Figuring out how and where to host (where all of your files are going to be stored) your site can seem a bit overwhelming. With so many options out there, it can be a bit of a daunting task trying to decide which route to go. Here are some things to think about when going to choose your host and some examples of who hosts a few currently high school sites.
While there are many factors to consider when deciding where to host your site, there are a few major ones that can help you narrow the field quickly.
Host On-site or with a Hosting Provider?
There are pros and cons of each. Hosting on-site would mean that your school district stores all the files on their servers and gives you space. This is a very nice option because it will most likely be free for you. It’s tough to argue with free. However, you may not have control over your web site URL (name). For example, if you want your site to be www.cardinalchronicle.com, you may have to settle for www.nhs.nsd.k12.is.us/cardinalchronicle. That doesn’t really roll off the tongue when you’re trying to tell people about it. Now, there are ways around this to direct people there for your home page, but all inside pages will be stuck with confusing URL. In addition, hosting with the school will also most likely mean you are in frequent contact with school distict tech support. Many distict tech teams are spread pretty thin and bugging them too much about web issues may put you in a category of theirs you don’t want to be in. As a general rule, it’s usually a good thing to stay on the good side of local tech support.
While moving to a hosting provider might cost, it’s relatively cheap and you may even get some added perks like personalized email options. Instead of having people email letters to the editor at email@example.com, you could simply make firstname.lastname@example.org. Hosting providers often offer 24/7 support of one kind or another which can be a big help if you’re in a pinch as well.
How do you choose a provider?
Like everything, no one provider fits everyone’s needs and they all have pros and cons. Therefore, doing a little research is probably a smart thing. Price, whether it’s high or low, is not always an indicator of what kid of service you’re going to get. There are plenty of reviews, comments and forums online where you can find information on hosting providers. One of the best things to do though is just check with other high school media sites that you think work smoothly and ask then who they host with and what kind of experiences they have had.
Will I need a lot of space since the students want to put videos up?
While you will need to factor that into your consideration, there is a way around that. Many sites actually upload their videos to a third party such as Youtube, Vimeo or Schooltube. Those places actually host the video and all you have to do is embedd the video on your site.
Where do some schools currently host?
Broadview – Convent of the Sacred Heart High School (San Francisco, CA): The site was developed using the CMS program Typo3. The Broadview is hosted on the school server and benefited by a “Great IT department. Responds 24/7.”
FHNtoday – Francis Howell North High School (St. Charles, MO): The site was developed using the CMS program Joomla. FHNtoday is hosted by Siteground. Hosting ranges from $5.95-$7.95 per month depending on the length of your contract with them. Comes with plenty of space, 24/7 customer service, unlimited email accounts and more.
HiLite – Carmel High School (Carmel, IN): The site was developed using the CMS program WordPress. HiLite is hosted by Godaddy. Their hosting plan is the 150GB Deluxe Plan where hosting ranges from $5.94-$6.99 depending on the length of your contract. Comes with 500 email accounts, ability to host mutiple sites, unlimited email forwards and more.
Titan Tribune – Heide Trask High School (Rocky Point, NC): This site was develped and hosted at my.hsj.org. Schools fill out an application and gain access to a variety of free tools to build their site. According to my.hsj.org they are “The world’s largest host of teen generated news.” While my.hsj.org’s layouts are not as flexible as other options out there, the price is right and it’s a nice option for many to break into the online arena.
Wells Central School – Wells, NY: This site is hosted at Hostgator. It is on the business plan which runs $12.95 per month. They feel Hostgator has a right mix of price and support. Has Private SSL and Dedicated IP along with Unlimited Space and Email Accounts, as well as a host of other added benefits.
Are there other options?
Yes, there are countless other options out there. Where do you host? What plan do you use? Would you recommend a certain provider over another? Comment below and start the discussion.