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Website Hosting Cost: How Much Should I Pay?

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Website hosting costs can be complicated to untangle if you’ve never tried to build a website before. There are many factors involved: the type of web hosting you want, the company you choose, how long you decide to buy hosting for and what extras you buy.

This guide will provide a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with the most common types of web hosting, including side-by-side comparisons of popular hosting companies’ prices. I’ll also discuss extras and the hidden costs of hosting a website because the bottom line isn’t always straightforward.

How much does web hosting cost?

Web hosting services provide space on a web server, a specialized computer that makes websites accessible from the internet. Each type of web hosting uses a different server configuration, which determines the amount of resources — such as RAM or CPU power — and technical support available for your website.

Because of these variabilities, the type of web hosting you choose is the most important factor in determining website hosting costs.

Here’s an overview of what you can expect to pay for different kinds of web hosting:

  • Shared hosting: Most shared hosting plans cost $2 to $5 per month to start, rising to $10 to $30 per month upon renewal.
  • WordPress hosting: Most WordPress hosting costs $2 to $5 per month for the first term and $10 to $30 per month upon renewal.
  • Website builder hosting: Traditional web hosts typically offer website builder hosting for $2 to $5 per month to start and $10 to $30 per month upon renewal. Website builder companies like Squarespace usually charge $15 to $50 per month.
  • Cloud hosting: Conventional web hosting companies charge $30 to $400 per month for cloud hosting. Some companies, like Amazon Web Services, provide modular cloud hosting plans starting as low as $5 per month.
  • Dedicated hosting: Dedicated hosting plans cost anywhere from $50 to $700 per month.

Shared hosting

Shared website hosting costs typically start at $2 per $5 a month, rising to $10 to $30 per month upon renewal. Some companies, like SiteGround, charge as much as $45 per month for higher-tiered shared hosting plans.

In shared hosting, many websites share one server’s resources, such as processing power and bandwidth. Customers renting space on a shared server pay only for their portion of it, making this the most affordable type of web hosting.

Shared hosting is best for blogs, for-fun hobby sites and small business websites. The amount of traffic your site can handle depends on the plan, but as a general rule, shared hosting plans can accommodate up to 400,000 visitors per month.

The following table shows exact costs for shared hosting from several popular web hosts:

Company Monthly cost
GoDaddy $6-$18 (renews at $10-$25 per month based on a three-year term)
Bluehost $3-$10 (renews at $12-$27 per month, billed annually)
Dreamhost $3-$17 (renews at $7-$20 per month, billed annually)
Ionos $4-$9 (renews at $6-$16 per month based on a three-year term)
SiteGround $3-$8 (renews at $18-$45 per month billed annually)
HostGator $3-$5 (renews at $10-$20 per month billed annually)

WordPress hosting

WordPress hosting costs roughly the same as shared hosting. Some hosts charge an extra $1 to $2 per month for the additional software support. A few hosts offer WordPress hosting as virtual private server — VPS — hosting or cloud hosting for a higher fee. 

WordPress hosting is shared hosting optimized for WordPress, a content management system, or CMS, for building websites without requiring code. These plans come with WordPress pre-installed on your server. They may also offer automated software updates and other benefits.

WordPress hosting is best for folks looking to create a blog, for-fun hobby site or small business website with WordPress.

Here’s a breakdown of WordPress hosting costs at major hosting companies:

Company Monthly cost
GoDaddy $10-16 (renews at $13-23 per month billed annually)
Bluehost $3-10 (renews at $12-27 per month billed annually)
Dreamhost $3-17 (renews at $7-$20 per month billed annually)
Ionos $4-8 (renews at $6-15 per month based on a three-year term)
SiteGround $3-8 (renews at $18-$45 per month billed annually)
HostGator $4-14 (renews at $15-$27 per month based on a three-year term)

Website builder hosting

Website builder hosting costs vary, with shared website builder hosting often being close in price to regular shared hosting and cloud website builder hosting being more expensive — often $15 or more per month.

Website builders are tools for creating a website without installing anything, managing software updates or learning code. Website builder hosting comes with one of these builders pre-installed.

There are two types of website builder hosting:

  • Shared website builder hosting offered by traditional hosting companies like Hostinger. Shared website builder hosting is best for folks looking for a low-cost, low-effort way to create a blog, for-fun hobby site or small business website.
  • Cloud website builder hosting offered by specialized website builder companies like Squarespace. Cloud website builder hosting is best for folks creating blogs, for-fun hobby sites and small business websites who are prepared to pay more for higher-quality tools and the ability to accommodate rapid site growth.

