Is there still a need for a homepage in this day and age where you can have online profiles with Facebook, Twitter and Google+?
If someone wants to publish articles, should you run your own blog or create one on Blogger or Tumblr?
I don’t know anymore. Every time my domain comes up for renewal or my hosting provider subscription/contract ends, I am always bothered with this question. I like having my own domain, at least as a tech professional, as it makes it sound like at least you know something and not relying completely on someone else for 100% of your needs. Then again, my situation changes every couple of years and I reevaluate what I want to do “now”. Originally, I ran a small Linux box at home with a dynamic dns service so I could have a webpage and eventually web-based email. Years later, after my ISP quit allowing it without upgrading to a business account, I went and got my own domain and service with various providers (Fat Cow, 1 & 1 and most recently Hostlatte) and generally I have been satisfied with the services provided but it has come down to a simple question: how much do I need and how much do I want to pay for it as a result.
That’s simple: basic web page to say I am here and this is who I am. Anything above and beyond is icing on the cake, as they say. My last homepage iteration I opted from doing everything hand coded to using Joomla as my CMS so that reduced my coding needs but to do video I need a plugin and if I wanted to do a blog, I needed to setup categories and that just slowed me down as I did updates so infrequently that it took me longer to remember and relearn the process then to actually put out content. I wanted something simple and light weight with the ability to also be usable on mobile.
That one’s a bit more complicated. Sure sites built on Wix or Squarespace look amazing and are known for great service but am I going to get enough need out of paying $120 a year for a site that maybe gets updated 2-5 times a year. Ok, so go more traditional hosting where I was finding packages for as little as $1 a month plus my domain name fees. Well that’s more reasonable but then I have to worry about virus scans since it’s shared hosting, storage or bandwidth limitations, oh, and you want a secure connection just in case, that’s more too. UGH!
My final decision, at least as of this writing, is going in all Google. My domain is serviced by Google Domains and my basic site is hosted on Google Sites. Is it the prettiest thing in the world? No. Is it the most dynamic looking site with animated backgrounds and changing pictures depending on where on I am on the page? No. Is it an economical way to host a site with good response speed, secure connections and meet my basic needs? Yes. And, at the end of the day, it’s mine and it works. Who knows, in a little over a year when my domain is about to expire, maybe I’ll find something else or want something more; until then, this will do.
Google sites ended up having issues with making dynamic pages, in my opinion, to do what I wanted. Moved site over to Blogger and that worked for the most part though I really wanted more (collapsible menus and not the big focus on the blog post). I am now trialing moving my site to Weebly; if I stay, I will be upgrading to the Starter plan as it does what I want, has the dynamic changes for different platforms that I want and the most reasonable prices so far. My only hesitation right now is if I had more traffic, I would foresee paying for the service but my small usage right now, to me, does not justify the price.
Moved site back to Google Sites as they have updated the tools to make the sites much more dynamic and simple – exactly what I was looking for. Still playing with some formatting but liking what I am seeing so far. Once they integrate Blogger natively, that should all I need. As much as I liked Weebly, this was just way simpler, even with the link to get others to sign up for Google Sites.
Oh, never happy. The Google sites worked but just wasn’t happy that the domain name was basically all redirects within DNS. Tried WordPress.com site, liked the look I could get but unless I really wanted features, had to pay up. Since I have a small site, tried on FreeHosting.host to see what I could do. Worked but if I did ANY work, I got notices that I had exceeded my allotment of CPU and was being throttled. Ended up keeping Google Domains for domain registration and have site hosted on Hostapolis.com with additional security via Let’s Encrypt SSL cert and CloudFlare with DNSSEC back to Google Domains.
Hostapolis.com has had some odd issues as of late (Jetpack has been detecting slow or no page loads and offline at random times for various periods of time). I will continue to monitor and if performance degrades too much, I will be switching. They also switched from Let’s Encrypt to Comodo for their SSL certificates. I was told it would transition automatically; it did not for my main certificates. I ended up figuring out how to delete the legacy Let’s Encrypt certificates which allowed the CPANEL certificates from Comodo to then create and load. Once done, SSL was working again (good thing I checked). Also, moved DNS registration to Cloudflare as they were cheaper and, since I was using them as my free CDN, I figured why not. Process was completed in minutes (it probably would have been faster if I didn’t stop to read all the screens to make sure i did not mess something up).