A beginner’s guide to owning a website

Introduction

If you’ve never managed or owned a website before, it can be daunting. Especially with all the jargon and complexities of the internet.

But having a website is essential for business growth and it’s something you can’t avoid.

So we’ve put together this basic guide to help you gain a clear idea of the most important elements of owning and running a website. By the end of it, you’ll have a basic understanding that will form a solid foundation.

Planning and Preparation

The first stage of owning a website is basic planning and preparation. Without a plan, you may find it hard to brief your designer and you may end up with a website that doesn’t help you achieve your business goals.

When planning your website there are several fundamental questions you need to ask:

 

  • What are the main goals of the website?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What key messages need to be communicated?
  • What look and feel are you aiming for?
  • What websites can serve as a reference?
  • Who will write the copy (content)?

What is a domain name?

Simply put, this is your website address. For example, the domain for this site is www.wenlockdesign.co.uk. Domains are issued by ‘domain registrars’. These are companies that deal with reserving and assigning domain names.

How do I get a domain name?

Step 1:

Find a domain registrar

Step 2:

Search their directory to see if your chosen web address is available

Step 3:

Choose how long you want to register the domain for. The minimum period is typically a year. You can register for as long as you like.

Step 4:

Pay the vendor.

How much do domain names cost?

The average domain name costs about £8 a year. Though high value domain names range from hundreds to thousands of pounds. These expensive domains are highly prized for their memorability, so registrars put a premium on them. Also, some people purchase high value domain names with a view to selling them on for profit, very much like a real estate investor.

However, this isn’t usually an issue for small, local businesses as a suitable domain name can generally be found .

What is a web host?

A web host is a service that provides storage space for your website and enables web-browsers to serve your pages to internet users.

So to put it simply: your website is made up of files and information stored on a powerful computer (server) configured and managed by the web host.

When you request a particular domain name (either by entering it in the address bar or clicking a link), your browser accesses the host server, retrieves the files and presents them as graphical and textual elements on the screen.

TIP: Most web hosting companies are also domain name registrars. Make things straight-forward: use one company for both domain name registration and web hosting.

How much does web hosting cost?

Generally, for small independent businesses, basic hosting plans cost around £2.99 per month on average.

It all depends on your needs and the quality of the web host.

Bigger websites with more content and large volumes of traffic need more server space and bandwidth, and would therefore be more costly.

Some web hosts provide very cheap hosting but have terrible customer support. While others charge a bit more but offer excellent value in terms of customer support and overall quality of service.

What’s a Name Server?

Essentially it’s an address book that helps your browser locate websites.

It goes like this:

You type in a domain name >>> The browser goes to the nameserver associated with that domain name >>> The nameserver tells the browser where to go

All web hosting companies have their own nameservers specifically setup to manage the domain names in their network.

How do domain names get linked to nameservers?

After registering for a hosting plan, your web host will tell you what the nameservers are. You then go to the place where you registered the domain name, access the control panel, and from there you enter the nameservers.

This is known as ‘pointing the domain to the nameservers’.

Your website will only be accessible once this has been done. However, it’s worth noting that it can take up to forty-eight hours for the domain name to propagate around the internet. This is because ISPs refresh their databases at varying times.

In simple terms: It can take up to forty-eight hours for your website to be available to every internet user.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a class of software known as Content Management System (CMS). With over 19.5 million websites being powered by WordPress, it is the most popular CMS in the world.

Put simply, WordPress allows you to easily make changes to your website, add images, edit text and adjust page layouts (among many other things).

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