Quick Overview of Web Hosting, Website Building & Domain Names
For creating and publishing a website online you need three things: website files (these can be created using a tool or from scratch by utilizing programming language), web hosting (a web server that is connected to the internet and is available 24/7, where files will be uploaded and stored), domain name (which is the address of your website and through which users can connect to the webserver to visit your website).
It might sound complicated at first read, but I will try to explain it in a simpler way. Let’s compare hosting to home rental. The web server is the house, the website is the furniture and home decoration and domain name is the address of your residency. If someone wants to visit you in your home, first they will need the address, than they will enter your house and finally they can enjoy your hospitality.
That was a very rough comparison, but it works very similar when someone wants to check out your website. First the user types in the address (domain name) in the web browser which will connect to the domain name server to figure out on which server your website is located. Then it sends a request to the server in order to access the files and once permission is granted the web browser will load the website files and display them to the user.
Renting a web server where power outages and security issues are frequent is just like living in an apartment where bugs, leaks and power disruptions are a constant problem. This can affect your life in a badly manner. The same thing is true for hosting. If you choose a bad hosting service your website as well business will suffer.
A slow or unsecure hosting will send your visitors away from your website. It not only has effect on your potential customers, but it will also cause drop in search engine rankings. Google just revealed that website speed is a ranking factor in their search engine.
How to Create a Website?
Depending on your skills, time and available budget you will have literally unlimited options to create a website. If you are good at programming, you can start a website from scratch. This is a tedious and slow way to create a site. If you are looking to publish your site quickly and don’t have the time or skills to develop it, you can hire someone to help you. This certainly will require an initial investment which depends on the functionality of your site. It is not a cheap solution for sure.
If you have time and willing to create the website yourself, but don’t know any programming language you could choose a CMS. A content management system (CMS) is a software which makes it easy to non-technical persons to build a website. There are many website building tools that you can choose from; one of the most popular is WordPress. This is a free software and can be installed to almost any web server.
What Web Hosting Provider Should You Choose?
Depending on what type of website you are planning to create, you can choose from a wide range of providers and hosting plans. Please read my articles and hosting reviews to find the hosting you need for specific websites.
For a simple low traffic website a shared hosting plan will be enough. This type of hosting offers a set of features that is good for starting a small website. If you need a specific programming language to be supported on the web server, choose web hosting accordingly. Most shared hosting providers offer the most common languages such as PHP, Ruby, Java or others.
Virtual private servers are used for growing websites that need more server resources and higher security. This type of hosting is great for online shops, forums, news portals.
Dedicated hosting is usually used by corporations. The renting costs of these servers are huge, compared to shared hosting. The management of such servers requires good technical knowledge, so it is definitely not an option for beginners.
Websites with worldwide audience or with huge traffic spikes use cloud hosting. This hosting type ensures that the performance of the website remains the same while providing more computing power that is available from the network.
By industry standards shared hosting is usually managed. This means that you are not only renting the web server, but also the software and support. However VPS or dedicated servers are not always managed. You have to install software, have to maintain it with updates and there is no support either. However if you have not time or knowledge to deal with such things, you can purchase the management service at additional cost.
Where to Buy Domain Names?
Most hosting providers also offer domain registration services. You can buy your domain while purchasing web hosting. This is the easier way to get started, because there is no extra step involved.
You can purchase domain names from domain registrars also. In this case you will have to change the name server of your domain to the name server that is provided by your current hosting company. This is how you basically point a domain to a web server. This is a very easy task, no technical knowledge is required. Usually each domain registrar provides help and tutorials on how to change the name server of a domain. In the articles section you can find more info about this also.
I highly recommend buying domain from only accredited domain registrars.