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How to Host a Website: Web Design Course for Beginners

host a website: beginners web design

Website and Webpages

This first course on web designing for beginners will cover the following areas

  • Meaning of a website and web pages,
  • Web technologies,
  • Domain names, and
  • How to Host a Website
Webpages GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

A website is simply a collection of pages of information, including texts and multimedia saved in a web server. You, therefore, host a website in a web server. A Web server can be a computer system (hardware) or a virtual machine (software) that keeps your files, images, videos, etc. The web server has the necessary software that allows people to access your saved objects through HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and other protocols.

how to host a website

A web page can be compared to someone who typed texts in a word processor and saves it on a computer system. A webpage is a document that may be written in HTML with a unique address for locating it on the internet. This typed document could contain images and videos, attached to the document for clarity of understanding to the readers.

However, there is a difference between a webpage and a document created using a word processor and saved in one’s personal computer. The differences include:

  1. A webpage is usually created with one of the numerous web technologies available, with HTML being the foundation. This means that the file so created must be saved with an HTML, or htm, or PHP, etc file extension.
  2. To view a webpage, one needs a web browser application rather than normal word processing, pdf, spreadsheet, etc applications. Some of the popular web browsers include Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera.
  3. The webpage so created would not be saved in your personal computer but on a web server. This web server will host a website created using web technologies. To host a website, you will have to rent a space on a web server from a web hosting company. A web server is connected to the internet 24/7 days and also has the necessary security measures to secure your files from attack.

Getting Started

You may not necessarily rent a space in a web server to start creating web pages or start sharing information on the internet. You can start with any of the following free services:

  1. Facebook: You can register and start sharing different kinds of information using facebook.com’s social networking site. Facebook has a Facebook fan page, which gives anyone the opportunity to create, share, and collaborate with friends and the public. This will save you the cost of hosting a website.
creating Facebook business page
  • Twitter: Twitter is a microblogging site that also allows people to create and share information free of charge. Though it doesn’t give room for large information, but you can link your tweets to a broader information sharing site.
  • LinkedIn: Another professional platform you can share business-like and professional information and collaborate with professionals online is LinkedIn. You can create text, images, and video posts. Linkedin has a company page where you can share a greater amount of information which tweeter does not permit. Rather than host a website which you’ll pay for yearly, you can create professional information and share them here and on your tweeter handle.
Create LinkedIn Company Page
  • Myspace: Is also a social networking site that is good for sharing images and videos rather than texts.
  • Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram: Flickr is a well-known site where anyone can upload images and infographics and share them with the world. Also, Pinterest and Instagram allow you to share text, images, and videos to the world. Flickr is mostly used to share images and infographics, rather than text and videos. There are dedicated video sharing platforms you can use.
  • Vimeo, Youtube, Dailymotion: Are sites where you can share videos to the world free of charge. Though they have premium service, they have dedicated video sharing websites where you can start free of charge. Start by vising http://youtube.com/. Other video sharing sites you can try include TikTok, Snapchat, WeChat, etc.
  • Free blogging sites: You can always start with a free site that allows you to share text, image, and video content. With any of these platforms, you can share content and collaborate with others. They include Tumblr, Medium, WordPress, Blogger, Blog.com, Squarespace, Ghost.org, Penzu.com, Webs.com, and Svbtle.com. Start by vising https://ghost.org
Y GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
  • Free web and blogging sites: With the above platforms, you have limited ability to create a brand for yourself. But the following platforms will give you greater flexibility to customize your brand for your audience. You don’t need to host a site to begin, but your brand will be prefixed with the platform’s name. The following platforms will allow you to create a website for free. WordPress, Wix.com, Weebly.com, Squarespace, etc. You can get started by visiting https://www.squarespace.com/get-started/
Create your site with squarespace

Web Technologies

In order to create a dynamic website, web developers utilize different scripting languages. Web technology is a term used to refer to the different scripting languages that are used together in order to produce a dynamic website. These scripting languages provide a communication interface between web servers and client computers.

There are three basic web technologies, namely HTML (HyperText Mark-up Language), JavaScript and CSS (Cascading Stylesheets). As a web developer, you should be aware of the following web technologies.

