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UPDATE: My question was more about does it matter if my website is unsecure (I don't have SSL certificate at the moment) and when you open the website it says the website is not secure. Does that affect or make bad impression on whosoever would review my application? Or shall I wait to get one for free before applying for jobs? Sorry for not being clear before. My apology.

I have made a couple of websites that I am planning to host, so I can start applying for jobs in IT as a Web developer. I came across several websites, some of which are free, some which cost money. I was wondering if someone were to check my portfolio would they care if my website is not hosted on a reputable host? I can't pay right now, but I do have the skills to create websites, so I am not sure if it's okay to host my website on a free host or if it would affect my job applications. Does it matter where I host my portfolio?

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  • Dropped website names since I don't think they're ultimately relevant. That said I'm not too familiar with the options and can imagine there are different grades of "reputable" and "free". How noticeably free are these sites? Do they include just a tasteful banner? Do they come with ads? – Lilienthal Oct 9 '20 at 9:51
  • @Lilienthal I believe they're relevant, since they reveal some of OP's architectural choices. Answering your questions: Heroku will host your site for free at a sitename.herokuproject.com domain (unless you have your own domain, then it'll let you use it). I'm unaware of a Bluehost free tier. They're have been around for more than a decade, though, I don't know why OP or anyone else would not find them "reputable". – Ramon Melo Oct 9 '20 at 12:01
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    @RamonMelo Fair but that's not the point of this site. As a result of mentioning heroku now there's a potential discussion here about whether a given site is "reputable" or not and what features they offer. :) I'd rather this be about what's visible to a potential employer than the inner workings. Real domain name versus a subdomain/number, visible/disruptive ads, etc. Unless OP wants to clarify the answers can focus on those elements rather than reviewing individual services. – Lilienthal Oct 9 '20 at 12:20
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    @Lilienthal I see, and I agree. I guess only OP can clarify such concerns (although current answers already cover a broad range of them). – Ramon Melo Oct 9 '20 at 12:33
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    @RamonMelo Main reason I'm being somewhat pedantic is that this was destined to hit HNQ which it indeed just has. I'd like answers to address what to look for / be wary of when picking a site to host a portfolio. "It doesn't matter as long at it looks professional." is a bit obvious and doesn't help OP or others with questions on this topic. :) Hence the "detailed answers required" post notice as well. – Lilienthal Oct 9 '20 at 13:01
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Others have commented on the "reputability" issue. I'll address the SSL question.

As a hiring manager, if I went to see your portfolio on an insecure web site, I would question professional qualifications of a web developer who either doesn't understand the value of securing the web site (with login/signup pages, no less) or is unable to set up a freely available SSL certificate.

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    +1. A portfolio may not need a login/signup page, but demonstrating SSL is surely a must. Implementing it yourself (or choosing a host which does it for you, like I have!) is part of your portfolio. – Andrew Leach Oct 9 '20 at 16:51
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Does it matter where you host your website for getting a job?

Most likely not. The only exception I can think of hosting (for example) on Azure/GCP when interviewing with an exclusive AWS partner.

Aside from that, HR will probably not even know or care where your site is hosted -- they will focus on the content, and how professional it reads and looks.

Not all free hosting is created equal, however. You'll want to make sure to find a provider that gives you total control over that content, and does not introduce random banners and advertisements.

Another consideration is SSL certificates to make your site secure. It may not make a difference in terms of your content, but the negative way that different browsers and corporate filters handle unsecure sites could make for a poor user experience.

Personally I would not hold off on sharing your site just because of SSL. In my opinion, the benefit of showing your work outweighs the "insecure" label. You don't collect personal information, and can always explain you are currently working to secure your site.

The technical experts you speak to will likely know and understand that you select a personal host based on price, not on architectural purity.

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  • Would you say the same if the website I hosted says unsecure rather a lock next to my website? The unsecure is because of not paying for website. – Sky Oct 9 '20 at 6:43
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    Let's Encrypt SSL certificates are free. Also, using an opinionated PaaS like Heroku instead of some random VPS/cloud provider tells me a bit about your dev style (Ruby on Rails, by any chance?). But all that said, any hiring manager will be much more interested in what your site does/shows, not where it's hosted. – lambshaanxy Oct 9 '20 at 6:46
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    "The only exception I can think of " - more phantasy. A subdomain for a polticial outlet i.e. may not be good in most scenarios, or something that is correlated to porn. Or - hosting your website on the dark web - BAD idea, most people would not know how to access it. I Agree it does not generally matter - at all - but you show a serious lack of imagination about how bad you CAN do that ;) – TomTom Oct 9 '20 at 9:56
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    @Sky Heroku does offer free SSL automated certificates if you use their free-tier domain. That being said, like it or not, securing your website has become part of the "web developer starter kit" since browsers started boycotting non-encrypted sites, and you'll be judged on that regard. – Ramon Melo Oct 9 '20 at 12:13
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    "Aside from that, HR will probably not even know or care where your site is hosted -- they will focus on the content." From my experience, free hosting comes with a shitload of ads, and the nastiest kinds of them, too. Very intrusive, very annoying. I wouldn't bet on HR having adblockers, so this should be taken into account when choosing a free hoster. – Polygnome Oct 9 '20 at 13:48
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Does it matter where I host my portfolio?

Not really. As long as you are choosing a reliable host that ensures that your website has a good uptime (has almost no downtime due to technical issues from providers end).

While not a functional requirement, it is generally a good idea to go with a host that makes your website load fast. It would generally not give a good impression on anybody accessing your website if the load time is too high. Any reputable host would have a good page load performance, but it is still advisable to check if any performance limitations apply with the tier (free/basic/paid) that you choose to go with.

