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The "I want a website" Guide
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Old 30-09-2004, 12:04   #1
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The "I want a website" Guide

The "I want a website" Guide

*** Warning!! ***
This guide is long, but purely because the subject is very complex.
If reading this amount of information isn't for you, then I suggest you re-think setting up a website full stop. Because you WILL need to do some research.

So there you go, this is your last chance to turn back.

Introduction

There are many different methods that people associate with getting a website up and running.
Also, there are many different requirements placed on those websites.

This guide is intended to assist you no matter which category of website owner you fall into.
Whether it be beginner, intermeadiate or advanced.

However, the most logical seperation in groups isn't experience, but money.
Therefore I'll do my best to offer appropriate options at each stage for the free-loaders and yuppies alike. ( I'm going to use the following shorthand for the remainder of the guide: ": -£ :" for the cheapest option, ": £ :" for moderate spenders and ": £Âƣ£ :" for the money-no-object crew. )

Where do I start?

Firstly you need to decide what you want to do and how much time you're willing to put into a site.
You need to know the focus or subject your site will have, how many people you expect to visit your site and whether you want it to be business or personal. All these factors will drastically affect what you do during the next few stages.

Next, you'll need a domain.

Domains

Domain definition:

A "logical" region of the Internet.

People sometimes refer to them loosely as "sites."

Generally, a domain corresponds to an IP address or group of IP addresses.
An IP address is a unique identifyer for the physical hardware that responds to requests for your domain.
You'll also find domain names to the right of the @ sign in an email address, or about ten characters into a URL.
For example, Microsofts's domain name is microsoft.com.

The domain name of the email address "billgates@mailserver1.microsoft.com" is still microsoft.com. If you read the email address from right to left the last part ".com" is the domain type.
Domain names are issued by a licenced authority.
A .com is supposed to be reserved purely for companies, but since the USA like to think they're the only country in the world they tend to treat it as their country extension, which is in fact ".us" just as the extension for the UK is ".uk".
Other supposedly generic extensions include .edu (educational establishment), .net (network), .org (non-profit organisation) and .gov (government body) to name a few.
  • Whether you're planning to set up a site without spending a bean.. or whether you want an all singing all dancing multimedia business presence, you'll need a domain to let people find you on the internet.
  • Your domain should reflect your sites theme as much as possible, but that is largely optional.
  • The price you pay for a domain will vary, possibly more than you think, based on whether you go for a .com, .co.uk, .me.uk, etc and also, on which registrar you use.

*** Beware!! ***
Depending on where you register a domain, you may find you're tied into hosting your site with the company you get the domain with. Also you may find that you can't change or transfer your domain without a long painful session of emails and/or faxes.
If you want full control of your domain you'll need to be very sure that you read small print, terms & conditions and ask questions when you're not sure about something. ( Please refer to the section on hosting below to see why controlling your domain name can be very important )

: -£ :
Domains on the cheap are very easy, but that comes at a price in another sense. You will generally be very restricted in what you can actually do with many of the services. ( dot.tk for example, specifies that when you sign up for a free domain, all you're really doing is getting a name that forwards to your site at another location, you don't legally own the domain either which is a big one, as you can have it taken away from you if the site is inactive for 90 days. )
A simple search will give you quite a few alternatives, but the simplest method at least for NTL users is to rely purely on your own webspace and therefore use the http://homepage.ntlworld.com/username for your site.

If you take this free domain option, you will need to forward it to your webspace or hosting server. For an NTL user you would forward to http://homepage.ntlworld.com/username, the only other methods would be to forward to a static address like http://64.213.43.108/yourdirectory or to another legitimate domain name http://www.your-otherdomain.com. The last option is most useful if you have arranged to use a sub-domain of someone else. So you could do the following: http://www.myfreedomain.com forwarding to http://mysubdomain.myfriendssite.com.

Bear in mind that free domains will be fairly obscure. You will not be able to get common domains like .com, .org, .co.uk, .net, .info, .tv. If you want one of those you'll have to make the step up to the next section.

: £ :
You can in theory buy a domain with any authorised registrar, but for the purposes of simplicity and security I'm going to stick to UK based examples.

As this article demonstrates :link: it is very important to choose a reputable company. If you don't you could end up with a bucketload of spam, cold callers, hidden fees and possibly an invalid domain alltogether.

Here is a couple I would personally recommend:
: £Âƣ£ :
Register and host your site with one company.

