There are four basic components necessary to get a web site up and running:
- Domain name
- Hosting account
- Building the site
- Uploading the site
1. Register a Domain Name
You’ll seem more professional as www.lincolnrealty.com than www.webhost.net/site~1234. It’s okay to register a domain name before you need a web site, especially if you think someone else might want the same name. It’s easy to register a domain. Just go to bluehost.com or some other web hosting company. Look for something like “register a domain name.” You’ll type in the domain name you want, and in a few seconds, you’ll know whether or not it’s still available. Stick with traditional .com (for a business) or .org (nonprofits and community groups); otherwise people might not remember your web address. If the domain name is available, you’ll pay a yearly fee (for most domains, the amount is about $15 to $30/year) and maybe a small monthly “parking” charge for the domain name.
Hint: the process is much simpler if you register the domain name with the same company who will host the site (see Section 2).
2. Set up Hosting
When you’re ready to have a web site, you’ll need to set up a “hosting” account to go with your domain. For less than $10 a month, a hosting company will store and display your web site to internet viewers. If you have a very large site with lots of big images or lots of web traffic, you might pay more for hosting. It’s easiest (but not necessary) to set up your hosting with the same company where you registered the domain name. You will probably also want a plan that offers domain email like email@example.com. Sometimes this is included with a hosting account.
3. Create Your Site
You can either build your own site from scratch, have a designer do it, or build it online. Some web hosting companies like bluehost and register.com have hosting plans where you can build your own site using their pre-fab templates, including e-commerce sites. For do-it-yourselfers, there are several software programs for creating basic web sites. In most cases you just type your text on the page, then add borders, backgrounds, graphics and photos if you like. The software does all the HTML coding and manages the site for you. Also get yourself a good book about web design for beginners. Most pros use Adobe Dreamweaver to build web sites, but it’s pricey and it’s rather overwhelming, so it’s not be the best choice for a beginner.
WordPress is another alternative for building your web site. WordPress is an online “content management system” that allows you to build web sites with pages, blog posts, photos, video and more, all stored online. You can apply different pre-fab design Themes to change the look of your site. WordPress is very powerful and a bit counter-intuitive, so it takes some learning to figure out how to use it. The WordPress software can be installed on many web hosts, it’s FREE and it has tons of documentation on the web if you get stuck.
4. Upload the Site
Ready to go live? If you designed your site on your computer (as opposed to using an online design program), your hosting company will give you passwords and tell you how to load your web site files onto their server (it’s easy!). They will also tell you how to set up your domain email accounts like firstname.lastname@example.org.