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Web hosting and domain names – easy guide for beginners
19
Aug 2016

Web hosting and domain names – easy guide for beginners

Web hosting: “what is it and what do I need to do to get my website up and running?” In this post I am going to talk about web hosting for beginners and try and explain the basic set up. Those customers who have worked with me before, know that I like to keep things simple when explaining things. Its one of my strengths and something that a lot of customers pick up on. I try and explain things in layman’s terms and not sound like a computer geek! (I’m really not – honest! I leave that up to my husband!)

So one of the first things I hear when people say to me they want a website is – ‘What do I need?, What is web hosting?’ So this post will explore the very basic – and I mean basic information you will need when starting a website.

Domain Name

The first thing you need is a domain name, your URL address. This is the physical address that someone will type into a web browser to find your website. For instance www.northsouthdesign.co.uk. This web address will be what appears on everything! It will be on your business card, your stationery, your social media pages, any directories you sign up for, flyers, posters, banners, vehicle graphics. It should be on all your collateral. Its probably more important than your physical address! Especially if you do most of your business online or work from home.

choosing a domain nameThere are lots of places online you can buy a domain name from. Go Daddy, 123 Reg, 1 and 1, the list is endless. The first thing you need to do is find out if your domain name is available. Only one business can own this name but there are many possibilities with either .co.uk / .com / .net etc etc. You can search whats available at any domain provider website.

Who should own the domain name?

I always encourage all my clients to buy their own domain names. Yes, I could do it for them but I think its important that a business owner owns his or her own domain name. You don’t want a web developer or designer to disappear and then let your domain name go or worse sell it on! I don’t plan on going anywhere or would even think of doing anything like this but I still think its best that the client has this address.

Many of my clients like me to physically be there when they buy their domain name. I have no problem with helping them through this process. A lot of these companies try and add extras on. Some you may need, most you probably won’t need so I’m always happy to give my opinion. Once you have decided on your available domain name and have purchased it for how many years you want it (I usually tell clients to start off with 2 years and to have it set to automatically renew) you have successfully completed the first step.

What domain extension should I have?

So which extension do you go for? .co.uk or .com, .net? What should you have? There are lots of articles on this online and I suggest you look into what would be best for your business. In the UK a .co.uk is probably better for local search engine listing. However it is possible to forward more than one domain address to the same website if you want to buy up a few names to protect your business.

I’m not keen on addresses that have a dash (-) in them. I just think it makes it harder to relay this information, say over the phone to someone. However there are some experts who say that it can be easier for search engines to find your website as it can distinguish the keywords better. It should be relatively short and easy to read. Watch out for other words that might appear when all those words are jumbled together with no spaces! Check out google for funny domain names and you will find lots of blogs about various unintentional domain names.

Web hosting – what is it?

‘I’ve got my web address surely I just build my website and it appears in Google?’ If only! Yes, you have an address but then you need somewhere on the internet to stick that address. This is known as web hosting.

The best way to describe web hosting ? ‘Rented’ space. Like you would rent a pitch in a field to put up a tent. No point having a tent if you can’t put it up anywhere! Its actually space on a server that you rent. Like Domain names, you can buy hosting from many different suppliers. Large companies and also through some web developers and they all offer different levels of service. Some have a limit on space or might not be great with WordPress, so choose carefully and research what they offer. I recommend going with a UK provider if you are UK based – if you are using a web developer/designer find out where their sites are hosted. They will perform better if they are hosted locally rather than in the US.

I offer hosting at a very reasonable yearly price (please contact me for prices) and now host over 20 of my clients websites. By using your developer to host the site it keeps it all under one roof. The package I have is unlimited, it offers a 24 hour service so if there is a problem I can get in touch with my supplier and they usually get back to me within 20-30 minutes. (I’ve tested this service at midnight!)

Once hosting is set up we are good to go! If the website is already built its a case of pointing the name servers, that are usually available from the supplier you bought your domain name from to our hosting. It’s then time for the geeky member of Northsouth Design to upload the website.

Keep a regular back up!

Website back upA good hosting package should include a back up of your website. What happens if your website goes wrong? WordPress sites can be hacked. You might upload a wordpress plug in and it messes up the home page? If I have designed and built your website then I can of course help fix these problems. If all else fails then its good to have a back up of the entire site. So you must make sure your hosting includes this or have a manual back up or plug in that will do it for you. My hosting package now offers daily back ups that are held off site and can be accessed by myself to help get your website back up and running.

Its vital these days to have a good back up – don’t rely on web builders! I have had clients come to me who have lost their entire site because their web builder package has been stopped or they have missed a monthly payment and have lost everything. Its scary to think this could happen to so many businesses. If you do use a web builder find out how you can back up your website.

Email

Most hosting packages should offer you email as well. (Some charge extra for this but this is all part of the Northsouth Design web hosting package) You should have a bespoke email address as it looks more professional. Rather than gmail or a hotmail address, its better to have yourname@yourdomain.co.uk or info@yourdomain.co.uk. This is arranged at no extra cost for the first email address. I can set this up, offer advice on how to set it up on your various devices as well as provide a webmail log in for you to access your email.

But I already have a website, can I change my web hosting?

I have several clients who already have websites and update but have transferred over to my hosting package. For me its important that my clients have a good service and I try and make the transfer as smooth as possible. In fact I do all my transferring over at weekends so if there is any downtime in web service it doesn’t interfere as much with the working week.

Below is a review of my hosting service from one of my clients who already has a website but were not happy with the service the previous company were offering.

 

Hosting review

So there you have it, it doesn’t have to be all geeky computer speak! If you’re looking to change over your hosting and would like to discuss your requirements in plain English. Please email me on lesley@northsouthdesign.co.uk

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