  1. HTML: This is the basic technology that provides the foundational structure of a website.
  2. CSS: This technology works hand in hand with HTML to create a visual presentation of a website. It adds beauty and creates layout of a website.
  3. JavaScript: This is a scripting language that is used together with HTML and CSS to create a dynamic and interactive website.
  4. Other Scripting languages: include Python, Ruby, PHP, Go, CoffeeScript, Java, Swift, and Objective-C.
  5. Web Technology Frameworks: These are applications that make working with scripting languages easier, and make setting up a web page faster. Some popular ones include Bootstrap, & Foundation (used for building with HTML/CSS & JavaScript); Meteor (A full-stack javascript framework for both front and backend); Node.js (A backend JavaScript framework); React (a frontend JavaScript framework); Ruby-on-rails (a full-stack Ruby framework); Django (a full stack Python framework); WordPress (a Content Management System built on PHP, which powers up to 20% of websites); Angular.js, Ember.js, Backbone.js (frontend JavaScript frameworks).
  6. JQuery: This is a JavaScript library that groups code snippets together. It helps to reduce the process of writing entire codes by yourself.
  7. Databases: Databases helps us to store and manipulate data. There are SQL databases and NoSQL databases. Examples of SQL databases include MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, SQLServer. An example of a NoSQL is MongoDB.

Domain Names

A domain name can be simply defined as the name of your website. It is a name that people can use to find you on the internet. Your domain name should be the same or have a relationship with the name of your business or brand. To host a website, you must own a domain.

If you want to host a website, you will first get a domain name. This can be purchased from domain registrars. However, most web hosting companies serve as domain name registrars. They may even add a free domain name to a new customer.

Domain names always end with suffixes such as:

.com, .net, .org, .ng, .info, .biz, .tv, .mobi, .me, .com.ng, .net.ng, .org.ng, .sch.ng, .gov.ng, .edu.ng, etc.

The price of a domain depends on the suffix attached to it. For example, .com.ng, .net.ng, .org.ng, and .sch.ng are the cheapest domains in the market. Qservers sell such domain for a token price of N1000 per annum, Smartweb sells at N1200, while Hub8 sell at N1490.

Another cheaper domain is .com which you can purchase between the prices of N2000 and N3500 per annum depending on the domain registrar.

Note that the kind of domain you choose depends on the kind of business you do. For example, while .com is generic for businesses, a television company will choose a .tv domain.

How do you get a Domain Name?

It’s simple, just follow the following procedure:

  • Go to Nira.org.ng website and get the list of accredited domain name registrars.
  • Browse through each of the results and check out their prices. However, price should not be your primary concern but efficient service. I usually check through reviews for a company that I will choose.

Remember that you can register a domain in a different company and host your website in another company. Also, be careful when choosing a company because sometimes the initial price you purchase your domain might be different from the renewal charge.

  • When you have selected a domain name registrar of your choice, go to their website and start the process.

For example, I chose Ghotek technologies, just for the fact that they were on top of the list. (I noticed that they don’t register .com.ng domains, but their prices are cheap)

get domain name
  • You can see their prices for generic domain names such as .com, .net, .org and .biz. To view their full price list, click on view pricing. You see the list of the domains you can register and their prices.
  • In the above image, under Get a Domain Name, type in the name you want to use for your website. I typed kmacng. Then click GO.
  • It will check to know if the domain name you entered is available and bring out the result and suggestions for you to choose. As shown below.
web design - domain availability
  • From the above image, you can see that kmacng.com is available. Also, .net, .org, .biz and .in are all available. The price is N1818.79. then I can proceed to buy this domain name. Click on the Select button for the domain you want.
  • After selection, notice that the checkout has been populated. Click on Checkout.
add domain name to cart
  • It will add your domain to cart. Scroll down and click on No Thanks, proceed to checkout>>, as shown below.
checkout web design
  • At this point, you can fill in your detail, including your credit card or Paypal account, depending on which payment method you want to use and complete your purchase.
  • You now own a domain. You will use your registration information to login in order to manage your domain.

Host a Website

Now that you own a domain, you will have to host your website files. Remember that you can purchase hosting and domain with the same company.

What is web hosting?

Unlike domain name which registers and preserves your website’s name, web hosting provides the technologies necessary in order to serve web pages over the internet. It is like you buying a space on the internet. Your hosting account is your shop on the internet.

Web hosting companies own servers and the underlying technologies that allow them to store website files of different individuals, businesses, organizations, and institutions and serve them over the internet when accessed by the public. These companies provide 24/7 uptime and security to these website files.

