Web Hosting Explained (simply)
One of the most puzzling aspects to new clients when enquiring about new web sites is the need for “web hosting” and “domain names”. Having been involved in web development for 30 years it is second nature to me, and sometimes I forget that these new terms can be confusing to people who just want to get their business online, so I decided to write a quick post trying to explain the process in simple terms.
Most people never really think about where a website is, or even what a website is. You turn on the computer, open a browser, and go to a website. But what am I doing when I “visit” a website? If I’m a visitor, where have I gone? And if it is a “site,” where is it located?
Well the short answer is that it is located on a computer that is connected to the big Googly thing we call the Internet. These computers are owned by web hosting companies, and are all connected together to form the Internet.
Your website is just a bunch of computer files and images lovingly crafted into an awesome looking online “brochure” by someone like yours truly 😉 When you create a website, you need to pay a web hosting company a fee to have your website files stored on their computer (“server”) so it can be accessed by web browsers.
Think of it like this; You write a letter, and if it’s kept in your house nobody can see it, but if you go and put it on public display on a community notice board, anyone passing can read it. That letter is your website, and the notice board is the web hosting.
But it doesn’t end there. You also need a “domain name”. That’s like a street address, and it lets the web browser know where to find your website. Every domain name is unique (like www.designdude.com.au) and the domain name directs people on the big wide web to the the files on the hosting companies computer. When you type in www.designdude.com.au your web browser looks up the address records for my domain name, and they tell the browser to go to a particular “server” at xyz web hosting company and fetch the files for my website. This all happens in fractions of a second. Pretty cool really!
So in the example using the community notice board, the domain name is the same as the address of the community notice board. It tells people where to find the board (hosting) where you put your letter (website) so they can read it.
To summarise, when you decide to get a website there are 3 things that you will be paying for:
Domain Name: Usually something relevant to your business name (if not exactly same) Cost is around $12 per year and is paid to hosting company.
Web Hosting: This is also a yearly cost so your website is accessible on the world wide web. Costing for this varies, a good Australian hosting company can be as little as $100 per year.
Website: This is obviously the most expensive part, however it’s a one off cost. Pricing varies depending on size and complexity. To get an accurate quote the best thing to do is map out what you want on the site, what you need to achieve, and supply as much info as possible to your web designer so they can cost it.
Hope that helps. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more clarification.