to iPage's user-friendly interface, instant provisioning, and free domain name, you can have a live, attractive website in mere minutes.

For those that have been around the Web for a while, you may remember when it took a day to get your server online; thankfully those days are gone. Your site is live the second you complete your order with iPage. A domain name is also included, so the ordeal of purchasing a domain name, setting name servers, and waiting for them to propagate is also extinct. Once that's completed, you are taken to the incredibly user-friendly interface, where you can begin your site creation process.

Powered by their own proprietary builder, iPage's WebsiteBuilder makes it easy to have a professional-looking site created in minutes. It all starts with your choice of template — with hundreds of options available. From there, you can customize color schemes, fonts, and sizes, and add your own pictures and videos. Adding forms for comments, RSVPs, or business contacts is just as simple. Before you know it, you have an attractive, functional website.

From the ease of use to the speed at which you are able to get a site live, iPage leaves us with little doubt as to why we've ranked them #1 on our list of web hosts with site builder functionality. An already incredible value, their 30-day money-back guarantee means that you can feel at ease knowing that iPage stands behind its product, and they're confident that you will be happy with their service.

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WEBSITE BUILDER RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Integration with Fotolia and Flickr image databases
  • Pre-built and customizable content with GridBlocks
  • Responsive themes with tablet and mobile editing views
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $3.49
Money Back Guarantee 90 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Website Builder Hosting Plans www.inmotionhosting.com/boldgrid

Our Expert's BoldGrid Review

After taking the BoldGrid suite of plugins for a test drive, we experienced how they make WordPress more accessible for beginners and much more efficient for professional developers. Because BoldGrid requires a separate hosting account... read more +

After taking the BoldGrid suite of plugins for a test drive, we experienced how they make WordPress more accessible for beginners and much more efficient for professional developers.

Because BoldGrid requires a separate hosting account and WordPress installation, it is a little more challenging for wide-eyed beginners to get started than it is for other website builders. However, by signing up with a reputable host — we recommend BoldGrid partner InMotion Hosting — you'll be equipped with a helpful support staff to lead you through the setup process.

BoldGrid themes are beautiful, modern, responsive, and come with usable content out of the box. Choose from pre-made page layouts or create your own using GridBlocks, which create clean, modular designs without any coding. Simply drag and drop each element to adjust its position and size. Unlike most other site builders, BoldGrid generates pristine code that is friendly to SEO and developers who want more control.

The two features most appealing to us, however, are the staging environment and editing capabilities for mobile and tablet views. The lack of a staging area has long been one of the few complaints about WordPress, and BoldGrid has solved that issue with aplomb. Use it to test new looks, plugins, or updates before you deploy them to the active site.

Although many other site builder themes boast mobile-optimized responsiveness, BoldGrid is one of the few platforms that give you control over exactly how your site will look in tablet or mobile modes.

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Additionally, many of these hosts will offer 1-click installations for popular platforms like Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, or Magento, which I’d say are one step up from the host’s native web builders. They can be a bit more challenging — not impossible, you just have to be willing to learn — but they can also offer more flexibility and functionality when constructing your dream site.

Get Started — Set Up Hosting In 4 Minutes

Now that you know web hosting inside and out, you’re ready to fire up a server to host your new website. What’s even better is that you can actually be up and running in as little as four minutes! Hopefully the deer-in-headlights look has faded from your eyes as you’re browsing the Web and/or pondering your fate as a future website owner.

Equipped with the simply-put expertise of this article, you can do this — and I wish you all the best of luck on your journey toward website ownership.

Get Started With One of 2017’s Best Hosts »

While this beginner’s guide has hopefully cut down on the number of question marks floating through your brain, I know there are sure to be more down the road. I’d implore you to check out our self-proclaimed-but-aptly-so World’s Best Basics Guide to Web Hosting for a more advanced understanding of web hosting. Plus, you’ll get to meet our beloved mascot: Hosty!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexandra Leslie

Alexandra Leslie serves as Tech Vertical Manager of Digital Brands Inc, spearheading the charge to deliver technical expertise and thought leadership to our rapidly growing audience of developers, engineers, and website owners here at HostingAdvice. You'll find her engaging with leaders in web hosting and tangentially related industries, enjoying honest discussions of their cutting-edge technologies. She loves getting her hands dirty with comprehensive reviews of popular hosting platforms and services, and she's a die-hard WordPress fan. Alexandra leads the HostingAdvice team with a passion for translating technical jargon into digestible action items anyone can use to build, monetize, and scale a web presence.