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WordPress Themes 101: Free vs. Premium and Everything in Between

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WordPress Themes 101: Free vs. Premium and Everything in Between

Do you want to learn about WordPress themes and how they can take your website to the next level? If so, you’re in the right place! 

There’s no question that choosing the right WordPress theme is vital for building a website that not only looks great but also offers your customers the best experience possible. 

But as a beginner or someone looking for a change, this process can be overwhelming, after all, there are thousands of themes to choose from!

We believe that by understanding themes and the important factors around them, you’ll be better prepared to choose one that aligns with your goals. Today, we will give you the full rundown on WordPress themes. Keep reading, and you’ll learn everything you need to know about finding the perfect theme for your site.

Let’s begin!  

Understanding WordPress themes

At its core, WordPress themes are a collection of files that define the appearance and functionality of a WordPress website. Themes control everything from the layout and color scheme to the typography and navigation menus. They are the visual and structural foundation that dictates how content is presented to visitors.

Not only do themes determine the look of your site, but they have a direct impact on performance and your overall user experience (UX).

Choosing the best WordPress themes can enhance the overall branding, improve readability, and provide a seamless browsing experience across different devices. But a quick look at the ecosystem will show you that the possibilities are quite endless. You can find sleek and minimalist themes as well as incredibly in-depth, feature-rich options and everything in between. 

One way to start exploring your options is to see what themes your favorite websites use. There are various tools and resources available that can help you with your research. A popular option is “What WordPress Theme Is That?,” which allows users to enter a website URL and quickly discover the active theme. Additionally, “WordPress Theme Detector” can automatically detect and display the theme information for any WordPress site you visit.

WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between
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Choosing the right theme

Now that you know a bit more about themes, let’s talk about some of the major factors you need to know when choosing one for your website. 

  1. Responsive Design: Did you know there are over 5.48 billion mobile users? This statistic highlights why it’s essential to choose a theme that offers a responsive design that looks great and works perfectly across all devices and screen sizes.
  2. SEO Optimized: You’ll want to find a WordPress theme that can help with search engine optimization (SEO). For example, some themes come with a schema markup alongside the theme.  This feature can give your website a competitive edge in search engine rankings and lead to more traffic.
  3. Customizable Design: Depending on your needs, you may want to choose a theme that allows for easy and flexible customization, whether through theme options, page builders, or the ability to modify the code directly. This feature can help you add some personal flair and style to your site. 
  4. Compatibility with WordPress plugins: WordPress plugins can add powerful functionality to your website, so it’s crucial to choose a theme that is compatible with the plugins you plan to use or might need in the future. Trust us, you don’t want to buy a theme that isn’t compatible with what you’re currently using. 
  5. Loading Times: Research shows that 53% of people will leave a website if it takes too long to load. So, this means a fast-loading website is crucial for boosting engagement, sales, and your search visibility. When looking for a theme that can help, choose one with optimized code and a lightweight design.

Free vs. premium themes

When it comes to choosing the best WordPress themes for your site, you’ll need to balance the factors above with the decision to use a free or premium option. Both have their advantages and drawbacks that you should know.

Here’s a quick overview of each, as well as when you should use them on your site: 

Free WordPress Themes:

  • Cost-effective solution, which can be helpful for people on a tight budget.
  • A wide range of free themes are available in the official WordPress directory and third-party repositories. This means you’ll have options, even if you decide to take the free route.
  • Ideal for basic websites or those with limited customization needs.
  • Free themes are usually not updated as often, which can pose security risks if not maintained properly.
  • There are limited support options, so you’ll need to check out forums if you get stuck. 

When to choose a free theme:

  • You’re on a tight budget and have basic website design needs
  • You’re comfortable with limited customization options, or don’t need advanced customization
  • You’re willing to take precautions to keep your site safe and maintained due to the lack of support and updates

Premium WordPress themes:

  • Typically come with more advanced features, which means you can tweak your site in a way that perfectly matches your needs. 
  • Outside of standard page building, these themes are often highly customizable with various built-in options and integrations.
  • Provide access to dedicated support and step-by-step guides when you have a specific problem. 
  • It can be more expensive, ranging from one-time fees to recurring subscriptions.

When to choose a premium theme:

  • You require advanced features and functionality.
  • You value regular updates, support, and maintenance.
  • You need a highly customizable and unique design.
  • Your website handles a lot of sensitive information or traffic. 

Ultimately, the decision between a free or premium WordPress theme will depend on your specific needs, budget, and the level of customization and support you require for your website. Both have a place in the community. 

Now that you know a little more about themes and how they work, let’s have a look at some of the best themes and how they can help you take your website to the next level.

Astra

WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in BetweenWordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between

Price: Free + $59 per year

Astra theme is a multipurpose and lightweight theme that has become extremely popular among WordPress users due to its performance, customizability and compatibility with popular page builders such as Elementor, Beaver Builder etc. 

The free version of the theme offers basic yet important features such as responsive layout, typography controls, different layouts etc. The premium version of Astra, Astra Pro, offers advanced features such as custom layouts, header builder, footer builder, typography options etc. Weighing less than 100KB, this theme is one of the fastest WordPress themes and is suitable for any type of website.

GeneratePress

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Price: Free + $59 per year

Another modern and popular theme, GeneratePress, is known for its speed and ease of use. The free version already has an integrated layout builder, typography options, and basic pages such as services, portfolio, and contact.