Here’s a roundup of what website builder hosting plans cost from major hosting companies:

Company Monthly cost
GoDaddy $11-$21 (renews at $13-$27 per month billed annually)
Ionos $1-$17 for the first six months (renews at $12-$30 per month billed annually)
Hostinger $3-$4 (renews at $8-$14 per month billed annually)
Squarespace $16-$52 (billed annually)
Wix $17-159 (billed annually)
Shopify $29-2,300-plus (billed annually)

Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting costs from conventional hosting companies vary from $30 per month on the low end to $400 per month at the high end. Cloud hosting stores your site on multiple servers, allowing for greater uptime and faster loading speeds around the globe. Cloud hosting is also easy to scale, as your site can pull resources from more servers to accommodate high traffic levels. 

Cloud hosting is best for medium- to large-size businesses and small businesses expecting rapid growth. 

Companies like Amazon Web Services have complex, modular hosting options where you can buy only what you need for a few dollars. However, these plans often have limited technical support. Traditional hosting companies charge more for cloud hosting because they offer more robust support and features.

Here’s a quick overview of the cost of cloud hosting at three traditional web hosting companies:

Company Monthly cost
Bluehost $30-$110 (renews at $80-$250 per month billed annually)
Hostinger $10-$30 (renews at $25-$55 per month billed annually)
SiteGround $100-$400

VPS hosting

VPS hosting costs vary based on the type of VPS hosting you choose:

  • Self-managed VPS hosting involves managing the server’s software yourself or hiring a system administrator to do it. This option may cost only a few dollars more than shared hosting each month, or it may cost upward of $30 per month.
  • Managed VPS hosting involves the hosting company managing the software for you. There are some companies offering this service for as little as $10 per month, but many managed VPS hosting plans cost $50 or more each month.

Some companies, like Bluehost, offer self-managed plans where you’ll receive technical support to set up your server but be responsible for completing the setup and maintenance yourself.

VPS hosting gives you access to a virtual server with dedicated resources like bandwidth and processing power. Although you’re technically still sharing a server, your website is partitioned from other sites, allowing you to customize server settings and enjoy greater security and resources.

VPS hosting is best for medium- to large-size business websites needing to accommodate several hundred thousand monthly visitors or large amounts of data. You may also want VPS hosting if you want control over your server’s configuration — though some advanced server customization options may not be available.

Here’s a comparison of VPS website hosting costs at various companies:

Company Monthly cost
GoDaddy $9-$135 based on a three-year term (renews at $15-$165 per month based on a three-year term)
Bluehost $32-$72 based on a three-year term (renews at $82-$145 per month based on a three-year term)
HostGator $32-$80 based on a three-year term (renews at $82-$145 per month based on a three-year term)
Ionos $2-$30 billed annually (renews at $5-$50 per month billed annually)
Dreamhost $10-$80 based on a three-year term (renews at $13-$93 per month based on a three-year term)

Dedicated hosting

Dedicated hosting costs depend on the type of dedicated hosting you choose:

  • Self-managed dedicated hosting, where you are wholly responsible for configuring the server software — or hiring someone to do it. This type of hosting often starts at $80 to $100 per month.
  • Managed dedicated hosting, where the hosting company manages digital server configuration and maintenance. This type of hosting often starts at $90 or more each month.

Dedicated hosting provides an entire physical server for your website. You get the server’s full processing power, storage space and bandwidth, allowing your site to accommodate millions of viewers. You’ll also get total control over your server’s digital configuration.

Dedicated hosting is best for websites expecting millions of monthly visitors or storing massive amounts of data. You may also want to choose dedicated hosting if you want complete control over your server’s software and settings.

Here’s a quick comparison of dedicated hosting from some of the best web hosts:

Company Monthly cost
Bluehost $92-$142 (renews at $182-$291 per month based on a three-year term)
HostGator $80-$142 (renews at $170-$291 per month based on a three-year term)
A2 Hosting $80-$430 (renews at $200-$700 per month based on a two-year term)
Ionos $50-$91 based on a two-year term (renews at $100-$140 based on a two-year term)

Hidden web hosting costs and other expenses of hosting a website

Domain name

A domain name is the name of a website. For example, our domain name is CNET.com. Like web hosting, a domain name is essential to making your site available online.

Many web hosts offer a free domain for the first year. However, you’ll almost always have to pay for your domain in subsequent years, and some web hosts require you to buy a domain separately from the outset.

The cost of a domain can depend on the domain extension you choose and the company you register it with. Most domains with common extensions like .com and .net cost $10 to $20 per year.

SSL certificate

Secure Socket Layer, or SSL, is a security protocol that encrypts website data, including data submitted to your site.

