This post is targeted at those who wish to create their own websites from scratch (beginners-intermediate users). This guide is not intended for those with no computer background – if this is the case then I highly recommend you use an easy site builder like Wix, 1and1 or SquareSpace. This guide is intended to help those who wish to learn how to code in HTML/CSS/PHP but have no idea how to get their code online.
The advantages of building your own website opposed to using a website builder (such as Wix, 1and1, SquareSpace etc) have been covered in detail by other users. Here are a few articles/posts/links I found on the Internet which helps explain the difference between the two:
I will be starting from the very basics and hopefully will try to explain each step in as much detail as possible.
This process will be covered in three steps:
- Acquiring a domain name.
- Acquiring web space.
- Start creating!
Step 1: Acquiring a domain name
What is a domain name and why do I need one?
The definition that Wikipedia provides is as follows:
A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Any name registered in the DNS is a domain name.
A domain name is simply the address you type into the browser to access a website. “google.co.uk” and “facebook.com” are both examples of domain names. In this post, we will be imagining that you (the reader) wishes to create a simple website about yourself (like a portfolio). This is similar to my website: umarsalim.com
To summarise, the reason you need a domain name is so that people can easily find your website.
Where can I get a domain name from?
There are many providers out there who specialise in providing domain names to the public such as GoDaddy, 123-reg, 1and1 etc. I would recommend you go with NameCheap for your domain name since I have been a customer there for over 8 years now (since May 2009) and have never had an issue which was not resolvable.
How do I buy a domain name from NameCheap (~5mins)?
Step 1: Navigate to NameCheap by clicking here.
Step 2: Search for your domain name using the search box (ideally get a .com or a .me domain).
Step 3: Purchase the domain by clicking the little add to shopping basket icon and follow through with the purchase.
Step 4: Navigate to your account and ensure the purchase was successful!
That is it! You are now the happy owner of your own domain! We will look at how to link your newly purchased domain name to your web hosting space in Step 3.
PLEASE NOTE: You can also purchase web space from NameCheap whilst buying your domain name! Please read Step 2 before purchasing a domain name or web space!
Step 2: Acquiring web space
What is web hosting space and why do I need it?
Before we begin with the explanation I should first point out that this is also referred to as “web space” or “web hosting”.
Here is a great explanation of web space by ntchosting (source):
There are several essential things a web hosting provider must actually provide. The first thing is a stable server, on which the websites should run. Once he has the physical machine, it’s time to install suitable software, such as Mail SMTP server and DNS server software. And when everything is ready to go, the hosting provider must face the hardest task – to define his offers. And one of the features every client first looks for is the web space.
Where can I get web hosting from?
As with the domain name, there are many different providers available who would be more than happy to provide you with web space and these include GoDaddy, 123-reg, 1and1 and NameCheap. You may also be able to find free web space from a free web hosting provider however you have to ask yourself, how reliable will a free provider be and what can you really do about it if your web site goes down? Paying for web space ensures you have a contract with the service provider in the event things go wrong! Good web hosting providers will generally have a service level agreement (SLA) which defines the level of service expected from the service provider.
How do I buy web space from NameCheap (~5mins)?
If you are currently in the process of buying a domain name from NameCheap as stated in the previous section of this post, you will be presented with the option of buying web space during the checkout process. I recommend you purchase the cheapest solution for now since we are going to be creating a very basic website. Please keep in mind that you can upgrade at any time without affecting your website in any way!
If you wish to purchase web space separately, please follow the steps below:
Step 1: Navigate to NameCheap by clicking here.
Step 2: Browse to the “Shared Hosting” section of the website as shown in the screenshot.
Step 3: Choose a shared hosting plan. You can get either the Value package or the Professional package. Choose a package and follow through with the purchase.
Step 4: Navigate to your account and ensure the purchase was successful. You should also receive an email from NameCheap with the details for your web space – you can confirm the purchase either by checking your NameCheap account or by checking to see if you have received the welcome email with the web space details!
Step 3: Start creating
Before we can begin creating and uploading content for the world to browse, we need to ensure your domain name and your web space are linked.
If you purchased both your domain name and web space from NameCheap then it is more than likely that this has already been completed for you. You can test to check whether your domain name is linked to your web space or not simply by browsing to your newly purchased domain name – this should show some form of a welcome message. If not, please follow this guide by NameCheap! If you have any issues, feel free to leave a comment below and I will try to help.
If you purchased your domain name from a different company to where you purchased web space from then you will need to manually link your domain name and web space. You can do this by altering the DNS records at your domain name provider – the setting you need to change is called “nameservers”. You need to change your nameservers to the nameservers provided in the welcome email from your web space provider. If you need any help with this, feel free to leave a comment below and I will try to help.
Uploading content to your newly created website
There are many different ways of uploading content to your newly created website. These include uploading via the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or by using the web File Browser in your web space control panel. I personally prefer using the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) since this makes uploading and editing files a whole lot easier!
These two guides by NameCheap explain how to upload files to your web space:
Please note: The two guides provided above apply to pretty much all web hosting providers who provide FTP access.
I hope this guide helped, if you have any questions or feedback, feel free to drop a comment below!