How do you start a website?

So you want to start a website but you don’t have any idea how to go about it? Here are a few guidelines.

First, decide on what kind of web hosting you want. Questions to consider:

  • Do you want a free site?
  • Or are you willing to pay for it?
  • Will it be a business site?
  • Will it be a personal or hobby site?

If you have a business, then you should buy web hosting space, and you should buy (or rent) a first level domain name as well. A first level domain name looks like http://technicalconfusion.com

If you just want to build a personal page or a hobby page, a free site with a third level domain name is fine for this. You would get a third level domain name (or subdomain) with a personal page, with an URL that looks like http://example.technicalconfusion.com or http://technicalconfusion.com/example/

Read more about domain names here.

What should you look for when looking for a paid webhosting provider?

There are plenty of webhosting options available:

When you are first starting out, it may seem like you don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with hosting accounts.

You may not need them right away but sometime down the line, chances are you’re going to want to try them at the very least. Get in the habit of comparing web hosting packages. Go for the smallest package in terms of space and bandwidth, but do make sure they offer everything a larger package offers. Even if you only get 1 of everything “extra” that’s ok.

Sitebuilders

Many hosting companies offer a sitebuilder account. This can be a good choice or a bad choice. I have never used one personally, but I hear they are very restrictive and you may simply be better off learning html or hiring someone to do it. (Chances are good you know a kid in your family who is interested in this stuff and probably already has a web page of their own.) And there is nothing wrong with learning to do it yourself – at the very least learning the basics so you could fix a potential problem. You could take a cheap course and learn the basics at http://vu.org/

While you’re looking around at different web hosting packages and deciding what you want, you should be thinking about a domain name. Assuming you plan on buying a domain name, get it registered at least. If you wait, there’s always a chance that someone else may decide to register it.

I do not recommend getting your hosting and domain with the same company.

Once you’ve registered a domain name, and purchased hosting, then you need to transfer the domain name to your web hosting company’s nameservers.

Once you have web hosting

Once you have the domain name and hosting, and the type of account you signed up for, it’s time to get started.

And before I go any further, just let me say that there is not a whole lot you can do that will break your hosting account. So don’t be nervous. Do get in the habit of backing up your files.

You should have received a welcome or activation email from your hosting company. Read and save this email. It contains information pertaining to your account, like:

  • Your userid and password
  • How to access your account
  • Control panel information
  • FTP instructions
  • Email Setup

Just to name a few.

First thing you do is log in and get to know your control panel, so that the next time you really need to find something there, it won’t scare you to death. Go in to the mail setup and setup an email account and test it. Or set up a forward and test that. Or both.

If you have a sitebuilder type account, log in per your hosting instructions and build a page.

If you don’t have a sitebuilder account, then there is more work involved, but that’s ok.

First, you’ll have to build your page using an html editor or notepad, if you are familiar with html.

Once you have built the webpage, upload it, using FTP. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect – websites are always a work in progress and rarely get finished.