SSL certification is essential even if your website won’t be accepting sensitive data. Google prioritizes ranking sites with SSL certification. Some browsers and VPNs also look for SSL certification and won’t allow users to visit sites without it.

Most web hosting companies include SSL certification in their plans now. A handful of companies still charge separately for it, often charging $20 to $40 per year.

Extensions

Extensions — called plugins on WordPress or apps on Wix and Shopify — are tools for increasing your site’s functionality. Extensions allow you to do things like:

  • Book appointments
  • Build and sell online courses
  • Integrate your website with social media platforms

Some of these may be free. WordPress, in particular, has many free options — almost 60,000 of them.

Other extensions cost money — sometimes a lot of it. To give you an idea, let’s look at some premium WordPress plugins:

As you can see, there’s a wide price range for plugins. You can expect to find similar variations in the app or extension marketplaces for services like Squarespace and Shopify.

Themes and templates

Themes or templates dictate your site’s appearance. Most CMS options and website builders have many free themes — though you may need to find and install them yourself on a CMS like WordPress.

You can also buy a premium theme to create a more unique look. Paid WordPress themes often cost $20 to $100, while themes for sites like Squarespace and Shopify typically cost $200 to $400.

E-commerce features

Website builders like Squarespace often limit e-commerce functionality to certain plans. This means you’ll need to pay more to host a website with a store than to host a site without one.

CMS options like WordPress may require extensions for e-commerce functionality. WooCommerce, a popular e-commerce plugin for WordPress with over 5 million active installs, is free, but you’ll need to buy paid WooCommerce extensions — often costing $50 to $100 per year — to sell certain types of products or use certain payment gateways.

Marketing tools

Marketing is essential to a website’s success. Every business needs three types of marketing tools every business needs to succeed online: search engine optimization or SEO tools, social media tools and email marketing tools.

SEO tools help you optimize content for search engines by controlling the descriptions shown in search results and selecting keywords you want to rank for. These tools are often built into website builders, but they may be restricted to higher-tiered plans. If you’re using WordPress, you’ll need an SEO plugin. These plugins can be free or paid, with paid options costing $100 or more each year.

Social media integrations help you build community and increase visibility by making it easy for people to follow your social profiles and share your content on social media. These integrations are often built into website builders, but they’re not always available on all plans. If you’re using WordPress, you’ll need a plugin. There are many free social media plugins, as well as paid plugins typically costing $50 to $100 per year.

Email marketing tools help you build deeper connections with your audience through email campaigns. These tools are usually paid extensions or third-party services. You may be able to start for free, but you’ll need to upgrade once you exceed a certain number of subscribers or monthly emails. Paid plans often start at $10 to $20 per month.

So what should you pay for web hosting?

The cost of website hosting depends on the type of web hosting you choose:

  • Shared hosting and WordPress hosting typically starts at $2 to $5 a month and rises to $10 to $30 each month, with some plans costing as much ast $40 or more each month.
  • Website builder hosting costs are similar to shared hosting if you choose a traditional web host. If you choose a website builder company like Squarespace, the price can be anywhere from $15 each month to $2,300 each month.
  • Cloud hosting plans from traditional hosting companies can cost anywhere from $10 each month to $400 or more each month. Some companies offer modular cloud hosting plans with complex pricing models starting as low as $5 each month.
  • VPS hosting costs anywhere from $10 each month to $145 each month.
  • Dedicated hosting costs anywhere from $50 each month to $700 or more each month.

Once you understand the type of hosting you want and the website hosting cost you’re willing to accept, you can check out our list of the best web hosts to find a company to work with.

Every type of website hosting comes at a different price point, so it’s hard to establish an overall average cost of website hosting. However, there are some general rules you can establish:

For basic hosting types like shared hosting and WordPress hosting, you’ll typically pay $5 to $10 each month for your first term and $10 to $30 each month on renewal.

For advanced hosting types like VPS or dedicated hosting, you’ll typically pay $10 to $40 each month for your first term and $40-plus upon renewal.

Hosting a website online can cost anywhere from $2 each month for shared hosting to $700 each month for dedicated hosting plans.

Renting an entire web server typically costs $80-plus each month.

Web servers are specialized computers that require advanced configuration to make websites available online, large amounts of continuous power and temperature control to keep them running. Maintaining these servers is expensive, and the cost is passed on to the consumer, along with additional fees to help hosting companies make a profit.

Yes, you can host a website for free. However, free web hosting plans often have strict limits on storage space, bandwidth and monetization. You’ll usually have to use a subdomain and allow the company to place ads on your site — and the ads will usually pay the hosting company, not you.



