You can build a website on your computer, but no one will be able to see it. If you want to share your website online, you will need someone to host your files on computers that make them available to others.
There are dozens of popular hosting companies. Their prices vary a lot. You can find free hosting with some limitations. Paid hosting services start at around $40 per year. Inexpensive plans will work fine for small websites.
When looking for a hosting company, you should pay close attention to their website and documentation. Is it easy to navigate and understand? Look for user ratings and see what people are happy with or complaining about.
You can spend hours researching hosting, but trust that none of them are completely reliable or very easy to use. No one really likes this part of the process.
The domain of your website is the top-level address of the site, somewebsite.com. It is highly recommended that you purchase your domain from the same company providing your hosting. This always makes setup far easier.
When choosing a domain, here are some important suggestions.
- Choose a domain name that can be understood when spoken and does not require being spelled out for people.
- Choose a name that directly relates to the topic and conveys the purpose or content of your site.
- Choose a name not being used by someone else with a similar website on the same topic.
- Do not use dashes.
- Do not use numbers.
Once you have a hosting account, you need to be able to add and change the files you want to host there. There are many ways to access those files.
- FTP access, or file transfer protocol, is the easiest to set up and good for beginners. It’s not as secure as other options.
- SFTP access, or secure file transfer protocol, is similar to FTP but more secure. Depending on your hosting company and text editor, setup can require a couple more steps.
- SSH access, or secure shell, is a very secure method with a fairly complex setup.
- File managers are your hosting account’s access to view and edit your files. While it is technically possible to develop with these tools, most people don’t do this.
Very basic text editors don’t have features that allow you to connect with your hosting files. Text editors designed for coding or IDEs (integrated development environments) allow you to connect directly with your hosting account so that you can make changes to your files. Once you have this setup, you connect with one click and then can work on files and simply save them to update your website.