In some cases, the choice of host may showcase your additional skills, such as if you host your website using GitHub Pages, it also indirectly shows that you have the knowledge and skills to use GitHub Pages product.

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    +1 for using GitHub Pages. This will speak volumes about how "in touch" you are with the current state of "making text available on the web". OP specifically mentions cost being a concern, and GitHub pages is free! – Eric Seastrand Oct 9 '20 at 19:38
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I'll address both aspects of the question individually for convenience:

I have made a couple of websites that I am planning to host, so I can start applying for jobs in IT as a Web developer. I came across several websites, some of which are free, some which cost money. I was wondering if someone were to check my portfolio would they care if my website is not hosted on a reputable host? I can't pay right now, but I do have the skills to create websites, so I am not sure if it's okay to host my website on a free host or if it would affect my job applications. Does it matter where I host my portfolio?

There's two things there - "reputable" and "cost", a host can be reputable without it being paid. On the whole (assuming the site is hosted by you as a private individual and not a company) then it being on a free host is essentially irrelevant. I doubt anyone would even give it a second thought. Reputable on the other hand might have a part to play - if the host is known to be sketchy then it might call your judgement into question slightly, and more practically if it is unreliable hosting there's a chance it might not be there when the people evaluating you want to visit it. And that's going to look bad.

My question was more about does it matter if my website is unsecure (I don't have SSL certificate at the moment) and when you open the website it says the website is not secure. Does that affect or make bad impression on whosoever would review my application? Or shall I wait to get one for free before applying for jobs? Sorry for not being clear before. My apology.

Unless the site is actually offering something where security is a concern (such as a live e-commerce platform or where you are actually taking login details/PII) then no it doesn't matter and technical people are going to know that. It might however create a negative impression on a non technical person who might see the scary-looking "unsecure" banner and respond to that without understanding the actual risks or lack thereof.

It wouldn't be a big concern IMO - certainly not one where I'd actually recommend spending money to eliminate it. Fortunately you can get around this using a free SSL cert such as LetsEncrypt anyway, but in the meantime I wouldn't let it put you off applying for jobs.

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  • I have a website where people can login/signup and post stuff. So I should get a SSL certificate right? – Sky Oct 9 '20 at 15:03
  • @Sky Yep - in that case absolutely get a cert, a LetsEncrypt will be fine but I wouldn't be having that site out there without one. – motosubatsu Oct 9 '20 at 15:20
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    "then no it doesn't matter". I disagree strongly. certificates offer transaction security yes, but they also guarantee that nothing is putting stuff on your website that you didn't put there. – Mooing Duck Oct 9 '20 at 16:37
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    "it doesn't matter and technical people are going to know that" - People who understand security concerns will likely be more (not less) demanding of encryption. – Ramon Melo Oct 9 '20 at 17:11
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    There is no reason to not use SSL in this day and age. It's free and pretty easy for most reputable web hosts. Super easy for any self-hosted website as well (just a certbot command away from installing it) – Carson Graham Oct 9 '20 at 18:07
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The content of the portfolio matters far more than the technology used to stitch it together.

If you are applying for technical positions, especially positions which involve operating web services, an interviewer may be interested in some of the technical decisions you made in building the portfolio. In this case, they are more interested in hearing your reasoning than in judging your final choice.

For example, if you are asked why you chose a certain web hosting service, you could say "Host [x] provided the [hardened ruby stack] that i needed at a price in my budget. If my budget were larger, I would have gone for [y] because [they guarantee six-nines reliability].". The interviewer won't judge you for going with the cheaper (or free) option, they'll make a note that you know how to do a data-driven cost-benefit analysis and come to a decision that fits the project.

Not using an SSL certificate is not defensible from a technical or costs perspective, because let's encrypt offers free certificates. From this perspective, not having an SSL certificate on your portfolio website does demonstrate a lack of knowledge (or at least lack of effort in this one specific regard) to a certain degree, and it would definitely be better for you to learn and set that up. Realistically, though, it's not something that will stand in the way of landing a job.

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    "The content of the portfolio matters far more than the technology used to stitch it together." - Unless the job itself is stitching technologies together, which is sort of the core of web development. – Ramon Melo Oct 9 '20 at 16:51
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Depending on where you are applying, there might be some firewalls of some sort that could potentially prevent your recipient from accessing and using your website properly.

Simple examples:

  • There was a software that I could easily download at home without trouble. But upon going on an internship abroad, everytime I tried to download it, an error occurred. The only time it worked was when I tried downloading it through a Virtual Private Network located in Europe.

  • There was another time I had created a very simple web page, in which I had included a source code from a Google URL (a simple jQuery import). Although the website was working properly on my side, when I asked a friend who was in China to try to open it, she told me it was not working (apparently because China is blocking Google, according to her).

I don't know if hosting your website on Google Cloud could affect the availability of your website in China or not, but you should be aware that, because of some firewalls or other safeties, some third party services you might use for your website could not be working (which in turns could make the website unusable). Some companies might have inner firewalls in their networks that could interfere too.

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It costs almost nothing for a domain name and SSL can be achieved for free nowadays. Invest some money into your job search! If you can afford a haircut you can afford a domain name.

If I got served a website w/ improperly configured SSL that would be the end of my consideration.

You can just not enable port 443/https and only serve over port 80, this should remove the warning in browsers.

As far as hosting, you can just host the website yourself, I've never paid for hosting. I don't think where your site is hosted is relevant or even visible to end users, but misconfiguration of SSL surely is!

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