Whether your company needs to maintain a web presence, allow employees access to web-based resources or simply requires customer access to account data via the web, starting up a website can be a daunting task but it doesn’t need to be.
There are 3 main ingredients that you will need to cook up your own website; website files, website address and website hosting.
Sometimes, these files will be written in a programming language such as PHP, ASP.NET or Java and the programming language will determine what is output as mark-up. The mark-up is read by a web browser and converted to a meaningful page. An example of mark-up is: “<p><strong>Hello</strong> visitor</p>” but the browser will show “Hello visitor”.
Website address is also known as a domain name and it’s the friendly name for a numeric address (IP address). Your domain name or website address is registered with a domain authority and gets added to many domain name servers around the world. They basically associate a domain name with an IP address. For example pathowe.co.uk is a domain name and it shares the IP address 220.127.116.11 with several other websites. You could enter http://18.104.22.168/pathowe.co.uk to get to the site or http://www.pathowe.co.uk. The first one is using a sub-folder on the IP address 22.214.171.124 and the second one is using a domain name server to get to that address (and it looks better without the numbers).
Your domain name is just like your postal address but it\’s on only available on the internet (so you won\’t find any annoying neighbours).
Website hosting will be required. This is the place where the website address points to when users make a request and is where the website files are stored. There are many different website hosting packages offered by thousands of companies. What you need in your package will depend on many things such as; the purpose of the site, the programming language used (if any) and other resources that you need to have available (database, disk space, band-width, email hosting, etc…). If you are happy with another company advertising on your website (and you not getting a share of the revenue) then you could go for free hosting but the purpose of most professional websites means that a paid for hosting solution will be preferable (and if you do have adverts, you decide what that should be, where its placed and you get paid for it). With paid-for hosting, you can get cheap and cheerful hosting on a companies shared server or cloud for under £50 a year or you might want to purchase your own dedicated server for thousands of pounds (or go anywhere in between).
It can be difficult to know what the best package will be but most hosting companies will offer an upgrade facility so if you purchase a package and it doesn\’t have all the features on it that you need then you can upgrade to one that does (providing they have that package). Things to look out for; are you using a .NET programming language or a Microsoft SQL Server database – if so you\’ll probably want Windows hosting. Web files are quite small so most packages will have ample disk space for all situations, unless of course you are allowing file uploads. Linux hosting tends to be cheaper than Windows and a common setup is referred to as LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) as these work very well together. It is quite common that you will want to use an email address with the same website address (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) and not all web hosting gives you free email hosting so if you will need email hosting then make sure you get one that does it.
If you have a static website (no programming language just say HTML mark-up) then it will work on either Windows or Linux hosting and you could probably get away with the smallest package that a web hosting supplies has. If you require a database, have a lot of expected visitors, need lots of disk space or you want to use an email address with your hosting, you may need to get a more expensive package.
- Select the type of web site that you are after (Blog, Discussion Forum, News, Company Web Presence, Company Online Sales, Online-Shop, Auction, Family Pages, Picture Gallery, Software Sales and Downloads, Event Calendar, Content Management, Feedback and Support (FAQ) and many other types).
- Decide on a hosting solution (the functionality that is required may affect the host that you chose). Self-hosting, 3rd party Free-ISP, 3rd party paid hosting, web space with current business or home ISP, managed solution).
- Choose a website name. The name will have a suffix and each suffix has an original intended meaning. .com is for a commercial company anywhere in the world, .net is for web company that will usually be only internet based, .org is for worldwide organisation such as a charity, .biz is usually for an established business with an internet presence, .info is for information or news site, .mobi is for mobile friendly site – strict rules apply here, .co.uk is for a UK specific version of .com, .org.uk is for a UK specific version of .org, .me.uk is for a UK personal site and .eu is for a European business that is not country specific like .co.uk.
- Now you need the website files and a design/style for those files. You can pay for a designer to either make your own design a reality or to come up with a new design or you can chose a predefined template that could be paid for or maybe even free. Most free designs will have a link back to the designer’s site and may contain advertising. The functionality of the site should be in mind when selecting a design or the template.
- You will then need to add content to the pages of your website. If you want any extra functionality not supported in a template or design then you will need a developer. The developer may need to have all of the wording that is required or the template may allow you to add this yourself. The developer will also secure the site if there is a login or transaction that needs to be protected. If you are lucky, the developer will build a site that is responsive to all device sizes, is secure and is search engine friendly.
- Lastly, decide if you want to upload the files yourself or if you want the developer to look after it. In the case of complex sites with database back-ends it is probably best left to the developer to set it up, even if you later look after it yourself.
My Web Minder offers great value website hosting, domain name registrations and website minding services at a fraction of the cost of some web hosts. Both Windows and Linux packages are available and all come with email hosting. The hosting is on the cloud so you should never have any down-time that is not managed by you. All Linux hosting comes with a great control panel to make all the tasks (including one-click application installs) very easy. Find out more about the My Web Minder web hosting features and other services by following the link.