Types of Web Hosting service

There are different types of web hosting services you must know in order to host a website. You can choose the one that is best suited for your business. They include, but not limited to the following: shared hosting, WordPress hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated server hosting, Reseller hosting, e-commerce hosting, and cloud hosting. We shall look at the ones you might need for your business or advice your clients to purchase depending on the size of their business.

  1. Shared hosting service – This is the cheapest type of hosting service and most suitable for beginners. In this type of hosting, different small businesses’ website files are stored in the same server.
How to Host a Website: Web Design Course for Beginners 2

In this case, instead of you paying for a web server, you share the payment with other small businesses like yours.

Prices for this type of hosting depends on the bandwidth and storage made available by the hosting company.

  • Virtual Private Server (VPS) service – This is a higher type of shared hosting. You can see it as a dedicated server in a shared hosting environment.

Here, the hosting company will run separate virtual operating systems in the same server so that each business will own an operating system, yet sharing the server with other businesses.

This type of hosting service gives a business the benefit of a dedicated server at a shared price. Prices are higher compared to shared hosting, yet relatively lower compared to dedicated hosting.

  • Cloud hosting service – This type of hosting is generally not common to all hosting companies, but promises excellent hosting speed. It works exactly like VPS hosting but has additional benefits.

In cloud hosting, multiple websites are shared in multiple servers around the world to create redundancy. Such redundancy improves data security and reliability.

  • Dedicated server hosting service – This type of hosting requires that you rent a server for your business. You don’t share the server or its resources with others, but it is more expensive and requires server management expertise. It is best suited for big companies and businesses.
  • WordPress Hosting – You can only choose this type of hosting if you want to create your website with WordPress. This type of hosting service provides security, speed, scalability, and expertise for your WordPress site. But it is always more expensive than normal shared hosting service. You can easily get support from WordPress experts when you need them.

Compare Hosting Plans

Haven considered the types of hosting, let’s compare the prices of these hosting services using six different hosting companies in Nigeria: Hostnownow, Utiware, Whogohost, Qservers, Hub8, and Smartweb.

  HostNowNow Utiware Whogohost Qservers GigaLayer Smartweb
Cloud Hosting 2,400/ month500,000/ year36,000/ year    5300/ month  
Dedicated Server 35,000/ month 1,000,000/ year  110,000/ month84,000/ month114,000/ month
Shared Hosting 500/ month 4000/ year5000/ year5000/ year8,750/ year4500/ year
VPS Hosting 5000/ month  324000/ year30,000/ month7000/ month 15,000/ month  
WordPress Hosting    16,000/ year  3800/ month

In all, pricing should not be our primary focus in determining which hosting company to choose, but their level of support, speed, and uptime.

Also, it is important you check what each company is offering. The prices above represent each company’s lowest plan. But compare things like bandwidth, storage space, and availability of free SSL.

We cannot tell which to choose, but we are using Smartweb hosting and Hub8 (now GigaLayer) hosting companies and we are not disappointed. We have also tried Netorb Media for one of our clients.

Although, bitcatcha recommended foreign web hosting companies in Nigeria. I strongly believe that we should patronize our brothers.

Also, while using any of these Nigerian web hosting companies, you should use free CDN to increase speed. That is exactly what we do. However, I have found that Hub8’s speed is better compared to other companies I have used, though they are new in the business. Hub8 is now part of GigaLayer.com.

Purchase and Start Hosting your Website

We shall use Hub8 to illustrate. Please, Hub8 has become part of GigaLaye, so the example shown here is for illustration purpose only. To host a website, follow the procedure below, but their may be some differences.

  1. Go to Hub8 website.
  2. On the Home page, select WEBSITE HOSTING FREE.
  3. On the page that appears, select your choice plan (SMART START, MEGA SPACE, etc), by clicking the Order Now button.
get a free domain and hosting
  • In the page that appears, you will be asked to choose a domain. If you already have a domain, select domain purchased from another Registrar. If you want a new domain, select Get a domain free with an annual hosting plan. Then click on the Search button.
domain registration
  • In the page that appears, search for the availability of your domain name as we did in the last section above.
  • From the results that appear, select the option best to you. I used kmac the following result showed up.
web design - domain result
  • I had to choose. Kmac.com.ng by clicking on the Cart button.
  • From the page that appears, select the Checkout button.
domain name checkout
  • Complete the registration and pay for the hosting.
  • They will send to your registered email your Control Panel (CP) login detail and your nameservers.
  • You can now login to the company’s CP and start uploading your website files using Filezilla Client software.
host a website for beginners
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