So, you’ve decided it’s time to send your business out into the wide world of the Internet. Congratulations! We understand… you’ve heard that you need a domain and a hosting provider, but you have no idea what that means, or where to start. Getting started can be overwhelming and confusing for the uninitiated, and the great news is that it’s more straightforward to learn than you think.
Let’s start with some key terminology.
What is a Domain?
Without getting too technical, a domain is simply your address on the internet. The principles are similar if you had a physical location. In the traditional business, your clients would go to your shop or office address, if they wanted to see you in person. This is the same for the virtual world, and your domain is your virtual address.
Here’s a technical bit. Websites are assigned IP addresses, which are numbers, and can be difficult to remember, so, instead of memorising IP addresses, domain names make it simple for people to recall your website addresses. For example, instead of memorising 22.214.171.124, you can type startsmartwebsite.com.
Our preferred domain name registry company is Namecheap.com, however, there are a lot out of companies who offer this service, so it is always good to compare packages. These companies will allow you to check if the domain you want is available, and will give you suggestions if it’s not.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating your domain name:
- Use your brand or business name. It will make it easier for people to remember.
- Keep in mind the length. Long domain names can be difficult to remember.
- Use words. Don’t complicate your domain name with numbers, hyphens or any other special characters.
- Choose Top Level Domain (TLD) Names. These are the extension of your domain name such as .com or .org. Selecting the most appropriate suffix lets users know what your website and business is about, and gives your website much more credibility. Some of the other TLDs include .info for informational sites, .biz for businesses and .net for technical website.
That’s not all. You can also use a domain to have customised email addresses. For example, email@example.com, instead of firstname.lastname@example.org. This type of email address presents you as a professional and say a lot about your business.
What is a Hosting Provider?
Now that you have a web address, you need to a place to store your website content. Remember our analogy above? If your domain is the address where a client will find you online, then the hosting provider is the landlord of your traditional office space, where you store your files, images, and other media.
Web hosting allows you to publish your website on the Internet. It’s very similar to renting a commercial space for your office or shop. Hosting companies have servers which are powerful computers that run 24/7 so that all the websites hosted are available at any time.
Some people have asked, “Can I have my own server and host my website?” The answer – Yes, absolutely! However, that will entail a lot of cost and technical ‘know-how’, so for most people it’s not very practical. You need a super computer that needs to be running all the time. You will need to do the maintenance and security measures yourself, which again will take a lot of resources especially if you are not very technical. For a fee, web hosting companies take the load off your shoulders.
Along with your beautifully-design website, the domain and web hosting are the main components to having a website. Our preferred hosting company is Namecheap.com, however, there are a lot out of companies who offer this service. It is important to discuss with your web developer the type of hosting you will need because if you’re running an ecommerce store, you may need different hosting versus an site promoting your services.