“Closed” web hosts vs. “open” frameworks

One challenge to building a mission-critical website on a closed system: Love your web host or leave it… along with their proprietary backend systems that made your site work right and look great (we hope). To move it, you’ll spend the time and cost of re-interpreting the site design and re-implementing its various functions in another system.

Websites running on more-open systems like WordPress can go almost anywhere. So can all-custom programming, if done well and with this in mind. Those sites don’t require the secret sauce of any one web-hosting system. In some situations, the process of moving them can be almost as simple as copying the images, code files, and database, and changing a few settings.

Already hosted in a closed system?

If it’s urgent that you move from a closed system to a new web host, there’s likely a price to be paid. As the saying goes:

“Good, fast, cheap: pick any two.”

But if you can afford to exercise patience, you may save some of the cost and aggravation. It might feel a bit like your site is held hostage, but that’s temporary. Just schedule your next site re-design strategically. Do that version in WordPress1 — or entirely custom, if the project demands it2 and your budget supports it. Then, when it’s ready, you may say a simple goodbye to the old, proprietary setup.

1. Also see our managed WordPress hosting.

2. Caveat: Systems meant to simplify website building and management, including WordPress, use underlying design themes to keep development costs way down, compared to all-custom programming. They can be customized significantly, in skilled hands, so they don’t have to look like templates. But there are always constraints and tradeoffs. High-art and personal-passion projects that won’t tolerate those things risk paying custom rates regardless of the backend framework.

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"Closed" web hosts vs. "open" frameworks
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Put a mission-critical website on a closed web host system? That may make some website building simpler, within constraints, but there are always tradeoffs.
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