Behind the Scenes
“What’s going on on that there Interwebs”
So you’ve decided you would like a Web-presence. Now what?
The first step is picking your location. Like in the “real” world, the virtual world has a real-estate system. If you are going to build a physical business, you first need to by or rent a lot. Likewise, in order to create a Web-presence, you need to secure a domain name. A “domain name” is the .com or .net name that will be used to pull up your Web-site. google.com is a domain name. So is blue3designs.com. This is not to be confused with the “.com” or “.net” that comes at the end of the domain name. These extensions are called “TLD”s. Although only one “google.com” exists, there is also a “google.net” and a “google.org”. Although it is common for a Web-site owner to register several TLDs and forward them all to the same site, each domain may be used as it’s own “lot” on which a unique Web-site may be built. For example, “google.net” redirects to “google.com”, but “google.org” redirects to “https://www.google.com/giving/”.
Domain registrars make these domain names available for registration. Although GoDaddy.com (and yes, that is another domain name) boasts to be the world’s largest domain registrar, there are plenty of options for registering a domain. Find a domain registrar and register your domain. As “.com” would seem to be the universally recognized TLD, registering the “.com” would be wise. Some registrars will tell you you should register other popular TLDs to ensure competitors don’t register them and steal your business. In reality, it would seem unlikely a potential customer would enter “.org” in his or her address bar by mistake when looking for your site. Most Internet users use a search engine to find a new Web-site. Go to Google and enter “blue3designs.org”. What came up? Exactly! To be fair, registering the other TLDs may be wise if you plan on building a network of related sites, but the registering of other TLDs is certainly not a requirement when it comes to creating a Web-presence. There is only one of each domain name, so it is a good idea to register your domain and secure your “lot” before someone else does. Some domain registrars will tell you it is best to register your domain for a 5 or 10 year term. This is unnecessary as you always have first right to renew your domain before it expires. The price for additional years may have risen, but, in this author’s experience, the price does not raise considerably. even over several years.
One could actually create a Web-presence without registering a domain. If the Web-site you are trying to reach has a dedicated IP address, one can type the IP address in the address bar of his or her browser (Examples of browsers include Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome.) in place of the domain name. One can look up a Web-site’s IP address via the Mac Terminal (This is a utility on your Mac computer.) or the Windows Command Prompt. For an inexperienced user, the Terminal or Command Prompt can be confusing and scary. Another way to find a Web-site’s IP is to visit a Web-site like the one here: http://ping.eu/ping/. Then one can enter that number (It looks something like this: 220.127.116.11) directly in the address bar of his or her browser. Finding a Web-site’s IP address is, of course, not necessary as long as the domain name is pointed properly.
Do you have your domain registered? Good! Now, how are you going to build your Web-site?
Disclaimer: I may be a little bias when it comes to the designing of a Web-site. I am a Web-designer and prefer when a potential customer lets me build him or her a Web-site. In reality, a novice can certainly build an attractive Web-site without professional assistance. There are several template-based programs out there that enable a person who knows little about the Web to build a professional Web-presence. There are advantages to going with a professional design service like the one provided by Blue 3 Designs. For example: building on a template requires a designer to follow the structure of the template. The site may look attractive, but it will likely look somewhat like every other site that was build using that program. Further activities like optimizing one’s Web-site for search engines may prove a difficult task. Not optimizing one’s Web-site properly for search engines may leave a Web-site owner with a beautiful site and no traffic. Again, we often go to Google in search of any new Web-site. If one’s site is not optimized for Google, odds of new visitors finding his or her site would seem slim. But that’s enough of my Blue 3 designs spiel.
If you have decided to use a template-based design program, you will want to find out whether the purchase of the template program includes hosting. Some template programs require that you host your Web-site on the program’s servers. If this is the case, you will be unable to move your Web-site to another hosting provider. It is important to weigh the pros and cons in such a case. although the program may provide you with a quick and easy way to build a Web-presence, one’s Web-site is, in a sense, held hostage. If the hosting price doubles next year, you have to pay it or loose your Web-site.
If you’ve decided to build your Web-site with the help of a template program that produces files which may be hosted anywhere or you’ve decided to have a professional Web-designer build your site (Good for you!), you will need to find a hosting provider. “Shared” hosting provides a Web-site owner limited space on a larger, shared server. Dedicated servers provide much more space and an automatic dedicated IP address. But dedicated servers are often much more expensive than a shared hosting plan. It is not uncommon for techies to joke that the Internet works like a large network of pipes. although there is a little more to it than that, it’s not a bad analogy. One’s hosting plan or server works like a storage bin for one’s Web-site. A data center generally has many servers, often divided into many more shared hosting plans.
And here it all comes together.
So, once one has a domain name pointed to a server on which his or her Web-site files are kept, his or her site can be visited via the Web.
When one pulls up a Web-site on his or her browser, he or she types in the domain name. This name is translated into numbers, an IP address. This “address” works like a physical, street address. It tells the computer where to find the desired Web-site files. If the domain is connected to a shared hosting account that does not have a dedicated IP assigned, the IP address will only get the browser as far as the server. Then the domain is used to find the correct files. The domain works as a folder name. Have you ever noticed you can’t create two folders with the same name on your computer? It’s the same with domains on a server. Once the correct files are located on the correct server in the correct data center, the information is sent to your browser. And you get impatient when it takes more than a couple seconds to load a Web-site…