CS Chris Smith
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Need a website? Confused about what you need? Read this.

by Chris Smith

Here are the real basics of starting a website in simple, jargon-free, easy to understand English.

How a website works

A website is a collection of files (text, images, video, etc.) on a computer made available to the public. When someone visits a website files are copied to the visitor's computer for them to view. Each web page needs a unique address so that people can find it.

What do you need?

To run a website you need three things:

  1. someone to create the files for you,
  2. somewhere to make them available and
  3. a nice name to make it easy to find.

The process of creating these files is known as web development. The service of making them available is known as web hosting. The name for a site is known as the domain name.

These three elements are available as separate services from different suppliers or can often be bought together from one.

Web Development

You need the services of a web developer or web designer. In real terms when you're searching for someone to prepare a site for you there's not much difference between the two but a designer is possibly more concerned with the site's appearance and style whereas a developer is more focused on how people use the site.

Web Hosting

To make your site available to the public you need it to be hosted. Web hosting companies have special computers designed for this purpose called web servers. In order to put your website onto the web server and make changes to it your web developer will need access to your hosting account.

Domain Names

To give your site a nice user-friendly name you need to register a domain name with a domain name registrar. There are lots of sites that offer this service including a lot of web developers or hosting companies. The domain needs to be set to point visitors to your hosting account. Instructions of how to do this are usually provided by the hosting company or a web developer will do this for you.