GeneratePress is also an ideal WordPress theme for website layout because of its visual page builder in the premium version. Some of the premium features of this theme include a site library, custom layouts, sections, headers, typography, pricing tables, WooCommerce support, and advanced theme settings. If you’re looking for WordPress eCommerce themes, this is an excellent option.

OceanWP

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Price: Free + $44 per year, $176 for life

A multipurpose theme with strong eCommerce and online store capabilities, OceanWP offers a range of pre-built website demos in the free version, as well as WooCommerce integration and all the customization options you’d expect from a popular WordPress theme. 

Further premium features include a pop-up builder, sticky headers, content slider, icon box, feature grid, table of contents and more. The theme also includes premium add-ons for integrating with some of the most popular plugins such as MonsterInsights, WP Rocket, and AIOSEO. Overall, OceanWP is a powerful theme suitable for business websites and online stores.

Avada 

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Price: Premium $69 per year

Avada is a top-selling theme on ThemeForest. It is a fully packed, highly functional, responsive, and versatile premium WordPress theme with a visual page builder, dozens of pre-built website layouts, tons of custom options, header builder, footer builder, and e-commerce shopping cart options. 

Out of the box, Avada comes with lots of layout possibilities and you can create any type of website from business and corporate sites to e-commerce stores, restaurants, cafes, product showcases, portfolio sites, travel and wedding sites, medical and law firms, SEO and marketing agencies, and any type of responsive website.

We like the Visual Pagebuilder, which allows users complete creative freedom to build stunning and highly effective web pages. In addition to that, it offers Header Builder and Footer Builder as well. Avada is a complete theme which will fulfill all your requirements.

Divi

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Price: 30-day free trial, $89 per year

Divi is a bestselling premium WordPress theme by ElegantThemes which comes with a great drag-and-drop page builder. This enables complete control over your website’s design along with remarkable layout choices. 

The user-friendly visual builder helps create personalized layouts, incorporate animations, and take advantage of the pre-designed layouts and modules. Other advanced options that Divi offers are split testing, custom CSS controls, and robust theme options. All these make Divi a versatile choice for agency websites, designers, and for everyone looking for a totally customizable web solution.

Thrive Themes

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Price: $149 per year

Thrive Themes offers a great theme builder that can help you create stunning, high-performing websites. It comes with a list of designer-made and tested themes that can be installed with a click. Set global website branding effortlessly, including smart brand colors, global font sets and pairings, and dark/light brand logos.

With Thrive Themes, you can visually edit all your theme template files, including blog posts, headers, footers, sidebars, 404 pages, and more. The theme builder allows you to edit and style blog lists with ease and make sweeping changes across your entire website or fine-tune each pixel.

Ideal for marketers and eCommerce business owners, Thrive Themes provides the flexibility and power to create engaging, conversion-optimized websites. It integrates seamlessly with other popular WordPress plugins, making it a great choice for both new and established businesses.

Kadance

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Price: Free + $149 per year

Specialized WordPress themes

WordPress themes are very versatile, but sometimes you need something more targeted – a specialized WordPress theme just for your site and its unique purpose.

With that thought in mind, let’s look at some of the top theme choices for some of the most common website types, including blog, e-commerce, and business themes.

WordPress blog templates

Perhaps your #1 priority is to create a successful blog. In that case, you need a WordPress theme that’s optimized for writing and blogging. Here are some of the top WordPress blog themes featuring user-friendly elements that bloggers will love:

  • Design elements that encourage readability and content discovery
  • Built-in featured posts, related posts, and popular posts widgets
  • Integration with social networks for sharing
  • Easy customization of author boxes
  • Integrated email/newsletter signup forms

Some of the most popular WordPress blog templates include Editorial, Novelty, and Poseidon. Many of the best blog themes emphasize clean design and minimal distractions for readers while still offering plenty of customization and tools.

WordPress Ecommerce templates

If you’re ready to create an online store, you’ll need an eCommerce WordPress theme. All of the best WordPress eCommerce templates are optimized for shopping and include integration with the popular WooCommerce plugin and other shopping cart systems.

Other features include:

  • Product catalogs and shopping carts
  • Secure checkouts
  • Advanced product filters and search
  • Cross- and upselling
  • Customer reviews and ratings

Astra Pro, OceanWP, and Divi all offer strong eCommerce support, while dedicated eCommerce templates like Shoptimizer and GrooveKart are specifically designed for this.

When choosing an eCommerce WordPress theme, consider the size of your product catalog, the payment options you need, and any other functionality like memberships or subscriptions.

WordPress business and corporate templates

Whether you’re a business, agency, or professional, your WordPress theme can make or break your credibility and trust with clients and customers.

Many of the best WordPress themes for business and corporate sites feature professional designs and useful business tools, including:

  • Clean, corporate layouts
  • Staff profile pages
  • Team portfolio and case studies
  • Testimonials and client logo sliders
  • Advanced contact forms and map integrations

Neve, Customizr, and the Divi theme are all popular choices for business templates. The latter offers a whole suite of professional layouts and designs for many types of industries.

When selecting a business WordPress theme, consider your industry niche, whether you need eCommerce, and your branding and design style. All of this information will help you determine the right theme for your site. 

