Websites 101

How The Web Works

I have found it to be very common that people really don’t have a good grasp on how to setup a website. So if you are looking for this information I am going to help you out.

Domain Name

The domain name is a name that points to a DNS server. Each server on a network has an IP address to identify it. The IP address can be a confusing set of number which is hard to remember. Instead of remembering just a number we can just remember the domain name. My domain name is husbandman.org. The domain name is not only easier to remember than a set of numbers it is also more meaningful. My website’s IP address is 192.252.146.10 which really means nothing, but if you are looking for the Husbandman Ministry, then husbandman.org has meaning. You acquire a domain name from a “registrar” such as Godaddy, Network Solutions, Cheap Name, or Tucows.

You can also register a domain with the company that hosts your website which I will get to later. To me, the best practice is to register your domain with a registrar rather than with your hosting company. This makes it less complicated if you later want to change your registrar or hosting company.

Registering a domain is very simple and you should register your own domain name and have complete control over it. I have run into it more times than I would like, where someone has a website and they do not have control of their own domain because some else registered it for them. Your domain name is so important because it is your branding. If any changes need to take place or a payment needs to be made you have the power to do that. If you do not have control over your domain you will at some point feel you are being held at ransom or unable to conduct business. To get your domain under your control is time-consuming and stressful.

A domain name is your brand name for the web. It is your internet identity. Many times I see people who have a domain and yet they are using an email address from a free mail service like Yahoo or Gmail. It would be like me using something like [email protected] The problem with this is anyone can setup that email, whereas only I can correspond with an email from my domain. Have my email address using my domain makes my emails more official because they can only come from my server (It is possible to send an email with any email address, but it cannot be replied to).

Web Hosting

The hosting is a company that maintains web servers. These are computers that are dedicated to serving files to the web. They serve them using the HTTP protocol. It is on these web servers that your website file reside. One of my favorite hosting companies is ICDsoft, but there are many other good ones. A good hosting company will also allow you to have multiple emails accounts and this is done using a mail server, it is a computer dedicated to just handling mail.

Your web server has directories also called folder that stores your website files. These folders are domains because that is the territory on the server you own. So you see the domain name is used for people to find your domain (files) that are stored on some server somewhere in the world. The root or main folder for your domain is named www for world wide web. That is why you can type www.husbandman.org and it goes to this www folder. Servers know that the www is the root directory so you do not have to type that part. However, you can have a subdirectory which is a subdomain on your server to store other sites or files. I can be named whatever you want. To access those files you would type in your subdirectory name instead of the  “www” to accesses it such as store.husbandman.org.

Name Server

Once you have a domain name you then need to go into the settings and point that domain to your website. There are two ways of doing this. One is to simply insert the nameserver of your hosting company into the nameserver spot in your domains settings. Your hosting company will provide you their name servers, and there are usually two of them. So once you have entered your name servers in the setting the path is complete. Someone types in your domain name in a web browser and a request is sent by the domain name to the name server which in turn connect the files on the web server.

DNS server

A DNS (Domain Name System) server is sometimes a named server and its job is to know where each request is to be sent. For instance, if you are wanting to reach a website of a domain the DNS server would send that request to a web server. If you want to send an email to that domain then the DNS server would direct it to the mail server. The DNS server can do many things like if you use a Gmail business account you would edit the MX record on the DNS server, the record that is responsible for directing emails to your mail server. You can also set an “A” record to point a request to a totally different server. An example would be if I wanted store.husbandman.org to go to an e-commerce site that is not on my web server.

Mail Server

Once you have your domain pointed to a name server you can begin receiving and sending mail from your domain name. Well, there is one step I have left out. You hosting company will have what is called a control panel where you can change many setting for your website. One of the places in your control panel is for creating email addresses. Since you own the domain you can have any email address you like.

To use this newly created email all you need is the email server’s hostname or IP address, the account username, and the password. Many time the email server’s hostname is mail.yourdomain.com. You enter that into your email client like Outlook, Mail, etc. You also can get your mail through a webmail site. That again is part of your hosting plan and the hosting company will tell you who to access it.

Conclusion

It is really not all that complicated to setup your website. First, register your domain name, then sign up with a hosting company and the take the name server’s name provided by them and enter into the appropriate spot in your domain account settings. That is it all and you’re done.

Just one last thing if someone types in your domain name they will end up at a generic hosting page provide by your hosting company. Why because you need to create your website and place those file in your domain directory. That is where the Husbandman Ministry can do a great job of creating a beautify WordPress site for you.

Posted in Training.