Client Guide: Understanding Web Hosting and Domain Registration
A common cause of confusion for first (and sometimes second) time website owners is all the jargon surrounding web hosting and domain registration. That’s understandable, because to a non-techie, it really is a different language.
When I meet new clients, they’ll often ask me to explain what each component is and why they need it. I’ve even come across people who believe their ISP has something to do with the process too!
So, this guide will be dedicated to explaining the basics of web hosting so that you can be clearer on web hosting. Hopefully you’ll walk away with a better idea of how web hosting and domain registration work and how they relate to each other.
Your website is made up of a number of different components: web pages, pictures and possibly a database if your site has any type of content management system. In order for these to be available on the Internet, they need to be ‘hosted’, or stored on a computer known as a server.
Different types of web hosting service exist for virtually any technical requirement or price point. Which one you choose depends on your website project.
Web hosts can provide additional services such as email accounts, website statistics and more. The number and types of service will very much depend on the company you choose to host with.
In essence though, your web host provides the storage for your website, whether that’s HTML files, images or databases.
A website without a domain can only be identified by a series of numbers known as an IP Address. IP addresses are how computers talk to one another, but they’re not very easy to remember for humans. That’s why we have domain names – to give an easy-to-remember name to each website.
The domain for this website, for example, is scribbledesigns.co.uk. The corresponding IP Address is 188.8.131.52. Which would you rather have on your business stationery?
So, in summary, your domain name is the easy-to-remember address for your website.
There are two ways to approach domain names: stick close to your brand or company name (which you should probably do by defaut), or attempt a clever industry tie-in. For example, B&Q use diy.com and Boots use wellbeing.com
As I said earlier, this can be a source of confusion. The simple fact is, your ISP provides you with a connection to the Internet and usually has nothing to do with your website.
This guide has been a simple introduction to web hosting and domains. As you can imagine, there is much more to the topic than what I’ve covered here. Hopefully, you now have a clearer understanding of the basics of website hosting.