Ultimately, picking the right template can help you start your website strong, whatever it may be. We suggest doing some additional research and looking for themes targeting your specific niche – it will be worth your time, and your visitors will appreciate the fact that your site is optimized for them. 

Theme selection based on content needs

Apart from special use cases like blogs or e-commerce websites, you can also consider the type of content you’ll publish and choose the theme that best fits your needs.

Let’s consider some good themes for posts/comments and visual content like portfolios and galleries.

Best themes for posts and comments

Do you think user comments and community engagement will be a major part of your workflow? If so, you should pick a theme that prioritizes posts and comments.

The best themes for posts and comments WordPress provides customizations like blog layouts, commenting, social sharing, related feature tabs, and customizable user profiles.

Some well-known themes in this category include Editorial, Zine, and Suffice. These themes will give you a blank slate for long-form content to go alongside engagement via comments, sharing buttons, and related posts.

Best themes for visual content

On the other hand, if your website is going to contain a lot of visual elements like photography, designs, or graphics, you need a theme that helps in showcasing this type of content.

The themes that are best for websites with lots of visual content usually come with the following features: gallery and portfolio project system, lightbox, grid options, distraction-free modes, and slider integrations.

Some of the well-known themes for websites with lots of visual content include Divi, Neve, Astra, and specialized portfolio themes like Accountor and Imprint. Many of them make use of WordPress’ native media handling while adding better visual layouts and display features.

When selecting a theme that focuses on visual content, consider the type of media you’ll be displaying (images, videos, 3D models, etc.), whether you need proofing areas for clients, and whether print/download options will be needed.

Regardless of the type of content you’ll be publishing, investing time in identifying a theme well-suited to managing how you organize and present that content can lead to a much better user experience for your target audience.

Affordable options

Creating a website needn’t be expensive. There are high-quality, cheap WordPress themes available that ensure your website looks professionally crafted without compromising on performance or usability.

Startups, small enterprises, and people with limited budgets need cost-effective solutions when it comes to choosing WordPress themes. Here are some guidelines on how to find cheap, responsive WordPress themes:

Visit free theme repositories

The official WordPress.org theme repository is the first place you should consider. There are thousands of free themes available there. Free doesn’t necessarily mean the theme is of low quality. There are well-coded, responsive, and regularly maintained themes in the repository if you’re willing to look and be aware of ones that haven’t been updated in a while.

Check for developer/student discounts

Most premium theme providers give attractive discounts to developers, agencies, students, and beginners. Ask if there are special discounts available even if you don’t see any listed.

Freemium themes

There are WordPress theme companies which provide themes based on a freemium model. Kandance from our list above is one such option. You can start with the free version and upgrade to premium features as and when your resources permit.

Watch out for sales and bundles

If you have a flexible deadline, you can wait for the next sale or bundle offer from prominent theme providers. Many of them offer attractive discounts (as much as 30-70%) around various festive seasons like Black Friday and so on.

Wrapping it up

Choosing the very best WordPress theme for your website is a key part of the design process. Not only does your theme determine the appearance of your site but it also determines the experience you build with visitors.

Whether you are creating a blog, an online store, a business website, or a portfolio that is heavy on images, choosing the right WordPress theme from the start will make all the difference to the success of your site.

In this article, we’ve covered the different types of WordPress themes available, some of the popular choices, specialist themes, and even some free alternatives.

So, take the time to research, experiment, and use the advice and resources we shared today. With the right WordPress theme in hand, you’ll be well on your way to creating a thriving website that resonates with your audience.

Additional resources

Theme libraries

  1. WordPress.org Theme Directory: The official WordPress theme repository with thousands of free themes.
  2. ThemeForest: A vast marketplace for premium WordPress themes across various categories.
  3. Elegant Themes: Home to the popular Divi theme and other premium themes and plugins.

Tools for detecting themes

  1. What WordPress Theme Is That?: A free online tool to detect the theme and plugins used by a WordPress site.
  2. WPThemeDetector: Another tool for identifying the theme and plugins on a WordPress site.

Theme comparison and review sites

  1. WPBeginner: Offers reviews and comparisons of various WordPress themes and plugins.
  2. SeedProd: Provides curated lists and reviews of free and premium WordPress themes.
  3. IsItWP: Helps you find the best WordPress themes and provides in-depth reviews.

FAQs

What is a WordPress theme?

A: A WordPress theme is a collection of templates and stylesheets used to define the appearance and display of a WordPress-powered website.

How do I install a WordPress theme?

A: To install a theme, go to your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Appearance > Themes, click “Add New,” search for a theme, and click “Install.” Once installed, click “Activate” to apply the theme to your site.

What is the difference between free and premium WordPress themes?

A: Free themes are available at no cost and offer basic features and customization options. Premium themes come with advanced features, dedicated support, and regular updates but require a purchase.

Can I customize my WordPress theme?

A: Yes, most WordPress themes offer customization options through the WordPress Customizer or theme-specific settings. You can change colors, fonts, layouts, and more.

What should I consider when choosing a WordPress theme?

A: Consider factors like design, responsiveness, customization options, compatibility with plugins, SEO friendliness, speed, and support.

How can I find out which theme a website is using?

A: You can use online tools like “What WordPress Theme Is That?” or “WPThemeDetector” to identify the theme and plugins used by a WordPress site.

Can I use multiple themes on my WordPress site?

