Clients often ask me about building a website. They think that once I have created the web pages for them, the site is ready to go. Well not exactly. In this article I want to talk about the 3 main parts of a website.
1) The website pages — every website needs web pages. Often these are simple pages that have HTML tags in them — things like < HTML > or < B > or whatever. And if you have more than 1 page, you need to have the pages connected to each other, so that when a person clicks on “HOME” for example, it will go to a page called “HOME”. These are called links (hyperlinks). You can either try to build the site yourself, or, hire someone else to build it for you. (See the article about that decision.) So let’s assume that you have a working website with lots of pages. That’s great, but we need some other things. Right now, those pages are still on your computer, or, the person who built the site. In order for people to SEE your site, you need to put it somewhere that people can visit it. Yes, they might be able to see the site on your computer, but that means you have to leave your computer on all the time. Most people don’t want to do that, so…
2) they have their site “hosted” — that means they put their web pages onto someone else’s computer that will be connected to the Internet 24/7. Usually these hosting companies charge a monthly fee — somewhere between $5 – $50, depending on what you need and what they offer. (Free hosting usually means that you have to have ads — often very annoying popup ads — on your website. Not good for potential customers who are confused by the ads.) Often, the person that builds your web pages for you will offer suggestions on where to host the site, since they do that for many clients. But, you may be wondering, how do I move the web pages from my computer to this hosting company’s computers/servers? That process is called “uploading”. You upload the web pages to their servers, usually using a process called FTP transfer. (Many people might use something like WS FTP LE to upload their personal webpages or the PRO version for businesses. ) OK, so now your web pages are on a hosted website that’s always connected to the Internet. How will people get there?
3) For most people, they want to get people to their website very easily. If you put your files on a host, they might provide you with a URL to get to the site. For example: “http://site.hostingcompany. com/~mark/mywebsite/”. It’s very long and not easy to remember. So, to help a company look more professional, to make it easier for customers, and to help them remember the name better, companies often will buy a domain name. For example, this site is HawaiiWebConsulting.com — HawaiiWebConsulting.com is the domain name. You can usually buy a domain name for around $20/year, depending on where you purchase it. Most companies want to “reserve” (purchase) the domain name for at least 2 year, so that no one else tries to buy it at the end of that time. (If you have told your customers to visit you at IBM.com, you want to make sure you own IBM.com for a LONG time!) Once you purchase the domain name, you can tell your hosting company what it is and they will help you with it. Or, sometimes the hosting company will sell the domain name to you, making it very easy. So, now someone can type the domain name you purchased and see those amazing web pages!