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Tucson, Arizona, United States
I work as Panther Peak Bindery and am a bookbinder, conservator and instructor working outside Tucson, Arizona for individual and institutional clients across the country. I am a two term President of the Guild of Book Workers, was a Fulbright Scholar, taught at North Bennet Street School for over nine years and was the fastest in my middle school class at running up and down a flight of stairs (really!).

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Monday, September 26, 2016

web hosting comparisons, or stop throwing money away

Simplicity is a wonderful thing.  There's so much in life to grab our attention and time and finding simple solutions can be like a breath of fresh air.  Sometimes it can even save money, like when you buy both popcorn and a drink at a movie and save a buck.  That’s when you know society has reached its zenith.

The popular trend in websites has been web based programs like Squarespace, Wix or Weebly. There are several others as well.  I think they are popular because they are simple for two reasons.  One, they rely on templates so there is no need to figure out how you want your site to look.  Secondly, they require you to place your site on their hosting service.  Often there is no charge to create your site, instead they charge for making the site available to the world.

Now, everyone has their own motivations, points of view, and priorities. Thus they make different decisions. I suppose that’s part of what makes life so much fun and so diverse.

When I had to rebuild my site when Freeway went out of business I looked into many options.  I did the same test I had done when I went to Freeway, I spent two hours on various programs and saw how intuitive they were, what they could and could not and considered their cost.

I was not interested in a template driven site because it seemed much more work fitting my site into someone else’s vision.  I think both iWeb and Freeway had made me crave total control over my site, something that a template could never provide.

I experimented with Blocs, which seemed like it was half template driven in that one built a site by adding blocks of content onto a page.  Nice idea, but not for me even though it is pretty modifiable, if that’s a word. RapidWeaver was template driven.  Wordpress seems popular because so many people use it, not because it’s all that great. Or so it seemed, at least when I wasn’t reading about how its security had more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

As I wrote a few weeks back I found Sparkle which didn’t take two hours to figure out it was perfect for me.  It has free templates available but they are not necessary and I think they are available because some people feel they them.  After about fifteen minutes I had it mostly figured out, it was really no different than creating a Pages or Keynote document.

But then I looked into the cost of web based programs and stand alone programs.  Not because I was going to consider Squarespace and the others but I wondered how much folks were paying for their simplicity.  It ends up that it’s like paying triple for a popcorn/soda combo in exchange for a sense of ease.

But, to me, it’s not more simple than Sparkle at all unless you have a complicated site with lots of e-commerce. Selling a couple of things is pretty simple, like this site: http://kralikarna.com/A/  But if you have a site like Hewit where you are selling a couple of hundred items you would need something more complex than Squarespace as well. 

The real cost of a stand alone program is that you need to find your own hosting site.  I’ve been using MeccaHosting for ten years now.  It did take about five minutes to figure out where and how to post the site.  I know friends who run screaming when they have to learn one more thing to make their phone do something, but the savings in taking that five minutes can be substantial.

But maybe that’s the question:  what are you willing to do in order to use a self standing program which is easier to use than a template but that requires you to spend five or ten minutes finding and setting up a hosting site?  

The cost breakdowns are below.  I selected the hosting options which were most comparable with my needs and what I'm getting currently with my program and hosting site.

Sparkle & MeccaHosting

Sparkle does not come with attached web hosting. Sparkle is $80. MeccaHosting (whose support is as fast as Sparkle, meaning they almost answer before you hit “send” on your question) charges $5 a month for hosting and $2.50 for email. There is no question that Sparkle updates will add some to this expense over five and ten years.

The numbers:

Year 1:                              $170  (80 for Sparkle;  60 hosting;  30 email)      

Year 2:                               $90  (60 hosting;  30 email)                                             

After five years:                 $440                                                                             

After ten years:                  $985                                                           


Squarespace

This is template driven and one uses their hosting service in exchange for the program.  I chose the level that I would need for my business site.  Email is, I think, 50 a year.

Year 1:                               $266  (216 hosting; 50 email)    
                                                                       
After five years:                 $1330                                                                                  

After ten years                    $2660                                                                                   


Wix

Same as Squarespace. Templates, need to use their hosting service.  Email is also 50 a year.

Year 1                                $254 (204 hosting; 50 email)     

After five years:                 $1270                                     

After ten years:                  $2540                                 


Weebly

Templates, need to use their hosting service.  I think it includes email.

Year 1                                 $300 hosting                                                                             

After five years                   $1550                                                                 

After ten years                    3000                                                                



I find all these questions interesting.  A bit of a personality flaw, I'm afraid.  Personally, if I can have more creative freedom with less effort and can save a chunk of money at the same time, well, that’s for me.  Clearly others have divergent views, and good on them! 

For me, I’d rather spend my money on a vacation.  


My post on finding a new web design program can be found by clicking here.

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