This is the first in a series of 3 articles that will walk you step-by-step through the process of how to build a website from scratch. Each article will stand on it’s own, however, this article will cover the prerequisites required in order to build a website, namely, the need for a web-host and a domain name.
Below are the topics of discussion in this article. Feel free to click on any one of the following links to skip to that section.
- The Need for a Web Host
- What to Look for in a Web Host
- How to Set Up Hosting
- Choosing a Domain Name
- How to Register Your Domain Name
- Pointing your Domain Name to your Website
Every website must have a place to “set up shop” on the internet. Each site is housed by a web hosting company in order to display it’s website content.
For example, if you were to walk down Main Street in town, you would find dozens of stores, some large, some small. Each place of business has it’s own storefront to display their goods or services. A web-host could be thought of as the “Landlord”, or property owner of the space that you rent to display your goods and services.
Just like every store requires a building, every website requires a web-host. You must have a placed to display your goods or services, so before you can build a website, you must have a place where it can be housed. This is why you need a web-host.
I’ve written an article that addresses this very question entitled, “10 Essential Questions to Ask When Choosing a Web-Host”. It takes an exhaustive look at this question and offers many insights, which is why I highly recommend that you read it before deciding on a web-host. Even if you choose a different host from the one that I recommend, the article I’m referring to questions that you should definitely answer before deciding on a web-host.
Not every “Landlord” (web hosting company), is the same, and just like a store owner wants to make sure that they rent from a responsive Landlord, you want to make sure that you web-host offers reliability, security, and top-notch customer service. Just like you always want your Landlord to be available to you, you will want to be able to reach out to your web-host and get help any time of the day or night, should you need their assistance.
Given that there are literally thousands of web-hosts to choose from, I obviously can’t offer instructions on how to set up hosting for every web-host, so let me show you how to set it up with my web-host, SiteGround.
I chose SiteGround as my web-host because of their outstanding customer service, reliability, and speed.
I’ve used their services for several years. At one point, I did leave them for another host because “the grass looked greener on the other side of the fence”. Once I found that the grass was not greener on the other side of the fence, (ins’t that always true?), I rushed back to SiteGround, and have been with them ever since. To quote one of my all time favorite bands, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” – Chicago, “Hard Habit to Break”.
To get started, simply visit SiteGround.com, and click on HOSTING in the main menu, and then click WORDPRESS HOSTING, or simply click here to go their directly. You should probably choose the STARTUP plan as this offers you a ton of benefits, and if you find that your needs grow beyond the features of this plan, you can easily upgrade your plan with the click of a mouse.
Siteground makes it VERY easy to sign up for their services, holding your hand through the entire process. There really isn’t anything other than selecting your plan, (the STARTUP plan), entering your billing information, and the domain name that you have already purchased. You will receive a “Welcome” e-mail with instructions on how to sign into your hosting plan from their website.
Once you have received this e-mail, log into your web-host because you will want to write down your Nameservers because you will need them to point your Domain name to your web-host. To obtain your Nameservers, with SiteGround, simply follow the steps listed below:
- Log into SiteGround.
- Click on the MY ACCOUNTS tab.
- Click the orange CPANEL button on the left towards the top of the page.
- At the top of the page on the left hand side, you will see the following image. Again, where it says, NS1, and NS2, you are going to want to write these down, as you will need them later.
I have written extensively on this particular subject in an article entitled, How to Choose a Domain Name. I highly recommend that you read that article before choosing a domain name, as it offers a lot of insight and will save you time and headache when trying to find that perfect domain name.
After you have decided on the domain name, you need to register that domain name. In effect, you need to purchase that domain name from a registrar.
This may begin to sound a bit daunting, but don’t be intimidated. A registrar is just a fancy name for the place where you register a domain name. It’s kind of like putting numbers on your house so that the mailman knows where you live.
One of the most popular registrars out there is GoDaddy.com. I personally don’t like GoDaddy.com, because it is very difficult to navigate their site. Additionally, they are constantly changing the navigation on their website. This it makes it very difficult to find what you were looking for.
Instead, I would recommend to a site called NameCheap.com. You can register your domain name there for about $9. Unlike GoDaddy.com, when you renew the domain name, it will still only cost you $9 instead of the $15 that GoDaddy.com will charge after the first year, and every year thereafter.
NameCheap.com knows that most people find registering a domain name complicated, so they have uncomplicated the process and make it very easy, even for the first time user.
Before I show you how to point your domain name to the website, let’s take a minute to explain what’s really going on.
Perhaps you have heard of the term, “DNS”. DNS stands for Domain Name System. Think of it as the mother of all databases. It literally is the central database of the internet. Before the Domain Name System was implemented, computers would only talk to each other by way of numbers. These numbers are referred to as an IP Address, and each computer has one.
Think of an IP address as a Social Security Number for a website. Every Website has an IP address. But wouldn’t it be weird if we referred to each other by our Social Security Numbers? Can you imagine, “Hey 845-932-090, want to go to the movies?” Doesn’t, “Hey Mary, want to go to the movies?”, sound much better? As you can see, it’s much easier to remember a name than a set of numbers.
Nameservers take a computer number (an IP Address), and associate it with a name, your website name. So, after you have purchased a Domain name, you need to point that domain name to an IP address, (a number that your web-host assigns). This way, when you type in the domain name, your site will appear.
This is REALLY easy to do, so now that I have explained what’s going on in the background, let me show you how to point your domain name to your website. Each Registrar is different, but let me show you how easy it is to do this with NameCheap.com.
After purchasing the domain name that you have chosen from NameCheap.com, log into your NameCheap account. You will be confronted with the NameCheap Dashboard.
As you can see from the screenshot below, I recently registered the domain name, servantconsulting.com. Click on the MANAGE button on the right hand side of the Domain name that you have purchased.
After you click on the MANAGE button, if you scroll down just a little, you will see the following section named, NAMESERVERS. Click on the drop-down menu and select CUSTOM DNS, enter Nameserver1, and Nameserver2, respectively. You will need to grab that piece of paper that you had written your Nameservers on and enter then here.
Wait. I’ve seen this take anywhere from 20 minutes to over 30 hours. It all depends on who your web-host and Registrar is, (where you registered your domain name). The waiting period has a lot to do with how long it will take for your site to propagate through the internet.
But remember, just because you see your site in 20 minutes, does not mean that people in other parts of the country or world will see it. It will generally take over 24 hours for everyone to see your site.
If however, you wish to ensure that you “did everything right”, you can always log into SiteGround and open up a “Chat” session with them. They will be able to take a look at everything and tell you if something needs to be changed or updated. You may even wish to ask them if you did everything right just to give you peace of mind. The last thing you want to happen is to set your Nameservers, wait for 24-48 hours to see your site, only to find that you entered the Nameservers incorrectly. In that case, you would have to wait all over again! Not fun.
The Next Step
In our next article, we will install WordPress and the Divi Theme. This is where the fun begins, so grab yourself a snack, get some pop-corn and put your feet up. You can read that article by clicking here.