Hosting & Platform Options

If you’re looking into creating a new website, key elements are your hosting and platform. A lot of people get confused between their hosting solutions, platform systems, and domain names, so first, I’ll address those individual items.

In order to make things a bit more easily understood, let’s equate your website to an Ace Hardware store. It’s not a perfect metaphor, but it comes close.

  • Domain Name: Think of this as the equivalent to a store’s name. It doesn’t hold anything, but, rather, acts as a way to tell people what’s in the building. So the sign that says “Ace Hardware” that hangs on the front of the store is very similar to a domain name. It’s sole purpose is to simply name the building and tell people what’s inside.
  • Platform System: This can be a number of different systems, including WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc. It can also simply be a static website. Basically, this is the equivalent of your store front. This is what you see on your website: your show room. And the elements of your show room are going to be dictated by what is your warehouse (you’re not going to show anything that you don’t have stocked in the warehouse right?)
  • Hosting Platform: Finally, this is the warehouse piece of your store. This is where all your data and files are actually stored. And because this is the web, instead of having someone constantly doing inventory, your website automatically figures out if you’re out of a particular item and removes it from the store front.

I hope that gives you a better idea of how a website’s key elements interact with one another. If you’re looking to create a website, you should ensure that you understand these key elements as, if something goes wrong in your website, this knowledge is indispensable when pinpointing where the issue is occurring.


The first thing you’re going to want to do when getting your website up and running is decide what platform you want to use. I’m going to briefly cover the platforms with which I am familiar and give you a quick pro/con take on each of them.


WordPress is ideal for text-based websites. Your design will not be limited by WordPress. It uses PHP as its core structure and, as it is open source software, has huge support forums which can help you troubleshoot and/or create almost anything. Plugins are virtually unlimited and allow for an infinite number of customizations. WordPress is updated constantly, so it is constantly improving.

WordPress plugins can be created and published by anyone who wishes to do so. This often means the plugins do not work with various WordPress versions and or have glitches, so it’s important to do your research before choosing to use any specific plugin. WordPress is not the best platform for eCommerce as database integration and custom shopping cart functionality often requires core editting, which prevents updates and overall makes for a potentially messy structure.


Drupal is the go-to eCommerce platform. Shopping cart functionality, user logins, product variations, etc. are standard elements in Drupal. Also utilizing PHP as its core structure, Drupal allows for complete design freedom. Like WordPress, it is open source software, so it has a wealth of information on its forum to help you in whatever you may need. Modules are slightly limited, but often more reliable than those of WordPress.

Drupal is meant to be developed by programmers. It’s structure is complex and can be overwhelming for even experienced front-end developers.

Big Commerce

Big Commerce is an eCommerce platform. It is self-hosted and was created with the intention of being used by the common store owner. The site allows for gift certificates, shopping cart customization, shipping tax variations, product variations, etc. without any customization to the core whatsoever. The platform comes with hundreds of custom templates from which to choose and modify to meet your specific needs.

Big Commerce may limit your design, in that making various areas editable could become a challenge. Custom module and plugins are virtually non-existent and therefore, areas which might have been user-editable with the implementation of a module might need to be included in the core template files, which are customizable through their design area.


Hosting is going to be an incredibly important aspect of your website (it holds all your data), so it’s essential you choose a provider that’s reliable and easily accessible. If something goes wrong with your site, you’re going to want a company that can, at the very least, answer the phone when you call. Go Daddy and Network Solutions are both great hosting providers; they are affordable and provide excellent customer service. Additionally, the people you speak with generally know what they’re doing and can help you out sometimes even if the issue isn’t with your host.

What is imperative to remember about hosting is that certain hosting platforms require different servers. For example, WordPress requires a Linux server with PHP and MySql capabilities. And Big Commerce is self hosted, so you’ll only need a domain if you’ve chosen that as your platform. So be sure to check your platform requirements before purchasing your hosting solutions.

I hope that’s helped explain the various options you have for your website, but feel free to let me know if you would like something else covered. Additionally, I’m always looking for new topic ideas, so include those if you feel so inclined!