Domain Names and Web Hosting
As a website designer, one of the first questions I may ask might be “Do you have a domain name and web hosting provider.” The clients’ initial reaction is a puzzled look. Many people don’t realize these are two different pieces that, together, make up the way your website works on the World Wide Web. In fact, many think that the domain name is the hosting service. If you are one of those people, let me help you understand the difference between the two.
Part 1: The Domain Name
The domain name is your website address, the yourbiz.com, mycompany.net, or the mygroup.org part of your online presence. You “purchase” (known as registering) your domain name using one of the many companies on the internet offering this service.
Domain name registration fees vary greatly depending on the registrar - from only $10-$100 per year. What's the difference? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! This fee only covers your registration - your ownership - of www.yourbiz.com for the period of time specified. You'll find that in many cases, web designers and website developers offer the best prices for domain name registration – sometimes even free if you are purchasing a service from them - because they have already done the shopping, surfing, and comparing. Why recreate the wheel if you don't have to? If you agree to have your website designer register your domain name, it is wise to have a representative from your company as the administrative email contact for the account. This way, if you should ever need or want to transfer your domain name, you have a way to access it. It is your domain name, after all.
Part 2: The Web Hosting Service
The web hosting service is the company who provides the actual server (computer space) on which all of your web pages reside. When visitors type in www.yourbiz.com the host server takes them to your designated web pages. All the pages, graphics, design aspects and styles are "uploaded" (copied) onto the web host server space and stored for you and your visitors to view.
You've probably seen banner advertisements for web hosting all over the internet. There are thousands of them - large and small. Like the domain name registration, fees vary greatly, ranging from $5 per month to hundreds per month. However, unlike domain name registration, there are BIG differences in hosting companies.
The most obvious difference in web hosting services that I have seen is the CUSTOMER SERVICE. Sometimes, nothing beats the personal attention and quick response of a smaller business. Sure, Yahoo and others appear to offer what you may need, but when you run in to trouble, do the owners personally work you through it?
A good web hosting service will offer a several packages with varying storage space, control panel access to your files, email management (firstname.lastname@example.org) and forwarding capabilities, multi-program compatibility, and a multitude of other services you may or may not need. Most website designers know that web hosting has become extremely competitive and know the specifications, server up-times, and have likely found the best price for the product. They have already experienced the good, the bad, and the truly UGLY in the word of web hosting companies, so you don’t have to.
Perhaps you learned something by reading this column about domain name registration and web hosting. Perhaps you are now feeling like you have a pretty good deal. Perhaps you feel you are being taken. Rest assured, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Sometimes, to have a professional design your website is an investment well spent - after all, to spent several hundred a year on domain registration and hosting and still have to put together a website yourself, or pay the same amount of money ONE TIME to have a gorgeous website, cut your additional yearly expenses dramatically with the designer's hosting package, and be able to spend more time on your business and what you love - which makes the most business sense to you?