Starting Your Own Website
Posted by: Mark Nichols
03 Apr 2011
If you want to start your own website, you’ll need to think about a domain name, web hosting, and site design. This article is only concerned with the first two.
1) Domain Name
The domain name is what you type in to a browser’s address bar. You’ve probably been using domain names ever since you started browsing the web. Google.com is a domain name. What do you want your site to be called? TheMostAwesomeSiteintheWorld.com is an option. You can go here to see if what you want is available. TheresJustNoWayThatsTrue.com is taken, so you can’t use that.
When you visit a website, you’re actually interacting with a computer somewhere (called a server) that contains the files and content that you’re seeing on the web. If you are technically proficient you could set up a computer in your own home to act as the host, so that everyone who went to your website would actually be interacting with your home computer. There’s a bunch of reasons why that’s not ideal, so what you’ll want to do instead is find a company that provides webhosting services. This is the bigger of the two issues to consider because the hosting options are varied. Consider if you just want an informational site or blog, or something more complex. Then also consider how much you’re willing to pay. Even the most expensive option shouldn’t cost you more than $100 a year unless you’re starting a very complex business with tons of website traffic (hundreds of thousands of hits a month where each hit require tons of data transfer - if your eyes just glazed over just remember that you shouldn’t pay more than $100 a year for web hosting).
The Hosting Option for Simple Websites
If you just want a blog (your journal entries, photos, or info you’d like to share with the world), you can start one for free at TypePad.com or on Google’s blogspot.com. If you choose this option, your domain name will be AwesomeSite.TypePad.com, or GreatestSiteEver.blogspot.com. You’ll have the host site as part of your domain name. Google is probably the better option because TypePad may end up charging you after the free trial (you could look for some other blog site that’ll host you for free - I haven’t looked beyond these two). TypePad does allow you to spend $8.95 a month so you can have the domain name you really want (without TypePad as part of it). That’s on the pricey side. Google’s BlogSpot allows this for $10.00 a year. So Google is really the way to go.
The Hosting Option for Complex Websites
If you want a more complex site - something that allows you to sell products online, or a site that requires personal logins, for example - you may want to pay a company to host your site. They’ll usually offer some website help and customization options that’ll allow you to add secure checkout, and they might even help with personalized logins although you’ll probably need professional help for that. There are cheap hosting options out there, most of which allow you to buy a domain name at the same time (and often the domain name is free). DimeBrothers.com is hosted by WebHostingPad.com. They offer hosting for only $1.99 a month if you pay for 5 years up front. The pricing will fluctuate depending on length of the agreement and who you choose. Yahoo! even offers hosting, but it’s pricier (at least $7.46 a month). When looking for hosting services do some searching online and try to find some customer reviews of the site. You want to sign on with someone you feel you can trust.
If paying for web hosting sounds like something you want to do, you should consult with someone who has experience with building websites. There are issues to consider such as the operating system your host server will use (usually Linux or Windows). This could impact the code you use to build your website, although if you’re feeling adventurous and want to get started without consulting anyone, just go with Linux. Then you’ll have to consider how to build your site and whether the host you choose offers the help you need. Your hosting provider will usually offer some online support and tools to start your own site. Check out if they work with WordPress, which you could download and install with your host and use to build your site. The nitty-gritty details of building your site is what I’m calling step 3, which isn’t covered here. That’s something you could look into as you investigate hosting providers and website design.
This primer is quick and dirty, so if you’re serious about starting a website, look around and be reasonably sure of what you want to do before committing to anything. If you need help building your site or just with certain elements of its construction, check out this guy for some help. He’s honest and reasonably priced. If you’re paying someone to develop your site, please be wary of charges to “maintain” your site - not much maintenance should be required for an information only site so consider paying for help as you need it rather than a monthly “maintenance” fee.
Again, make sure you do some research. You should definitely read more than this article as you prepare to launch your own site. Here are some other links you could check out:
TheSiteWizard - how to start a website
Google Search for web hosting providers
Affilorama - an introduction to the web
Good luck out there!