Domain Names and Website Hosting for Newbies

These days, it’s easier than ever to start your own website based on any interest imaginable. You’ve got ideas for the design and theme of the site, and maybe you’ve already started writing it. Now you just need to get started by registering a domain name and finding a web host.

Choosing a Domain Name

It costs to register a domain name, and you’ll find web hosts advertising new domain name sales. In most cases, domain names are registered for a minimum of a year, and it’s possible to register a domain for ten years. Ten years is a long time though, especially when applied to the ever-changing digital medium, where websites come and go frequently. In any case, domains can be sold before they expire, and it’s possible to transfer a domain from one web host to the next.

Successful Domain Names

Depending on the purpose of your website, the selection of a domain name may prove to be a breeze, or rather time consuming. Suppose you’ve come up with the perfect domain name for your website, but will the success of your website depend on it’s traffic, or is your site mostly for your own enjoyment? If you want others to find your website easily, create a domain name that is easy to remember.

For example, you’re planning a website about sea monkeys, and you come up with the domain name the-blue-sea-monkey-farm.com. This may work well for you, but if you want to direct a visitor to your site by word-of-mouth, that visitor has to remember “the-hyphen-blue-hyphen-sea-hyphen-monkey-hyphen-farm-dot-com” Too long, eh? For each word and hyphen you add to your domain name, you decrease the chances of someone finding your site by memory. “the-blue-sea-monkey-farm.com” can be reduced to theblueseamonkeyfarm.com”, and why stop there? Make it even easier to remember. Scratch “the” and “blue” and you have “seamonkeyfarm.com” Less descriptive, but easier to find.

If you have a mass of ideas for your website, and can’t yet decide on a fitting domain name, you could name your domain after yourself. “timmytimmons.com” is pretty easy to remember, and rather versatile.

On the other hand, suppose you have two sites that are exactly the same, both sites concerning power tools. A site named allpowertools.com may rank higher than timmytimmons.com, even though both are the same, because the domain name itself contains the keywords “power tools”. If you are driving sales or popularity from search engines, this is definitely something to consider. A user searching a listing of power tool sites may notice allpowertools.com before timmytimmons.com because it is more relevant.

Domain Availability

Before I chose my domain name, I filled a whole page of paper with possibilities. I wanted something that was short and easy to remember, but alas, all the domain names I really wanted were already taken. Don’t be discouraged if your perfect domain name is spoken for. Try to find alternate versions. You can even throw in a digit or so – 101powertools.com, for example.

If you really want a domain, it may be able to acquire that domain for a reasonable, or not so reasonable price. Check to see if it is up for auction. When a site seems “dead” or nonfunctional, check whois.com, as domain-specific contact information is sometimes listed there.

Finding the Right Web Host

Think of a domain name as a folder. In a sense, a web host’s servers are like large filing cabinets where many “folders” or domains are stored. But unlike a filing cabinet, it is possible for many Internet users to access the same folders simultaneously.

When choosing a company that will host your domain, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the ads out there. Lets take a closer look at what one in search of a web host has to consider:

Monthly Fee vs. Annual

It is common for web hosts to offer a monthly fee, or a discounted yearly fee, tempting potential customers to save money. It’s like buying in bulk, or subscribing to 12 issues of a magazine for a considerable percentage off the newsstand price.

Cost

You’ll find hosts offering service at anywhere from $ monthly to $$$+. So the big question is: which plan is right for you, and how to go about determining this?

Inexpensive hosting plans, such as those best cheap web hosting 2020 services, work well for those with small websites. At the other end of the spectrum, more expensive virtual servers and dedicated servers designated for massive websites with huge amounts of traffic, offer special applications, more administrative control. etc.

While shopping around for your web host, there are three major factors to consider:

server space    bandwidth    features  Back to the filing cabinet analogy. Depending on the space your files takes up and how often these files are downloaded, the cost to rent space in a “filing cabinet” or web host, will vary.

Server Space

A website’s content and size determines the amount of server space required to host that site. A 200 page poetry site composed mostly of text will be a great deal smaller than a 100 page site full of hefty video and audio files. The difference in price between 4 GB of space and 50 GB is huge. In any case, allow yourself ample room for cushioning and site growth.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth relates to how frequently your site is visited; how often users access your site’s pages, audio files, images, movies, and so on. When a site gets a great deal of traffic, a host offering 2,000 gigs of bandwidth may be sufficient. If a site only gets a couple visitors a day, 200 gigs would be more than enough to start out with. Again, you can start small and work your way up as your site expands, and allow more space than needed. Useful and informative websites are frequently disabled by web hosts when bandwidth is unexpectedly exceeded by surges in traffic.

Features

If you frequently interact with others at websites, no doubt you’ve noticed easy to use tools that allow users to share information in dynamic ways:

forums    newsletters/mailing lists    blogs    polls    chat rooms  Website add-ons like these make it easy for a site’s visitors to contact and keep in touch with the webmaster. That’s why many web hosts offer them to their customers in the form of simple, user-friendly templates and scripts.

It’s also important to mention that websites written in certain programming languages need hosting plans that support those languages. HTML and CSS are standard and very common, for example, but the inclusion of elements like PHP and databases, may not work in a HTML-based website editor provided by the web host.

The Big Picture

A good question is, “Do I need all the features that web host x has to offer, or are the basic services of web host y more in tune with my plans for my website?”

Perks like domain forwarding, 100 e-mail addresses (yourname@seamonkeyfarm.com), features designed to drive more traffic to your site, website builders, page templates, and photo galleries will cost you more in most cases, so going with something more stripped down and less expensive may wor fine, depending on your needs. There are, however, important services and features like server security, spam protection, 24 hour customer service, and sever down-time. These rank very high as top concerns when it comes the common concerns of those shopping for web hosting services.

It’s important to take a close look at what you want to do with your website before choosing a domain name, and it’s also important to know what you want in a web host before making a decision. It may help to make a list of what you want in a web host, then shop around, contrast and compare.