Domain names, registrars, and hosting — oh my!

Now that we’ve settled What WordPress is (in this super simple article), let’s move onto three more ideas that can trip people up when first getting into a website project. In this article I’ll go over what a domain name is, what a domain registrar is, and what is website hosting (and why you need it).

Ok, jumping right in… In order to create a website, you’ll need some basics:

  1. A Domain Name, which you will purchase from a Domain Registrar
  2. Website Hosting

A Domain Name

This is what you’re used to typing into your web browser to get to a website. Examples are: amazon.com, ebay.com, wikipedia.com, medium.com. You’re likely very familiar with domain names.

A domain name is the first thing most people buy when they want to create a website. Many people even start searching for domain names before they settle on the name of their company because it is so important to them that a matching domain name is available.

Just for fun: Domain names are internet ‘shortcuts’ — they’re a way we can type in an easy to remember string of letters/numbers (like ebay.com) and get to a website that lives on a server somewhere. The modern world without domain names would be a confusing place, with each of us having to remember the numerical IP address for our favorite websites in order to get to them…


A Domain Registrar

This is the company buy (or ‘register’) your domain name from. Common examples are GoDaddy, Network Solutions, and Namecheap. You don’t need to actually do anything to get one of these… you’ll have one automatically when you buy your domain name. You’ll log into your domain registrar to do things like manage your domain name (to point it to your new website for example), cancel it, or transfer it to another person or registrar.


Website Hosting

Webiste 101 alert! A website is a collection of files that live on a physical piece of equipment somewhere in the world (a server). Without a ‘home’ for your website’s files, it doesn’t exist. A website host is that ‘home.’

Many people purchase hosting (and oftentimes without even realizing it) from the company as their domain name. I have countless clients that tell me they haven’t bought hosting yet, only to find out they prepaid for 5 years of hosting when they bought their domain! I always tell people, “if your total was more than $15, and you paid for only one domain name, you probably bought hosting too.”

Yes having a hosting plan is not optional, but you’ll want to put some thought into where you’d like your website hosted. I personally have had good experiences with WPEngine and KartHost, and bad experiences with countless more. I would recommend asking someone who builds websites for a living where they host their own website… and in fact, ask 3. Just to be safe.


P.S. If this is the kind of thing you wish you knew, sign up for my email list so you get my next post about creating your own website via email! http://hookedoncode.com/follow/