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How to Start a Dropshipping Business and Earn $150k/yr: A Step-by-Step Guide

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How to Start a Dropshipping Business and Earn $150k/yr: A Step-by-Step Guide

Exposing the Lies of Dropshipping Gurus: How to Start a Dropshipping Business the Right Way

Are you tired of watching countless videos promising to teach you how to start a dropshipping business and make a fortune overnight? Have you followed their advice, only to see your e-commerce store fail miserably? If so, you’re not alone. The truth is, many aspiring entrepreneurs have been misled by dropshipping gurus who claim to have the secret formula for success.

We strongly recommend that you check out our guide on how to take advantage of AI in today’s passive income economy.

Dropshipping gurus often showcase their impressive revenue figures, claiming to have made thousands of dollars in a single day. They promise that anyone can easily replicate their success and start a dropshipping business with minimal effort. However, what they fail to mention is that these results are usually short-lived and unsustainable.

The reality is that building a successful dropshipping business requires far more than just selecting a winning product, setting up a store, and launching a few ads. It involves careful planning, strategic marketing, and exceptional customer service. Unfortunately, most gurus focus solely on the initial stages of starting a dropshipping business, neglecting the crucial aspects that determine long-term success.

The Pitfalls of Following Guru Advice

When you start a dropshipping business based on the advice of gurus, you may experience a brief period of success. You might make a few sales and feel excited about the potential of your new venture. However, this initial success is often followed by a sudden drop in revenue, leaving you confused and frustrated.

The reason for this decline is simple: the strategies taught by most gurus are not designed for long-term sustainability. They focus on short-term tactics, such as running aggressive ad campaigns and testing countless products, without considering the importance of building a strong brand and providing excellent customer service.

The Importance of Customer Satisfaction

One of the most critical factors in running a successful dropshipping business is customer satisfaction. When you start a dropshipping business, your primary goal should be to provide an exceptional experience for your customers. This includes offering high-quality products, timely shipping, and responsive customer support.

Unfortunately, many dropshippers overlook the importance of customer satisfaction in their pursuit of quick profits. They focus solely on driving traffic to their store and making sales, neglecting the needs of their customers once the transaction is complete. As a result, they often face a high number of complaints, refunds, and chargebacks, which can quickly erode their profits and damage their reputation.

Building a Sustainable Dropshipping Business

To start a dropshipping business that stands the test of time, you need to shift your focus from short-term gains to long-term sustainability. This involves investing time and effort into building a strong foundation for your business, rather than chasing the latest trends or relying on questionable tactics.

One of the key elements of a sustainable dropshipping business is a well-defined niche. Instead of trying to sell a wide range of unrelated products, focus on a specific category that aligns with your interests and expertise. This will allow you to establish yourself as an authority in your niche, attract a loyal customer base, and differentiate yourself from competitors.

Another crucial aspect of building a sustainable dropshipping business is branding. Develop a unique brand identity that resonates with your target audience and sets you apart from other dropshippers. This includes creating a professional logo, designing an attractive website, and maintaining a consistent brand voice across all your marketing channels.

Prioritizing Customer Service

To ensure the long-term success of your dropshipping business, you must prioritize customer service. This means going above and beyond to meet the needs and expectations of your customers, even if it requires additional time and effort on your part.

Start by providing clear and detailed product descriptions, including accurate shipping times and return policies. Respond promptly to customer inquiries and complaints, and be proactive in addressing any issues that arise. Consider offering personalized thank-you notes, free gifts, or discounts to show your appreciation for your customers’ business.

By focusing on customer satisfaction, you’ll build a loyal customer base that will not only make repeat purchases but also recommend your business to others. This word-of-mouth marketing can be incredibly valuable in driving sustainable growth for your dropshipping business.

Automating Your Dropshipping Business

As your dropshipping business grows, you may find it challenging to keep up with the increasing demands of customer service and order fulfillment. This is where automation comes into play. By implementing automated systems and tools, you can streamline your operations, reduce manual labor, and focus on scaling your business.

One effective way to automate your dropshipping business is by using a reliable order fulfillment service. These services handle the entire process of storing, packing, and shipping your products, allowing you to focus on marketing and customer service. They also provide real-time tracking information, which can help reduce customer inquiries and improve the overall shopping experience.

Another area where automation can be beneficial is customer support. Implementing a chatbot or a comprehensive FAQ page can help address common customer questions and concerns, freeing up your time to handle more complex issues. You can also use email automation to send personalized order confirmations, shipping updates, and follow-up messages, keeping your customers informed and engaged throughout the buying process.

Starting a dropshipping business can be a lucrative and rewarding venture, but it requires a strategic approach and a long-term mindset. Instead of falling for the empty promises of dropshipping gurus, focus on building a sustainable and customer-centric business that can withstand the test of time.

