Building a website can be a huge undertaking – especially if you’ve never built one before. While small sites with small budgets can be built with a little elbow grease and a lot of trial and error, bigger sites and e-commerce sites might require some help from the pros. If you’re thinking of building your own website for your business or for personal reasons, you may feel a bit over your head with all the technical aspects of simply getting started.
Before you can begin building your site, you’ll need to purchase a domain and find a web hosting service. Don’t know what those are? Don’t worry – we’ll cover all the details and how-tos in this post.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is the web address for your website. Part of your URL (Uniform Resource Locator), your domain is what people type into the URL bar in their browser to get to your site. For example, the domain name for this site is cinchws.com and the URL is https://www.cinchws.com/.
The internet is one giant network of computers connected by cables across the world. These computers assign a unique combination of numbers and dots – called an IP address – to every website. For instance, the IP address of this site is 18.104.22.168. Not exactly the easiest to remember, right?
Since computers are much better at remembering random number combinations than humans, domain names made up of words (and sometimes numbers) are used to make website addresses easier for us to remember.
How do I get a domain name?
To get a domain name, you will need to purchase one from a domain registrar accredited by the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit organization that manages domain names and accredits domain registrars.
There are tons of domain registrars out there – some great, some okay, some terrible – so it’s important to make sure you’re choosing a reputable service that is right for your needs and your budget. Our go-to domain registrar is NameCheap, but we highly recommend checking out this how-to blog on wpbeginner.com on how to choose the best domain registrar to determine what service is best for you.
How much do domains cost?
Domain names can cost anywhere from $9 for unused domains to hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to purchase already-held premium domains (think hotels.com, insurance.com, etc.).
Domain cost also varies based on the domain registrar, the domain extension (i.e. .com, .org., .net) and a few other factors. While you can purchase most unused domains for very little – or even receive a free domain name with a hosting package – you need to be aware of hidden costs, such as business email accounts, domain privacy and much higher renewal costs.
Domain Registration Renewal
Unfortunately, purchasing a domain name is not a one-time cost. While you technically “own” your domain name, it’s more like a yearly lease. Domain name registration is done on an annual basis, and you “own” your domain as long as you renew it every year.
If you’d like to dive a bit deeper into domain name management and best practices, check out our post on the topic.
Web Hosting vs Domain
A lot of website newbies confuse web hosting and domains – and many think they’re the same thing. While domains and web hosting are two different things, they work in tandem to make websites work.
A common analogy for understanding web hosting vs domains makes the comparison between a house and its address. If your domain is your site’s address, web hosting is your website’s house.
What is web hosting?
Every website is made up of files that contain all of the site’s content. While you don’t necessarily need to understand how these files work to build or maintain a website, they do need a home – a server – for the world to access your site. Web hosting companies rent space on their servers to website owners.
When someone enters your web address into a web browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.), your domain name is translated into your IP address and sent to your web hosting service’s server. The server then sends your website’s files back to the browser for it to load your site.
In addition to storing and serving websites, website hosting services often provide protection from malicious attacks, customer support and server maintenance. Most web hosting providers offer a variety of plans with a range of services and packages, so it’s important to choose the best web hosting service for your needs.
How much does web hosting cost?
It depends. The cost of web hosting varies greatly depending on the type of hosting – anywhere from $2.49/month to $700+/month. Huge difference, right?
There are four main types of hosting services: shared, VPS, dedicated and cloud hosting.
Shared hosting is the cheapest hosting option, as your website is one of many on a single, shared server. This option is best for smaller, static sites with low traffic. Shared hosting typically costs $2.49 to $15 (or more) per month.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
VPS hosting is another type of shared hosting; however, it provides better site performance because the number of sites per server is lower than that of shared hosting. VPS hosting can cost as little as $18/month, but some plans cost much more depending on the services provided.
With dedicated hosting, your website is the only one on the server. This type of hosting typically comes in tiered services based on if the web host manages the server and how powerful the server is. Not all web hosting services provide managed hosting, so unless you want to maintain the server yourself, you should be sure you go with a managed hosting provider. Dedicated hosting typically costs $100+/month and can cost much, much more based on the tier.
Cloud hosting involves a group of servers that work together to host websites. By working together, these servers guarantee 100% uptime (i.e. your site never goes down due to server error) as the group of servers pick up the slack if one server goes down. The cost of cloud hosting varies greatly from service to service.
Have any questions or interested in affordable managed hosting? Send us a chat or a message or give us a call – we’d be happy to help.