CAMP 2013: Web hosting

JAWS CAMP 2013 l
Adrienne Lawrence says Web hosting is NOT Greek.

Adrienne Lawrence says Web hosting is NOT Greek.

By 2013 Fellow Jackie Zubrzycki

Web hosting is not Greek, or so says Adrienne Lawrence.

Lawrence presented Saturday on some of the nuts and bolts of starting a website: Registering a domain name and deciding which web hosting service to use.

Before we get into the actual tips, here’s the general sequence for creating a website, per Adrienne:

  1. Buy the domain name. [see below]
  2. Figure out what hosting plan you need. [see below]
  3. Upload and create some content.
  4. THEN design your website or hire someone to design the website around the needs of your content.

Here’s a helpful list of hosting-related vocabulary from Adrienne’s website.

On to the details:

Claiming a Domain

The domain name is the address someone will type in if they want to go to your site. If you want a personalized web address–for instance, jawsisgreat.com–you have to first see if that’s available and then register it.

Adrienne recommended two sites: http://www.domainname.com/ or http://www.domainsite.com/. She was agnostic about which to use.

She suggested NOT using a package-deal hosting and domain registration service. That means you’ll be locked into the hosting service, and it can be difficult to unlock the registration codes.

She also said NOT to use a junk email address to register the domain name. You’ll need to see emails and don’t want the domain to expire.

If you want, you can buy multiple domain names close to your name (firstname.com and firstnamemiddleinitiallastname.com) and have them all direct to the same site.

If someone else has already registered your name, all is not lost. The metadata or other information on the site can make it so that your site pops up quickly when someone searches your name.

One point of clarification from Adrienne: “You never truly own a domain name – you’re just renting the space.”

Finding a Web Host

Some questions to ask when you’re determining what kind of hosting to use:

  • What kind of site do I want? A blog? A home for my resume? A news source?

  • How much traffic do I anticipate per day, week, or month?

    • For instance, a news site will require more traffic than a blog, and thus should have more bandwidth. Adrienne described the amount of bandwidth as the width of the doorway to your site. If you have a small amount of bandwidth and a large amount of traffic, your site is more likely to crash.

  • What’s most important to me? Service, price, something else?

    • The cheapest service may not have as good customer service, or may be more prone to outages.

Here’s Adrienne’s list of web hosting services. The starred services are the ones she most recommends; A Small Orange, in particular, was highly recommended. When you research, you’ll see how much bandwidth they offer. Italics are her comments about the services.

For reviews of web hosting services, check out: www.reviewsignal.com/webhosting

Top tips:

  • Be aware of services that change their prices over time or that have high annual fees.
  • You can write off web hosting service fees on your taxes for professional sites.
  • DON’T register your site with a junk email address. You need to see the emails to know when this will expire, etc.

The conversation also touched on how to make a website for a new book not just “sit there” (blog about the tour, take photos with fans, update occasionally); the value of having a designer make the site look good (you can write off expenses on your taxes); and using WordPress / themes to start designing a simple website.