What is web hosting?
A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the server space and the technology for your website to be accessed on the Internet. Your web host allows someone to search for your site or enter your URL into their web browser to see your page online. Websites are hosted, or stored, on special computers called servers. When Internet users want to view your website, all they need to do is type your website address or domain into their browser. Their computer will then connect to your server and your web pages will be delivered to them through the browser.
How does web hosting work?
A lot of newly minted entrepreneurs are hesitant to publish their website because they think it needs to be absolutely perfect before it’s ready to be viewed. However, if you think about the fact that even giant companies like Google and Amazon are constantly revamping their website, while should you wait to get started? Below are the high level steps, in plain English, that happen before customers can access your website.
Create a your domain name
Your domain name is the it’s the address for the website. It should reflect your products or services so that your customers can easily find your business through a search engine. Your customers also expect your domain name to be similar or the same as your business name. For example, our domain name is skysthelimit.org
Purchase your domain name
Most web hosting service providers like Squarespace provide a way for you to buy your domain directly. Keep in mind that pricing for domain names is all over the map, from a few bucks to fifty dollars or more.
Select a web host
Most websites offer different features in each template. You should research what features matter to your business the most and make sure the template you choose suits all your critical business needs. Some features you should be thinking about are:
eCommerce, can your customer buy your products/services
Calendar for scheduling
Customer review or customer feedback forms
Create your website
There are plenty of free web hosts where you can make your own professional website at no cost. These platforms offer easy-to-use instructions to design your own website, and they usually have free-to-use designs and images you can use to add your own flair. Some common platforms are:
SHOPIFY is a good option for product-based businesses. While it isn’t free, it does offer a limited-time free trial so you can see if it is the right fit for you.
SQUARESPACE is our personal favorite for an all-in-one website builder.
WEEBLY a template-based website builder, better suited for service-based businesses and e-comerce.
WIX a template-based website builder, better suited for service-based businesses.
WORDPRESS a template-based website builder, better suited for blogging.
Our recommendation - Squarespace
Squarespace, a do-it-yourself website builder, blogging platform and hosting service, lets businesses of all types create professional websites with the service's user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. Squarespace also provides all the tools business owners need to manage their websites, from search engine optimization (SEO) to comprehensive e-commerce solutions.
A businesses can begin creating its website on Squarespace in three easy steps: select a template, start a free trial, and get a free domain.
Choose a template
Choose a template that best fits your business. Narrow down template themes by selecting one of Squarespace's recommendations, such as templates for businesses, stores and restaurants, as well as portfolios for photographers, designers and other creatives.
Start your free trial
Once you choose a template, click on "Start with this design" to begin building your website. Squarespace offers short introductory videos on the basics of using the service.
Get a free domain
To make your website live, you'll need a domain. When you are ready to publish, click on the "Upgrade Now" button and get a free custom domain from Squarespace with one of the following service plans:
Standard — For those who need a basic website, this plan starts at $8 a month and offers 20 webpages, galleries and blogs, 500 GB bandwidth, 2 GB storage and two contributors [individuals granted access to parts of the site or account].
Unlimited — Squarespace's most popular plan starts at $16 a month and includes unlimited pages, galleries and blogs; unlimited bandwidth and storage; unlimited contributors; and a developer platform for more advanced Web developers.
Business — This plan is designed for businesses that need a fully integrated e-commerce solution. Starting at $24 a month, the Business plan includes an online store with unlimited physical, digital and service products and no transaction fees; inventory tracking; tax, shipping and coupon controls; unlimited pages, storage, bandwidth and contributors; and a developer platform and mobile store.
Each service plan also comes with a mobile website and 24/7 support.