If you’ve never had your own website before, setting up the hosting and web address for your site can seem a little daunting and confusing. With numerous providers offering “best value for money”, terms that you may not know, and countless plans and add-ons to choose from, starting your own website can seem tough. To help you out, we’ve created this beginner’s guide to domains, hosting, SSL and other hosting terms.
What is a Domain?
This is the URL or web address for your site, eg. crjdesign.co.uk or google.com. It’s a unique address that identifies your site. You can choose from a number of suffix’s, which is the last part of your URL such as .com, .co.uk, .org or .gov. You only need one domain for your website, but to protect your brand and prevent others from using a similar URL, you can purchase multiple domains such as crjdesign.co.uk, crjdesign.com and crjdesign.uk so that they’re not available for anyone else to use. When you buy a domain name, you’re registering it for your use.
Prefix: All websites start with http://, or https:// if the domain is secure (we’ll get to that later).
Sub-domain: Most URL’s begin with www., but you can also use sub-domains eg. shop.crjdesign.co.uk. Websites can usually be accessed with or without the www., so crjdesign.co.uk and www.crjdesign.co.uk are the same thing.
Domain name: This is the part of the URL that’s unique to you and relevant to your business.
Suffix: The last part of your domain eg. .com or .co.uk.
Registering a domain is fairly cheap, with prices averaging around £5-£10 per year. Often, it’s cheaper to pay for the domain registration for 2 or more years in bulk, as opposed to paying annually.
What is Web Hosting? Do I need it?
Web hosting is a service that involves paying a company so you can use their servers to publish your website. Whilst the domain is used to access your site, the hosting is where all the files and databases that make up your website are stored. You need both a domain and web hosting to get your website live on the internet. Without hosting, there is nowhere to publish your site.
There are a number of web hosting providers where you can purchase web hosting (and an accompanying domain name – which is sometimes inluded in the hosting for free), including Siteground, Krystal, Kinsta & our own CRJ Design Hosting. Each provider varies in terms of pricing and features they offer, so it’s best to shop around. When looking at different hosting plans, there may be a number of terms and features that are a little confusing. Here’s definitions of key phrases to help you out:
Webspace: Total allocated space available for all your website files, eg. 150 GB.
Email Addresses: How many unique email accounts you can have with your domain, eg. email@example.com.
Databases: How many MySQL or SQL databases you can have (databases are used for Content Management Systems, online stores and more).
Website/s: How many different websites/domains you can use with your hosting plan (you can host multiple websites on just one hosting plan to save money if you need more than one website).
Bandwidth/Data: How much website traffic or data you can send and recieve via the server (unlimited bandwidth is best as a restricted bandwidth can cause your website to go offline when the data limit is reached).
The cost of web hosting varies depending on the provider and the package you choose. Typically, you can expect to pay around £40-£50/year for hosting, and it’s often a lot cheaper if you purchase 1 or 2 years in bulk.
Do I need a Secure Domain (SSL/HTTPS)?
A secure domain is encrypted with a SSL Certificate, which changes the website prefix to https:// and shows the site as secure on most browsers (usually with a padlock symbol). It allows data sent between the website and the user to be encrpyted to help prevent hackers or viruses from stealing sensitive information. You can buy a SSL Certificate when you purchase your domain and hosting, although some hosts include it in the web hosting price.
Whilst a secure domain isn’t mandatory, it’s highly recommended, especially if your website handles sensitive data such as customer details or card payments. Not only does it improve your rankings in search results, as search engines favour secure websites, it also shows customers that you’re trustworthy and gives them peace of mind when using your site. Websites without a SSL Certificate are marked as ‘not secure’ – which could be off-putting.
A SSL Certificate costs around £15-£30/year from hosting providers, but is sometimes included in the web hosting price, and often includes a warranty in the unlikely event that your website data is breached.
To conclude, you need both a domain and web hosting when setting up a website. It’s also a good idea to get a SSL certificate to protect your customers and improve your search engine optimisation. For most websites, a basic hosting package is all you need, so setting up your site doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Look out for special offers, and remember that you can purchase your domain name and hosting from different companies to save money. Look for companies such as Krystal or CRJ Design, which include free SSL Certificates and Domains in their price.
Get in touch with CRJ Design if you need help setting up your website or if you’re interested in our Web Hosting Packages, and don’t forget to check out our affordable Web Design Services which include a bespoke website that you can manage and update yourself with full Search Engine Optimisation and Mobile Optimisation.