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Beginners Guide

This guide is intended for those who are new to the web hosting stuff and want to build their web presence - to create a personal or business site and place it online. This guide is meant to help you establish your online presence without having to learn the ins and outs of the web hosting.
If you are already experienced webmaster you may wish to check our Webhosting Guide, FAQ or How to pick up a webhost sections instead.

So, here we go. There are four essential moments in the process of building your site. These are: getting a domain name, designing and creating your site, finding a webhost that will host it, and finally make the site popular.

Domain Name

First of all you need to choose a domain name for your site. A domain name is the internet address of your site. The users will be able to reach your site when they type your domain name in their browsers (for example Internet Explorer, Netscape). You may wish to read our "How to pick up a domain name" article, where the topic is discussed in details. For example the domain name of our site is besthostratings.com. Choose a domain name that best describes your site content. It can also be your business or personal name. For example you can use your company name as a domain name.  Many web hosts will register a domain name for you as a part of their web hosting package(sometimes even at a quite reasonable price, but not always).  However, we recommend that you register your domain name separately using a registrar of your choice such as GoDaddy.com, where you can register a domain name for less than $10/year.

The second step is to design and develop your web site.  You have three main options:
  • You can design and create the site on your own.  There are many WYSIWYG(what you see is what you get) programs as Macromedia DreamWeaver, Microsoft FrontPage, Adobe GoLive, CoffeeCup HTML that you can use to edit web pages without knowing HTML at all. Most of these programs have website templates available where you can just type your text and they will take care of making your web site look OK.  Some of them even have ready-to-use dynamic components such as feedback forms, guestbook, counters, and image galleries. However, if you do not have experience with web design stuff or you cannot afford to waste time to learn how the things are done you can go straight to options two and three.

  • You can use a service offering a turn-key site creation, such as ReadyWebsites.com.  Using them you can quickly create a nice-looking personal or professional web site where all you need to do is choose among layout and graphics options and enter the text, all done online.  Then you can add dynamic elements such shopping carts, message board, polls, or photo albums using an easy to use interface.  This is a good option if you want to get online as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

  • You can hire a professional web design company.  This option is more expensive but it could be the right choice for custom solutions and professional looking sites. It gives you much more flexibility compared to the first two options. With a web design company you can specify exactly what your requirements are.  You have no limitations here. You can order a simple HTML page or order a complete ecommerce site with product database online payments and all the other bells and whistles.
Getting a web host
Currently the web hosting service offered can be grouped in three major types: shared hosting, dedicated hosting and co-location.  The most suitable and cheapest way for 99% of the webmasters will be the shared hosting.  Here it is the way how it works:
  1. You choose the most suitable web hosting plan that will meet your site requirements - that's what we have created this site for - you can use our Advanced search to find the plan(s) that best will fit your needs.
  2. You purchase an account with the web hosting company you have chosen.  Usually the payments are done online by Credit Card, Paypal, some webhosts accept Electronic Checks as well. Other payment methods are supported as well. Check the webhost site you have choosen for more details.
  3. Usually you will receive a Welcome email with all the information needed to manage your hosting account, including the Name server information that you need to update for your domain name (see our domain name guide for more info). The information will contain your username/password for accessing the account, the URL of the account Control Panel. Temporary address where you can test your site, etc.
  4. You upload all your site files (HTML, images, etc) to the server. This can be done either by using some FTP program (or for example CuteFTP or WS_FTP, SmartFTP, etc. MAC user may wish to check Pure MAC), by using your web page editor such as FrontPage, or by using a web based file manager that comes along with your hosting account control panel. Once you upload your site files you can test your site at the temporary URL provided by the web host. If everything is OK, you can update the Name servers for your domain name, in case you have registered it on your own. If you have chosen to register the domain name with the hosting company, they should have already updated the Name servers for your domain name as needed. Please note that usually brand new domain name will start working in less than 24 hours.
  5. If you have your domain name registered elsewhere and you have updated its name servers/DNS accordingly to the instructions received in your web hosting account Welcome email, 24-48 hours will be needed until these changes propagate worldwide. Once the DNS changes propagate across the Internet (24- 48 hours), you will be able to access your new web site by using your domain name. 
Making the site popular
Making the site popular is a whole new topic and there are so many things that need to be considered. You may wish to visit sites like www.searchenginewatch.com where plenty of information on the topic can be found. However, in general create a site that will be useful for the internet users. Regularly update your site and sooner and later it will become popular. These days most of the people use the so called search engines(like Yahoo!, Google, Altavista, etc) to search for products and/or information over the internet. So what you need is to get listed there. Please visit the site mentioned above where you will find plenty of information on how the search engines and web directories work. You will also find a lot of  tips an tricks on submitting your site to search engines and making your site search engine friendly. Another option would be to use the services of SEO compaines (Search Engine Optimization). There are quite a lot of companies out there. However, be carefull as most of them will just take your money without providing any valuable service.

If you are a new webmaster, here are some things that you should have in mind before you start to search our web hosting database:
  • Be careful with these "unlimited" web hosting plans that are offered.  There are many hosting plans that have reasonable limits and will probably offer enough resources for your site - web space, transfer, email boxes.
  • Bigger companies are usually more expensive, while the qualtiy service provided is not different from one that the smaller webhosts offer.
  • In general good support, reliability, uptime and plenty of features cost money, although these days the competition in the web hosting business takes the prices down and even for less than $10/mo you can get so many features and resources that you will be probably not be using half of them
More in-depth discussion on the points listed here can be found in our webhosting guide and our FAQ.