Perhaps reluctantly, perhaps with great anticipation, you’ve decided you need a website. Maybe it’s for a small business startup, perhaps for a nonprofit, or perchance it’s just for your own personal use. Whatever the case, here’s what you’ll need.
- An address on the internet;
- Somewhere to host the site; &
- Something to build the site with.
Every Site Must Have An Unique Internet Address
Growing up, my grandparents had a cabin located in a very very rural part of Wisconsin. For what seemed like virtually forever, there were no addresses on the street where the cabin was situated. It wasn’t particularly hard for us to find–we knew the way & the cabin by heart–but for anyone wishing to come visit, it was another matter entirely.
The mailman seemed to know everyone on the street, & everyone had their names on their mailbox, just in case. My recollection is that there wasn’t a lot of mail. Nonetheless, the whole thing was likely pretty chaotic, & I do remember when we finally got an actual address. It was 12220 W. Crooked Lake LN, Crivitz, WI, in case it’s of interest.
The kind of internet address you get depends largely on what platform you choose to host your website. Probably the easiest way to divide the platforms up is by whether the platform charges you to host your site or not.
So What Is a Host?
I like to equate a website to a home. A home needs an address, unless you’re in a very rural part of the world, it needs land, & it needs a structure such as a house, a mobile home, or an apartment building.
We’ve already to some extent discussed the address & stated every website must have one on the world wide web. The hosting is equivalent to the land. Basically, a host is a computer where your website files are stored & which can respond to visitors’ request to show them that website. You can host your website on your own computer, but for various reasons, it’s not a good idea. There is no redundancy, so if the computer you’re hosting the site on breaks down, so does the website. From a security perspective, it’s a nightmare, &, if you get a lot of traffic, it will likely exceed your internet provider’s acceptable use policy. So–yeah–not a great idea.
So since you can’t–or shouldn’t–host your site at home, what are your options? For those wishing to host their website for free, there are many choices. All you need do is Google “free website” & you’ll find them in abundance. These choices usually have an internet address format like site.com/username, ie, wordpress.com/abletec. The advantages are:
- Cost, ie. there is none;
- Administration, ie, it’s all taken care of for you;
- No (or very little) technical knowledge required.
The disadvantages are:
- The address form is a bit awkward, though you can sometimes get an actual domain name by purchasing a premium plan;
- You often aren’t permitted to do things you might wish to do such as advertising, etc.
These free plans are excellent for a personal site but are generally not recommended for business, specifically due to the lack of control over what the site owner can do.
The other option is called a self-hosted plan. If you Google web hosts, you’ll find them in abundance. The plan is referred to as “self hosting” because you put up the website, as well as take care of the administration & maintenance. It does require at least some technical knowhow, especially if the site goes “boom”,
& it does cost money, depending on the hosting provider you choose & the size of the site, among other things.
The internet address, for self-hosted sites, is generally in the familiar form of a domain name, ie, www.mysite.com.
There is another option besides buying from the large hosting companies. You can buy from a hosting reseller. These folks do not host your website on their computers in their basement–at least not the reputable ones. Instead, they rent space on computers in a data center, where there is redundancy in case a server goes down & where the site can be monitored for any suspicious activity. It does cost more. The advantage is that if your site breaks down w/one of the big companies, unless it has something to do w/their servers, you’re generally on your own. W/a reseller, you have an immediate contact, who, at least in theory, will troubleshoot & help you fix your website. There may or may not be a charge for this, depending on your terms of service. Most of the time, if it’s a small thing, the reseller will likely not charge. If, however,it’s something major, like a site compromise, then expect to be charged, but, having said that, you likely won’t pay as much since you’re hosting w/them as you would to call in someone you don’t know. Bright Stars Web Technologies is a hosting reseller.
Another advantage is that often resellers take the time to talk w/clients regarding various issues–anything from how to secure their sites to how to generate more business. A good reseller provides more personalized service, & many may find that service worth far more than the generally small amount of extra expense.
If you’re interested in ordering hosting services from Bright Stars Web, please email, call, or fill out the form linked to below. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have in the comments section.
Building the Website
It used to be that in order to build a website, you had to know at least something about programming one. Not anymore. Today there are apps called “content management systems” (CMSs) which can help you build a site w/no knowledge of coding & in a relatively small amount of time. Some of these CMS’s are:
- Drupal; &
There are also others.
WordPress is, as of this writing, the most popular CMS, accounting for over 25% of all sites on the worldwide web. This is so because of its generally low learning curve, at least as compared w/the other more popular CMS’s.
In upcoming #newbyTuesday posts, we’ll be discussing how to build a WordPress-based website.