Website formation 101: Domains, hosting, and more

Launching and running a website is an aspiration many people hold, yet one which can also be too intimidating to actually tackle if you are unfamiliar with the technical aspects.

To demystify what makes websites tick, here is a look at a few of the main things you will need to consider when building yours.

Types of domains

A domain name is used to make your site uniquely identifiable and searchable, and it is made up of several parts.

Trethowans
Trethowans

The top-level domain (TLD) is one of the key elements of this, and there are several types to consider using.

You could opt for a country code TLD, which is associated with a specific country or region. Popular examples of this include .co.uk and .tv. You might alternatively pick a generic TLD, such as .com, .net or .blog.

Registering a domain name

Your choice of TLD will be partly influenced by what you want your second-level domain (SLD) to be. This could be your own name if you are making a personal site, or the name of your business if you want to launch a commercial online presence.

Using a service like Nominus domain search is the easiest way to see if your preferred combo of TLD and SLD is available.

Registration costs vary, and so your budget will also influence which type of domain you choose. There are also best practices for composing SLDs, which will influence how well optimized your site is from a searchability perspective.

Hosting

Web hosting is a process which provides a place for your site to exist, usually on a server which is provided by a third party hosting firm.

Hosting packages vary in price depending on the features they offer, and costs can also fluctuate according to how much traffic your site receives, so bear this in mind.

Cloud-powered web hosting has made scalable, secure solutions far more accessible than in the past. Furthermore, lots of companies which offer domain name registration services will also bundle this in with web hosting packages, which could be a cost-effective way to get a site off the ground without the need to splash out on any expensive hardware yourself.

Design

Web design is an intricate discipline in its own right, and outsourcing this to an experienced professional is sensible if you are building a business-focused site.

There are also platforms which make it easy to launch a good-looking site using a combination of pre-made templates and your own tinkering. This can give you a foot in the door without needing the help of a separate specialist, although the downside is that your site might look a little generic, rather than being bespoke.

Another thing to bear in mind is the need to design your site to be mobile-friendly. With most people browsing the web from portable devices, you have to expect visitors to be using smartphones, and make sure your interface elements and media content displays properly as a result.

Maintenance

When your site is up and running, it is not enough to sit back and congratulate yourself; now it is time for the maintenance to begin!

Don’t fret, as in most cases if you pick the right hosting packages you can outsource the more challenging aspects of keeping your site live to a provider that knows what they are doing.

Even so, maintenance is about more than just avoiding downtime, as you also need to be attuned to how your site is performing.Delve into the analytics and see how visitors are finding your site, how long they are staying and which pages they are viewing most frequently. If your site is falling short, do not be afraid to make changes, as this will benefit you in the long run even if it leads to short term costs.

Photo by ergonofis