There used to be a time choosing a hosting plan was way down on the list of priorities when it came to creating and launching a new website.
Back in the day, websites were largely static affairs. More often than not, they existed as a bunch of independent pages designed using an offline editor like Dreamweaver, or even the humble, bare-bones Notepad, then strung together using a series of links. Only once everything looked good and seemed to work fine would website owners hit the ‘net in search of some web hosting.
Early days of hosting
Providing a hosting plan was affordable and reliable enough, there wasn’t too much else to consider. If you found a deal that suited, it was simply a case of signing up, configuring an FTP client, and uploading the site.
Nor did web hosting play a particularly big role in the lifespan of a given site. As long as it didn’t experience any major downtime or other serious flaws, users could quite happily manage a site on their local hard drive, FTP any changes, and never even think about logging into their hosting account again until it was time to renew.
But of course, that was then, and this is now. As the Internet began to change, so too did the role of top hosting companies.
Evolution of the Internet
Over a relatively short period of time, always-on broadband and far-reaching WIFi access began to infiltrate many of our lives, bringing with it a move towards working online. Whereas once upon time users had little choice but to install programs on their computers to carry out most tasks, they soon began to find that it was much easier -and often more affordable- to do much of that work online.
The same was true of the way website owners developed and maintained their websites. No longer needing to tie themselves down to one computer to do much of their work, people wanted the same kind of approach to looking after their websites.
Thankfully, the hosting companies were there to provide, and in doing so, radically changed their role in the whole process of building and managing a website.
One-stop shops for webmasters
No longer a mere afterthought, no longer a set-it-and-largely-forget it service running quietly in the background, major players in the hosting industry like GoDaddy, iPage and Bluehost took on a whole new lease of life as central figures in the success and longevity of the sites they housed.
Today, as customers look to build their websites online, choosing a hosting company is often the first -rather than the last- thing they think about. They may look at whether their potential new host can hold its own in providing adequate support for content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal.
They may look at whether the company provides an inbuilt website creator, saving them the hassle of building a website in one place and housing it in another, or they may even look at whether or not a hosting company can take care of the whole process of building a site for them.
For their part, the hosts themselves do more than just that. Serving as a complete resource for website owners, many leading industry names are constantly evolving and expanding their product offer.
From domain name registration to support with online marketing and that all important Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), site owners are now logging onto their hosting platform to use it as the hub of their entire online operation. A far cry then, from the days when hosting companies were about as low down on most folks’ priorities as it got.