Setting Up A Website
So, you want your own website... Setting up a site of your very own can be free and easy, or as expensive and complicated as a NASA mission to Mars. Here are some tips on getting started...
Create Your Own Website
The cost and complexity of creating your own website depends on what you want to do with it, and how well you want to do it. Let's start with what you want to do.
Do you just want to present information to visitors? Then maybe all you need is a blog... a site that displays Web pages and that's all. It doesn't do shopping carts or other things that require back-end databases and knowledge of SQL, C++, etc. It just shows stuff... text, pictures, embedded videos, hyperlinks to other pages on other Web sites. A blog is easy, and can be free. Many blogging sites will host your blog free of charge. Wordpress.com, Blogspot.com, and Blogger.com are just three of the bigger names in the free blogging space.
With these free blog services you'll get a domain name something like yourname.wordpress.com - which clearly tells savvy visitors that you are a tenant in someone else's building. If you want the prestige and brevity of your very own domain name - i.e., yourname.com - then you have buy it.
Your Own Domain Name?
For that, you go to a domain name registrar, register the name, and point it to your site. A domain name may cost as little as $5 per year. For tips on selecting and registering a domain, see my related article on Buying a Domain Name.
You can use the brevity of yourname.com to send visitors to yourname.wordpress.com or any other destination on the Web. You can set your domain to redirect visitors to another site. It's much like setting your cell phone to forward callers into voicemail; they call your number and reach the voicemail number instead.
Choosing a Web Hosting Service
There are free Web hosting services out there, but they all come with limitations similar to blogs. Your site name will be yourname.webhost.com or webhost.com/yourname unless you redirect from your own domain name as described above. The amount of disk space available for your use will be limited. Worst of all, the amount of traffic you send and receive via your Web site will be limited. If your site suddenly gets a spike in visitors, some may see the "bandwidth allocation exceeded" message that says, in effect, "the poor owner of this site has used up his freebies for now; come back next month." Many won't come back. You get what you pay for, but it needn't cost a lot to start.
Paid Web hosting service starts at around $50 per year. You can run server-side programs, scripts, and other code that lets you have sophisticated online stores, games, and many other amenities. Thousands of such programs are available as free open source packages. You can use as much storage space and bandwidth as you need. But of course, you'll pay for it.
Paid Web hosts typically offer several packages of services for flat monthly prices. For example, 5 GB of storage space and up to 500 MB of traffic for $X. If you exceed your traffic allowance the Web host doesn't cut you off; instead, you are billed additional fees for each megabyte of traffic over your monthly allotment. If you habitually pay extra traffic fees it will be cheaper to move up to the next higher bundled package.
I've used WestHost and The Planet for several years. Other friends of mine recommend BlueHost for economy hosting. Be careful when selecting a host for your Web site. You want one with very high availability; competent, responsive tech support; and good financial stability. Ask in online forums about the reputations of specific Web hosts.
Just Add Content!
Once you have chosen the domain and hosting company, you can start building the site. If you have never built a website before, there are many free resources on the Internet for learning HTML (the computer markup language most often used to build websites), and most large hosting companies offer free website design tools, as well.
In addition, software like Microsoft Expression Web or the free CoffeeCup HTML Editor makes building a website almost as easy as using a word processor, though you have to make sure your web hosting company supports FrontPage extensions. Here are some links to get you started:
There is a certain air of mystery about creating a dot-com website, but the process is simpler than most people think. The real challenge lies in coming up with a good design and then updating the site regularly with original and compelling content.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 16 Dec 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Setting Up A Website (Posted: 16 Dec 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved