After planning your website pages, written the content, identified signposts and calls to action, you’re now faced with the task of actually putting your website out there on the internet.
This article is going to explain what requirements need to be met to make that happen. These requirements are technical, but stay with me! I’m going to simplify and break it down for you.
There are 3 main requirements that you need to get your website online. To help us understand these 3 requirements, let’s use the (fictional) ABC Widgets as an example.
#1) Domain Name
Now imagine that you need to buy some widgets from ABC Widgets. You will need to pick them up from their outlet or office, so what is the first thing that you do? You look up their address.
For your website, the domain name is your address. The domain name is the string of text that has a .com, .net, .something at the end of it. Here are some examples of domain names:
Depending on the goal of your website, you should choose a domain name that reflects your business (e.g. mybrand.com), your website topic (e.g. eco-friendly-tips.com) or your name (e.g. johndoe.com).
All the good domains are running out, so quickly grab yours today. Even if you don’t plan to use it right away, it’s a good idea to reserve it so that no one else can get it. After all, a .com domain name cost only about $10 per year.
Side note: When you want to visit a website, you can type it’s address directly into the address bar. I’ve seen people go to Google and type in the address there. Typing the address into the address bar will save you a click.
#2) Web Hosting
So now you have an address, but where does it point to? In the case of ABC Widgets, the address will lead you to a commercial area where their outlet and office are located.
Web hosting is like your website’s outlet or office–it is the physical location on the internet where the website lives. Another benefit of web hosting is that you can have your own personalized email address e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are different types of web hosting. The most common are:
Shared hosting. This is where you share a web server with other websites. For ABC Widgets, it would be like occupying a single unit within the whole commercial area.
Virtual Server, or VPS. VPSes are similar to shared hosting, but you have more space and resources. If ABC Widgets had a VPS for their website, it would be like owning an entire floor within an office block.
Dedicated Server. With a dedicated server, the website takes up 100% of the web server. For ABC Widgets, it would be as if they owned the whole commercial area block.
For most of us, a shared hosting plan would be more than enough. Even this website is hosted on a shared hosting plan. A good shared hosting plan will cost you about $70 – $200 per year ($6 – $20 per month).
FYI, most people simply refer to their web hosting plan as ‘web host’ or ‘web server’.
In real life, customers go to the ABC Widgets outlet to buy widgets. On your website, visitors come to view web pages.
So the final requirement for your website to be online is to have web pages for your visitors to view. The 2 main alternatives to do this is:
- Create web pages with web design software and upload it to the web server
- Use a CMS (content management system) to create your pages
However these 2 alternatives alone throw up thousands of different options for doing the same thing. For example, there are hundreds of web design software you can use, like Dreamweaver, Frontpage, KompoZer, RapidWeaver.. and the list goes on.
Whatever you choose, there will always be a learning curve, so expect to spend some time learning. Also be sure to choose a popular web design software or CMS so that you can ask others who use it too for help.
Where do I start?
Now the problem is that there are hundreds or even thousands of options of where to get your domain name and web hosting. There are probably a million more options to create your web pages.
To save you the hassle of doing the research, here are my recommendations of what has worked for me and my clients before.
1. Bluehost is the web host that I refer all my friends to. Bluehost will give you a free domain name, so you can actually kill 2 birds with 1 stone. They offer a simple plan with everything that you need. You can also host more than 1 website on your Bluehost plan.
2. Hover is where I register all my domain names. In my experience with registering dozens of domain names, I found that Hover is the most value for money and they don’t nickel and dime you like others. If you use this link to buy your domain, you’ll get 10% off – http://hover.com/clickstarter
3. To publish my web pages, I choose to use a CMS called WordPress. It’s free and it’s the most popular CMS software in the world. This guarantees that there are lots of people who can help me if I ever need it.
I’ve also created a new page on this site that lists different options for you to get started in case you want to explore others than the ones above. I will be constantly updating this page. Click to view the Resources I recommend.
Register your domain name today. If you are ready to put up your website, go to Justhost to sign up for both your domain and webhosting. If Justhost doesn’t have the domain name you want, try GoDaddy instead.
Tip: When buying your domain or hosting plan, you can safely ignore all the upsells.
Have a question? Ask your question in the comments. Click here to read the rest of the Website ClickStart: Simplifying the Steps to Creating Your First Website series.