A website is made up of four primary parts: Your Domain Name – your human readable name, like eggplantstudios.ca. That Domain Name is then translated into a machine readable IP address – the location of your Host. Your Host stores and processes your website, then delivers it to the viewer. Pretty simple, right?’
A domain is a human-readable ‘alias’ for a server’s address. This what both you and I know as your ‘mywebsite.com’ address. A domain name is reserved yearly, and depending on the TLD (.COM. .CA, .ORG, etc), can be around 10 to 100 dollars a year. Domains are registered by Registrars. There are a tonne of registrars out there, but I recommend the following:
You’ll want to get yourself a readable and effective domain name that represents your business. It’s typically preferable to get a yourbusinessname.com or .ca – in most cases both.
.com and .ca are two of the most popular TLD’s for Canadians, but there are many, many others: like .biz, .guru, .net, .info. A quick note, that some of the more uncommon TLDs are just as valid – don’t be afraid to jump in and use the trendy one of the bunch. A domain plays a little less of role in SEO than it used to. Some folks make clever use of their domain names (think of Instagr.am, tomorrow.do, etc)
In most cases you as the bussiness owner should be registering your own domain names. they are very important to have in your control.
Hosting is the service which stores your site files and delivers them to your visitors (which is accessed via your domain name). Most hosts are linux or windows based, and while it’s not terribly important to differentiate, for WordPress linux is most preferred. A host gives you access to storage, databases, email, security tools like firewalls, backups, and administration tools. Picking a host is important, and will have a strong impact in your site performance, but, if you’re going with a website service provider (WordPress.com, Squarespace or Shopify) they will host your website instead. Hosts come in all shapes and sizes, and for the average small business you will be safe with one of the popular entry-level hosts. If and when you grow to the point where you need a better host, switching away is not typically a big deal. I’d recommend:
Hosting, at the level for your needs, is often tiered by bandwidth, and is measured by the amount of data transferred from the server to your visitors. For your needs hosting will come in two varieties:
- Shared: Wherein your share a server with many other websites, and the resources of which are allocated on an as-needed basis. Shared hosting is dirt-cheap, but often under delivers – especially if your ‘roommates’ are hogging it all. Don’t be completely put off by shared hosting, for most low traffic sites (we’re talking less than 5,000 visits a day) you probably wont suffer too much.
- Dedicated: Dedicated servers (and Virtual Private Servers) are a little different in that your site has a fully dedicated server (or portion of a server) reserved just for you. You will never have to worry about bad roommates, and they are often flexible in adding additional resources to your plan. Of course this service is more expensive, and you will almost definitely know when the time comes to move to dedicated hosting.
Also, it’s important to consider supporting and maintenance too – tech support from the big hosts is notoriously poor. Hosting with a local company (like me!) means you have a pro on-call should anything arise.
Email is often done from your hosting package; emails will be sent to and from the same server that hosts your website. While cheap (it’s basically free), other servers accepting and routing mail may have a hard time trusting your server from a hole in the wall. For this reason I recommend you set up your email through 0365 or Gmail, both are paid services, under $10month, and are top tier. By using a service like this you avoid having your email go into spam, and you can rest assured your email service is through a quality, world-class service.
Content Management System:
A CMS, or Content Management System, is an application installed on your server that allows you as an administrator to make edits to your site, and otherwise manage the content therein. These come in all shapes and sizes, and there are plenty of really cool CMSs out there – some are old standbys, others are bleeding edge proof of concept, but for the you, they all achieve a similar end goal. Some of the big CMSs out there you may have already heard about:
But there are some really neat up-and-comers that Eggplant Studios is looking at:
Finally, if you’re looking at a website service provider (WordPress.com, Squarespace or Shopify), they will provide you with their own proprietary CMS, which is exclusively available with their service.