It's worth understanding the internet. If you're anything like me, you use it every single day! More importantly, if you want to create a web site, getting web hosting set up is the first step.
Infographic of the basics:(inspired in part by "Kawaii Computer and Desk" by Kororoxx on deviantart)
Web Hosting Explained(the text only version) The computer that you use, (client computer), sends out a request for a website when you enter the URL (www.example-url.com) into your browser. A web page is really just a set of files or data (HTML, CSS, and sometimes other types). To find that data, your computer needs an IP address, just like you would need an address to find a location in real life. A special computer called a DNS (domain name server) tells your computer what IP address to send it's request to. Your computer requests the data from this other computer, called a server, and that computer sends it to you. “Web Hosting” is what it's called when a server houses and serves the data for a website. Finally, your browser displays the data in the form of a web page. All in the blink of an eye!
Getting your website onlineYou will need:
- A unique domain name (the URL). See what domain names are available!
- Space on a web host server.
Website for Anyone:Sign up at Wordpress.com. Yes, it's really that simple. Pros:
- +No web knowledge needed!
- +Wordpress.com takes care of all three steps for you in one easy form.
- -Limited choices of layout and domain names.
- -Limited functionality, this type of site works best for blogs.
- -Advertising appears on your blog.
Web site for the Web Savvy:Sign up with a web host (check some great website hosts here) and use cPanel to set up wordpress or another content management system. Try a cPanel demo to see if this option is for you. Pros:
- +Low cost, as little as a couple dollars per month!
- +Increased options for layout, even without knowing any HTML or CSS
- +Some hosts will take care of all the details for you.
- -Limits may be set on your file space depending on your server.
- -Limited choices for what systems to use when setting up your website.
- -Your website may load slowly because of restrictions/sharing of server resources (CPU, memory, bandwidth, etc.)
Web site for the Web Wizard:Some web hosts give you more freedom and customization. Examples include linode, slicehost, and tech coop. Pros:
- +Complete (or nearly complete) freedom to customize
- +Allows the development of web applications
- -May cost more
- -Requires serious systems administration qualifications to set up and manage.
ACRONYM SOUP TIMEClarifying terms:
- Uniform (or universal) Resource Locator. This is the thing that you type into the address bar of your web browser to request a certain web page.
- Domain name server. This is the computer that keeps track of which IP address is matched to which Domain Name, or URL.
- Hosting Server
- The hosting server, also called “the server”, contains the files of a particular website and “serves” them to client computers.
- Client Computer
- Your computer is a client computer, also called a “user computer”. This word refers to the computers used by folks browsing the internet.
- Hypertext Markup Language, a set of special code-words and symbols (tags) that tell the web browser what kind of information to display for a web page and how to display it.
- Cascading Style Sheets, another set of special code words and symbols (tags) that are written to tell the web browser what style to use when displaying information on a web page.
Intrigued? Check out:
- How Website Hosting Works in Plain English
- How Stuff Works: Internet Infrastructure
- Test your Web Server Smarts
Coming Next Time:
- Double Feature! A techy post and a fluffy post!
- How is HTML like a cupcake?
- And more!
Edited on 10/13/2012: Updated links for finding available domain names and hosting providers.