Can I build a website without hosting?

15 January 2020

Well, the short answer is yes you can build a website without hosting. However, if you are a beginner I would not recommend it, as setting up your computer to work as a hosting server can be very technical.

If you don’t know anything about WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP), you will find it very hard or even impossible to set up a server for hosting, without spending days or even weeks learning these applications and programs. 

If you are an advanced user and know about WAMP, jump onto the resource section. If you are a beginner, good news, there are always affordable options to build and host a website at almost no costs. If you’d rather have a managed server that has almost zero downtime, with regular backups and maintenance, then you’ve come to the right place, have a look at our hosting options. For low cost DIY options, read on.

WordPress.com for your personal blog

If you need to host your website for free on WordPress and don’t really care about having a personalized domain name, you can do it on WordPress.com 

Do not confuse WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.org is a CMS platform which can only work with self-hosted sites meaning you have more customisable functionality and control over your site and your own URL.

If you don’t really want to invest in a web hosting solution, or are just a hobby blogger you can use the free wordpress.com templates, which will give you up to 3GB of disk space and free templates so that you can start right away at no cost.

As compared to self-hosted blogs on wordpress.org or on other CMS’s such as Drupal or Joomla you will not have to perform any maintenance, as wordpress.com will do everything for you.

However, wordpress.com comes with several disadvantages such as:

  • Your website will be hosted on a subdomain such as “example.wordpress.com”
  • You cannot put any ads on the website
  • You cannot add any plugins for customization or upload your own themes
  • The ability to optimise your WordPress for SEO is very limited

WordPress.com does offer more functionality if you upgrade to paid plans starting from between $5 and $59 per month.

You can find hosting plans starting from only a few dollars a month in Australia, so you are likely better off moving to self-hosted plans for the freedom and customisation available to you.

While wordpress.com is a great option for building a website without hosting at almost no cost, we always recommend upgrading to shared hosting to get more functionality once your website grows and have more control over its SEO performance.

Templated website providers and website builders

Another option for building your website without hosting are website builders. When it comes to website builders there are so many options out there from Wix to Weebly, to WordPress to Squarespace, all of which are so good that you will be spoilt for choice.

Apart from providing a ready-made template for you to use to build your website, these companies typically provide hosting for your website and basic maintenance of the server.

Some of these template websites such as Weebly and Wix will allow you to create a website for free. However, you will have to pay more to get more functionality out of your website, or if you intend to migrate to a top-level domain name such as a .com or .org.au.

Template websites are very easy to set up as you can choose from a wide range of templates and customize the colors and fonts to your liking. After setting up, all you would have to do is upload your images and write content and you are good to go. 

 

Templated websites versus custom built websites

While template websites are great when you are starting out and do not have a budget for hosting, a custom build is always better in the long term. 

Template websites have the following weaknesses as compared to custom builds:

Templates are harder to customize and hence you will find it hard to change important website elements. For the most part, templates tend to be what you see is what you get, and hence changing aspects such as layouts may be difficult for a beginner if not impossible. With custom builds you can always change almost anything using shortcodes, plugins and thousands of themes that you can get online.

A template website is not that great for branding given that your template may be used by tens of other websites online. With custom websites, you can always customize your website and make it as unique as possible, which is great for branding.

Pre-made website templates provide significantly less functionality as compared to custom builds. For the most part, you are limited in how much functionality you can add to say a Weebly website as compared to a custom WordPress build, where you can add anything from chat, cart, and forum functionalities among many others.

With premade websites, you have little control over the important technical aspects such as SEO, speed, and performance. Unlike custom builds that can be designed to be lightweight, great for mobile and can also be customized with plugins for performance, you have few options with template sites. Most of the time they have to be used out of the box with little if any customization which can be terrible for user experience and SEO.

 

Resources for advanced users

If you are more tech savvy you can host your website either on your own website using WAMP, XAMPP, LAMP, or MAMP. WAMP stands for Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. MAMP works on Mac OS while XAMPP is a cross-platform software that works on all platforms.

Downloading any of the four will download Apache, MySQL, and PHP (add in Perl for XAMPP) which are the three applications necessary for running a server on your computer. 

There are several guides that will show you how to do this including:

https://www.ionos.com/digitalguide/server/tools/xampp-tutorial-create-your-own-local-test-server/ 

https://skillcrush.com/2015/04/14/install-wordpress-mac/ 

https://www.ionos.com/digitalguide/server/know-how/lamp-servers-the-solution-for-dynamic-websites/ 

https://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-install-wordpress-on-your-windows-computer-using-wamp/

https://www.wpcity.com/install-wordpress-on-windows/

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