Begin by carefully selecting your niche and products, ensuring that they align with your interests and target audience. Invest time in creating a strong brand identity and developing a professional website that showcases your unique value proposition. Prioritize customer satisfaction by providing exceptional service, responsive support, and high-quality products.

As you start a dropshipping business and your business grows, continuously monitor your performance and make data-driven decisions to optimize your operations. Implement automation tools and systems to streamline your processes and free up your time to focus on growth and expansion.

Conclusion

In conclusion, starting a successful dropshipping business requires more than just following the advice of self-proclaimed gurus. It demands a commitment to providing value to your customers, building a strong brand, and continuously adapting to the ever-changing e-commerce landscape.

By prioritizing customer satisfaction, focusing on long-term sustainability, and leveraging automation tools, you can start a dropshipping business that not only survives but thrives in the competitive online marketplace. Remember, success in dropshipping is not about chasing quick profits or replicating someone else’s tactics; it’s about creating a business that genuinely serves your customers and stands the test of time.

So, if you’re ready to start a dropshipping business the right way, ignore the hype and focus on the fundamentals. With dedication, hard work, and a customer-centric approach, you can build a profitable and rewarding dropshipping business that you can be proud of.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How can a beginner start dropshipping?

A beginner can start a dropshipping business by following these steps:

  1. Choose a niche and research products that are in demand.
  2. Find reliable suppliers who offer dropshipping services.
  3. Create an e-commerce website using platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, or Magento.
  4. List your products on your website and set competitive prices.
  5. Market your store through various channels, such as social media, paid advertising, and email marketing.
  6. Process orders and coordinate with your suppliers to ship products directly to your customers.
  7. Provide excellent customer service and continuously optimize your business based on performance data.

How profitable is dropshipping?

The profitability of dropshipping varies depending on several factors, such as your niche, product pricing, marketing strategies, and operational costs. Some dropshippers earn a few hundred dollars per month, while others generate six or even seven-figure incomes. To maximize your profitability, it’s essential to:

  1. Choose products with healthy profit margins.
  2. Negotiate favorable terms with your suppliers.
  3. Optimize your pricing strategy to remain competitive while ensuring profitability.
  4. Continuously monitor and reduce your operational costs.
  5. Invest in effective marketing campaigns to drive targeted traffic to your store.

How much do I need to start a dropshipping business?

The cost of starting a dropshipping business can vary greatly depending on your approach and the tools you choose to use. However, here are some general expenses to consider:

  1. E-commerce platform subscription (e.g., Shopify, WooCommerce): $29 to $299 per month.
  2. Domain name registration: $10 to $20 per year.
  3. Website hosting: $10 to $100 per month.
  4. Product sourcing and samples: $50 to $500, depending on your niche and product types.
  5. Marketing and advertising: $100 to $1,000 or more per month, depending on your strategies and target audience.

On average, you can expect to invest between $500 to $3,000 to start a basic dropshipping business. However, it’s possible to start with a smaller budget by opting for more affordable tools and focusing on organic marketing strategies.

Can you do dropshipping in Nigeria?

Yes, it is possible to start a dropshipping business in Nigeria. However, there are some challenges and considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Payment processing: Not all international payment gateways are available in Nigeria, so you may need to use local payment options like Paystack or Flutterwave.
  2. Shipping and logistics: Shipping times and costs may be higher when dropshipping to Nigeria, so it’s essential to find reliable suppliers and logistics partners who can handle international shipping.
  3. Import duties and taxes: Be aware of any import duties, taxes, or regulations that may apply to your products when shipping to Nigeria.
  4. Internet connectivity: Ensure that you have a stable internet connection to manage your online store and communicate with suppliers and customers.
  5. Market demand: Research the Nigerian market to identify products that are in demand and can be profitably dropshipped to the country.

Despite these challenges, dropshipping in Nigeria can be a viable business opportunity, especially if you focus on serving the local market and adapting your strategies to the specific needs and preferences of Nigerian consumers.

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Making a WordPress plugin extensible with PHP classes

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Making a WordPress plugin extensible with PHP classes

WordPress plugins can be extended with additional functionality, as demonstrated by popular plugins like WooCommerce and Gravity Forms. In the article “Architecting a WordPress plugin to support extensions,” we learn there are two primary ways to make a WordPress plugin extensible:

  1. By setting up hooks (actions and filters) for extension plugins to inject their own functionality
  2. By providing PHP classes that extension plugins can inherit

The first method relies more on documentation, detailing available hooks and their usage. The second method, by contrast, offers ready-to-use code for extensions, reducing the need for extensive documentation. This is advantageous because creating documentation alongside code can complicate the plugin’s management and release.

