The traditional way: Web hosting and an editing program
To create your own website and publish it online, you need three things:
A domain name
In simple terms a domain name is the name you type into the browser to get to a website, and also the part after the @ in an email address.
ex. www.google.com firstname.lastname@example.org
To get your own domain name you have to go to a domain name registrar such as Namecheap or Godaddy. There you will find search facilities to help you search for the domain name you want. If you need a country specific domain name and they are not available at the registrar, you then need to find the registrar that is servicing your country's domain (e.g. .co.uk for the UK or .com.au for Australia)
Domain names from registrars vary in price from $8 to $20 USD per year, depending on whether the package also includes web space.
A web host
A web host provides you with web space (online storage) for your website. You can usually buy your domain from the same provider, but you certainly don’t have to. In theory, you can get your domain and web space from two different providers, but for smaller projects, it is usually worth getting everything from one source.
There is an unimaginable number of domain and web hosting providers on the market. The most well-known are international, for example 1&1 and GoDaddy. It is well worth shopping around to find a plan that meets your needs, because you can save quite a bit of money.
Bluhost is a popular provider for bloggers who use WordPress. Their standard plan is $6.95 and includes unlimited hosting space and a domain. It also includes PHP and MySQL which most other providers require you to pay for separately.
Watch out for very small providers who try to attract customers with rock-bottom prices. These companies often don’t last very long and you may end up having to move your entire website.
It is generally safe to shop around though, especially if you want to run a blog on your website. You will need a SQL database for this, which many providers will charge you extra for. Read more about blogging in our section on the topic.
- Tip: If the domain you want is already taken, Wordoid.com may help. Simply enter a word that you would like to appear in your domain and the tool will search for available options. You may find some useful suggestions in the results!
The second thing you need to create a website is an application that will allow you to create the individual pages of your site.
There are a couple of different ways to do this:
- Note: HTML is a kind of programming language for websites. You use HTML tags to apply attributes to text, images, hyperlinks and other elements on your website. Combined with style sheets (CSS), you can create your own websites and format them as you wish.
Option 2: Use a program that allows you to forget about the source code and focus on creating content in a Word-like environment. Professionals often use the feature-rich Adobe Dreamweaver. However this comes at a price, and at over €500 is not to be sniffed at - especially as many beginners find themselves quickly overwhelmed with the number of advanced features.
A free alternative is Kompozer. This is a kind of stripped-down Dreamweaver and is also based on a WYSIWYG interface (What You See Is What You Get). You don’t have to mess around with the source code, and can work directly in a Word-like editor, which means you can see the fruits of your labor immediately. This can work well for your first foray online.
Note: Even with a WYSIWYG editor, you will need at least a basic knowledge of HTML.
Option 3: Use a CMS (content management system). The advantage here is that it allows you to create relatively large sites equipped with many features and administered in a range of ways - even within a team.
There are a variety of different kinds of CMS. The best known open-source systems are WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. The CMS itself is free - you only pay for your domain and web space.
Some technical knowledge is required to install it, and many hosting providers offer a so-called one-click installation. However, when you want to install a new design, or update the version, you will inevitably come up against the technical side of things. It is not overly complicated but does require time to learn.
A web host and a website editing program is all you need to publish your website online.
You can use a program such as Dreamweaver or Kompozer to create your content on your PC. Once everything is ready, upload the files to your web host and you can then view your entire website on the internet under the domain name you purchased.
For larger projects, consider using a CMS. The DIY approach is not always ideal here, especially if you are not an expert. In general, it is advisable to hire a professional if you take this route.
If you would prefer a more straight-forward way to create your website, you can find more detailed information here about website builders.