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Basics of building a website

There are essentially 3 components to a website:

Domain Name

A domain name is your unique address on the internet. The domain naming system is a system of easy-to-remember Internet addresses, which can be translated by the domain name system (DNS) into numeric addresses known as IP addresses (short for Internet Protocol addresses). Examples of domain name are - facebook.com, youtube.com, business-india.in, jamshedpur.ws, indiadirectory.info. Every domain name maps with an IP address which eventually maps with a specified computer's machine address. Let us understand this further...

Every computer (web server), or for that matter every electronic device that is connected to the internet, has a unique machine/device address. This address is assigned by the device manufacturer who is allocated a range of device addresses from a common address issuing authority. Each web server in turn has multiple IP addresses assigned to it and under each IP address it allocates multiple domain names. When you type a website domain name on the web browser address box, the web browser obtains your mapped IP address from a nearby DNS server. Using the IP address as the destination address, the web browser sends the request for the website to the network that corresponds to the IP address. The IP's network maintains an address resolution server which knows the machine address corresponding to the IP address and it routes the request to the corresponding machine - the web server. The web server then resolves the domain name to the directory where the files pertaining to the website are stored and sends the required file to the requesting web browser.

So the first thing you need is a website address of the form www.domain-name.tld - example www.how2lab.com. In this example the domain name is how2lab.com (without the www prefix). The word tld (short for top level domain) refers to the domain extension. Popular domain extensions for an Indian company would be - .com, .in, .co.in. So, as a first step you need to own a domain name.

To own a domain name you need to register your choice name with a domain registration service provider. The choice of a domain name is quite important. You would normally choose a name that goes either with your brand name or company name. However, some people prefer to use a domain name that contains keywords that relate to your products/services to take advantage of SEO.

The golden rule for deciding on a domain name would be to choose a name that is a short version of your company name. A name which can be easily spelt would be user friendly and easy to remember as well. Avoid using long domain names. Several Domain Name Suggestion tools are available on the internet and you can take the help of one of them to arrive at a decent name.

Whatever may be your preference, keeping the domain name short and easy to spell is advisable. You can get a domain name at a nominal cost of around ₹600 - ₹1200 per year depending upon the tld you opt for.



Hosting

Next you need a hosting account. A hosting account is a space on an internet server to which your domain points so that when people type the url www.yourdomainname.tld on their browser address field, they are directed to the server where you have your hosting account and the server would send the default or index page of your website to the requesting web browser. So, all your website files will be stored on this server.

Hosting space is space rented on a server that is housed in a data center and always connected to the internet through high speed networks. You need to keep all of your website files - content, images, videos, scripts, database, etc. on a computer that is always accessible to the internet community. It is quite unviable to keep your files on your own computer and make your computer available to the internet community. The costs of maintaining a powerful server class computer installed with several licensed software for web service, email service, database service, security and a host of other applications can be exorbitant and simply not viable for a one-off website, not even for an extensive web application such as an online ERP system. So you will need to look for a hosting service provider and rent a suitable space along with required features.


How much hosting space do you need?

This would depend largely on the type of website you are launching and the number of web pages you will showcase, the amount of backend data you will handle, and the amount of traffic you anticipate in the initial years (depending upon how aggressively you carry out your website promotion). You will also need to take into account the number of email addresses you require and the amount of space you need for each mail box. A 15-20 GB space on a Linux/windows server with 150-200 GB of data transfer per month and 15-20 email accounts would be good enough for a startup website. Such a space is normally available at around ₹2500-3000 per year.



Website Content

The next important thing you will need is the website itself. Your website is technically a set of html files, image files, video files, scripts and database tables which you need to create. Collectively, they work together with the help of backend web server software, to present a set of web pages to the internet community. Your website is your ambassador and your office in the virtual world. Your website could be more important than even your brick-and-mortar office as it is accessible to the whole world and you can expect hundreds of visitors to be visiting it daily. Hence you must give it due importance and not compromise on its development cost. Deploying a professional website developer is advisable as apart from making an effective presentation, there are several technical aspects of a website that you may overlook or may not be aware of. Taking care of these technical aspects is very important if you want your website to be found by more and more prospective customers and also if you do not want your website to be attacked by hackers.


Content Management System (CMS)

Merely creating a website and hosting it on the internet and then forgetting about it would be like planting an Apple tree in the deep amazon forest and never going there to reap the fruits. So once your initial website is up on the internet, the next thing you require is a facility which will allow you to update your website content and add new content through easy interfaces without getting into the technicalities of html and other script coding. This is achieved by having your website built over a content management system. Several free CMS are available to use. Examples are Joomla, Wordpress, and the likes. However, since these CMS are open source they are subject to security vulnerability - so caution is advised. A paid CMS often proves to be more peace of mind. Hence we recommend going for a website developer who can provide you with a good CMS built in-house. A good CMS will give you nearly full control over your content making it easier for you to update your website without incurring extra cost.


Website Builder

A website builder is a software/tool which will enable you to quickly build your website without getting into the technical details of html and a host of other scripting languages. The website builder will also enable you to maintain your website content with easy interfaces to update your pages. There are several free website builders available such as wordpress, joomla, etc. as we mentioned earlier. However, free builders usually come with problems such as bugs and lack of direct support. Depending upon how much hassle free you want your life to be (so that you can focus on your core business and not get bogged down with building and maintaining your website), you may opt for a free website builder or go for a paid website builder. If you want to remain completely hassle free, you can go for a complete website solution where the service provider takes care of all of the 3 components and provides you a custom-built well integrated and search engine optimized website.



Specific Extras

The extras refer to additional hosting features and facilities you may need to buy to meet the specific non-standard requirements of your website. For instance, if you are hosting an ecommerce website where you will be selling your products online, you would require the following additional facilities which are charged extra by most hosting providers:

  1. Dedicated I.P. address
  2. Digital certificate
  3. SSL enabled hosting
  4. Payment Gateway service



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About the Author

Rajeev Kumar
CEO, Computer Solutions
Jamshedpur, India

Rajeev Kumar is the primary author of How2Lab. He is a B.Tech. from IIT Kanpur with several years of experience in IT education and Software development. He has taught a wide spectrum of people including fresh young talents, students of XLRI, industry professionals, and govt. officials.

Rajeev has founded Computer Solutions & WebServicesWorldwide.com, and has hands-on experience of building variety of web applications and portals, that include - SAAS based ERP & e-commerce systems, independent B2B, B2C, Matrimonial & Job portals, and many more.



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