This is Part 1 of a Three Part Series on Starting Your Own Web Site.
Before we go any farther, let’s get a few definitions out of the way.
The Domain Name, as you probably know, is the name of your web site. For instance, Ghost Leg Media’s domain is ghostleg.com.
URL stands for Universal Resource Locator. Just as your street, city, and state address on an envelope tells the post office where to deliver your mail, the URL defines your address on the internet. You’ll usually see the URL written out as something like http://www.websellerscircle.com/ In other words, it’s that name you type in your browser’s address bar.
You’ll run across the word “protocol” a lot when you discuss computers. A protocol is just the way one computer communicates with another. The Internet Protocol, for instance, is the way computers communicate on the internet, and that’s really all we need to know about that.
In geek speak, IP stands for “Internet Protocol.” Your web site’s true IP address isn’t the domain name. It’s a series of numbers, like “188.8.131.52? That’s the IP address for Google. Whether you type 184.108.40.206 orwww.google.com into your browser’s address bar, you should be taken to the same place. A complex system known as Domain Name Servers (usually abbreviated as DNS) translates the human-readable name (like google.com) into the computer-readable numerical IP address (220.127.116.11).
SInce the internet requires every domain name to be unique, there needs to be some sort of central system to keep track of domains and to parcel out new ones. This service is performed by Registrars. When you want to buy a domain name, you go to a registrar like GoDaddy.com or Register.com or NetworkSolutions.com. They are accredited by ICANN to issue new domain names. By and large, all accredited Registrars offer roughly equivalent services. There is no benefit to using an expensive registrar.
The server that hosts all your web pages is called a web host. That server may be in your broom closet or in Katmandu. It does not need to have the same operating system as your computer. Your computer will not be connected to it except when you are either viewing web pages in your browser or uploading pages via FTP.
Wait a minute – ft who now? FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and it is just a series of commands that lets one computer (the web server) know that another computer (yours) would like to send it some data (files). Like pretty much everything else on the web, you don’t need to worry about knowing the technical details of how it works. You just need to know where to find an FTP program and what the ftp address is of your web site.
One of your first tasks after registering a domain and contracting for web hosting is pointing the Name Servers to your web host’s computers. Your web host will tell you the correct Name Server addresses (which will usually look something like NS1.bluehost.com) You then take this information to your registrar and enter it into the Name Server form somewhere in your My Account area at your registrar’s site. Most web hosting companies have two or more name servers (as a precaution in case one is down). So you’ll probably have an NS2.whoever.com or NS3.whoever.com address as well as an NS1.whoever.com addreess.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
As you can see, none of this technical sounding stuff really requires any technical knowledge. IT administrators all over the world are sweating the small stuff so we don’t have to. Once you learn a few simple terms, you are ready to perform all the administrative tasks that precede going live with your new site.