It wouldn’t be surprising if for many, web development (including design) and web hosting are not that closely related. Even those who have some intermediate knowhow about the technical aspects of creating a website don’t pay that much attention to their relationship. Web hosting and web development, though, have some links website owners should examine. It makes sense keeping your website development up with your web hosting, vice versa.
Modern Web Hosting Features
To better understand the idea of taking advantage of new web hosting features in the context of web development, it helps getting acquainted with some of the most important features of modern web hosting. What are these features you should be making the most of with respect to web design?
- Support for the Programming Language You Want – Whether you want PHP, Ruby on Rails, or Python, it’s important to make sure that the web host you choose supports the server-side software you want to use.
- FTP Access – Some web hosts limit access to the servers by only providing a web form interface. FTP access is the opposite of this limitation. It provides greater and freer access to the servers.
- SSH Access or Shell Access – This feature provides access directly from the server. It is also an excellent way for testing CGI scripts.
- .htaccess Support – This provides the ability to add .htaccess files to site directories. An Apache server configuration file, .htaccess enables password protection for directories, the redirecting of pages, and rewriting of URLs.
- Database – The database feature of a web host enables the development of dynamic websites.
- Control Panel – This is the interface through which you can maintain your website, providing access to permissions, dot-files, and other administrative commands.
- Mobile App for Web Server Access – It’s a given that websites at present should be designed with mobile-friendliness in mind. However, it would be an added advantage having a mobile app or a mobile-optimized interface for accessing site administration.
- Data Center Location – your audience’s location in respect to where the server is hosted, affects how fast will the site load up. A web hosting data center that is purpose built to serve your core audience will provide better speeds to local users entering your site.
These modern web hosting features create greater and exciting possibilities for websites. Gone are the days when decorative animations had to rely on animated GIFs or when websites were boring static pages with nothing but texts, links, buttons, and a few images. Nowadays, especially with updated programming languages, better and more visually attractive sites can be developed. That’s why if you are choosing a web host, be sure to pick one that has most if not all of the features mentioned above.
Design Possibilities with Your Web Host
The three programming languages commonly used for modern websites have led to highly functional, easy to use, and attractive sites. PHP, for example, is the programming language behind heavyweights like Wikipedia, Facebook, and Yahoo. Ruby is what powers Twitter, Slideshare, Groupon, and Hulu. Python, on the other hand, is responsible for sites like YouTube, Google, and Reddit.
If your web host supports the aforementioned programming languages, you can do more than just a blog, community/organization page, or personal site. Of course, you also need to learn how to use them or you can hire someone who knows how to use them. But indeed, you can do more with your website with the right programming language support.
On the other hand, FTP access, Shell access, .htaccess support, the control panel, and the availability of a mobile app for server access are things you can take advantage as you build your site. With these available, it becomes faster and easier to put up your site according to your preferences.
Moreover, database support in concert with server and client side scripting, allows you to upgrade from a static website to something dynamic. A dynamic website is one that that is interactive or something that changes depending on various factors. For example, it allows the creation of user accounts, the posting of comments, and changing of site language. A dynamic website can also automatically adjust its contents based on the location of the visitor accessing it. It can allow visitors to log in and see personalized content.
You also have to take advantage of other features like the ability to set up a forum or bulletin board. A forum can make a site more engaging. It can help bring repeat visitors to the site. Similarly, if your web host lets you easily set up an online store, you may want to use this feature.
What to Do?
We have to concede that this post is rather difficult to frame. After reading the title and the earlier parts of the content, it may not be that clear to you what this post aims to achieve. The main point of doing this post, though, is simply to impart the following ideas:
- You need to take advantage of what your web host is able to provide, to make the most of its feature set.
- However, you ideally have to come up with your design or site concept first and choose your web host, instead of doing it the other way around. It does not make much sense creating a website only to make do with what your web host is able to support.
- Making the most of your web hosting is not about making do with what your host provides. It’s about taking advantage of greater and better design possibilities not because you are stuck with a certain web host, but because you are underusing the features of your web host.
Ascertain that your web hosting service provider delivers fast load times, good customer support, and a good price. However, don’t forget to examine other features offered by the web host that can enhance your site. As much as possible, take advantage of everything there is the sign provides or supports. Develop a site that is not only fast and intuitive but also engaging, exciting, and visually appealing.