Website Basics: Start Here
Monday, March 18, 2013
Posted by: Go Daddy
Internet's a cool place. It houses more "stuff" than anything else in
the whole world. Having a website seems like a cool thing. Who wouldn't want to
contribute to the largest store of data in all of human history?
Before you dive
in to website ownership, let's take a breath and figure out what you want your
website to do. Here are some of the most common reasons people start websites:
sell products and give customers information about their services.
(and individuals, too!) promote their causes.
express their views and opinions.
There are other
reasons to have a website, but for most people who are new to the game, this
covers the basics. You might have a grand idea to start the next YouTube® or
eBay®, but, because we're being frank among friends, that might be a little
impractical. Aim for the stars, but make sure you're on a spaceship.
There's a lot of
technical stuff going on when you visit a website, but with a little bit of
work, you can get the gist of it.
Think of a
website as a house. Houses have a street address and a piece of land where the
building sits. Websites work similarly.
Every website on
the Internet, no matter how big or small, must absolutely have two parts: a
domain name and a hosting account.
- Domain names are like a
house's street address. It's where people go to visit your website.
are like the land where you build your house. This is the space on the
Internet where you place your website's files. Typically, a hosting
account runs on a server owned by a Web hosting company — your hosting
account is just a small section of it you rent.
If it's still a
little hazy, you can think of it this way: Having a domain name without a
hosting account is like an address with no house. People can go there, but
they're not going to see you. A hosting account without a domain name is like a
house with no address; you can't tell people where to find you. A domain name with
a hosting account — that's where the magic begins. People go to your domain
name and see the website that's on your hosting account, just like they would
go to your address and see your house.
Now that we
cleared that up, you might wonder how a domain name actually links to your hosting
account. Much like a city plans an address system with street names and
numbers, the Internet uses an agreed-upon set of conventions called the Domain
Name System, or DNS. By using DNS, you can link your domain name to your
The website you
want to show people has to "live" somewhere. "Live," in
terms of hosting, means a server somewhere houses your website's files,
similarly to how a plot of land sits beneath your house.
And, just like
there are different types of houses to put on your land, there are different
ways to build a website. Let's take a look at the most common ways:
Even if you're totally new to the Internet and domain name ownership, you
can still build a website yourself. Most companies offer template-based
programs that let almost anyone get a website up and running. You can
think of them like furnished apartments. You have all of the basics you
need, but you can spruce it up with your own personal touches. One of the
best parts is that most template-based programs include hosting.
- DIY: If you're
serious about HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets
(CSS), you can build a website yourself by hand or with a program like
Adobe Dreamweaver®. Mind you, building the entire thing by hand is not for
the faint of heart or short of time. But, if you have a passion for it,
putting the control in your hands can produce great results. If you go
this route, you need a place to house your files.
Just like you would hire a mechanic to fix your car or a contractor to
build your house, you can also hire a professional to design your website.
It has the advantage of relying on someone with experience to provide what
you're looking for. The downside is that you can't always go in easily to
make changes yourself.
Some companies offer completely pre-fabricated websites, typically to
resell a product they offer. In this situation, the company takes care of
the hosting for you, so you don't need to worry about a hosting account.
Now, no matter
what kind of website you choose, you've got to have a domain name. Whenever
someone wants to go to your website, this is what they'll enter in their Web
Choosing a domain
name is really important because it's going to be the thing tied most closely
to your website in people's minds. For example, if your site is
coolexample.com, it's short and easy to remember. If it's
mybigemporiumofstuff1874.us, it's going to be harder for people to remember.
So, choose wisely because it's an important decision.
actual domain name itself, there are only a few other things to consider.
- TLDs: Your
domain name's TLD, or Top-Level Domain, is the thing following the name,
such as .com, .net, .org, etc. Picking up multiple TLDs for your domain
name protects you against potential copy cats.
Owning a domain name really is like owning real estate: there's a public
record of who owns what, accessible through the WHOIS database. You can
check out what information's available through it at our WHOIS portal here. [http://who.godaddy.com/?prog_id=GoDaddy?isc=asbaa1]
Just enter a domain name that's
already registered, you can use whitehouse.gov for example, and it will
pull back information about its owner.
If you don't want your information to be visible here, most companies
offering domain registrations (us included) have a private registration
service to block your information from being displayed.
All right: here's
a brief recap:
- All websites
need a hosting account and a domain name.
- Your domain
name is your address. Your hosting account is the place that holds your
- You have a
lot of options for building your website and getting it on your hosting
account, including building it yourself or having someone build it for
- Choosing a
domain name's a little bit simpler. Once you find one that's available, you
just need to consider if you want multiple versions of it and if you want
to privately register it.
But, wait! There's more!
Before we let you go, there are a few more "perks" to
website ownership you should know.
Not only does owning a domain name let you put a website on the
Internet, it also lets you create custom email addresses at your domain name.
For example, if you own coolexample.com, you could create email@example.com.
This is a lot more memorable and professional than firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can use this email address just like you use your current one, too,
checking it on the Internet, on your phone, or through programs like Microsoft
There are also other great ways to increase your productivity
online. They're not tied to your domain name like an email address, but most
places that offer email addresses also offer other tools like file sharing and
calendars. Using these online services is commonly referred to as "the
cloud," because they give you access to information anywhere you have an
Internet connection, making it as far-reaching as the sky. Think about never
accidentally forgetting to email yourself a file you need at a meeting. Pretty
cool, right? Now, imagine having your daily calendar with you no matter where
you go. Even cooler. A lot of company offer tools like these, including
We've covered the critical basics: your domain name and hosting
account. There's so much more, though. You can learn more by visiting the
Online Essentials article series at GoDaddy.com.
Article copyright 2013 GoDaddy.com, LLC. All
Originally published here.