All you need to know before starting to build your business website
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We often get asked about the meanings of web hosting and domain name registration, which web hosting and domain name packages to get and what the differences between the two are.
In this blog post, we will be explaining the meanings of domain name and hosting, and give a few suggestions for your new website or blog’s web hosting. In the end, we will also be explaining the difference between a hosted website and a self-hosted website so that you can easily decide which platforms are best for you to build your website.
Let’s start with the definitions of web hosting and domain name.
What do domain names and web hosting mean?
Web hosting is your website’s home. It is where all the files of your website live. These files may include images, texts, plugins etc. On the other hand, a domain name is generally the name of your website. It is the address that people type in the browser’s URL bar to visit your website.
The domain name and website hosting are connected even though they are totally different terms. They work together to make websites possible. You can not create a website if you have a domain name but no hosting, or have a hosting but no domain name. Behind each domain name, there is an address of the web hosting service keeping the website’s files.
To explain the domain name better, here are the parts of a URL;
https:// – Protocol
www. – Subdomain
Instagram – Domain Name
.com – Top-level Domain
/socialinfluence.co – Path
Even though you don’t see the hosting in the URL, you can find out where a website is hosted by using online tools such as Hosting Checker https://hostingchecker.com/
Do domain names have to end with .com?
While there are many options, .com still has credibility over other domain name extensions. This is why .com domain names are the most expensive ones in the domain aftermarket.
However, if you are a small business and don’t want to spend a fortune on domain names, there are always different extension options like .co, .org, .io etc. The most important factor here is to have a domain name that reflects your business name and is easy to remember.
In some cases, the domain name that you wish to purchase might also be taken. In this case, you can go for a different extension than .com, try to make up a new name or try to buy the domain name from its current owner. Did you know that there is a whole industry of people who buy and sell domain names to make money? There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages of buying a domain name from the domain aftermarket but let’s go back to our topic.
Do I need to buy hosting and domain names together?
The easiest and cheapest way for beginners is to get the domain name and web hosting together with a third party (a different platform than where you build your website). Most web hosting companies such as Godaddy, Bluehost and Dreamhost provide the first year of a domain name for free with their hosting plans.
However, buying a domain name and hosting from different companies is also possible. If you wish to buy your domain name and hosting from different companies, you will need to point your domain name to your web hosting company by editing its DNS settings.
It is also possible to transfer a domain name on one platform to another company. As you own the domain name, you have the right to use it and transfer it to any hosting platform you want. In order to do this, you may need to contact your domain name provider. All companies have step-by-step guides to help you transfer domain names from one to another.
From where should I get my web hosting and domain name?
When it comes to selecting the best web hosting services, you have a few options. There are some essential factors you need to take into consideration such as speed, customer service and user-friendliness. We have listed our top 3 web hosting companies below;
Bluehost is great especially if you are planning to build your website on the WordPress platform. Bluehost is one of the best web hosting companies on the market. They give 1 year of the free domain name and a free SSL certificate which is important for your website. Their 36-month hosting prices are starting from as low as €2,51/month.
Their Customer Support is extremely responsive and there is an online chat option in case you need support with your hosting.
In addition, you can get a refund within 30 days of signing up if you are not happy with the platform.
Dreamhost guarantees to make sure your website is fast, secure and always up. The best part is you get a full 97-day money-back guarantee to test the service out. Plus DreamHost has above-average speed and uptime with lots of “unlimited” features.
They offer various hosting plans, and their WordPress hosting plans are starting from $2,59 / month for 3 years of subscription.
This affordable hosting provider has customers from over 100 different countries and powers more than 1.5 million websites and 750,000 WordPress installations.
GoDaddy is an extremely popular web host and domain registrar. It is cheap and easy to use and its customer support is incredible. They offer a user-friendly site-building solution to customers. We recommend this hosting provider’s WordPress-specific hosting as it comes with some added benefits, such as auto-installed updates.
The most basic shared hosting plan starts at $2.99/month, while dedicated hosting plans can reach up to $179.99/month.
Why should I go for a self-hosted platform rather than a hosted platform to build a website?
We can hear your question “What is a self-hosted and hosted plan anyway?”. So let’s start by explaining the meaning of hosted and self-hosted websites.
Hosted website building platforms:
A hosted website or a blog is when you don’t need to pay a third party to purchase your hosting, domain name and website builder to build your own site. Sounds so good to be true right?
Some website-building platforms allow you to get a hosted package to build your site while in others, you can get your own self-hosting through a third party. For example, website builders such as Wix, Squarespace or WordPress.com offer hosted packages which make website building pretty easy for individuals and entrepreneurs. However, as these websites host all the website files under one storage, you are limited to doing any customisation or adding functionalities. It costs extra every time you want to get an essential (or non-essential) plugin for your website.
Self-Hosted Website Building Platforms:
On the other hand, a self-hosted website or a blog is stored on the server of your choice, and you can build your website/blog wherever you want to build it.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted website platform. It is FREE and it lets you customise your website as much as you like. You can build websites from scratch with your own branding, optimise web pages for SEO and add any functionalities you wish without paying anything extra. It provides you with a lot of flexibility but of course, it comes with its difficulties. It may not be right for those who are not experienced in web design and a bit of coding.
Which one is good for me?
Building a site on a hosted platform is like building a website on a rented space. If things go wrong, the website builder company helps you to solve it. You don’t have to deal with the security, maintenance and even the domain name. However, when you build a site on a self-hosted platform like WordPress.org, you are the owner of your own files. You can build the pages and add functionalities as you wish. But that also means that you would have to deal with maintenance and security.
Another advantage of building a website with a self-hosted plan is that you can change your hosting provider whenever you want to. When you build websites and blogs using platforms such as Wix, you are stuck with their hosting plans and you will have to pay them as long as you want your website to be up and running.
Building a website takes time and effort. It is not only about the copy, images and animations. Updates, performance, security, codes, hosting and the platform of your website are also very important if you want your website to be up and running smoothly.
When it comes to hosting providers, we prefer hosting companies that offer good customer care, security and email inboxes at no additional cost. The performance and cost play a huge role as well.
When it comes to deciding which platform to build your website on, the choice is totally up to you. If you plan to grow your business and create additional revenue streams, WordPress.org is your go-to option because it allows your website to grow with no unexpected cost. However, for this option, you may need an experienced web designer/developer so that everything is in place and fully functioning.
If you wish to build your own website with the minimum effort, you can also go for options like Squarespace. However, you need to be aware of the fact that you cannot add functionalities to these sites for free, and you have to pay to these platforms on a monthly/yearly basis as long as you want your website to be live.
Which platform do you prefer to build your website on? Let us know in the comments below.