First of all, get this straight: building a website is nowhere near as complicated as you think. There’s a few geeky things you need to know, but it’s probably about as technical as sending an email.
So here's the top 10 questions you need to ask – with the answers, of course:
1. What’s a domain name and why do I need one?
A domain name is simply the name of your website. For example www.mywebsite.com is a domain name.
You need a domain name or url because when you build a website, you need to it visible to all those hundreds of customers or visitors you’re going to get. It’s actually a bit more complicated than that, but if we start going in to IP Addresses and all that technical stuff we think your eyes will start to glaze over!
2. How do I get a domain name?
Type in “domain name” in your favourite search engine and you’ll find a list of domain name providers.
Next, enter a url you want to call your website and purchase that domain. You need a unique name across the whole internet and you can guarantee all the good ones have been taken. You have to get very imaginative when looking for a name, but the domain name company will suggest a lot of alternatives for you.
3. Should I get a .com domain name or .co.uk, or .net etc
There’s two parts to this answer – one to do with search engine optimisation and the other with preference. For search engine optimisation (getting the search engines to move your site up in their rankings), the extension doesn’t make any difference. They treat .com, .co.uk, .org, .net or any other country extension the same.
From a preference point of view, .com is the most popular, but if you want to target a local market you may want to use a country extension like .co.uk as some users may be prejudiced against .com.
When you build a website, if you’re planning on branding it or extending into other countries, it’s a good idea to purchase all the popular extensions. What you can do until you’re ready to use them, is redirect them to your .com website. Buying them all like this also prevents someone coming along and buying your domain with those extensions, and then trying to sell them to you at a much inflated price once your site has become popular.
4. Should I register my domain name as private or public?
If you register it as public it means that your details are available to everyone on the internet. All they need to do is go to a website like whois.com and they’ll have access to all the private details like email, address, name, phone number you entered for registration. List it as private and they won’t see those details. It all really depends if you like receiving spam or not!
5. How do I get my domain name registered?
Your domain name is registered when you buy it from the domain name company. You don’t really need to do much as far as this goes.
6. How much does a domain name cost?
Prices vary but you can get most for less than $10.00 but it probably would be for a less well known suffix. For example instead of being for a .com suffix it could be for another country code or a .org, .net etc.
Usually you buy a domain name for a set number of years and then have it automatically renew when the time you bought it for expires.
So now you’re armed with a new domain you need to build a website to start attracting traffic. Next thing you’re going to need is a hosting account.
7. What’s a hosting account and where do I get one from?
A hosting account’s where all the files and images that make up your website are stored. Your domain name needs to be linked to your hosting account so that when someone navigates to your website, they can access all the files that make up your site.
8. What does hosting cost?
Again it depends who you get it from but in general it should be very cheap. There are some sites you can get it for as little as 3-4 dollars a month.
9. What should I look for in a hosting provider?
The main things are their hours of support and their uptime. I only use providers that have telephone support 24/7. You also want a provider that has at least 99.9% uptime. With a provider, if their site goes down, meaning their site can’t be accessed, it means your site also goes down. So 99.9% uptime means that their site is up and available 99.9% of the time.
Also if you’re into blogging at all, you need to ask if they have access to cpanel. cPanel is the control panel for your hosting account and is used for uploading files in addition to heaps of other things. It’s also where you can install software to create a blog through wordpress. WordPress is one of the most popular pieces of blogging software, so if you into blogging at all you’ll need access to cpanel. Note you don’t need cpanel if you run your blog through blogspot.
10. Are there alternatives to paying to have my website hosted?
Yes there are. You can do a search on any search engine for free hosting and get a list of websites. We haven’t done this, but they will host your site, generally created through their own software and you’ll get a domain name that goes with that site. These are a great alternative if you’re just wanting a simple site to show your friends for example, but if you want a commercial site or you’re starting an online home business, we’d recommend getting your own domain name and hosting account.
We’ve listed the main things you need to do before you build a website. None of it’s complicated, and there are a lot of options for hosting providers, domain name providers and hosting in general available to you.
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