What is a domain and how does someone host it? Terms of reference and technology are too often a barrier to progress - and that's especially true of the IT world. But investing a few minutes in research can provide huge dividends for your business. Your domain is the name of the online space you're buying (or getting for free); tiscali.co.uk for example, is a domain name, as is hotmail.com and bttradespace.com.
Hosting is a service you buy from a company - a web hosting provider - who will run and manage your domain. So they ensure that your website is up and running, and if there are any problems with it, they'll fix it. They won't do anything to your site itself, they just provide the ‘engine' to make it run. And you'll get a specific amount of space, or storage. Providers will usually offer both services as part of the same package, although you can buy domain names separately if you want (and can find) a very specific one.
For £3.50 a month, for example, Bionic Hosting's basic package offers 5GB of UK web space, SiteBuilder, plus daily back-ups, email aliases and 24x7 support.
BT offers a web hosting service from £5 + VAT pcm, which includes a .co.uk or .org.uk domain name, EasySiteBuilder tools and 500MB of web space to help you get a professional result even if you have no technical knowledge or previous experience.
Microsoft Office Live Small Business offers a custom .co.uk domain and up to 100 company-branded e-mail accounts-free for the first two years.
So once you've bought your domain name and subscribed to a hosting service. What next? Now you build your site, with tools that again, are generally provided as part of the service. These tools provide the ‘building blocks', eg colour schemes, page templates, fonts etc, that enable you to build your site quickly and easily. There are some basic design guides you should be aware of - more on that in a future post, but in the meantime you can do some background reading here: 'Don't just build a website... build one that works for you'..