Throughout this lesson we’ll be talking about how to build a website online. We’ll cover everything from buying a domain name, purchasing website hosting, and putting together your very first website. Ready to get started?
If you know what you’re doing and are here to learn how to add a Content Management System to your website, skip to part 2 of 2. If this is all new to you, follow the instructions below:
Your First Website in 5 Simple Steps
1) Buy a domain name – about $10/year – http://www.GoDaddy.com
2) Buy website hosting – about $6/month – http://www.HostGator.com
3) Add Name Servers – free
4) Add domain to hosting account – free
5) Add a CMS – Content Management System – (text, images, videos, etc) – free
1) Buying Your First Domain Name
So what exactly is a domain name? It’s the physical website address or URL (show below). It’s what people type into the address bar to view your website.
There are many different domain name extensions (.com, .net, .org, .tv, .me, .ws, etc). If I have the option of buying a .com I would choose that, as that is the most popular domain extension around. But ultimately, if your sole purpose is to show your friends, family, or anyone else what’s important to you online, the domain extension really doesn’t matter. As for purchasing a domain name, I personally choose to buy my domain names from GoDaddy.com. When I use GoDaddy, I know I’m buying a quality domain name that doesn’t have any hidden contracts or fees behind it. GoDaddy is a name I trust and hopefully you will too. Plus, they almost always have great deals on buying domain names for cheap. If you have a domain name in mind, click here to buy your first domain name.
2) Purchasing a Website Hosting Plan
Website hosting is simply this: rented space on the internet. You rent the space from a hosting company and in turn, they allow you to add your text, images, video, etc to that space and call it a “website.” If you only purchase a domain name but don’t get hosting, you won’t be able to see your website on the internet. This is why domain names and hosting plans go hand-in-hand. You really don’t want one without the other.
HostGator is the largest name in the website hosting business and I highly recommend purchasing website hosting from them. There are different plans to choose from but I recommend the “Baby Plan”:
This plan allows you to host unlimited domains under this one hosting account. For example, let’s say you wanted to buy ILoveToBuildWebsites.com so you buy it. Then you think, “hmmm…I want to buy ILoveToBuildWebsites2.com,” so you buy it. With the cheapest hosting plan, you wouldn’t be able to add this second domain name to your hosting account. You would either have to choose not buy the second domain or upgrade your hosting plan to the Baby Plan. This is why I recommend getting the Baby Plan; it’s cheap, affordable, and allows you to add as many domain names to your account as you want (hence the term “unlimited domains”). In short, the Baby Plan is the best plan for beginners.
3) Name Servers
In order for you to sync and connect your recently purchased domain name with your recently purchased hosting plan, you’re going to need to add your name servers to your domain name. Sounds complicated…it’s not. Name Servers look something like this:
NS101.HOSTGATOR.COM and NS102.HOSTGATOR.COM
A name server is pretty much a specific “ID” that tells your domain name to associate itself with your hosting account.
In order to find your name servers, you will need your hostgator control panel login information (you should have received a confirmation email after signing up for your hosting plan). After logging into your HostGator control panel, you will scroll down the page and on the left hand side you should see an “Account Information” section that looks like this:
You will copy the two sets of numbers (yours might look different than the ones I showed above). Then you will log into your GoDaddy.com account. To associate the name servers with your domain name, follow the images below:
Next, hover over the Domains tab and then click on domain management:
Find your domain name and check the box next to it:
In the upper/middle portion of the page, you’ll see a “Name Servers” icon. Click it, then select “Set Name Servers”:
First, select “I have specific nameservers for my domains” and then paste the name servers you copied from your Hosting account here:
Then click “OK” when you’re done to save your changes. The reason I am having you add your name servers first is because sometimes it can take up to 48 hours for your name servers to “sync up” to your domain.
4) Add Your Domain to Your Hosting Account
Now that you’ve associated your name servers with your domain name, you can now add your domain name to your hosting account. Log into your HostGator control panel (this will be the same log in information as when you found your name servers). Scroll down the page and click the icon called “Addon Domains” (under the Domains section).
Then fill out the appropriate information. Here’s a quick example:
When you’ve filled out your information, click “Add Domain.” Now your domain has been added to your hosting account and you’re ready for the next step; adding your CMS.