In order to have a website that is viewable on the internet, you must have at least three things. These are: 1.) a domain name, 2.) web hosting, and 3.) website files.
The domain name is the URL, or website address. The domain name of the website you are currently viewing is TwoNineWebDesign.com. In order to claim ownership of a domain name, you must pay a domain name registrar to register the domain name for you. GoDaddy is probably the most commonly known domain name registrar. A registrar will most likely require you to set up an account. Domain name registration is NOT free, but the fees that registrars charge vary. Currently, domain name registration fees range anywhere from $14.95 to $29.99. These fees are recurring and are paid annually. Many registrars offer multi-year domain name registration, so that you do not have to pay each year. Most registrars are very good about notifying you when your domain name registration is about to expire and reminding you to renew; however, if you fail to renew your registration, it will expire, and someone else will be able to buy your domain name.
Web Hosting Provider
A web host is the server where you store the files that tell a web browser how to display your website. Most companies that offer domain name registration also offer web hosting. Some of the basic things that most web hosting providers offer are email accounts, mySQL databases, space on a server, and bandwidth. You should choose a web hosting provider that offers sufficient server space and bandwidth as well as a sufficient number of mySQL databases and email accounts to meet the needs of your website. Web hosting service is usually quoted at a monthly rate, but providers will usually ask you to pay for the entire time period (6 months, 12 months, etc.) up front. Currently, web hosting fees range anywhere from $3.95 per month to $14.95 per month. Many web hosting providers will offer discounts for longer periods of time (i.e., $9.99 per month for 12 months or $7.99 per month for 24 months). It’s a good idea to discuss which web hosting provider you should use with your web designer as many web designers prefer using web hosting providers that they are familiar with.
Words of Warning
Some small business owners who are not too technically savvy will ask their web designer to take care of all the “website stuff”, including the domain registration and web hosting. A trustworthy web designer will walk you through the process of registering the domain names and setting up the hosting account in YOUR name. A shady web designer will “take care” of it for you by registering the domain name and setting up the hosting account in THEIR name.
DO NOT let your web designer register the domain name or set up the hosting account in anyone’s name but yours. The domain name and the hosting is YOUR property, and YOU should have full control over it and access to it. If you bought a vehicle for your business, you would never consider putting the name of the salesperson who sold it to you on the title. You would be sure to put your name on it because it is your property. The same goes for domain name registration and hosting accounts.
As a small business owner, you may be very trusting and know a “great” person who is a web designer that would never do you wrong. Whether or not you are right about her/his character, you should still have everything in your name. This is because if the domain name registration and hosting account are in the name of your web designer and something happens to her/him (like death), you will have no way of proving that they actually belong to you, and you will have to start from scratch with a new domain name and hosting account.
Save yourself the hassle, and do it properly from the start.