Online presence is important for businesses; and to improve your brand’s online presence, you need a website. If you’re a small business and budget is an issue (as it usually is), web hosting presents a cost-effective option so you can get your website up as soon as possible. There are also free web hosting services available if you’re looking to dip your toes first into the realm of website development before making a full commitment to sign up for anything.
Free web hosting services are like starter kits for websites. They are ideal for beginners and individuals who have little to no web design and development experience. These platforms offer ready-made website templates so all you need to do is to add your unique content and visuals, make adjustments to the site menu as needed and you’re good to go.
There is a very low cost of entry into these platforms so you get to play around with a few design options to familiarize yourself with the complexities of building a website. This will come in handy when you finally move on to paid web hosting accounts. The prospect of creating your site wouldn’t seem so daunting anymore.
Free website hosting offers limited customization options because it is meant to perform as an introductory service. Under this service, the web host’s name is included in your site’s domain name. A domain on a free web hosting service would read something like [yourname.webhostname.com]. It’s not an ideal setup for a professional website but it will suffice as a starting point.
Many free web hosting platforms also offer limited options in terms of website templates. Some web hosts claim to have thousands of templates in their collection but about 90% of these would be locked and inaccessible to free accounts. Rarely will you find web hosting sites such as Strikingly that will make most of their collection of templates available even for free web hosting accounts.
With a paid website hosting service, you get access to numerous templates and a wider range of customization options. You get a personalized domain name that does not have to include the web host’s name and you have more freedom to play around with styles and design elements on your site. Want to change to a custom color scheme? Website hosting services allow you to add in your own CSS or HTML code to make your site more unique.
With free web hosting, you’re essentially sharing your space with the web host. Expect to see their logo somewhere on your website and, as earlier mentioned, their name will be included on your URL. Communicating a consistent brand and maintaining a unique identity may become a bit challenging.
Aside from limited customization options, free website hosting may limit the number of pages you can make under one domain. If you’re just starting out, a one-page website may be more than what you will need to get your message out to the world. In fact, many brands have sufficiently survived on a one-page website for a significant period. You just need to be creative in terms of how you craft your content so it’s punchy yet concise.
Strikingly’s free web hosting platform is great for one-page websites because it comes with apps and extensions that can help you create a fully-functional site that is just as good as multi-page websites. A lot of businesses are not bothered by the page limits as much as the shared branding. However, if you’re looking to scale up and you expect to put out a huge volume of content as your company grows, you might want to consider upgrading to a paid web hosting account eventually.
Customer Support Options
Customer support options vary across different web hosting platforms. And you’ll also notice that the differences in support may differ between paid and free accounts within these platforms. Strikingly, for instance, offers 24/7 customer support through chat, even for free account users. With that said, it’s important to set realistic expectations about support options if you’re looking into maintaining a free website hosting account.
To sum it up, free website hosting and paid plans serve different purposes. One is not necessarily better than the other, especially if you’re building your website through a reliable web hosting platform. It all depends on your requirements and your purposes for building a website in the first place.