While we love dealing with the technical aspects of building and maintaining websites we realise that not everyone does. So, before the jargon gets too robot-like and the thought of setting up a website feels too overwhelming, here’s a simple way of looking at things.

When it comes down to it every website requires 3 things:

  • Hosting
  • Domain name
  • Website files

Let’s take a brief look at each of them.

Hosting: your own piece of paradise

Think of your website as something physical, like a building. If you are building a personal website then think of it as your home, and if it is a business website think of it as your business premises.

So, what’s one thing all buildings need before they can be built?

Land!

Website hosting is quite simply a piece of land that you can rent or purchase so you have somewhere to build.

The vast majority of people will rent the land because it’s cheaper and easier to have someone take care of it. You don’t have to worry about the plumbing, electricity or anything else you’d need for your building.

Now, in the real world what this actually means is that a company has already set up a server and configured it so that it is ready for you to use. You pay a monthly fee to rent space on the server which you can then use how you like. It is possible to buy your own server and run it yourself, but it would be the equivalent of you purchasing an untouched plot of land to build on and would require a large investment to prepare it for use.

Once you have your plot of land you can then start building on it.

Website: your home away from home

Websites can mean different things to different people, depending on what they are being used for. For some people, they are a place to share their thoughts while for others they may be their place of business. In many ways, your website is just like a physical building.

Once you have land to build your structure on you then have to work out what it is exactly you want to build, how you are going to build it – and who is going to build it!

Your house can be built with all kinds of materials, and some houses can be easily expanded as your needs grow.

There are many different ways to build a house, just as there are many ways to build websites but fortunately, we don’t have to do it all by ourselves. By using professional builders we don’t have to worry about the planning, foundations, brick-laying, electrical work… and so on!

Back in the real world, we can relate this to how we build websites. First, we plan out what you want your website to achieve, then we lay the foundations (a website software/content management system called WordPress), followed by the design & build of your website.

Just like building a house, hiring professionals to build your website with intention and purpose will offer a higher level of satisfaction and provide a more professional finish.

Once you’ve built your house on your land, what next?

Domain: welcome to the neighbourhood

Your house looks amazing and you want to tell everyone you know to come over and celebrate with you… but how do they find you?

Without an address even the most dedicated friend or family member won’t be able to visit you. Your house needs a unique identifier – like a house number and road name – and for that ID to be added to a register.

Unlike many houses you actually get to choose your website address and can be as creative as you like – as long as your choice of address hasn’t already been taken by someone else.

Your domain name – sometimes called a website address or URL –  is one of the final pieces of your website puzzle. It’s a string of numbers and characters that you can tell people about so they know exactly where to find you. Examples of domain names are:

  • www.google.com
  • apple.com
  • and thegoodalliance.org

Just like street addresses, all website addresses are unique. If the website address you want is not available you may need to think outside the box to come up with something better.