A: Typically, you can only activate one theme at a time for your entire WordPress site. However, you can use different themes for different sections of your site with plugins or custom coding.

Guest AuthorSyed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site. With over 10 years of experience, he’s the leading WordPress expert in the industry. You can learn more about Syed and his portfolio of companies by following him on his social media networks.

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WORDPRESS

Best Web Hosting for E-Commerce in 2024

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Web hosting domains for web pages

What is the best web hosting for e-commerce right now?

The best web hosting for e-commerce right now is Hostinger. Hostinger offers both a website builder and WooCommerce hosting plans at affordable prices — starting at less than $5 a month.

Hostinger’s e-commerce plans include a free domain for one year, secure socket layer certification, firewall protection and email hosting for up to 100 email addresses. You’ll also get a good amount of storage — 500 products for the store builder and at least 200GB for the WooCommerce plans — and access to 24/7 customer service.

Hostinger logo

Sarah Tew/CNET

Hostinger is a rapidly growing web hosting company that offers two types of e-commerce hosting: an AI-powered e-commerce website builder and managed WooCommerce hosting. WooCommerce support is also included in Hostinger’s managed WordPress plans.

Both types of e-commerce hosting from Hostinger include a free domain for one year, SSL certification, firewall protection and email hosting for up to 100 email addresses.

Plans

Hostinger’s e-commerce website builder offers both an AI-powered site generation process — building a site for you based on simple information you enter about your business — and a self-created website option that is based on 150 templates.

The e-commerce site builder also features SEO tools, marketing integrations, inventory management tools for up to 500 products, appointment scheduling and 20-plus different payment methods.

For managed WooCommerce, Hostinger offers four plans with one-click WooCommerce setup, LiteSpeed caching, auto-updates and automated daily backups. More advanced plans include benefits like built-in WooCommerce integrations and AI content generation tools.

Pricing

Hostinger’s e-commerce store builder plan starts at $4 a month (plus three months free) and renews for $9 a month if you choose a four-year plan. The $4-a-month introductory rate applies to all plans of one year or more, but renewal costs vary based on contract length.

Hostinger’s managed WooCommerce hosting starts at $4 a month, with renewal pricing as low as $9 a month for the most affordable plan. The $4-a-month introductory rate applies to all plans of one year or more, but renewal costs vary based on contract length.

Ionos’s main e-commerce offerings are an online store builder and WooCommerce hosting. Both include a free domain for at least one year, an SSL certification, firewall protection and access to 24/7 customer service via live chat or phone. 

Plans

Ionos’s online store builder includes manual and AI-driven site-building tools, including a customizable checkout with options to add upsells to encourage people to upgrade their products and cross-sells to encourage people to buy related products. A variety of payment processors, shipping rate calculation tools and promo/coupon creators are also included.

All online store builder plans from Ionos include free email hosting for at least one email address and the ability to list at least 500 physical products in your store.

Ionos’s WooCommerce plan includes preinstalled WordPress and WooCommerce, plus an AI-powered setup wizard that builds a site for you based on basic information about your store. 

Ionos’s WooCommerce plan also includes a caching plugin, Jetpack backup, automated WordPress updates, unlimited product creation and email hosting for 10 accounts.

Ionos also offers managed hosting plans for Magento and PrestaShop, two moderately popular e-commerce platforms.

Pricing

Pricing for Ionos’s e-commerce site builder is complicated. The Plus plan starts at $1 a month for six months but rises to $30 a month after those months, and you must sign up for a year to get the discount — so you’ll pay $30 a month for the second half of your term. The Starter plan, on the other hand, starts at $6 a month for six months but only rises to $24 a month afterward.

As for WooCommerce hosting, there’s only one plan, and it costs $10 a month for the first year and $20 a month after.

Magento plans use cloud hosting and have hourly billing rates with monthly maximums, the lowest being $7 a month.

You can also save money by purchasing one of Ionos’s highly affordable shared hosting plans, with the lowest tier starting at $4 a month and rising to $6 a month on renewal. If you choose this option, you’ll have to configure and maintain your e-commerce store on your own. 

PrestaShop plans are similar to regular shared hosting plans, with the most affordable one starting at $4 a month and rising to $6 a month.

SiteGround is known for its excellent WordPress hosting and award-winning customer service. SiteGround offers a variety of WordPress plans, including three WooCommerce plans.

Plans

All of SiteGround’s WooCommerce plans include unmetered bandwidth, a free domain for the first year, permanent SSL certification, WordPress auto-updates and daily backups.

SiteGround also offers top-notch security features, including a constantly updated firewall, AI anti-bot tools and a custom security plugin. Combined with a content delivery network and highly optimized servers, these features ensure excellent site and server performance.

Pricing

SiteGround’s least expensive WooCommerce plan starts at $3 a month and rises to $18 a month on renewal. The most expensive WooCommerce plan starts at $8 a month and rises to $45 a month on renewal. You must sign up for one year to get the full introductory discount, and there is no option to keep the discount by signing up for a two or three-year term.

Buying regular shared hosting from SiteGround won’t save you money, either — the prices for both regular shared hosting and regular WordPress hosting are the same as SiteGround’s WooCommerce hosting prices. 

A2 Hosting is an independent web host with a 4.6/5 star rating on TrustPilot with over 2,500 reviews. A2 Hosting also performed well in our hands-on review, with excellent ease of use, a good variety of plans and great server performance — even on a basic plan without added caching tools. Customer support via phone and email was slow, suggesting that it may take a significant amount of time to address complex issues.

