If you’ve never built a website before you’ve probably never thought about what goes on beneath the bonnet, including domain names and web hosting,. We explain what these are and why you need them to set up a blog.
Websites are made up of text, images, code and sometimes audio and video. All this stuff needs to be stored on a computer, which is accessible to the web.
In theory you could run a website off your own home computer. But that’s a bad idea, even if you’re geeky enough to understand it. You’ll end up doing more technical setup and maintenance than blogging! The cost of setting up at home would also be far greater, and your site would be slower.
A web host stores your website files and makes them accessible. They’re hosted in data centres with mega-fast and resilient Internet connections which can handle lots of visitors at once.
If your website was a house, then your web host would be the land on which it’s built, along with the pipes and wires which come to it.
Web hosting is available in many forms, from bargain-basement cheap hosting, to entire servers which you rent. You can pay monthly, or often yearly for extras savings. I’ll explore what to look for in another post.
Devices connected to the Internet all have unique identifiers called ‘IP addresses’ so that they can talk to each other. These look something like this:
IP addresses make it easy for computers to talk to each other, but it’s quite confusing for people!
Domain names were invented to get around this problem, and make the Web easier to use. IP addresses can be assigned to domain names, so that people can use the friendly names instead of the numerical addresses.
The domain name for this website is:
It can be used in several ways, including in web page addresses:
…or in email addresses:
If your website was a house, and the web host the plot of land on which it sits, then your domain name would be the house name or number. That’s far better than “the house on the corner just before you get to the crossroads”!
You can attach your domain name to your website and email for as long as you have it registered. A domain name is therefore essential for your new website.
The most common domain names for UK-based sites end with either .co.uk or .com and typically cost around £10 per year. You need to ‘register’ a domain name (i.e. reserve it for your own use), and you can keep it registered for as long as you like, provided that you pay your annual renewal fee and don’t break the rules.
Setting up your blog – Domain names and web hosting
Domain names and web hosting are essential for any website to succeed. Come back soon to read the next in our “Blogging Essentials” series on how to set up a blog.