I had a discussion with a chapter of a state organization that was wondering if they could host their site through the state organization’s web site. The short answer is yes, but I explained to them that it really comes down to the chapter’s long-term vision of itself, the chapter’s budget, and the chapter’s expectations of itself on the web.
Those three issues determine for any organization how much control of their web site they are going to want to have. It is possible that all three questions for the chapter have answers that fit into the hosting association’s arrangement.
But sometimes budget supercedes all – there’s just no money – and if that’s the case you look for the best fit for free. But it’s a fit, not a plan, and you’ll have to play by the rules for the web presence as established by those who you are attempting to fit in with. That means anything that’s free – including trying to run your web presence solely by free social media, or using free web hosting, etc. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – but if the organization’s vision of itself, and its expectation of itself, as reflected on the web, isn’t a fit, then seek out the money.
And that’s because it doesn’t take much money to register a domain and to rent cheap server space. People can learn to build and maintain a web site on hosted software servers fairly cheaply. I’m not saying these will be great web sites, but they give the organization something that you can’t get when you tag on with others for free:
Independence from the business and technology decisions made by those who you are tagging along with. Independence from the technology limitations that are rightfully established for another organization’s web server space. Independence of URL and domain. Independence to move your site to another server without disturbing the web site address.
These are values that organizations sometimes fail to really consider in their search for no cost. And any organization that plans on being on the web for more than a curious moment should take it into account.