Plans

A2 Hosting offers several WordPress hosting plans and one WooCommerce plan. A2 Hosting WordPress plans include optimized WordPress installation with automatic setup for essential pages and plugins, plus server performance tools like LiteSpeed caching. These plans also include daily backups, SSL certification and an advanced firewall with distributed denial of service and brute force protection.

Pricing

The lowest-tier WordPress hosting plan from A2 Hosting starts at $10 a month and rises to $26 a month after renewal. The one plan with preinstalled WooCommerce starts at $40 a month, with a renewal cost of $62 a month. Discounts are only available with a three-year plan.

You can save money with a regular shared hosting plan — starting at $2 a month and rising to $13 a month for the lowest tier. These plans still include excellent security and WordPress features, but some of them don’t include daily backups or performance tools like LiteSpeed.

Nexcess offers top-tier WooCommerce hosting and fully managed Magento hosting. All of Nexcess’s plans feature SSL certification, firewall protection, automated daily backups and an above-average 99.99% uptime guarantee.

Plans

Nexcess’s managed WooCommerce hosting plans come bundled with plugins like Yoast SEO, Astra Pro and Beaver Builder Lite bundled directly into its hosting packages for improved performance.

Nexcess’s managed WooCommerce hosting plans also include automated updates for WordPress and all plugins, plus a plugin performance monitor to track the impact plugins and themes have on site performance. Object caching and image compression are also included to further improve performance.

Nexcess’s fully managed Magento hosting plans include robust developer tools and caching for accelerated site speed.

Pricing

Managed WooCommerce hosting through Nexcess starts at $8.40 a month, with the most expensive plan costing $438 a month. There is no introductory pricing.

Fully managed Magento hosting through Nexcess starts at $37.52 a month for the first three months and rises to $67 a month after those three months. The most expensive plan starts at $539.01 a month for the first three months and rises to $1,017 a month in following months.

Factors to consider when choosing a web host for e-commerce

Website builder vs. content management system

A website builder is a visual design tool for creating sites without using code, installing extensions or managing software updates. Most website builders are front-end editors, so you can see what your site edits will look like to the public in real time. Website builders also tend to be proprietary, making it difficult to switch hosts later on.

A content management system or CMS is a tool for creating, managing and organizing content like blog posts and landing pages without needing code. These tools are typically open-source, so you can use them with most hosting companies and plans. They also tend to have more customization options than website builders, but you may need to install extensions to access these options. WordPress is the most popular CMS, powering 43.4% of all websites.

If you want the simplest site building process possible, choose a website builder plan. If you want maximum flexibility and you’re capable of dealing with more complex software, choose a third-party hosting plan with a CMS like WordPress.

Shop management system

The shop management system is the tool you’ll use to create your online store, product pages and checkout experience. If you’re using a website builder, this will be built into the software. If you’re using WordPress, you’ll probably end up using the popular WooCommerce plugin.

Other shop management platforms include Magento — recently rebranded as Adobe Commerce — and PrestaShop. These are essentially content management systems built specifically for e-commerce. Some hosts, including Ionos and Nexcess, offer specialized hosting plans for these tools.

Hosting types

Most website builder hosting plans from traditional web hosts use shared hosting, which involves splitting a server’s resources between many sites. This lets hosts keep shared hosting prices low. Data storage, which includes how much space and bandwidth you have for things like images and blog posts and how much monthly traffic your site can accommodate, is limited on these plans.

If you choose a CMS, you’ll be able to pick between a few types of web hosting. Shared hosting is the most affordable, though basic shared hosting plans will require you to set up your e-commerce software yourself. Many web hosts also offer specialized shared hosting plans that are optimized for WordPress and/or the popular e-commerce plugin WooCommerce. These specialized plans are often more expensive than regular shared hosting.

As your site grows, you might want to switch to virtual private server hosting for dedicated bandwidth and storage. This lets your site accommodate more monthly visitors — often several hundred thousand — and store thousands of large files like images and videos. You’ll also get some server customization options, like the ability to choose your operating system.

Large e-commerce sites can also choose dedicated hosting. Dedicated hosting gives you an entire physical server, often including enough bandwidth to handle millions of monthly visits and enough storage to upload hundreds of thousands of large files. Dedicated hosting also offers more server customization options.

Both VPS and dedicated hosting have managed and unmanaged hosting options. Managed hosting tends to be more expensive, but includes server software maintenance. Unmanaged plans are typically less expensive, but require you to maintain server software yourself (or hire someone to do it).

E-commerce tools

A website builder for e-commerce should include:

  • Store design tools, including product page and checkout customization
  • Payment processing capabilities
  • Search engine optimization — SEO — tools
  • Coupon creation

An e-commerce plan from a traditional web host should include:

  • A preinstalled CMS (typically WordPress)
  • Preinstalled plugins or extensions for online store creation, such as WooCommerce

Security

At minimum, your e-commerce site should have the following security measures in place:

  • SSL certification: This protocol encrypts data sent to and from your website, such as customers’ payment information.
  • Firewall: This software attempts to filter out malware attempting to infect your site.
  • DDoS protection: DDoS attacks flood a site with fake, malicious traffic to overwhelm the server. High-quality web servers are equipped with software to protect them from these attacks.

