The very basics of a website

Welcome to the World Wide WebAre you ready to build your very first website? Feeling a little overwhelmed? Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered with this quick-start guide to get you pointed in the right direction.

There are really just three components you have to worry about: your domain, hosting services, and the site itself, which is made up of code and image files.

Domain Registration

The first part of your website is the address, otherwise known as your domain name or URL. You pay an annual fee, usually $10 – $30/year, to own your domain name. “Dot-com” addresses are addresses that end in “.com” instead of other endings like “.biz”, “.org”, etc. Dot-coms are preferred in the same way that true 800 numbers (vs. 866, 877, etc.) are preferred, because it’s what people type by default. You purchase a domain name at a domain registrar like


The second part is hosting, which is basically space you rent on a server. The server can be just about anywhere as long as it’s connected to the Internet, but typically you want a server in a data center, not someone’s basement, and having a domestic-based host will slightly improve the speed of your website. Again, costs vary but for most small business owners you can expect $100 – $400/year. If you have a really busy site with millions of visitors, you may need an entire server of your own, and costs will be greater.

If you are working with a web developer, check with them before purchasing hosting. There are a variety of options available and you need to be sure your hosting is compatible with the code they use to build your site.

Website Code

The last piece of the puzzle is the code behind your site, usually written in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and maybe some other languages like AJAX, Flash, PHP, or ASP.

The code includes the look of your site, all the images and graphic design, the text, the formatting, and any special effects like audio, video, calculators, or surveys.

Most people will need help with coding a website. While your kid may know a little HTML, there’s a lot more to building a website than slinging some code or slapping some pictures around. Your website requires marketing savvy, graphic design skills, a clear purpose – and of course the technical skills to make it all happen.

There are a number of do-it-yourself services available if you are on a tight budget. Be careful though – homemade sites that create the image of a low-budget shabby startup can be worse than no site at all.

Tying it All Together

The last step in all this, once your site is ready, is the launch. First, you (or your developer) will move your code to the host server. Next, you’ll point your domain to that same server. Once you’ve done that, you are officially online and open for visitors!


2 thoughts on “The very basics of a website

  1. Nice post for covering the basics. The hardest out of all of those has to be the hosting! I’ve had several hosts literally shut down half-way through my plan, sometimes without even refunding what money they owe me. The only advice I can give to anyone looking for hosting is to check Web Hosting Forums as well as by searching for web hosting reviews on Google before they go with a host.

  2. You know, it’s always good to check out how long the company has been in business too. There are too many startups who offer great pricing, become successful, then go under because they weren’t really covering their costs. Or if they were, the other risk is that they become victims of their own success and grow too fast to keep up!

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