I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of people visiting this site who know very little about the whole process of setting up a good website. I’m sure there are many who are intimidated by the process, as well as those who simply haven’t due to the apparent exorbitant prices of doing so.
I want you to know that setting up and maintaining a website does not have to be either difficult or excessively expensive. In fact, you can do it for under $11 / month. The only thing that might be confusing to some is simply terminology and I’ll do my best in this lesson to explain what things are as well as how they work.
When it comes right down to it, there are three simple aspects to creating a website.
1. You need something called “HOSTING”.
HOSTING is simply the word that we use to refer to where your website is stored. We will use the analogy of a house. In this analogy, your HOSTING provider is sort of like your house. You can put things INTO your house… and people can come TO your house to see the things that you have on display.
When you get HOSTING, you receive something like an address. Just as with a real house, this address indicates to other people where they can find your website. Now, unfortunately, this address can be complicated at times. Usually, it is in the form of a number something like 192.168.125.57. Sometimes, you may not have a specific number at all, so using this address can be fairly complicated for people. That’s why we get the next item on the list called a “DOMAIN”.
This website, for example, is hosted at DreamHost. They’re a company down in California which specializes in HOSTING and they’re both good and inexpensive. In fact, we very highly recommend them. For under $10 / month, they provide everything that we need to run this website, and they make it VERY easy to use. Check out DreamHost if you’re looking for somewhere good to host your websites.
2. You need what is called a “DOMAIN”.
Now a DOMAIN can be compared to a nickname or shorter name for the actual address of your website. If you are still thinking of your website as a house with an address, the DOMAIN would be something similar to a shortcut to that address. When you tell your friends to come over to your house, you don’t usually say “Come to my place at 12345 BOX 432 on This or That Street in MyCity of MyCountry with MyPostalCode”. That would probably confuse more people than it would help. Rather you say “Come to James’ place”. In the same way, a DOMAIN is a shortcut to your website.
Now, typically domains can cost anywhere between $5 and $100 / year, but most average domains cost about $10 / year. If you’ve chosen to host with DreamHost as we recommended above, they provide one domain for FREE so you don’t even have to worry about how or where to get one. You can also buy additional domains from them for about $10 / year.
3. You need “CONTENT”.
In the house analogy, this would be the same as having stuff in your house that people can look at, or interact with. Now, the type of content you want to have in your website will make a difference when choosing how to arrange that content. The content in your site can be as simple as a single page which never changes and just tells a little about who you are, or as complex as a fully automated online store.
This is where the process can get somewhat expensive, but only if you let it. So far, we’ve spent a sum total of approximately $11 / month, which isn’t bad for owning a house… er… website. Things can get pricey though when you start to design complicated sites. For example, if you did extensive bead-work, and wanted to sell your products online, with a fully automated store, you would probably need to pay someone to set up the store for you in a way that would be easy to update with new products as you get them.
On the other hand, most people looking to start out with a website, simply want a place to put their thoughts (like a blog) or somewhere to experiment with various Internet technologies. In this case, you shouldn’t really need to pay anything more than the $11 that we already have.
Say, for example, that you simply want a blog. Somewhere to put family news, or develop a community around something that you enjoy doing. DreamHost offers blogging software that can be installed and fully operational on your site with as little as 2 or 3 clicks of the mouse. They use a blogging software product called “WordPress” which is free to use, and allows you to keep your blog up-to-date without ever having to touch any code or programming behind the scenes. Just click what you want, and they do all the work of setting it up.
And SUDDENLY… we have a fully functional website, which your friends can visit and your family can keep in touch. Pretty cool eh? And all for less than $11 / month.
If you have more questions about it, or would like to talk to me further about the whole process, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to leave your comments in the comments area below.
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