Generally the most expensive methods are the least hassle. But don't quote me on that
With this option you can get a registrar to host your site and sort out all the associated technicalities.

This is an option also suited to the technophobes, as you'll be spoon fed all the nessecary information by the company that you choose. (at least you should if they're reputable)

The same caution is recommended as in the previous cost option.

Hosting

Why is hosting important?
  • A good reliable host will make sure your site is backed up and online (available) as much as possible.
  • A good host will have a stable, high bandwidth connection.
  • The features offered on your account are as important as the content of your site. So a host that provides everything you need is essential.
  • You will get better value for money if you shop around.
  • A bad host will offer little or no support when there are problems.

There are millions (almost literally) of hosting options and companies which makes your next step probably one of the most difficult, but for the purposes of this guide and on the back of my own bias, I'll keep it very restricive and simple.

: -£ :
Stuartbe has kindly covered this option in his guide here: :link:

: £ : & : £Âƣ£ :
<edit Rob: links deleted as no longer appropriate>
Obviously, you are free to try out any host you find, but my own experience leads me to err on the side of UK based companies who are governed by UK laws and regulations.

Once your hosting has been set up and paid for you'll need to make sure the two are reading from the same page so to speak.

DNS Settings, Web-Forwarding and Domain setup
If all those terms fill you with dread, don't worry.
The different options detailed in each section now show their value.
The higher cost and technophobe options will be dead easy as long as you've chosen by this point to get your hosting and domain from the same company.
All you do is fork over the funds and wait for the email with your instructions.
If you are one of those people, you can stop reading the guide here, as the company themselves should give you everything you need from now on but please take note of the next section "DNS propogation".

It does get more complicated though when your domain is in one place and your hosting somewhere entirely unconnected.

Get a domain with a company that offer full DNS access/control!
Often this will mean that you have a "control panel" in the list of features when you sign up. But it's no guarentee that you'll have access to the bits we need to change.
If you've already got a domain and don't have access like this it's not a problem really, just a bit inconvienient, because you'll have to make change requests to the company support/admin staff (which can take days rather than the minute or so for doing it yourself).
If you're setting up your domain to point at your NTL/Telewest or any ISP provided webspace or if you've used the free webserver guide by Stuartbe then you can ignore the "DNS" options. What you need now is the "web-forwarding" section in your domain control panel.
Once you've found it or when asking for it to be changed, you'll need to use the URL (http://mywebspacelocation).

The control panel options will vary, but you'll usually just get a box to fill in with a button to submit it.
If you want the page to display the domain name in the address bar while someone is on your webspace ("http://mypaiddomain.com" instead of "http://homepage.ntlworld.com/myfolder") you'll need to use the "framed" web-forwarding, also sometimes called "cloaked".
Again, for those using these free hosting options, you can now skip to the next section "DNS propogation".

For those with any other hosting webspace you should get an email or control panel information screen once you've set it up with a section giving you their "Nameserver" address.. "ns1.i-websolutions.co.uk" for example.
If they don't send you this information, you can ask them for it.
Once you have the address, go back to your domain registrar or control panel and find the section referencing "Nameservers". Next, fill in the control panel form, or request it to be changed to the address you've got.
You'll usually be putting in two name server addresses but they'll normally only differ by one digit (ns1.hostdomain.co.uk and ns2.hostdomain.co.uk).

DNS Propogation
You'll be glad to know that you're now almost finished.
This note is purely to warn you that the majority of the changes detailed in the last section will take a period of 24-48 hours to actually become active. Also, that means that if you asked your domain registrar to make a change it will possibly be this amount of time before you see it happen (or longer if the admin takes his time).

Building your Site
Hopefully now that you're at this stage, putting your domain name into a browser will either give you the contents of your ISP free webspace, or a holding page from your hosting company.
Your next job is to start adding files to your webspace using "FTP" (file transfer protocol).

First of all you'll need a good "FTP" client.
I'd recommend getting hold of FileZilla.
Once you've downloaded and installed, you'll need to connect to your webspace. Hopefully, you'll have a lot of very clear information on FTP in your setup email or control panel, most of which should be self explainitory.
Fill in the username, password and address details and hit "connect".
Usually, your default page will need to be called "default.html", "index.html" or "index.php". If you're in doubt just ask your host or one of us here on the forum.

The next stage is really up to you... use google to find some tutorials on basic web-design to get you started, you never know I might somehow find time to post a "website guide part 2"

I hope this helps someone out there, let me know if you think I've missed anything, or if you want to add something useful.

