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Website Basics: Start Here

Monday, March 18, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Go Daddy
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Website basics

Undeniably, the 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:

  • Businesses sell products and give customers information about their services.
  • Organizations (and individuals, too!) promote their causes.
  • People 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.

The Basics

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.
  • Hosting accounts 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 hosting account.

Hosting Accounts

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:

  • Template-Based Builders: 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.
  • Professional Web Design: 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.
  • Pre-built Websites: 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.

Domain Names

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 browser.

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, it's short and easy to remember. If it's, it's going to be harder for people to remember. So, choose wisely because it's an important decision.

Beyond your 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.
  • Private Registration: 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. [] Just enter a domain name that's already registered, you can use 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 website.
  • 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 you.
  • 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, you could create This is a lot more memorable and professional than 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 Outlook®.

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

Article copyright 2013, LLC. All rights reserved.
Originally published here.

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