Providing PHP classes directly effectively replaces documentation with code. Instead of teaching how to implement a feature, the plugin supplies the necessary PHP code, simplifying the task for third-party developers.

Let’s explore some techniques for achieving this, with the ultimate goal of fostering an ecosystem of integrations around our WordPress plugin.

Defining base PHP classes in the WordPress plugin

The WordPress plugin will include PHP classes intended for use by extension plugins. These PHP classes might not be used by the main plugin itself but are provided specifically for others to use.

Let’s see how this is implemented in the open-source Gato GraphQL plugin.

AbstractPlugin class:

AbstractPlugin represents a plugin, both for the main Gato GraphQL plugin and its extensions:

abstract class AbstractPlugin implements PluginInterface
{
  protected string $pluginBaseName;
  protected string $pluginSlug;
  protected string $pluginName;

  public function __construct(
    protected string $pluginFile,
    protected string $pluginVersion,
    ?string $pluginName,
  ) {
    $this->pluginBaseName = plugin_basename($pluginFile);
    $this->pluginSlug = dirname($this->pluginBaseName);
    $this->pluginName = $pluginName ?? $this->pluginBaseName;
  }

  public function getPluginName(): string
  {
    return $this->pluginName;
  }

  public function getPluginBaseName(): string
  {
    return $this->pluginBaseName;
  }

  public function getPluginSlug(): string
  {
    return $this->pluginSlug;
  }

  public function getPluginFile(): string
  {
    return $this->pluginFile;
  }

  public function getPluginVersion(): string
  {
    return $this->pluginVersion;
  }

  public function getPluginDir(): string
  {
    return dirname($this->pluginFile);
  }

  public function getPluginURL(): string
  {
    return plugin_dir_url($this->pluginFile);
  }

  // ...
}

AbstractMainPlugin class:

AbstractMainPlugin extends AbstractPlugin to represent the main plugin:

abstract class AbstractMainPlugin extends AbstractPlugin implements MainPluginInterface
{
  public function __construct(
    string $pluginFile,
    string $pluginVersion,
    ?string $pluginName,
    protected MainPluginInitializationConfigurationInterface $pluginInitializationConfiguration,
  ) {
    parent::__construct(
      $pluginFile,
      $pluginVersion,
      $pluginName,
    );
  }

  // ...
}

AbstractExtension class:

Similarly, AbstractExtension extends AbstractPlugin to represent an extension plugin:

abstract class AbstractExtension extends AbstractPlugin implements ExtensionInterface
{
  public function __construct(
    string $pluginFile,
    string $pluginVersion,
    ?string $pluginName,
    protected ?ExtensionInitializationConfigurationInterface $extensionInitializationConfiguration,
  ) {
    parent::__construct(
      $pluginFile,
      $pluginVersion,
      $pluginName,
    );
  }

  // ...
}

Notice that AbstractExtension is included within the main plugin, providing functionality to register and initialize an extension. However, it is only used by extensions, not by the main plugin itself.

The AbstractPlugin class contains shared initialization code invoked at different times. These methods are defined at the ancestor level but are invoked by the inheriting classes according to their lifecycles.

The main plugin and extensions are initialized by executing the setup method on the corresponding class, invoked from within the main WordPress plugin file.

For instance, in Gato GraphQL, this is done in gatographql.php:

$pluginFile = __FILE__;
$pluginVersion = '2.4.0';
$pluginName = __('Gato GraphQL', 'gatographql');
PluginApp::getMainPluginManager()->register(new Plugin(
  $pluginFile,
  $pluginVersion,
  $pluginName
))->setup();

setup method:

At the ancestor level, setup contains the common logic between the plugin and its extensions, such as unregistering them when the plugin is deactivated. This method is not final; It can be overridden by the inheriting classes to add their functionality:

abstract class AbstractPlugin implements PluginInterface
{
  // ...

  public function setup(): void
  {
    register_deactivation_hook(
      $this->getPluginFile(),
      $this->deactivate(...)
    );
  }

  public function deactivate(): void
  {
    $this->removePluginVersion();
  }

  private function removePluginVersion(): void
  {
    $pluginVersions = get_option('gatographql-plugin-versions', []);
    unset($pluginVersions[$this->pluginBaseName]);
    update_option('gatographql-plugin-versions', $pluginVersions);
  }
}

Main plugin’s setup method:

The main plugin’s setup method initializes the application’s lifecycle. It executes the main plugin’s functionality through methods like initialize, configureComponents, configure, and boot, and triggers corresponding action hooks for extensions:

abstract class AbstractMainPlugin extends AbstractPlugin implements MainPluginInterface
{
  public function setup(): void
  {
    parent::setup();

    add_action('plugins_loaded', function (): void
    {
      // 1. Initialize main plugin
      $this->initialize();

