Websites explained in plain English
Do I own the domain to my website? What the heck is SEO and why do I need it? There’s often a lot of confusion around websites, web servers and hosting. It’s something I find I’m often explaining to people. I like to explain it like this – think of your website like a brick-and-mortar business, with an office with lots of nice furniture and a big sign out the front.
A website is like your office furniture. It looks fancy and does different things depending on what you’ve paid for. It can be super cheap or expensive, depending on who designs it, but normally it’s a one-off cost. Once you’ve paid for it, it’s yours. If you want to modify it or redesign sections, you’ll need to pay someone again for this (in the same way re-upholstery isn’t included just because you bought the chair). Some websites are built in such a way to make it simple enough for the average person to do any minor modifications themselves. This is the part which shows off your personal touch. It also needs to live somewhere, which brings us to web hosting.
Think of web hosting like your building. It houses all the functional stuff and is a highly necessary part of the whole process, but doesn’t do a lot on its own. It can have a letterbox (aka email) along with it, but also may not. You pay a monthly or yearly rent for web hosting. When you are renting it, you are paying just for a street number. If people want to know the name of the business inside, you’ll need to buy a domain name.
A domain name is like your business name. You pay for this every one or two years, just to renew the name itself. It’s not really tied to anything until you have a Domain Name System or DNS.
Think of DNS as like signage on your building. It lets traffic driving past know that your business name is tied to this building and invites interested people to come and have a look inside. Just like a big sign, DNS doesn’t mean you’ll get lots of customers, but it’s a necessary part of the process. Which brings us to SEOs.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is like traditional advertising. Just because you have a business doesn’t mean people know about it! And similarly, just because you have a website doesn’t mean it will appear like magic at the top of Google search results. You still need to advertise it somehow.
Now a good web developer will bundle all of these services together but for a business owner or individual going it alone, it can be tricky to know what you get for your hard-earned money. You might go out and buy a domain name and it might come with DNS but it doesn’t mean you have hosting or somewhere for your website to live. Or you might buy a website, but that doesn’t mean people can access it or see it online.
Sometimes, your business can outgrow your building or furniture. Some providers who give you a website bundled with hosting can lock you in to a contract and it can be difficult to expand or add services. For example, web development platforms like Wix or Foursquare provide an easy service until you need to start modifying things and then you’re stuck.
My recommendation is to find a web designer or developer you trust (and have a great website themselves!) and ask them what they can handle and what they will provide.
Best news of all – The Preferred Nerd are website specialists and offer a full web development service, part service to enhance existing websites and support and engage businesses the whole way through the process. Let us build you a brilliant website that performs just as it should and brings in the customers.