in Development

The First Three Things About Creating a Website

Website hosting, domain and email service. These are the first three things you should be thinking about as soon as you come up with an idea for a website. Unfortunately, it’s usually what some people consider only after they have a project that’s smoothly running on their localhost.

But, hey, there’s no judging here, maybe you didn’t know how cool your website would turn out or maybe it never dawned on you up until you’ve had a few pints with a mate that someone else might be interested in what you’re putting out as content on your website. Therefore, regardless of the moment when you decide to consider these three things, here are some pointers as to what you should look out for.

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First and foremost you should think about website hosting.  When deciding what type of web hosting is best for you, already having a running version of your website can be a plus, at least you’re sure what the content of your website is and most likely who your target audience will be. But, supposedly, you should already have an inkling of those anyway. Moving on, let’s start off with the types of hosting available.

There’s shared hosting that is also the cheapest kind of hosting available. What it basically means is that you have your space on the hard drive or cloud storage of your provider to store your stuff, but you are sharing said space and the resources that come with it with other users. This type of hosting works just fine if you’ve got a small website that doesn’t need too many resources in order to run, otherwise, you’re going to have to fight for those resources with the other websites. The biggest downside to this is that if you don’t get a dedicated IP from the get go, you might have some nasty surprises waiting for you along the way, like getting banned because one of your cohabiters did something stupid and ending up blacklisted without lifting a finger (which, impressive as it may sound, is not a feat to strive for).

Next we have VPS which means that you will have a dedicated storage just for you and your website, database, files and so on, but it will be in a virtual machine. On the plus side, you get access to all of the resources the virtual machine has to offer. Also, there’s zero chance you’ll get in trouble because of something stupid someone else did. But there is the downside that you have to make due with the fact that you’re using a virtual machine, which is limited in many ways. It’s mostly recommended for small businesses and websites that don’t get a lot of traffic.

Last but not least, there’s dedicated servers that are probably the best choice for the tech-savy and, naturally, the most expensive one. On the plus side, having a dedicated server means that you are assured the least downtime and most resources at your disposal. The downside to dedicated servers is that they’re mostly self-managed. You basically get the storage and then you’re on your own. Now, for those who have a pretty good idea what they’re doing, that isn’t a problem, but for the rest of us mortals, maintaining websites on dedicated server is a bit trickier.

Furthermore, if your website will have a lot of downloadable content or graphic resources, it’s recommended that you use a content delivery network to handle them. By turning to a CDN, you’re going to improve your content delivery and manage all your files more efficiently.

Also think about the geography of things when choosing a web hosting service. It makes no sense to choose an USA based service if most of your hits are going to come from Asia and so on. In addition to this, don’t always assume that bigger is better. The bigger the web hosting provider is, the more likely it is they’ll hide costs from you. Try to stay away from offers that sound to good to be true as well. You might make a killing, expense-wise, at the beginning and you might wake up one day that your hosting provider went ‘poof’ over night.

The best thing to do when choosing your web hosting provider, and really, when choosing any type of provider, it to take a look at the rate at which they respond to client tickets. This will prove to be essential information for the future seeing as, if it ever happens that your website unexpectedly goes offline, you will not want to wait around for 24 hours before getting a response from your hosting provider. Try to look them up on online specialized forums as well, you’re most likely to get the best and most honest accounts of their services there.

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Next up on our list is picking a domain. I cannot stress this enough: think your domain name through. On the list of people who did not think it through you’ll find those who went with some of the following domains: http://powergenitalia.com (which is really just the Powergen subsidiary in Italy), http://penisland.net (you do have a dirty mind, this is the website for Pen Island), http://bendover.com (the guy’s name is Ben Dover, d’oh) and http://acutionshit.com (the website for Auctions Hit, no profanities involved). On the Internet, your domain name is your calling card. It has to be short and to the point, i.e. http://giverz.com is a giveaway website, http:// michaeljacksonsthisisitmoviemerchandise.com is a headache. Moreover, you don’t want your domain to be confused with someone else’s. Therefore, if you aim to create a website that will get a lot of exposure, look up your domain name beforehand and try to consider the likelihood that a type-o will take your intended visitor in the wrong direction.

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Okay, last on the list is the email service. This part is pretty basic and there are quite a number of decent services online that can cover all your basic emailing needs. And, yes, you will have emailing needs if you intend to have customers because they will need a way to contact you. And, quite frankly, me@mydomain.com sounds a lot better than crazy_me_i_got_this_when_i_was_thirteen@hotmail.com.  So, getting an email service is the easy part, you just have to look out for servers that send your email directly to spam. Also, my recommendation would be to keep all of these three(i.e. hosting, domain and email service) separate.

The last thing I would like to mention when discussing setting up a website is your backup. I will say it again: it is very important to backup your work and to check that the backup is functional. I’ve seen it happen, developers that rest assured that they have a backup and proceed to do heaven knows what in their code, then find themselves between a rock and a hard spot when their alterations bomb and their backup isn’t functional.

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Anamaria

I read, I write, I sleep.

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