      // 2. Initialize extensions
      do_action('gatographql:initializeExtension');

      // 3. Configure main plugin components
      $this->configureComponents();

      // 4. Configure extension components
      do_action('gatographql:configureExtensionComponents');

      // 5. Configure main plugin
      $this->configure();

      // 6. Configure extension
      do_action('gatographql:configureExtension');

      // 7. Boot main plugin
      $this->boot();

      // 8. Boot extension
      do_action('gatographql:bootExtension');
    }

    // ...
  }
  
  // ...
}



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A Small Business Guide to Building An E-Commerce Website | CO

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A Small Business Guide to Building An E-Commerce Website | CO

Besides costs, consider other equally significant elements, like integrations with other tech, payment acceptance, the level of skill required to use the software, and security. — Getty Images/Valeriy G

Creating an e-commerce website is a daunting task. Yet, it’s a project you can tackle with a solid strategy, an understanding of the best practices, and a step-by-step guide. More importantly, starting with the right online site builder and e-commerce platform prevents future obstacles, like realizing the software is above your skill level or isn’t built for your revenue model.

We put together a comprehensive guide that walks you through building an e-commerce website from scratch, starting with selecting hosting or e-commerce providers. Then, we will dive into the user experience (UX) and the nitty-gritty details of site navigation, product pages, and related features. Let’s begin with the basics and go from there.

Registering a domain and choosing a hosting provider

You need a domain and web hosting to build an e-commerce site. Each component (the domain, web hosting, and e-commerce functionality) can be purchased through different vendors or a single provider. You should decide whether to bundle or keep these services separate.

Just like brick-and-mortar stores have a physical address, e-commerce shops have domains. You essentially rent an “address” for one to 10 years at a time. Some e-commerce and web hosting services provide a complimentary domain name for the first year when you buy an annual subscription and pay upfront. The renewal fees may be higher, though, than going through a third party.

Free e-commerce stores include a subdomain that isn’t search engine optimized or user-friendly. The URL looks like this: myshop.providername.com. While the URL may not be your first preference, it’ll do for side hustles and startups testing the market or a vendor’s e-commerce platform.

Hosting services power your site and store files, images, and information. Most also offer website builders and themes or templates. Select a provider to meet your security and performance specifications, then add your preferred e-commerce plug-ins, such as WooCommerce.

Alternatively, a web host like Bluehost has an online store package. It comes with the content management system (CMS) WordPress and the e-commerce plug-in WooCommerce preinstalled.

E-commerce platforms like Wix and Shopify supply web hosting with all the subscriptions. These all-in-one systems include site-building tools, page templates, storage, payment processing, and everything needed to start an online shop.

[Read more: Setting Up an E-Commerce Business: A Comprehensive Guide]

Key takeaways for selecting an e-commerce platform

Every experience hinges on your initial technology decision, from how you build your e-commerce website to what credit card processing fees you pay. Not all vendors make it easy to migrate to a new service if you’re unsatisfied, and it’s a resource-intensive job.

Review our guide to choosing the best e-commerce platform and consider the following tips when picking services:

  • Functionality: Ensure the software meets each business requirement by testing its capabilities fully.
  • Integrations: Check for customer relationship management, email marketing, and business phone integrations to see how they work.
  • Skill level: Decide who will access the e-commerce site to build pages, add blog posts, or update pricing. Consider the administrative user interface and site tools.
  • Payment acceptance: Weigh the pros and cons of using an all-in-one service with integrated flat-rate fees versus connecting a gateway from a processing provider.
  • Scalability: Compare step-up plans to understand the value for the money and estimate when you’d need that level. Think in terms of site traffic, storage, and team size.
  • Costs: Besides monthly or annual subscription fees, account for overlooked e-commerce business expenses, like hidden fees for domain privacy or email accounts.
  • Security: Learn how the e-commerce provider protects customer privacy and your online shop from threats. If the vendor manages payment processing, inquire about payment card industry compliance.

Many excellent options exist, so narrowing down your choices is challenging. Fortunately, most vendors offer demos or free trials.

E-commerce software providers

Many excellent options exist, so narrowing down your choices is challenging. Fortunately, most vendors offer demos or free trials.

