In search of your own website
These days, means of communication are broad, and we are all more connected to each other. People and organizations look for a presence online to help themselves reach their goals. Still, people are not always sure on what do they need to have their own website, or its costs. This is what this article is for.
There are three ingredients
If you want to have your own site, you need three things: a domain name, a space to store your website (so that people can visit it), and your site itself. Think of them as the three ingredients of a cocktail. Let's start with the domain name.
A domain name
A domain name is the right you acquire to use an Internet address: Heptagrama.com, for example. If you want your own site, you will need to get a domain name for yourself.
Domain names need to be registered. This means that you need to hire the right to use them from an authorized party, called a registrar. There are thousands of registrars on the Internet and you can use the one you want. Just make sure to comply with their terms and conditions, and to pay the agreed price to the registrar.
What would be a normal price? Well, it depends. Each registrar has the right to charge what they deem fair or convenient to fulfil a registration. Fortunately, in these times of free market, you can always compare prices. To do this, visit the ICANN website and check their list of accredited domain name registrars. After some research, you will find one suitable for you and your budget.
As a reference, a ".com" domain extension costs around ten US dollars a year. You do not need to pay a lot more than that for a domain name. Mind, domains must be unique in name and extension.
Domain name extensions
The last few letters of a domain name are known as its domain name extension. In theory, they all have a meaning, but it practice, they have been used indistinctly. Here you have a list with their true intention. It might be useful for you:
+ ".aero" and ".travel" are used by organizations related to the aviation and travel industries, respectively
+ ".asia" is used by Asian or Asian-Pacific organizations
+ ".com" or ".biz" are aimed at businesses
+ ".cat" is used by the Catalan community (Spain)
+ ".coop" is used by cooperatives
+ ".info" is used for informative websites
+ ".jobs" is used by organizations related to human resources
+ ".mobi" is used for those who wish to provide services aimed at mobile devices
+ ".museum" is restricted to museums and related individuals
+ ".name" is restricted to persons
+ ".net" is used by people who work together in a cooperative way
+ ".org" is mainly used by non-profit organizations
+ ".pro" is aimed at qualified professionals
+ ".tel" is aimed at organizations providing telephony or Internet services
+ ".xxx" is aimed at organizations related to the adult entertainment industry
Domain name extensions allow people to register more unique domain names than what were originally available.
This list does not include all domain names, though. Each country has specific domain name extensions too, and they are used by organizations who want to declare their sites are for the public of one country only. ".ni" is the country code for Nicaragua, for example.
In any case, I always recommend registering your domain name first, and developing your website after. That way you prevent yourself wasting time and money developing a site you won't be able to use with the domain name you wanted.
Publishing your site
With your domain name registered, the next thing to do is to reserve a space where to make it available to the public —something known as publish or serve it. You can either use your own computer or hire a space in another person's or company's server to do it for you. If your website is small or starting, I recommend the latter. You can always switch later.
The act of hiring a space in another person's server is called to host it. There are thousands of hosting providers all over the Internet; so you can just search, and compare prices until finding one suitable for you. To help you in the quest, keep these two things in mind:
+ You will need room for your website files (the storage); and,
+ Users will need to download a copy of each of your files to be able to see your site too (known as bandwidth use).
You may have a large or small site, but you will always need to offer your visitors the chance to download a copy and see your website. Therefore, a good bandwidth is more important than large storage capabilities.
Kinds of hosting? These days, hosting services can be divided into three large categories...
+ Shared, which means using one computer for a number of users and their websites.
+ VPS, which means subdividing a computer in many partitions (think drawers), making each user the virtual owner or each of these sections.
+ Cloud, which means using one computer to store the content of many users, but many other computers to serve the content to the public.
Ideally, the recommended option would be using a cloud hosting package. This, because it doesn't depend on only one computer to publish your website. If one fails, the system falls back to any of the others. Yet most users can live happily with a VPS or even a shared hosting. It will always depend on your project needs.
Some hosting providers will allow you to buy a static IP for your site. If you can afford it, get one.
The rest of this section will cover how to make a site from scratch, but you need to learn how to link your domain name with your storage first.
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