So, you want a website
There you are, doing your thang. And it’s time to take that next step – putting your business out there onto the Internet so that you can reach more of your Right People.
Where do you start?
Welcome to the “So you want a website” Back To Basics Series – everything you need to know about setting up a website using WordPress, right from the very first step.
This series is for you if:
- You have the time to set up your own website
- You want a fairly basic site and don’t necessarily need much customisation or any bells and whistles
- Your budget is limited and you’d rather try this yourself than pay a web developer to set up your site for you
- You are confident enough in your technical capabilities to work through the steps yourself (and please don’t worry… by “technical capabilities”, I’m not suggesting that you need to know how to do any complex coding – as long as you feel comfortable using a computer and the Internet, you should be able to do this yourself!)
If, however, you’d prefer to spend your time doing That Thing You Do rather than sorting out your website, you want extra customisation to brand your website, or you would prefer not to fiddle with your site set-up in case something goes wrong, then one of our small business website packages (yes, they’re called Alfred, Bob and Charlie!) may be just what you’re looking for. Alternatively, contact us for a customised quote.
Domain names & hosting: An introduction
First things first: your website needs a name and it needs space on the Internet.
Your site name – the domain name – is your site’s unique identifier on the Internet. It’s the web equivalent of your physical home address, if you like.
In order for your site to be visible to others on the Internet, it needs to be hosted somewhere. In other words, all the files (the text and images) associated with your website need to be stored somewhere so that they can be accessed whenever someone visits your site. If your domain name is the web equivalent of your physical home address, hosting is the equivalent of your house that is built at that address and where you keep all your possessions.
Registering your domain name and setting up a hosting account
The rest of this post describes a quick, easy and cheap way to set up both your domain name and hosting account.
Before we get stuck into the specific steps, though, you need to know a few things:
- The process I’m going to take you through registers your domain and creates your hosting account with one company – Hostgator. You don’t have to do both parts of the process with one company. Many people register their domains with one company and host their sites with another. If you use two different companies, then there is an extra step to the process, in which you essentially “connect” the two together by telling your domain registrar which nameservers to use. It can be done, and is in fact a very simple step – but, if this confuses you, stick to the process I’m outlining and you won’t have to worry about it. If you’re setting up your first site (i.e. you don’t already have a hosting account for other sites), then this process is the quickest and easiest for you to follow.
- Why Hostgator? Quite simply, because they’re very good at what they do. We use them for Phenomenoodle, as well as for the other sites that we own, and we’ve found them to be extremely reliable, easy to use, and to be very responsive and friendly in their customer service. In addition, their prices are low and provide great value for money. While we highly recommend Hostgator, you still retain every ounce of your free will! You can choose to use a different company if you want. The process will be roughly similar to the one I’m going to describe, but obviously things will differ between companies.
- The links to Hostgator in this post are affiliate links. In other words, if you click through to Hostgator using these links and end up buying your domain and hosting from them, we get paid a referral fee by them (it doesn’t cost you anything). We don’t recommend Hostgator because we get paid by them for referrals. We’re part of their affiliate program because we’re confident that they won’t disappoint either us or the people we refer to them. Of course the money is welcome – it helps to pay the bills and allows us to provide information to you via this blog free of charge. A girl (and her family) has to eat! That said, your free will reigns supreme – if you’d rather not use the affiliate links, you can go to the Hostgator site directly. Our free will might (if it’s feeling stroppy) label you a big ol’ meanie for doing so, but nevertheless we’ll still vigorously defend your right to do what you choose regardless of what we or anyone else thinks
Okay, enough with all the information. Let’s get to the steps themselves!
- Go to the Hostgator website.
- Click on the Web Hosting link at the top of the page.
- You’ll now be presented with the three hosting options available. It’s unlikely that you’ll need the extras offered under the Business package (even if you’re setting up a website for your small business!), in which case, you’ll be choosing between the Hatchling and Baby packages.Choose the Baby package if you think it’s likely that you’ll want to set up more than one website (for example, if you have two small businesses, you can host websites for both under the same hosting account). If you only have one business and intend for it to stay that way, then the Hatchling package is perfectly sufficient for your requirements.
Note that the prices shown reflect what you’ll pay per month if you buy three years of hosting up front. If you place your mouse pointer over the price, it will display a box with the price options for two years, one year and monthly payments.Click on the Order Now button for the package of your choice.
- On this next screen, you enter the name of your domain. If you are registering a new domain at the same time, leave the radio button for Register New Domain selected, and enter the name you wish to use for your website, plus select your chosen extension (e.g. .com or .org) from the drop down menu. When you enter the domain name, don’t include the www, just enter the name itself. Once you’ve done this, click on the Nextbutton.
- If your next screen looks like this, then your chosen domain name isn’t available.
Enter a new domain name into the field and click on Lookup Domain to try again. If you see the much more friendly green writing (as in the screenshot below), then you’re good to go!
If you want complete control of all the extensions available with your domain name (some companies like to do this and redirect the other extensions to the main .com one – it can reinforce a branding message and ensure that customers don’t go to the wrong site by mistake), then you can register all of these at the same time. Otherwise, just select the extension of your choice and click on Continue.
- On the next screen, you’re asked to select some options related to your package. You’re firstly asked to select your primary domain (the one you’ll use to log in to your Hostgator control panel, from where you can administer your other domains as well) – if you’re only registering one domain (i.e. you didn’t register your domain with all possible extensions), then there’ll only be one possible option here.
Your next option relates to your hosting billing cycle – do you want to pay annually or monthly, or even pay for two or three years in advance? Note that this refers to your hosting only – domains are always paid for in yearly increments and the renewal fee is payable annually on the anniversary on when you first purchased the domain.
Where you’re asked to enter a coupon code, enter the word HOSTGATOR as shown in the screenshot. This will give you a discount of $9.94 on your hosting fees. Good times!
Click on Calculate Totals to continue. You’ll be presented with a summary of your order. Check that everything is correct and click on Continue.
- The last step in the process is to provide your details, choose a username and password, and choose how you wish to pay for your order. Enter your name, physical address, email address into the fields as requested at the top of the page.
Choose a username and password for yourself. Make a note of these – you will need them to login to your Hostgator control panel. Take note of the various restrictions on the username and password as specified under each field, especially those in red!
When it comes to payment options, either enter your credit or debit card details or choose to pay by PayPal.
Lastly, read the Terms And Conditions and select Yes to confirm that you have done this. Then click Verify My Order to submit your order and register your domain. Assuming that all your information is correct, your order is now complete!
Congratulations – You’ve just registered a domain and organised hosting for it! Welcome to the World Wide Web!
Next time, we’ll cover installing the WordPress software on your site, so that you can start adding content to it.