Avoiding Feature Overload

A common problem facing many beginners as they search for a website is knowing exactly what they do and do not need for their hosting package. The variety of features offered by many companies can be overwhelming and leave you either paying too much for features you don’t need, or not getting enough features and having to pay extra in the long run. However, there are ways to make sure you are getting exactly what you need, which we will detail below.

First, you will need to decide what you want to do with your site ahead of time. This will help you figure out what you will need to make it run the way you want it to. Do you only need a family website that will contain a few pictures and very little updating? In this case, you would only need to find a basic hosting package that offered the ability to FTP or upload your files and a regular amount of disk space. A personal website may only need around 10 megs of disk space, or less, depending on the amount and size of any pictures that will be used.

If you are planning on running a site that will have more content, or will be offering products for sale, you will need a little bit more features, such as a shopping cart and a way to process orders. Most companies are offering free shopping carts with their ecommerce packages, so you will be able to find what you need, at a great a price.

Second, do you plan on running high-end applications on your website? If you don’t know what PHP or .ASP mean and have no intention of learning what they do mean, then you will not need a server that offers the ability to run either one. These are scripting languages that are used by sites that need to serve a lot of content or run extensive applications. Again, if your site is just a personal or informational site, you generally wouldn’t need these kinds of features.

Now, you will need to decide if a lot of bells and whistles are really necessary for your site. This is where you will need to take what you plan to do and how you plan to use your site over a specified period of time to see if you will even need these features. If you don’t plan on ever using them within the next six months, you can usually do without them.

Will you need a guestbook or a counter for your site? These are nice little utilities that are normally packaged in with even basic sites and can be very useful. Instead of having a high-powered message board interface for a simple site, you can usually use a guestbook instead. This will allow your visitors to post a message to you and you can respond in kind. A simple counter is easier for a smaller site to use than a lot of analysis tools that are not necessary.

Just try to think of how you plan to use your site and what you want it to do in the future, and you’ll be able to narrow down the feature list into a more manageable and sensible list that will help you make your decision.

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Posted on 12/14/05 10:05 PM

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