More and more people are getting their own websites online. Services such as WordPress.com and WIX allow beginners to quickly and easily get their business or interest out to the masses. But maybe you want a solution with a bit more flexibility? You may want to utilise special WordPress plugins or build a unique website feature that just wont work within the constraints of a website builder platform.
To achieve this, you are most likely going to need to implement and manage your own website. This tutorial will provide a step-by-step guide on how to setup your domain name and web host so that your website will be available to the world.
Web hosting is real estate on the internet for your website. This will be where your website is located and where people go to view it.
What Type of Web Hosting
There are different types of web hosting, ranging from shared (your website is on the same server as other websites) and dedicated (your website has it’s own server) and is commonly Windows or Linux based. Web hosting can be purchased through a variety of providers (including Aftersow). The big thing to look out for is an easy to use web host control panel, such as cPanel. This will make uploading files, creating databases and other administration tasks much easier. There is also a wealth of information available on the internet about cPanel, including the cPanel Forums.
Other things to consider are:
- How big will my website be? If you are uploading many large images and files, be sure to have enough GB of storage on your web host or you might run out of space fast.
- How much traffic will visit my site? Bandwidth is the data that can be transferred at any given time. If you have a 1000 people accessing your files at once, then your bandwidth needs to be able to accommodate this.
- Do I want multiple domain names pointing to the one website? If you have many domain names pointing to a single website, then you need confirm that your web hosting allows for add-on domains. This allows you to add multiple domains, and have them redirect to your main website.
- Sub-domains? Some websites have many sub-domains (for example http://budget.aftersow.com.au). Some web hosts only allow for a discrete number of sub-domains.
- What database do I need? Most web hosts will provide MySQL but if you need some other database, then you may need to shop around.
Once you have created a web hosting account, collect the following information – it will be required later on.
- Access details for your web host account – You will need to log into your account to upload your website.
- Nameservers – Nameservers are used by domain names to point a domain name to the correct web host account.
- Web host temporary webpage URL (optional) – This is used to test that your web host is set up correctly and the world can access your website.
Uploading Your Website
Once you have purchased your web hosting and you have access to your control panel, then next step is to upload your website. Once logged in, your want to find a file manager, which looks something like the image to the right. Click this and you will be taken to your web hosts file management system – something like Windows Explorer for your website.
Once the file manager loads, you will see a list of folders which probably make zero sense (see image left). Find the
public_html folder and open it up. This is where all the web accessible files are stored. To test that your hosting is working correctly, navigate to this folder and create a new file called
index.html. Open this file and add the following text:
Access your web host account by using your web host temporary webpage URL within a browser. It should look something like this
127.0.0.1 is your web host address and
~youUserName is your hosting username with a tilde in front. If all goes well, once you access the temporary URL, you will see a plain little message saying Hello World!
Yay! Your web host is set up… but that is an ugly URL for accessing your website. This is where domain names come into play.
A domain name is the easy to remember, unique identifier for your website, for example, Aftersow’s domain name is
aftersow.com.au. You domain name maps directly to your IP address location of your web hosting account.
Types of Domain Names
There are many different types of domain names. When you choose a domain name, consider three things: What will be my top level domain name, what will be my second level domain name and do I want to utilise a country code top level domain name. The image to the right outlines how the elements of a domain name come together to form a URL.
Top Level Domain Names
Top level domain names include
.com, .gov, .org and so on.
.com is the most common,
.org is usually associated with non-profit organisations and
.gov is associated with government websites. There is also an increase in generic top level domain names such as
.blog. Click here for a list of all available top level domain names.
Second Level Domain Names
Your second level domain name is directly to the left of your top level domain name. For us, it is
aftersow. Other examples of second level domain names include
Country Code Level Domain Names
This includes the
.au, .de, .jp etc that is seen after the top level domain name. In Australia, you need to have an ABN in order to purchase a
.au domain name. Other countries may have similar restrictions.
Pointing Domain Name to Web Host
Now that you have chosen your easy to remember domain name, the time has come to point your domain name to your web host account.
First, log into your account and identify the domain name that you want to redirect. View the configuration of this domain name and find the nameservers. These themselves will look like domain names, for example
ns35.provider.com. Delete the default records and create new nameservers using the details provided by your web host provider. Once completed, click save.
Now we wait. This part can take up to 24 hours for the nameservers to propagate through the internet. You can check what nameservers your domain is referring to by using a third party checker such as Pingdom. If this still shows your old nameservers, chances are they haven’t updated yet. If they still haven’t updated after 24 hours, contact your domain name provider.
Once done, the website that you accessed with the ugly IP address based URL, will be accessible via your pretty new domain name.
Still having trouble setting up your website? Want some help? Leave us a comment or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get in contact.