Website Services

If you don’t have a website already, there are many ways to develop one. Shared web hosting services with website building tools can have a site ready in less than an hour, while more complex projects with dedicated web hosting may take months.

Shared web hosting, often offering websites in formats akin to blogs, is sufficient for institutions wanting to provide a landing page with information, text, and some images. WordPress, Weebly, and Webflow are examples of shared web hosting services with a blog-like format. These and other similar providers include built-in website building tools that don’t require any expertise. These services are free to use, though access to a fuller range of their features requires a monthly fee. These features can include things like more ways to customize your appearance and content, custom domain names, and additional data storage.

The affordability of shared web hosting comes at the cost of stability and data limits. High-traffic viewership can cause these sites to struggle, though this is not a concern for a site catering to a smaller audience. Those who wish to create a website with better stability, more options to customize, and greater room for uploading images, videos, and other storage-heavy files may opt for Virtual Private Server (VPS) web hosting or dedicated web hosting. These tend to require a larger budget and some training, though online and other short free or affordable tutorials can often suffice for many VPS resources.

When relying on external platforms for web hosting, it is important to review their terms of service thoroughly to ensure they fit your needs. Pay attention to how they manage licensing and how they use your data. It is also important to clearly understand what modes of use they prohibit—violating these terms can result in the loss of lots of work with little warning.

Web hosting options

Shared hostingLow- to no-cost
– Shares physical server and resources with other users
– Good for simple or entry-level sites that include text and some images
– Includes website building tools
– Little to no expertise required
– Vulnerable to issues in speed and stability when heavily trafficked
Virtual private server (VPS) hostingMid- to high-cost
– Shares physical server with other users but has own dedicated resources
– Good for heavily-customized projects
– Some expertise required
– Slightly vulnerable to issues in speed and stability when heavily trafficked
Dedicated server hostingVery high cost
– Physical server exclusive to the user
– Full admin access to customize the entire construction of the site from the ground up
– Expertise from web design and server specialists required
– Additional cost in staffing or services for upkeep
– Most stable

Image hosting options

If more image or video storage is the only is the only premium feature you might need, there are free services that can be used as a supplement to shared hosting. For example, Imgur, while commonly advertised as a viral image browser, also offers unlimited upload space per account and permits hotlinking. There are many paid services that offer more functionality, as well.

Hotlinking, or direct linking to an image on a secondary site, is restricted by some image hosting services, as visits to the secondary site can put strain on the primary site’s server. As mentioned, reviewing a supplementary image hosting site’s terms of service is important before using its images elsewhere.

Hazards of external hosting

Opting to rely on external services for web and image hosting means that your site and content will go down with your service if they run into issues, sometimes permanently. Creating offline backups on physical hard drives along with cloud drives can help mitigate the damage this might cause.

The 3-2-1 backup rule as described in this CO article works as a standard set of practices:

3: Create one primary backup and two copies of your data.

“What Is the 3-2-1 Backup Rule?”, Jessica Elliott for the U.S. Chamber of commerce

When it comes to backups, redundancy is key. Regular and scheduled backups of all institutional data (not just your websites!) can save yourself headaches. Make a checklist of important documents and files to ensure your backup routine becomes consistent—these plans should fit the needs of your institution, its data, and its members.