New Website 101

Lisa Delnay's picture

You may be a master Web Surfer, or you could be a newbie, but either way, surfing the web, and having your own website, are two somewhat different things. When looking into acquiring yourself a website, there tends to be some initially confusing elements. Lets start off with a few simple terms.

DOMAIN NAME

Your probably already be familiar with this one, but stay with me. Your Domain Name is what appears in the address bar on your web browser. The “www.something.com”. Its your Internet Address. For your new site you’ll need to register a domain. Stake your claim on a particular address. It can be really anything you want as long as it

- contains only alpha-numeric characters and no spaces (also “-” is allowed, but not at the beginning or end)

- is between 3 and 63 characters long

- isn’t already taken by someone else!

So how do you find out if your domain is available and how do you register one? You can check out a site like http://www.whois.com/ to check if the domain you want is available. There are a myriad of companies who register domains and most of them also offer Hosting. Which leads us to our next term.

WEB HOST

Websites are just a collection of files being displayed to you by your Web Browser (what’s a web browser? Check out THIS POST). These files need to be stored somewhere where everyone can view them. That is what a Host does. Hosting services store your information on a specific kind of computer called a server, and “serve” it up when your domain is called up.
Have you ever seen those mysterious and provocative super bowl commercials advertising for GoDaddy.com? If out of curiosity you actually checked out the site, you were probably (if you happen to be of the male persuasion) sorely disappointed when you found that instead of hosting scantly clad women they host websites.

Web Hosts almost always also offer Domain Registration along with hosting but you can have your domain registered with one company and hosted by another. Hosts often offer you the option of hosting email as well, which we will discuss in a future post.
There are a vast amount of choices when it comes to finding a host but some of the hosts we’ve worked with the past are GoDaddy, Dreamhost, and IX WebHosting.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
Many Web Designers and Web Developers bundle these services in with the actual creation of your website design and actual site files. So if your designer or developer will handle all this for you, why do you need to know about it?
First, understand that It is very rare that your web developer/designer actually has servers in his basement serving up your website. Usually they are working with a large hosting company who does the actual hosting. So if the server your site is on goes down (and sometimes they do temporarily) there is nothing your developer can do but wait for the Host to fix the problem.

Second, we encourage people to take at least a little ownership of their site. When we create a site we consider the files we create something the customer then owns. We have had quite a few customers come to us frustrated because for some reason they don’t want to, or can’t continue with their current web designer/developer. Maybe they’ve had a falling out, they don’t update their site quickly enough, or they’ve simply gone out of business. But, since the designer had complete control over the site, the site owner has to start all over with the site and if the designer/developer isn’t cooperative in transferring they may even need a new domain name.

Even though you most likely have no idea what those files all do, or how any of it works, Having the information to access the site files and your hosting account is a good precaution in case for any reason you’d need to transfer the site to someone else’s care.

I hope this crash course in having your own website has been helpful to you and maybe when you call up your web designer you can surprise them with your knowledge!

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