If you know your A Record from a C Name you can probably skip this post. 🙂
In this post I’m going to break down the three things you need to have if you want a website. All three are critical. If one goes down the website goes down. Oh, and I’m going to make the assumption that you are building a WordPress.org based website.
As simple as it sounds you’ll need to own a domain name. You’ll buy this from what is called a Domain Name Registrar. They are simply a company that secures your desired domain name for a period of time with The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (that’s a real company!). They are the ones that make sure there’s only one website with your domain name.
There are over 900 Domain Name Registrars in which you can buy your domain name through.
When you buy your domain name you are buying that name for a period of time. Typical time periods are 1, 2 or 3 years but you can always buy more. Domain Registrars generally make sure you know ahead of time when your time is coming up so you can renew with no interruption. Should you not renew that domain name, the Registrar will release it and someone else can buy it and use it.
You might have a GoDaddy account that you purchase domain names through. That’s ok. Before you do though, some hosting companies will get your domain name for free.
With a domain name, you are set to start building your website. Chances are you’ll be building the site on WordPress.org software. You’ll need somewhere to hold that software (and the pictures, text and other files) and that place is called a server.
Hosting Companies will rent you space on their server. In simple terms, a server is just a computer that is attached to the internet.
There are a wide array of plans for different server configurations. These range from Shared Hosting, to ‘VPS’ for Virtual Private Server, to a Dedicated Server. Your expected traffic and other needs will determine what hosting package is best for you.
Hosting companies charge a fee to host your website. You can pay for this monthly, annually or several years in advance. When it comes time to renew, they’ll usually send you a notification so you can renew in advance and there will be no down time in your site.
I have a wonderful GREEN hosting company that I recommend. They source all of their power from wind and solar and have a great customer service team. You can see more about them HERE.
For clients that I work with, I offer a fully managed hosting service. The managed part means that you never have to update your website, you never have to back it up – it’s all done by me on a weekly basis and if anything ever happens to it, I’m here to get it back up and running!
Like I mentioned above, the third thing you’ll need for a website is the software. Did you know that there are two instances of WordPress out there. WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
The .com version is a company that if you use them, they’ll also host your files. That’s great for some, but for others it comes with limitations. Those limitations are in the themes and plugins and modifications you might want to use.
The .org version, which is what we’re talking about here uses the same WordPress that .com uses. The difference is that they give you the software and let you do whatever you want to do with it. That means you can use any plugins you like, you can use any themes you like and you can modify anything you like!
Updates: WordPress is always being improved and updates come out on a regular basis. Some of these make your site better, faster or add features, some of them are for security reason and stop the bad guys from getting in. The same goes with plugins and themes. You’ll want to keep your website up to date all the time.
Back Up: Before you update, you’ll want to back every thing up. WordPress comes with a tool that’ll allow you to back up all of your content. That’s all the text and images in your posts and pages. What it doesn’t do is back up all of the other stuff like themes, plugins, and code. That takes a little more work. (My managed everything option backs up everything and then stores that file in a safe place just in case)
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER
Ok, so now we have a domain name that we own that we point to the hosting server, the hosting server holds the files that have there. Those files are the software and the text and images that make up our website.
When someone types into a browser AreWeConnected.com the internet says, “We recognize that name” and sends them to the files on the host where their browser puts it all together and shows the website just like we want it to show. (oh! and that website better be mobile friendly!)
BONUS: WHEN YOUR WEBSITE GOES DOWN
It’s going to happen. It happens to all websites soon or later. When it does you’ll be frantic to get it back up as soon as possible. Knowing what you know now, here’s what I look at first.
- Has the domain name expired? If not, then…
- Has the hosting contract expired? If not, then…
- Is the Host down? Yes, sometimes a server or entire host will go offline. I keep track of the major hosts in a Twitter list. It’s usually the first place they let you know there’s an issue.
- Next I start looking at the WordPress files. Do you have a recent back up? If you do, we can reinstall WordPress, and then apply the backup and everything will be back as it was.
- If you don’t have a back up, hope all you like, sometimes I can restore a site and get everything back, sometimes I can’t and it’s time to start from scratch.
Hopefully that helps make sense of owning a website. Did I miss anything?