Some hosts may also provide things like two-factor authentication, malware scanning/repair and automated backups to further protect your site.

Performance

The best web hosting services for e-commerce provide at least 99.9% uptime, meaning your site won’t go down for more than 45 minutes a month due to server issues. This is important because every minute your site is down is a minute you could be losing traffic — and if you’re running an e-commerce store, losing traffic equals losing money.

Many web hosts also offer tools to improve site speed and other aspects of performance, such as caching tools that store your data in users’ browsers so they can access your site faster on repeat visits.

Customer service

Customer service should be available 24/7 via live chat, email and phone. You also want customer support to be fast to respond and knowledgeable enough to assist you with any problems you encounter.

Reading third-party reviews is important, as web hosting companies will always play up the quality of their customer support. Looking at reviews from real people helps you understand whether or not the host you’re considering follows through on the promises made on its website.

Pricing

Consider what hosting fits within your budget, as the company and plan you choose will majorly impact your operating budget. Web hosting — especially e-commerce hosting — pricing can be confusing.

Here are four things to look out for:

  • Annual/long-term payments: Most web hosting companies display monthly prices, but you can often only access the lowest price by paying for one to three years at once.
  • Renewal pricing: Many web hosts’ listed prices are introductory rates, meaning you’ll be charged more per month when your service renews.
  • Transaction fees: Some e-commerce-focused web hosting services charge transaction fees on some or all of their plans.
  • Additional fees: Many web hosts provide a domain for the first year but require you to pay for your domain separately in subsequent years.

How CNET tests web hosting

We extensively research every web host we include on lists like this one. We start by reading their websites to evaluate the quality of their plans and pricing. We also read reviews from third-party sites like Trustpilot and check the Better Business Bureau for complaints about the service.

We’re currently conducting full reviews of popular web hosting companies to provide our hands-on, expert assessments. These reviews use our framework for testing web hosting services, including:

  • Uptime monitoring for one week
  • Speed tests over the course of five days
  • Calls and emails to customer support to determine things like waiting time, professionalism and expertise of the customer support teams

Notes from these reviews are included in the listings for the relevant hosts. This page will be updated regularly with new notes as we publish more reviews. 

Other web hosting we’ve tested

HostGator

HostGator Web Hosting logo HostGator Web Hosting logo

Sarah Tew/CNET

HostGator is a popular web host that powers over 707,000 websites. HostGator’s two WordPress-based e-commerce plans include several preinstalled plugins for e-commerce and marketing, automated WordPress updates and automated daily backups.

HostGator delivers decent security features with all plans, including SSL certification and an advanced firewall with DDoS protection.

In my testing, I found HostGator’s site setup and management tools easy to work with. Benchmarking showed that HostGator’s servers offer decent performance. Customer support was inconsistent across channels, so you might want to avoid HostGator if your site is complex and/or you expect to need a lot of support.

Pricing: Online Store plan starts at $10 a month and rises to $25 a month on renewal; Online Store + Marketplace starts at $13 a month and rises to $40 a month on renewal. You can save money by purchasing a shared hosting plan ($3.75 a month to start, $10 a month on renewal). All of these prices are based on the purchase of a three-year term. 

Read our HostGator review.

GoDaddy

GoDaddy logo GoDaddy logo

Sarah Tew/CNET

GoDaddy is the biggest player in the web hosting space, powering a full 15.6% of all websites. You can get many types of web hosting from GoDaddy, including shared and WordPress hosting. The company also offers Managed WooCommerce Stores that include hosting, automated WordPress/WooCommerce updates and shipping discounts of up to 84%.

GoDaddy’s Managed WooCommerce Stores also come with SSL certification, an advanced firewall with DDoS protection and malware scanning. This is notable, as many of GoDaddy’s hosting plans don’t include these features.

During my hands-on assessment, I found GoDaddy frustrating to get started with, but this was balanced out by excellent server performance and customer service. There are a lot of open complaints on GoDaddy’s BBB page, so you might want to avoid GoDaddy if your site is complex or you expect to need high-level support.

Pricing: The most affordable WooCommerce Store plan starts at $25 a month, and rises to $30 a month on renewal. The most expensive WooCommerce Store plan starts at $130 a month and retains this price on renewal. All WooCommerce Store plans from GoDaddy come with 2.9% plus 30 cents card transaction fees in the US and 2.7% plus $0 card transaction fees in Canada.

You can save a lot of money by choosing a regular shared hosting plan — starting at $6 a month for the most affordable option, with a renewal price of $10 a month — but you’ll be sacrificing a lot, including basic security features like a firewall.

Read our GoDaddy review.

Which hosting service is best for an e-commerce website?

Hostinger is the best hosting service for an e-commerce website, with both website builder and WooCommerce plans available for affordable prices. Hostinger offers AI site and content creation tools, email hosting and 24/7 customer service.


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What is the No. 1 e-commerce platform?

Is GoDaddy good for e-commerce hosting?

GoDaddy is a reasonably good choice for e-commerce hosting, offering managed WooCommerce plans with heavy shipping discounts available for some regions and shipping methods. Starting prices for GoDaddy’s WooCommerce plans are high, and non-WooCommerce plans lack key security features.


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2 Reasons to Buy Shopify Stock Like There’s No Tomorrow

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2 Reasons to Buy Shopify Stock Like There's No Tomorrow

It’s not very often that you can buy a potential $1 trillion business at a 90% discount.

