First up, before we go any further, you’ll need to have your domain name and your hosting set up so we’re ready to go. This bit can often baffle people, but essentially they are two different services that work together to make your website viewable to your customer / client. Here’s a simple explanation of what it all means.
This is the name of your website, or the address that people type in to see your website. No domain name can be the same, so if someone types in your domain name it will go straight to your website and no one else’s. You will need to register your domain name before you can use it and you can do this through places like Go Daddy, 123-Reg, 1&1, Google Domains etc to name but a few. If you find your business name has already been taken, don’t panic, there is usually some sort of combination that will work, like using .co instead of .co.uk or .com or try .net, .org or .me etc. It should cost around £9.99 for a year per domain, but you can get some start up deals for 2 years, for example, which can work out cheaper. You need to make sure you renew this every year otherwise your website will fall off the internet! I make sure mine is on auto-renew, not just because I’ve been caught out, but also because it means it’s one less thing I need to worry about.
It really doesn’t matter who you buy your domain from as they’re pretty much of a muchness, but don’t get caught up into hosting your site with the same place you bought your domain from, thinking that it’s easier. They are just the job for registering the domain, but there are much more reliable options when it comes to your hosting.
This is where your website lives, so your website can be seen. Your hosting provides allocated space on its server for your website files and database to live, so every website that you see on the internet has hosting. Again, this will need renewing every year and it should cost around £15 – £25 per month. It’s worth shopping around as you really do get what you pay for with hosting. It needs to be quick and reliable and have a great contact / support set up if anything isn’t working as it should. I use Siteground (I’ve used an affiliate link here, but please don’t feel obliged!). It may be slightly more pricey after the initial start up deal, but in my opinion it’s worth every penny for the service they provide. I’ve also heard great things about Flywheel and 20i. They will offer different kinds of hosting plans too, which can be confusing, but it generally depends on the type and size of your site, but if you start small you can always upgrade if you need to.
So you have your domain name and you have your hosting and they’re all set up and working beautifully together. Only now you just need that secure padlock in the URL (address). You might have noticed how some website domains start with http:// or https://. This is like a digital certificate that establishes a secure, encrypted link between a web server and a browser and ensures the link remains private, adding that extra security especially if you are buying something online or submitting any personal details. The SSL certificate is something that many hosting companies will make you pay extra for, and this is worth noting when you’re comparing prices.
So that’s it in a nutshell. You just need to buy your domain name, sign up for your hosting and make sure you have an SSL certificate. I can point the domain name servers (DNS) over to your hosting, so it knows where its new home is, and we’re ready for the big build!