Here are five web hosting and e-commerce solutions:

  • Wix: This versatile all-in-one platform supports multiple revenue models and industries. Wix provides a complete e-commerce store with abandoned cart recovery and shipping tools. It also includes online booking, ticketing, and virtual services capabilities.
  • Bluehost: A fast-growing business wanting managed WordPress and WooCommerce hosting might consider Bluehost. It could be cheaper to scale for higher traffic and storage needs.
  • Square Online: This solution is for brick-and-mortar businesses that are adding an online store. It connects to other free and paid products, like its point-of-sale system, and it has native payment processing. Square Online caters to the restaurant, retail, and service sectors.
  • WordPress.com: If your e-commerce revenue model prioritizes digital content, subscriptions, or memberships but also wants online store functionality, WordPress.com could be suitable. It’s a fantastic blogging space and ideal for those monetizing their blog.
  • IONOS: This vendor offers online store and website builders for retailers, digital content marketers, and wholesalers. Alternatively, you can configure IONOS servers for Magento, WooCommerce, or PrestaShop hosting.

[Read more: Top Retail and Commerce Trends for 2024 and Beyond]

Choose your e-commerce website builder

Depending on your platform, you will have several options when building your e-commerce site. Generally speaking, most web hosts and e-commerce vendors provide no-code website builders. You drag and drop design elements onto page templates, and the system’s limitations prevent you from making errors that could break the site.

Conversely, artificial intelligence (AI) can handle some or most of the process. After you answer a few questions, an AI site builder creates a multipage e-commerce site. Then, you can customize it and use AI for additional assistance.

Lastly, web developers and designers may prefer to customize elements or create an e-commerce site from scratch using code. This functionality varies by vendor and subscription tier.

E-commerce website design considerations

Have your e-commerce brand elements and assets ready before starting your site build. Decide on a site color scheme, choose a few fonts, and design your logo. When choosing prebuilt templates and themes, look closely at how layouts differ for visual elements. Imagine your buyer’s journey when clicking through the pages.

[Read more: How to Improve the User Experience]

Online store site structure checklist

Use your time efficiently by planning your site on paper. This step helps you avoid site structure and navigation errors that damage user experiences and search engine optimization (SEO). It’s much easier to erase and rework a penciled plan than it is to rename URLs and change menus. Compile tasks into stages, starting with must-have website pages.

Here’s an example of various e-commerce website elements:

  • A homepage welcoming visitors to your e-commerce site.
  • Clearly defined and labeled product categories and subgroups.
  • About and contact pages to earn customer trust.
  • An online store page with a search bar and filter options.
  • Individual product or service pages with images and descriptions.
  • Menu and navigation bars for accessing site content.
  • A footer section to house additional information, like your privacy policy.
  • Frequently-asked-question pages for site visitors and SEO.
  • An email sign-up form for email marketing lists.
  • Testimonials or case studies to demonstrate social proof.
  • Customer account portals for viewing order information.
  • Industry-related features for subscriptions, online bookings, or e-courses.

Best practices for making an e-commerce website

E-commerce site design affects UX and sales. The best thing you can do is learn how to use your CMS or online store platform inside and out. Watch videos, read tutorials, and devise a high-converting website strategy.

When crafting your online store, consider these tips:

  • Stick with your font and color palette throughout your site. Buttons shouldn’t look different on every page, and text shouldn’t resemble cheesy third-party ads.
  • In a world of AI-generated stock images, differentiate your company by producing great product photos. Keep them consistent and show various angles of items.
  • Allow shoppers to check out as guests. Forcing humans to give you personal data isn’t a great way to start a relationship.
  • Enable item previews, save to a wishlist, and product recommendations functionalities when possible. These features are simple ways to increase conversions.
  • Review every page, delete placeholder text, and test all links and forms. Don’t forget to check how the online store functions on all devices.
  • Add meta descriptions to pages and images. Write alt text for photos and only include keywords when doing so improves the user experience.

Shipping products

Order management, inventory tools, and shipping integrations streamline e-commerce operations. Many online platforms centralize administration through dashboards. You can configure shipping rules before or after publishing your site. These let you pick shipping regions, offer local pick up, or apply discounts or free shipping coupons.

[Read more: AI and E-commerce: Simplifying the Sales Process]

Choosing a payment gateway

E-commerce services like Wix and Shopify have built-in payment acceptance capabilities powered by Stripe, a company known for its fraud detection and prevention tools. However, companies with a large global customer base may want to add PayPal, as it works well worldwide for consumers without credit cards.

Buy now, pay later and gift card options appeal to shoppers around the holidays. The former has steep fees, whereas the latter may be an add-on service. Regardless of your chosen methods, the checkout flow must remain frictionless. Limit the number of clicks and keep it to a single page when possible.

Once you connect to a payment processor, your e-commerce website is ready. Then, you can begin the forever process of refining your masterpiece.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Apply for the CO—100!

The CO—100 is an exclusive list of the 100 best and brightest small and mid-sized businesses in America. Enter today to share your story and get recognized.

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