Everything you always wanted to know about websites but were afraid to ask!

There are 3 elements to setting up your new website. The domain name (that people use to find your site), the hosting (where your site lives) and the site itself (the pages that people see).

Domain Name
The domain name or URL (uniform resource locator) is the name people see and use. For example, this site's domain name is www.inchhosting.co.uk. More accurately you should think of the domain name as inchhosting.co.uk but that is a detail that isn't relevant at this stage.

Domain names live within a heirarchy of domains and there are many different types. The most common we usually see are .com or .co.uk but there are many others. These give you a general idea of what type of site you have; .com is a commercial site although is often assumed (wrongly) to be American, .co.uk is a UK company. Another common domain is .org.uk (usually a not for profit organisation in the UK). You can have whatever domain name you want as long as it hasn't already been registered. The best way to find a domain name is to use a 'WHOIS' service to search for one. This will tell you if the name is free or whether it is already registered. We have a WHOIS search here as part of our order process. Feel free to try as many searches as you like, there is no commitment. Simply click 'Order Services' on the left to try this or click here to open a new window so you can continue to read this.

Once you have established your domain name you need somewhere to host your site. There are many options for this but the simplest is to use a hosting service (like us!). These services provide you with some space on a server and various features to help you do what you want. There are many variables to be considered but only a few that are likely to matter.

Websites are generally very efficient and don't take up a lot of space. Unless you have thousands of pages and lots of pictures space won't be a big consideration.

The second issue is bandwidth. This really means the amount of information that can be downloaded from your site each month. Every time someone views your site they are downloading information. So the more people are looking at your site the more bandwidth you will need. Similarly, if you have lots of pictures (a photo album for example) on your site this will soak up bandwidth much faster.

Beyond these two items are things that are really only important for people wanting to be more ambitious. If you want to have an online shop for example you are likely to need a database or the ability to run various scripts.

These are the pages that people see. A website can be as simple as a single page giving basic information and contact details about your business or it can be thousands of pages of information and detail. If all you want is a simple site there are now many easy ways to achieve this. Even programs like Microsoft Word will allow you you build a website and save it as html files. HTML (hypertext markup language) is the basic language of the web. If you have a page of html generated by Word or another program you can then upload it to your host (send it to the server over the web) using an ftp (file transfer protocol) program. There are many of these available free over the internet or you can even use Windows file manager to do it.

If you want something more ambitious but lack the expertise then the best option might be to let us build a site for you. If the information is likley to remain fairly static then we can build you a basic site quickly and easily and it will probably cost less than you think (prices start at just £250 plus hosting). If you want something more ambitious we can build you a site using a Content Management System (CMS). This is a system that allows us to build a site that looks good while allowing you to add and change pages without having to worry about the look of the site and how we achieve it. A simple example of this can be seen at one of our customers; Irwin Osteopathy. A more complex site using this system is Surrey Childminders.

Finally, we can also do online shops and eCommerce. To see an example of this take a look at francescopicardi.com. This is a fully functional, multi-lingual, multi-currency shop selling hair products

Have a look round this site and then use the 'Order Services' to order a domain name and hosting package or call us now on 0845 345 4821 to discuss your requirements.

Member of the UK Web Design Association

By Andrew Rose, Google