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Website Launch Guide

Module 2: Technical Setup

Domain Name Registration

To get your new website online, you’re going to need two things:

  1. A registered domain name
  2. Web hosting service

Owning your own domain name looks far more professional than having your site on someone else’s or a free domain and it is more affordable now than ever before.

Owning and managing your own hosting will allow you to easily customise your website to your liking and install and configure plugins that will enhance the overall experience and administration and maintenance of your site.

Some Recommendations

Looking for somewhere to start? Here are some personal recommendations.

Domain name registration

For top level domain registrations and domain name management, you can’t go past My Domain (for top level .com domains) or VentraIP (for .au).

Their services are extremely affordable and offer combined domain name management services with every account.

Web hosting

I have personally used many hosting companies over the past 10 years. Three local to AUS I would recommend are:

Where to start

When it comes to looking for a trusted and reliable web host, it often comes down to two things; location and cost – where will your website hosting service be located and what will it cost you.

Location

The location is important. If your audience and a vast majority of your visitors are located in Sydney Australia (for example) than you would be looking for Sydney based hosting. If your audience is global, then setting up a CDN as can address the issue of speed when it comes to delivering files to the visitors computer quickly.

Cost

Cost is important for obvious reasons. Remember, this is an investment in your business we are talking about.

But what cost is right for you? Well, only you can determine that.

But before you do, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you would want to choose a reliable web hosting provider.

Web hosting particularly impacts two things on your website:

  1. Speed, and
  2. Downtime

Speed

Did you know that Google considers website speed as one of its major ranking factors? Therefore, if your site takes a long time to load your search rankings will be affected.

Just in the same way, if your site is fast to load, Google will reward you with favorable rankings.

To understand how fast and effective your website loads, head on over to GTmetrix and run a free performance analysis. It will only take a minute and provide some valuable insight to your website’s performance. You can even download the report and hand it over to your developer for investigation and follow up into areas you can focus on to improve your page load times (and a lot more).

Downtime

Downtime hurts! It hurts your search engine rankings because a search engine cannot access your site to rank or crawl it and it hurts your visitors because they cannot access your site or do business with you when they want to.

Your website could go offline for a number of reasons. Two reasons I want to cover here though are, poor infrastructure and the wrong type of hosting.

Cheap and free hosting (yes there is still free hosting out there) does not adjust nor is it scalable to your hosting needs according to your traffic volumes and often falls under the term, “shared” hosting service. It is shared because you are sharing the available resources on the server with many other users. Think of it as many different websites all on the one web hosting server. If just one of these other websites gets hit with a spike in its usage and blows out its shared resource allocation, there is every chance the site will go down and take yours with it.

The hosting company will need to get involved and restore the websites and the server. Frequent downtime will, in many cases, lead to being penalized by search engines. Not good for anyone right!

This is always a risk with a shared hosting service. You can take precautions like that mentioned above and setup CloudFlare for example to ensure your website is available in cases like this, but should you need to?

Another option is to consider a Virtual Private Server (VPS). This provides a more reliable hosting service and removes the risk of another website taking yours down because it suddenly got popular.

A VPS does come at a cost though. Typically you would be looking at upwards of $100 per month to get started. However, if your website is that popular and this is a service you need, it’s a pretty good expense to have to incur.

Look around and Google website hosting providers and research the different types of services they provide. Be sure you can upgrade or downgrade accordingly and above all, have a backup plan.

Email Address Setup

After registering your domain name the first thing you usually want to do is start using your new email address at your domain. Of course you do!

If you want to start using your domain name for email, you will need a web hosting service. A web hosting service not only provides web space to host your website but also your email. You can either use an email client like Outlook or Mac Mail to manage your email or a hosted service like Google Apps.

If you’re a fan of Gmail, you can create alias mailboxes in your Gmail account to send and receive email from your domain also, which you can do for free. My personal suggestion.

Alternatively, if you do not need to be able to send email from your domain name but rather receive email, then setting up a ‘catch all’ email forward will solve this problem. A catchall email is a service typically provided by some domain name registrars as part of their service bundle. Not all registrars provide this service though so shop around before deciding on who to register your domain name with. Mydomain.com offers these services for free and much more for top level domains (.com or .net etc.).

Having a ‘catch all’ email forwarding service setup means anything preceding the @ part of your email address will be forwarded on to your existing email address. For example, an email could be sent to [email protected] or [email protected] and it will be forwarded on to your existing, personal email address (eg. Gmail). It does not matter what is before the @ symbol in the email address, the service ‘catches all’ emails for the domain and forwards them on for you. A nice, easy, free way to get started using your domain name.

Alternatively, if you want to send email from your domain name you will need either a web hosting account or an email hosting service. Even if your website is not ready yet, you can sign up for a web hosting service purely for the ability to start using email.

Tip: Keep your email address as short as possible. There is no need to make it longer than necessary. It’s your domain name so you can have anything you like. If your name is John Smith, go with [email protected] instead of [email protected]

Web Hosting

Let’s start by taking a look at what to look for in a web hosting company.

24×7 support

Your website is working for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week therefore your website host should also. This is particularly important to your developer who is most likely performing website updates after hours and if it’s urgent you do not want have to wait until opening hours the next day for support.

Look for online chat and email support options when you’re doing your research. Also be sure to check for a service status page. You may need to check if there are any known or reported issues at times.

Pricing

This is an important factor in all business decisions and hosting is no different.

Unfortunately, all too often, a business will end up spending only a fraction of the cost they just spent on their shiny new website on its hosting.

Look for a reasonable price but don’t skimp. Consider paying a little more than what you think you need to.

If there is one thing that is true when it comes to hosting it’s – you get what you pay for.

Remember,  you’re not just paying a business to house your website, you’re paying for it to be online and serviceable.

Be sure to look for:

  • Uptime guarantee
  • Testimonials
  • Scalability
  • Included bandwidth
  • Number of accounts

Configuration and setup

Signing up for the hosting service is the easy step. After that, you will need to configure your new web space. You will most likely have a technical person or contact that will be able to do this for you however I am sure that won’t always be the case.

Look for access to a web hosting control panel, often referred to a cPanel. This will give you access to one click installation of most common web services and applications. Always ensure these web applications are the latest versions to save you time updating later.

Multiple domain hosting

If you’re looking to host more than one website on your new web space, you will also most likely need to use another domain name. Look for multiple domain hosting options.

This will enable you to host multiple domain names and websites on the one account.

Positive reviews and feedback

This is easily over looked when researching web hosting companies. Do your research. Search Google, social media and forums for reviews and feedback on your short list of providers.

Finding a web hosting company with an absolutely clean slate and 100% positive reviews can be difficult but they’re out there. Weigh up all reviews and feedback and be realistic.

If a review looks like it an intentional attempt to write a bad story about a hosting company, it probably is just that and may not tell the entire story or experience.


Module worksheet

Module 2 – Tasks and Actions Worksheet (PDF file)

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