Shares of Shopify (SHOP -7.04%), the most popular e-commerce software platform in the U.S., have risen by more than 2,000% since going public in 2015. The S&P 500, for comparison, rose by just 195% over the same period.

The best news is that Shopify stock could rise another 2,000% in the years to come. If you’re looking for stocks with massive upside, this one’s for you.

Shopify has a massive lead on the competition and it’s not even close

There are two critical factors to pay attention to when it comes to Shopify. The first is the competitive landscape. In this regard, Shopify is undoubtedly king.

When most people think of e-commerce, they think of companies like Amazon, which sell products and services online. But there’s another type of e-commerce business, and that’s platforms that allow others to set up digital storefronts of their own. Shopify, for instance, doesn’t run any of its own stores. Instead, millions of merchants run their stores using Shopify’s platform. Small home businesses use Shopify-powered stores, but so do major brands, including Nike, Allbirds, and Red Bull.

Let’s say you want to start selling online. You could list your products on Amazon, but you’ll have to give the company anywhere from 8% to 45% of your sales. Shopify, meanwhile, takes only a small percentage of your sales as a fee, and in return gives you all the things you need to establish a successful e-commerce business. That includes web design templates, marketing and analytics tools, inventory management dashboards, payment processing, and more. You won’t have the immediate reach of a platform like Amazon, but you’ll have more tools, customization options, and functionality, plus you’ll retain a much greater portion of your sales.

According to data compiled by Statista, Shopify has a 28% market share for e-commerce platforms in the U.S. WooCommerce commands an 18% market share, while Wix comes in third with 17%. Total e-commerce spending, meanwhile, is on the rise. In 2019, e-commerce spending in the U.S. totaled $540 million. Last year, it surpassed $1 billion. By 2029, it’s expected to approach $1.9 billion. E-commerce platforms like Shopify, then, are swimming in a bigger and bigger pool of potential customers. As you’ll see, there’s a good chance Shopify will not only maintain its current industry lead but expand on it in the years to come.

Artificial intelligence could put this stock on steroids

The second reason to love Shopify stock right now is that it’s perfectly positioned to benefit from the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). E-commerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Wix all compete a bit on price. But what they compete on most is functionality and user experience. Whichever platform makes its platform more powerful and easier to use wins.

With the largest market share, Shopify has an early lead. AI should accelerate this lead even further in the years to come. That’s because Shopify has the resources to attract the most AI developers to its platform. Right now, any developer can add more functionality to Shopify’s platform, earning money whenever users decide to incorporate the new tool or service. Developers know that Shopify offers them the largest potential user base to monetize their creations. Already, the company has dozens of AI apps and features that users can implement in a few clicks — everything from chatbots to automated content creation. As AI takes off, expect Shopify to benefit, gaining more market share in an already large and growing market.

How big could Shopify get? After a recent pullback, the company is valued at just $75 billion. Amazon, for comparison, is worth around $1.9 trillion. Shopify would have more than 2,000% in upside if it reached Amazon’s size. To be clear, Amazon is a far more diverse and far larger business than Shopify. It will take years or even decades for Shopify to attain a $1 trillion market cap, let alone a $2 trillion market cap. But it is businesses like this that can sustain growth for long enough to reach this enormous size.

The global e-commerce market is clearly large enough to accommodate a Shopify 10 or 20 times its current size. Keep in mind, this underlying market is still growing by around 10% annually. Much of that growth will be directed to large, consolidated e-commerce sites like Amazon. But independent stores, such as those powered by Shopify, will also take an increasing amount of this new market growth. After a 25% decline in share price over the last 90 days — a drop fueled by short-term concerns over quarterly guidance — this is a great time to back up the truck for a high-quality business with a massive long-term growth runway.

John Mackey, former CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Ryan Vanzo has positions in Shopify. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon, Nike, Shopify, and Wix.com. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2025 $47.50 calls on Nike. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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How to Connect to API of eCommerce Platform

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connect to api

Since the world has become more digital, it is crucial for eCommerce software vendors to guarantee that their solutions can interoperate with the different eCommerce platforms and marketplaces. These integrations help ensure the flow of continuity of the user experience, data exchange and synchronization, and good business management. The application programming interface (API) is very useful for achieving these integrations. The article is devoted to the specifics of how software vendors can connect to API of eCommerce platforms and marketplaces and how this process can be made easier.


Understanding APIs


APIs enable two or more software applications to exchange data and information. For eCommerce software vendors, APIs are the way to get and manage data from eCommerce platforms and marketplaces. The eCommerce API gives users access to various store information. It often enables GET, ADD, UPDATE, and DELETE data from stores, such as orders, products, customers, categories, etc.


eCommerce API integration refers to the process that enables an app or software to connect to API of an eCommerce platform. Therefore, software providers can provide various valuable features for online store owners. Some are order management, inventory synchronization, product management, and others.


api

API of eCommerce Platforms


Every eCommerce API is unique and has its own features and way of functioning. Here are some examples of popular eCommerce APIs:


Magento API


This API allows the developers to get and modify the store data on the Magento platform including customers, orders, products, etc. It supports both REST and SOAP communication protocols.


WooCommerce API


When software developers connect to API of WooCommerce, they can get, add, modify, and delete data in WooCommerce stores, such as products, prices, orders, customers, and shipping statuses.


