If you’re new to it, owning a website can seem daunting. There’s a lot of acronyms and jargon, so it can be off putting setting up your own website, but if you understand the basics, you’re halfway there.
Below are few of the fundamentals of owning a website.
Your domain is a combination of numbers and letters followed by a Top Level Domain (TLD) such as .com or .co.uk. There a lots of TLD’s available nowadays which means you can incorporate your business name into the domain like mine… www.RiverviewEnterprise.Solutions.
When you purchase a domain, you’re buying a record of a shortcut between the name entered in a browser and your server. This is known as a DNS record. DNS stands for Dynamic Name Server / Service / System. People use different words for the “S” but it all means the same thing.
When you own a domain, you choose where you want that web address to point to.
A server is computer connected to the internet that stores and delivers (serves) information to the device that requested it. You can create your own server at home, but this would require you to have a computer that is always on and connected to the internet to ensure your website is always accessible.
Your would also need an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that allows for a “static” IP address, which is usually only available on business plans. Home broadband packages will give you a new IP address each time you connect to the internet and you would have to update your DNS records each time.
The easier option is to find a server hosting company, also know as a Host.
Hosting is when you pay someone else to use their severs. You give them X amount per month and they give you access to a server that you can put information on that other devices can access to read that information. There are tons of different hosts and hosting packages out there, but you can pretty much boil it down to 3 types of service. Shared hosting, dedicated servers, and virtual private severs (VPS).
Shared hosting is the entry level hosting service. It is the cheapest option and the easiest to get started with. With shared hosting, you don’t have your own server, but you have access to a server that you share with others. Don’t worry, you won’t be seeing their information, and they won’t see yours, but you do share performance with them. If their website is busy, yours may slow down.
The advantage to shared is hosting, other than the cost, is that you don’t have to worry about any kind of sevre maintenance as this is usually all taken care of by the hosting compnay. You just upload your files and they take care of the rest.
Dedicated server plans are the other end of the scale. Here, you are actually leasing a server dedicated to you. The amount of control you have will vary depending on the host, but you will have far greater control of your server than you do with shared hosting. The advantage to dedicated servers is the performance, your server is your own and no other site can slow it down. The disadvantage could be when your site has little traffic and you’re paying for a whole server that isn’t being used to it’s full potential and costing you money.
A good compromise is a Virtual Private Server or VPS plan.
This is when you have control over a virtual server. A server that only uses the resources that it needs, when it needs them. A VPS plan is going to cost more than shared hosting, however it has the performance of a dedicated server, without the cost.
There are lots of hosting plans out there so it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the jargon they spout, but it really comes down to storage, users / visitors, bandwidth and email accounts.
Pretty self explanatory, but storage is how much memory you have available to store your files. This includes your site files, small text files written in html or another coding language, your @yourdomain.com emails, and your images and videos that you want to show on your site.
Images, and especially videos, are going to take up the most memory so make sure you get ample storage if you plan to have an image or video rich site. You should also keep an eye on how many site back up files you have if this is included in your hosting package as this can take up a significant part of your storage.
Users / Visitors
Some hosting plans put a limit on the amount of users (or visitors) you can have visit your site in a month.
Most hosts do not limit by users / visitors but some do, so be sure to get more than enough for what you are expecting. You will need to account for people browsing and not buying, Google robots that crawl your site, and even people checking you out as competition. Get at least double what you expect, or preferably unlimited, as the last thing you want to do is have your site go down halfway thought the month.
Bandwidth is the amount of information that can be transferred between devices. For example, if your home page is 10 megabytes and you have a bandwidth limit of 10 gigabytes (1024 Mb), you can serve your homepage to 1024 devices in the month.
Sorry, I realise that got a bit technical, but I think you see what I mean. My advice is buy a plan with as much bandwidth as you can or find an unlimited plan.
Email accounts are the number of email addresses you can setup with @yourdomain.com at the end. Some hosts limit this, some don’t.
It’s a good idea to get more than one. You’ll want a main email address which will be info@ or enquiries@ or sales@, then you want friendly email for your email marketing list, something like hello@. Get one for each of the staff so they have a personal email address, and finally one for the website admin such as email@example.com.
There are lots of hosts out there. Look around, check out review sites, check the hosts Facebook and Google reviews to get a feel of how their customers feel about them.
If you’re just getting started, and based in the UK, I can personally recommend Smart Hosting as a great value, very fast host.
The gold standard, and one of the more expensive options is WP engine if you have a WordPress site and expect a lot of traffic.
If you would like more information about any of the subjects above, leave a comment below…
Owner & Founder
Riverview Enterprise Solutions