Bye for now,

~s1lv3r
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Old 30-09-2004, 12:05   #2
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Re: The "I want a website" Guide

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Old 30-09-2004, 12:10   #3
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Re: The "I want a website" Guide

This had been sitting on my desktop since I last mentioned it about 6 months back.. I found it while doing some housekeeping and thought I'd finish it off Thanks for the sticky Nem
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Old 30-09-2004, 13:02   #4
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Re: The "I want a website" Guide

Surely someone has some constructive critisism to give?
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Old 30-09-2004, 16:15   #5
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Re: The "I want a website" Guide

*last bump

No doubt this will be left to rot in the sticky area like most others, please let me know if you have any input or feedback on this.
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Old 30-09-2004, 16:24   #6
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Re: The "I want a website" Guide

Just that you should beware of some domain name companies - they will charge you for dns changes - it's often how they are able to give such cheap domain names - make sure you know exactly what you are paying for

Other companies give full access, at no cost, and still give cheap domain names.

*cough*
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Old 30-09-2004, 16:28   #7
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Re: The "I want a website" Guide

subtle very subtle
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Old 30-01-2005, 13:19   #8
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Re: The "I want a website" Guide

for domain registration ive used http://names.co.uk for .uk domains and www.namecheap.com for .com .net etc


never had any problems with either of them
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Old 30-01-2005, 13:46   #9
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Re: The "I want a website" Guide

Who owns the domain when you regisiter then? Is it the company or you? Why is it only possible to register for a year or two and what do big companys like microsoft and google do?
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Old 12-02-2005, 20:00   #10
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Re: The "I want a website" Guide

Interesting article s1lv3r, any chance you could follow it up with some info on search engine optimisation and submission ?
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Old 12-02-2005, 20:17   #11
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Re: The "I want a website" Guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by Damien
Who owns the domain when you regisiter then? Is it the company or you? Why is it only possible to register for a year or two and what do big companys like microsoft and google do?
Missed this question.

When you register a domain name, you own it, the company is really only acting as your 'agent' to register it on your behalf. - usually you can register a name up to 10 years (depending on what the extension is).
When it gets close to the expiry date of your domain name - you will be given the first option of renewing the name - long before anyone else gets the chance - i.e. a month + - with some registrars you'll find even if you miss the expiry date, you will still be able to claw back the name, and then renew it before anyone else does - though (of course) you'll find varying fees for varying agents.
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Old 12-02-2005, 20:37   #12
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Re: The "I want a website" Guide

When your domain name comes up for renewal do you have to do it through your existing agent or can you shop around for the best deal at the time?
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Old 12-02-2005, 21:36   #13
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Re: The "I want a website" Guide

Quote:
and what do big companys like microsoft and google do?
forget liike a lot of us

Microsoft forgets to renew hotmail.co.uk domain
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Old 12-02-2005, 22:31   #14
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Re: The "I want a website" Guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by Padawan
When your domain name comes up for renewal do you have to do it through your existing agent or can you shop around for the best deal at the time?
You can pretty much shop around for the best deal you like, in theory - bascially all you need to do is sign up with another registrar, and then transfer your name across from one to the other - usually when you transfer you'll then be asked to pay for another years registration (or however many years you want).

However, like I say, this is 'in theory' - the problem is that some registrars use various dirty tricks to stop you doing that - i.e. some of them will charge you a fee to transfer your name (you usually find this is the case in some (not all) of the really cheap offers) - so in effect you end up paying for the same amount as it would cost to register it for another year, if not more, with your old company, , you then have to pay again with your new company to register it with them.
Some of them will make it so difficult for you to transfer a domain name from one company to another - that it ends up taking a lot more time than you had originally planned - so you'll often find that you end up having to pay another years fee with your current one, because they've dragged their feet for so long, your name is about to expire - once you've done that magically your transfer request gets approved - and you're then free to pay for another years registration with another agent.
This happened to me recently, I had a domain name with namecheap, that was coming up for renewal, and I wanted to transfer it to my own company, it took nearly a month for it be approved, and in the end I had to pay for another years registration to 'reactive' my domain name with namecheap, because it had taken so long that my name had gone past the renewal date.

Does that all make sense?
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Old 13-02-2005, 00:29   #15
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Re: The "I want a website" Guide

yes it does thanks

Guess it's lucky then that I have a half decent domain registrar then because I wouldn't want all that hassle !
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