Hosting and Domain
In the third installment of this series on Web Site Building. I will be covering Hosting and Domain
When starting out there are a lot of confusing terms and one of them that seems to confuse people is hosting and domain. The easiest way to explain the domain is the address and the hosting service is the physical location of your website. You will need both.
A webhosting service is a company that has a large group of computers called servers that host the scripts, code and files of your website. They not only store the files but they set up the access to these files for visitors to view your website. You can host a server yourself but unless you have a fast connection, chances are that users will find your site too slow to view. This is especially true if you have a large amount of traffic to your site. So you will need a host. There are a number of choices out there but the most common and cost effective is shared hosting plans. Unless you are planing on hosting video or large media files they should fit your needs. I currently host all of my sites on Hostgator but there are a number of different companies out there.
The Domain is the web address that points to the IP address of the server computer and the location of your site's files. Unlike the machine numbered address that marks the location, a domain name is an easy to remember and more user friendly address. Usually in the form of a name or group of words or letters and numbers that represent the web site. Every website has an unique address that points only to that website.
A domain is something you will have to register and park on your host service. Picking out a domain is always a guessing game. Often you will find that the names that are more in line with what you want are already taken. In a lot of cases it is a Domain farm, where a company has bought a number of domain names and then resells them for insane prices. There are a number of combinations that you can try until you get something that works. For example, if you are wanting "blockhead", blockhead.com may already be taken but blockhead.net or blockhead.tv may not be. You should consider though that most people are used to .com, .net and .org. You will have to pay fee for your domain for a set period of time. Check with your hosting company because most offer a deal when you host and buy the domain through them.
Though a majority of them are long gone there are a few of the old sub-domain hosts. Often offering free hosting with a sub-domain web address. Free hosting sounds great but you will be limited with what you can do as far as scripts, bandwidth uses and you will be stuck with banner ads in most cases.
Another option is all in one hosting like that provided at Square Space. They have a set price for hosting, domain and uses of their website building tools. Though I've only played around with it a little bit, the web building tool is by far the easiest, I've ever seen. If you are looking for an easy way to get a site up and going and don't want to learn code or any of the behind the scene stuff, it maybe your best choice. The only disadvantage is that you are restricted into their web building tools which may not work if you want to add additional features to your site. Basically you are limited to they offer but they will let you try it out for free for two weeks.
In the next installment I will be covering some of the programing language that goes is used in creating a website.