Starting something can always seem like a daunting task when you’re looking at a blank screen. Many who need a site will find themselves asking, what do I need to start a website? Getting a website up and running has a pretty straightforward process. You basically need three things, a host, a domain name, and your sites code. With those three things you’ll have a site in no time. Let’s dive into each one to get a better understanding of what it is and why you need it.
What’s a Domain Name?
Ever seen or heard those commercials telling you to get your domain name today and wondered what it was? A domain name is basically how people will get to your site, so for example my domain name is johndnixon.com. There are a number of services where you can buy a domain name, some hosts actually offer this service. I would advise staying away from getting your domain name from your host. You may find at some point for a variety of reasons you may want to change your host. If they manage your domain name you’ll have to pay a fee to have it transferred. It’s usually better to have your domain with a separate service.
What’s the cost?
The cost of a domain name can vary greatly depending on a few variables. Where you buy it, the length of time you buy it, the domain name itself, and if you add privacy protection (you should) to it can all impact the cost. Several domain registrars usually have a tool that will let you look up a domain, see if it’s available, and what it’s cost will be. GoDaddy, namecheap, 101domains, all have a similar tool on their homepages. While the cost can vary into the thousands for a domain, typically you’re going to be looking at somewhere between $10-$20 a year depending on the above variables.
What’s a Host?
A website is made up of several files, some have code, some may be images, or videos, you want your users to be able to access those files so they can browse your site. In it’s most basic sense a host is a server that is always connected to the internet, that runs your sites code, and sends it to users.
What’s the cost?
Host costs, like a domain name can vary greatly. There are some host options out there that are completely free, some can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, the one you need will depend on your sites needs.
With hosting, typically like anything else you get what you pay for and your free options aren’t the greatest. You’ll either have to put up with a bunch of ads on your site, deal with a slow site, or a number of other issues. With that said though there are a few amazing free hosts. One is GitHub pages. With GitHub pages you can host a static site completely free. The draw back is you have to know how to write some code on your own, so no typical CMS, and you’re limited to the size of files and limited bandwidth to a degree https://help.github.com/en/articles/what-is-github-pages, for smaller to even some midsize sites its a great option.
If you’re running a CMS like WordPress you’ll have to run it on another host other than GitHub Pages. Typically you can get a decent host for around $5 a month. There are some hosts out there like Flywheel and WP Engine that have built their hosting platform specifically for WordPress. Others like Pantheon have built their platform to run other CMS platforms like Drupal. These specialized hosts start pushing closer to the $20-$30 a month mark to get started, but you will get better service and better site performance.
I’ve already mentioned things above like a website is a collection of files, static site, CMS platforms, WordPress, Drupal, etc. These terms may be making your head spin and to go in depth on each will require another article. What they all have in common though is they are the code that makes your site your site, without it you don’t have a site.
The cost of the actual website, like the other items can vary. Do you want a blog, brochure, or full blown e-commerce platform? Do you want a template or something fully custom? Depending on some of these questions will depend on your site cost. If you need help deciding what you need I would be glad to help.
Putting It All Together
Each of these items will help to make your website, and at first the idea of putting it all together may seem like a mountain of a task. Many times when presented with many options it can cause some confusion, luckily there are a couple (more) options to simplify the whole process. First there are some one stop shops that allow you to get everything in one place. There are some quick benefits to using those services, but some long term risks as well, it just depends on what is right for you. The second option is to let a developer like myself give you a consult and walk you through the process, or handle it all for you.
If you would like a consult on which option would be best for you, or how to get going with a setup, or even to start a new build project with me please don’t hesitate to reach out through the contact page.