What is Website Hosting? This may to some of the tech savvy amongst us sound like a dumb question however it’s a common geek misconception to believe that everyone has the same level of understanding of these matters. We all understand the importance of having a business website, but when you start putting one together for the first time yourself, you find there’s lots of jigsaw pieces with specialist terminology that complete the bigger picture.
You may feel that you’re the only one struggling to work out what’s what, and feel embarrassed to ask for clarification. But you’d be surprised by how many other people have the same questions. And once you’ve got it straight, you’ll have a better understanding of how it actually works.
The best way to think of your website is as your online, virtual shop front. Even if you’re a service provider rather than a retailer, this is where people come to find all of the information they need about you in one handy place. It tells them what you do (and what you don’t), how you’re qualified for the job, testimonials from previous satisfied customers and price. Sometimes they can purchase from you directly via the site, or find your contact details to get more information.
A website needs to be stored on a computer somewhere, just as the content that populates it – images, text, graphics – is stored on your computer before being added to your website.
What is Website Hosting?
Companies who provide the website storage space are known as hosting companies. You can choose to buy space from any hosting company to store and publish your website, and there are a range of factors which will influence your decision.
You may choose a local hosting company, so you feel reassured that they’re nearby and give you a more personal service however at some point you’ll need technical support so always pick a hosting provider with 24-hour support, available online or over the phone.
If you’ve got a lot of complex data on there, or a well-stocked shop, you might need a package with extra storage space. You may be influenced by price and shop around for the best deal (hosting prices are quoted as a monthly figure, but you have to pay for 12 months upfront). Hosting prices are very competitive these days with great hosting and support available at low cost; always research the companies reputation and beware of going with the cheapest you can find as this could cost your business dearly in the long term.
When you pick your hosting company, you sign up for an account with them, just as you do for any online service, from free email and banking to Amazon and cinema tickets.
The domain name is less dramatic than it sounds. The domain is just the unique name you give your website so that people can find you and be certain they’ve got the right person.
Behind the scenes, the domain tells the internet about the network it’s part of, so that it can be listed and tracked (e.g. www.myshop.com). For our purposes, we just need to know that we need a domain name so that we can have a website visible online. Having a domain name doesn’t mean you have an online presence – the site still has to be built!
The domain name needs to be registered: some companies offer this as a single service, but most will also provide the hosting storage, and sometimes the ability to build the website as well. You also use it to have an email address with the same name as your website (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org)
WordPress is a tool to use to build your website. You can use it to create a basic site and WordPress will host it for free and give you a domain name, but it will have “WordPress” in the name: e.g. www.myshop.wordpress.com.
When you want to create something more bespoke. You will have an account with a hosting company to provide your individual business domain name and your website storage where you (or the hosting company) will install the WordPress software as a basis for your site which you will then go on to build and populate. This is where a WordPress theme, plugins your domain name and hosting all come together then you (or a designer) can start to personalise the site with your brand colours, logo, images and so on.
Admin: You now have two sets of log-in details.
- The first is for your hosting account, to manage things like additional storage, registration of an extra email address, site security and to renew your domain name (which needs to be done periodically so you retain the exclusive rights).
- The second is your website (WordPress) admin. You will use your WordPress log-in more often. This takes you to what is known as the dashboard, which is where your content management system lives. This is the “back room” of your website, where you add new blog posts, create pages such as “Home” and “About” and a “Contact” form for people to get in touch.
Remember, address the question of What is Website Hosting? and more importantly What is good quality Website Hosting? before you do anything else regarding your new website.