is expanding every second with the addition of new online properties. According to Dailychanges.com, which tracks Internet domains, there were 13.4 crore domains - Web addresses used for websites - in October 2011.
Around 1.5 lakh domains are added daily. The number of websites is much more than this as each domain can host multiple sites. As the Internet becomes important in our life, it is time for you, too, to set up a website.
REGISTER A DOMAIN NAME
To start a website, you need a unique Web address that visitors can type in their Web browsers- such as Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox-to reach your website. Register your domain with a reputed registrar. GoDaddy.com is the world's largest domain registrar.
Net4.in and BigRock.in are the two big Indian registrars. If you are targeting global reach, get .com, .net or .org. As a large number of individuals still associate domain name with .com, it should be your first choice.
Countries also have their own domains. For example, .in is for India, while .us is for US websites. Use a country-specific name if your target audience is in a particular country. You have to pay an annual fee for domains.
An .in domain can be registered for as less as Rs 100 for the first year, while a .com address is available for Rs 500-600 per year. You have to get this address renewed every year. Keep the domain name simple and short. As a large number of domains are already taken, you may have to think of several domain names before you can find one that is available.
- 1.5 lakh is the average number of domains or Web addresses (used for websites and emails) registered daily.
- 100 crore was the number of websites being monitored and indexed in 2008 by online search engine giant Google.
BUY WEB-HOSTING SPACE
Websites need to be hosted on computers (Web servers) which other computers can connect to via the Internet. You can set up your own Web server if you can run and manage a computer with a unique Internet Protocol address. However, this is costly.
Most websites are hosted on spaces rented out by Web hosting providers such as HostGator.com, DreamHost.com and BlueHost.com. Web hosting providers run Web servers that are shared by several websites. You can buy unlimited hosting plans which enable you to host any number of websites by paying Rs 400-500 per month. If you are planning to target Indians, you website is likely to load fast if it is hosted on an Indian Web server as data will have to travel a shorter distance.
Though you can buy Web hosting on Windows as well as Linux-based servers, the latter is easy to use with content management systems (CMSes, explained later). When you buy web-hosting space, you have to provide the domain that you want to host. Your provider will then send you details of your hosting control panel and name servers (NS), which are entrance points for your server.
: Do a quick online search by Googling the web-hosting company's name for a quick background to get an idea of service quality. The Web-hosting provider's servers should be fast, reliable and remain up all the time. If your website remains down, you will lose visitors. Also, make sure the company provides you access to a hosting management system called cPanel, which makes it easy to manage websites.
POINT YOUR DOMAIN TO SERVER
Unless you buy Web hosting and domain name from the same provider, your domain name and Web hosting will not be connected in the beginning. You need to point your domain to the Web server by changing your domain's NS entries to reflect the details sent by your Web-hosting provider.
To change the NS entries of your domain, go to your domain registrar's website and log in to your domain control panel. Look for a link or button that reads "Manage Domain Names" or something similar, and click on your domain name. In the subsequent screen, you will have the option to edit NS entries. Delete the existing values and add the ones provided by your Web-hosting company.
As the new NS entries have to be updated with every domain name server (DNS, or Web's address book) across the globe, it takes a couple of minutes to a few hours for the change to get notified to each DNS in the world.
When you type a Web address in your Web browser, the request is sent to a DNS, which tells the browser the address of the Web server where the site is hosted. Internet service providers and organisations like OpenDNS.com maintain domain name servers.
A Web server has limited resources to handle traffic from visitors. For large websites which get hundreds of visitor each minute, multiple servers host exact copies of the website. By adding NS entries for multiple Web servers for a domain, the traffic to the website gets balanced among the servers.
If you do not want the hassle of changing name server entries, you can buy both domain name and web-hosting space from the same provider. However, it is likely to be more expensive than registering a domain with companies like GoDaddy.com and Namecheap.com, which are popular as domain registrars. Also, it might be difficult to find a company that is reliable and offers value-for-money for both the services.
CREATE A WEBSITE
After pointing your domain to the Web server, it is time to create the actual website. All good Web hosts will give you access to a website creation tool which can be used to create HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) websites. You can also create websites using applications such as Nvu, KompoZer, Dreamweaver and Frontpage.
If the idea of working with HTML for creating websites scares you, you can easily install a content management system (CMS) which allows you create webpages and add content using a Web-based interface.
When you use a CMS for a website, you do not need to create and upload webpages to your Web server manually. The software takes care of this by storing your textbased content in online databases and saving files and images in designated folders on your server.
When a user request for a webpage, the CMS dynamically creates the webpage for being displayed on the Web browser. CMSes manage to do this through programming languages, but you are not required to know these nitty-gritties for using them for creating websites. If you can use Internet to create an email account and write mails, you should be able to run a CMS-based website.
WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and TextPattern are some of the popular CMSes used for creating blogs and websites. Interestingly, all of these are free. With over 25 million websites using WordPress, it is the most popular platform for creating blogs and websites. It is easy to install and use. In contrast, CMSes like Joomal and Drupal have a steep learning curve.
If you want to learn how to create simple, static websites with HTML, you can find several good tutorials on websites such as W3schools.com, HTMLDog.com and W3.org/html/, a website managed by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Led by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, W3C is an international community that develops protocols, standards and guidelines for the Web.
Which websites to start?
Apart from profile websites for professionals and businesses, creating websites and blogs in niche areas such as technology, health, finance and howto guides can be a good idea. You can monetise your website through advertisements and promoting products. Before creating websites for profit, use tools such as Google Keyword Tool to analyse the demand for content in the planned niche.What is domain name?
Computers identify each other on the Web through Internet Protocol addresses, which are long numeric values. A domain name is an easy-toremember Web address which points to the server where the site is hosted. In www.example.com,.com is the top-level domain and 'example' is the domain. The 'www' part is the sub-domain. A domain can have any number of sub-domains.What is Name Server?
A name server is like the entrance point for a Web server. When someone requests for a website, the Web browser fetches Name Server (NS) details from a domain name server (DNS, or Web's address book) and reaches the Web host's entrance point. The browser is then directed to the destination folder on the Web server. All websites have at least two NS entries as a safeguard against breakdowns.What is HTML?
Hyper Text Markup Language, or HTML, is a markup language that uses a set of pre-defined tags for text, images, hyperlinks and other elements on a webpage. Your Web browser receives a webpage not as a single unit but as separate components with instructions on how these should be put together to render the page. The browser creates a webpage using HTML.
** Installing WordPress CMS **
WordPress is one of the most popular open source CMSes, designed primarily for blogs. As it is easy to use, WordPress is often used for creating websites as well. Using the cPanel software, you can install WordPress quickly through a Web interface.
- Log in to your Web hosting cPanel using the details provided by your Web host.
- Click on the "Fantastico De Luxe" or "Quick Install" icon in the cPanel.
- In the next screen, click on the "WordPress" link in the sidebar of the next page. If using Fantastico, click on the "New Installation" link.
- Fill the details for the website and click "Install". Within a few seconds, the CMS will be installed on your domain and you will be given the details.
- Log in to your WordPress website by visiting http://yourwebsite/wp-admin/. Enter your username and password to gain access to the management dashboard of your website.
- A fresh WordPress website has default themes and some dummy content (pages and blog posts). Delete these.
- Go to the "Appearance" menu in your WordPress dashboard and install a suitable theme. You can also install "plugins" to extend the features of your new website.
- WordPress has a big repository of free themes and plugins that can be used to customise your website. You can learn more about using WordPress at http://learn.wordpress.com and http://codex.wordpress.org.