Shopify API


This API allows you to retrieve, create, update, and delete object data in WooCommerce stores: products, prices, orders, customers, and shipping statuses. The API is XML and JSON compliant and uses HTTP requests, including GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE.


BigCommerce API


BigCommerce RESTful API enables you to integrate your eCommerce applications with BigCommerce and use any code language of your choice. It allows the user to view and manipulate store data, which includes orders, products, customers, categories, shipments, etc. All CRUD operations are allowed via HTTP methods, such as GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE.


Squarespace API


Squarespace API has different endpoints, such as the Inventory API, Orders API, Products API, Profiles API, Transactions API, and Webhook Subscriptions API. These allow developers to get stock data, order history, manage products, and much more.


1721219167 357 How to Connect to API of eCommerce Platform1721219167 357 How to Connect to API of eCommerce Platform

Key Considerations Before Connecting to an API

  1. API Documentation

  2. API documentation is the starting point for learning how to communicate with a specific platform’s API. It contains information on the endpoints, the formats of requests and responses, authentication, the rate at which requests are allowed, and how errors are handled. It is imperative to go through the documentation of the target eCommerce platform or marketplace carefully before moving on to the integration part.


  3. Authentication

  4. Various platforms employ different forms of authentication, including API keys, OAuth, and basic authentication. Make sure that you are familiar with the expected authentication method and have the credentials needed to make the API calls.


  5. Rate Limits

  6. APIs usually have rate limits to prevent overuse and misuse of the API. These are the limits that you should observe so that you don’t get throttled or blocked. This information is usually available in the API documentation.


  7. Error Handling

  8. Good error handling is vital for a successful integration since errors are bound to occur at some point. It is also important to know the various error codes and their meanings and how to manage them in your integration to address matters like rate limits, timeouts, and authentication.


documentationdocumentation

Methods to Connect to API of eCommerce Platform


There are two ways of connecting to eCommerce API: in-house integration development or via integration solution like API2Cart.


In-house integration development


in-house integrationin-house integration

Creating eCommerce API integrations from the ground up takes a lot of time and effort and includes stages such as planning, development, testing, and support. This can slow down the time it takes to market your solutions.


In-house development allows more control, but it requires a team of qualified developers, which may prove expensive. Moreover, the costs of maintenance and updates, which are continuous processes, are also included in the resource requirements.


All the eCommerce platforms are different in terms of API, documentation, and prerequisites that need to be met. Managing all these for several platforms can be rather cumbersome and also comes with some mistakes.


Integration with eCommerce platforms via API2Cart


api2cartapi2cart

API2Cart decreases integration development time. Data can be easily accessed, and developers can connect to eCommerce platform APIs with minimal effort.


The service helps to decrease the need for a large internal development team, which reduces costs. It also includes maintenance and updates, so you don’t need to waste your time and effort on them.


API2Cart has detailed documentation and code samples, which makes it more convenient to connect to the APIs. This support can help minimize the time taken in the integration process.


API2Cart can process large numbers of API calls, which is why it works for any business, regardless of its size. It’s flexible and can accommodate your business’s growth without compromising performance and reliability.


This API integration solution provides its clients with detailed technical support in case of any questions or problems connected with integration. This support can be very helpful when trying to figure out issues and/or fine-tune your integrations.

API2Cart helps you to integrate with the shopping platforms faster, save time on development, allowing you to concentrate more on other business operations.


Depending on various factors such as business requirements, time and money constraints, and other factors, it is possible to choose between the in-house integration development and the use of API2Cart. If you want to have full control and high flexibility and have the capabilities, developing your own may be more suitable. But if you are in search of a cheap, efficient and easily customizable approach, API2Cart is a viable competitor with its API-based integration.


How to Get Started to Connect to eCommerce APIs via API2Cart


API2Cart provides a simple way to connect to API of multiple eCommerce platforms and marketplaces. To start using the service, you need to follow these simple steps:

  1. Sign Up and Get the API Key

  2. The first one is to get an API2Cart account with the help of experts. Once you sign up, you will be given an API key that will be used for the authentication process.


  3. Connect a Store

  4. To add a store to your API2Cart account, you need to enter the basic details of the store such as the store URL, the platform, and the authentication details. API2Cart employs various forms of authentication with regard to the platform used.


  5. Explore API Methods

  6. API2Cart contains many API methods, including products, orders, customers, categories, etc. The documentation explains how to use them appropriately.


  7. Test and Optimize

Check that the integration is functioning correctly. Monitor the API calls and responses and modify your integration.


API-IntegrationAPI-Integration

Conclusion


Integrating with the API of eCommerce platforms and marketplaces is one of the most important tasks for eCommerce software vendors. By knowing the critical factors, adhering to the integration steps, and using tools like API2Cart, vendors can make the process easier, shorten the development time, and have reliable connections. API2Cart is a unified API approach that offers a reliable and flexible solution to help vendors concentrate on value-added services. With a single API software, vendors can integrate with over 40 eCommerce platforms and marketplaces. The list of supported integrations includes Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify, Squarespace, Amazon, etc. You can get more information about API2Cart by scheduling a call with our manager.


Following the guidelines and best practices mentioned in this article, eCommerce software vendors can easily connect to the APIs, improve their products, and provide the best user experience.



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