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Creating your own website? Here’s what you need to know about hosting & domains

Creating your own website can feel like setting sail into uncharted waters. It’s exciting, yet the vast sea of options and decisions can be overwhelming. Fear not! I’m here to guide you through the initial, crucial steps of selecting hosting and securing a domain name, ensuring your voyage starts on the right foot.

Why your website needs a solid foundation

Imagine building a house. Before you choose the curtains or paint the walls, you need a solid foundation and an address people can find. Similarly, for your website, reliable hosting is the foundation that makes sure your site remains accessible and performs well. 

A memorable domain name serves as its unique address on the internet. Both are essential for establishing your online presence.

Understanding hosting: The engine behind your site

Hosting might seem like just another tech term, but it’s the powerhouse of your website. It’s where all your site’s data lives and breathes, making it accessible to visitors from anywhere in the world..

The role of hosting in website performance

Think of hosting as your site’s engine. A robust engine ensures smooth performance under any conditions, just as quality hosting guarantees fast loading times and minimal downtime.

Different types of hosting explained

From shared hosting, ideal for beginners due to its affordability, to dedicated servers offering unparalleled control and resources for high-traffic sites. VPS and cloud hosting strike a balance, providing scalability and reliability without breaking the bank.

Choosing the right hosting provider: What to look for

As an experienced website owner I’ve learned the hard way that not all hosting services are created equal. While moving hosting isn’t as tricky as you might think, I’ve done it twice, it’s worth making sure you make a great choice to begin with so you can avoid that headache.

Here’s what to consider when choosing yours:

Uptime reliability and speed

Your site needs to be fast and available 24/7. Look for providers boasting high uptime rates and speedy server responses.

Excellent customer support

When things go awry, responsive and knowledgeable support is invaluable.

Scalability for your growing business

Be sure your chosen provider can accommodate growth without significant hitches or costs.

Transparent pricing

Some providers offer a hard to refuse low price for the initial term only to hike the price up to an unaffordable rate after the first year or two. Make sure you check what the ongoing price will be and to lock in a low price pay upfront for as long as you can afford to.

When I chose my latest hosting provider I did extensive research to look into all these options. I read a few roundup posts of hosting reviews to get a general feel for which would work best for me and chose Hostinger*.

Other great options are Siteground, UK-based Krystal and Cloudways.

Domain names decoded: More than just an address

Your domain name is how users find you among millions of websites. It reflects your brand and should be easy to remember.

How to choose a domain name that sticks 

Aim for something short, catchy, and relevant to your brand or industry. Avoid complex spellings that could confuse potential visitors.

The significance of domain extensions

While .com is king for its universality and trustworthiness, don’t shy away from niche extensions (.tech, .design) if they better align with your brand’s identity.

Where to buy your domain

You can either buy your domain from your hosting – many hosting packages offer a free domain for the first year when you sign up, so that’s worth taking advantage of.

Otherwise there are numerous registrars you can buy from for instance, NameCheap and GoDaddy. Shop around for deals but prioritise those for reliable service and customer support over those offering rock-bottom prices.

I’ve usually bought my domain from my host – my main domain is with my old hosting company. I also have domains with my current host, Hostinger, because they offered me a free domain when I signed up.

Having them in the same place makes life easier as you then don’t have to connect your domain to your hosting. However, keeping them separate is a better security measure. If your hosting company goes out of business or your account gets hacked you don’t also lose access to your domain name. And if you move hosting you don’t also need to consider what to do with your domain.

Connecting your domain and hosting

Most website hosts will let you start creating your new site on a temporary domain. When you’re ready to, if you haven’t bought your domain from your host, you’ll need to link the accounts by telling the domain which servers to point to..

1. Update your domain’s DNS settings

Log into your domain account to update your domain’s DNS settings to your hosting provider’s nameservers. Your host and/or your domain registrar will have clear instructions about how to do this. But if you’re nervous, this is the kind of task a website professional can do for you when your new site goes live.

2. Wait for the new information to propogate

Wait for this new information to filter through worldwide servers. This can take up to 48 hours so don’t worry if your new domain doesn’t work straight away..

3. Your new site will be live on your domain!

Yay! You’re all set.

If you still need to build your site you can consider doing so behind a ‘Coming soon’ page. The free version of the WordPress plugin SeedProd lets you work on your site behind the scenes while only showing the world page telling them you’ll soon be launching a shiny new site.

Next steps after securing hosting and domain

With these foundations laid, you’re ready to build! Consider website design next—whether you’re going to DIY or hire a designer. 

If you’re going to DIY you’ll need to:

  • Install WordPress – the CMS that provides the buildin gblocks of your site.
  • Choose a theme – the decor!
  • Create a brand guide for your site – develop your own style and brand personality.
  • Customise your theme with your brand colours and fonts – make your site your own.
  • Write captivating content for your site that resonates with your audience.
  • Build your pages and add your content!

OR you can hire a web designer and content creator to hold your hand through this process.

Common pitfalls to avoid

Ensure a smooth start by avoiding common mistakes:

  • Choosing a hosting provider based solely on price rather than value. This often comes bite you when the prices shoot up after the initial term or when you can’t get hold of a human being to speak to when you have an issue.
  • Make a note of your renewal dates a month before your renewal date. Overlooking renewals can lead to lost domains or lapsed hosting and a site that vanishes offline!
  • Hosts often offer excellent security and site speed tools. Ignoring these means you won’t be making the most of your site.
  • Not checking that your host offers back-ups or staging! You might not think you need this now, but it can be invaluable if your site goes down or when you’re ready to upgrade.
  • Not considering the future growth of your business and website. As your traffic increases or your business expands you might need more disc space, faster upload time and more advanced features.

Ready to turn your dream into digital reality?

Choosing your hosting provider and securing your perfect domain name is the first big step towards getting your site online! 

Every great journey begins with a single step – so make this one count. By making strategic choices now, you’ll establish a strong online presence that supports your business goals long into the future.

Get in touch to unlock your website’s potential

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