Website Basics: Domains, Hosting, CMS, Email
The Internet tends to be a vast and scary place that can often confuse those of us who don’t work in the technology sector. If you’re a business owner, it’s likely that you faced the battle of branded emails, renewing domains, and paying hosting fees monthly. Some of the most common questions we get from clients are regarding these web services which are essential to your website design needs. So, we decided to break it down for you. And if you’re new to the web world and Internet marketing and are considering getting a website, understanding these website basics should help get you on your way.
This is the Internet address that people will type into their browser to find your website. For example, our domain name is wsinextgenmarketing.com. You’ll see it at the top of your browser right now. A domain name is usually purchased through companies like GoDaddy, Bluehost, Newtech, and even Google.
Domains can cost anything from $10 to $70 per year depending on the name – for example a general domain like “besthotel.com” will cost you more than a specific name. Sometimes, domains can be free with certain hosting companies. Bluehost can offer a free domain with their hosting plan.
This is the “web space” where you will upload your website files. When someone types your domain in their browser, your web host will serve up the files that you uploaded. Think of web hosts as a hard disk drive on the Internet. The fee you pay to your web host is like paying monthly rent for your store or home.
Hosting fees can range from $4 to $20 – often, you get what you pay for and the pricier hosting companies are more secure. Web hosting companies include WP Engine, Bluehost, GoDaddy, and more. Good Internet marketing requires fast websites and therefore a reliable and fast hosting company. You can have great website design but if your host is bad, then you’re losing search engine rankings. (Photo: oxfordwebstudio)
Content Management System (CMS)
As the name implies, a CMS manages your content. Websites are built using code and web languages (HTML, PHP, CSS, etc). In the past, people had to individually code each page of a website and upload those files onto their host. Now, we have CMS platforms which allow users create websites without much coding knowledge. The platform does all the techy-coding-backend work while you do the content creation and website design.
Similar to how we have platforms like Microsoft Word, CMS platforms – like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace and Shopify – give you the tools to build a site and update it as your business grows. We definitely have favorite CMS platforms which you can read about on our blog. CMS platforms live online – you log into WordPress or Wix (as you would log into Facebook) and you build your website there.
This is a fun one (mild sarcasm detected). Internet marketing includes branding and branding can be part of your email. You’ll often see businesses using emails that look different from personal emails. Our personal emails often end in @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, or, (for a throwback) @aol.com. Businesses will sometimes use emails that end in @businessname.com. If you’ve received emails from us, you’ve seen our emails end in our domain. That is exactly how branded emails work.
Say you decide to bring your business into the digital world. You want to build a website and you want to have a professional email with your business name in it. First, you’ll purchase a domain at, for example, Bluehost. Then, you’ll purchase a certain email plan on Bluehost. If you choose to purchase your domain on Google, you can purchase your branded email on Google too and get access to GSuite, allowing you to use Gmail and all it’s user-friendly features. If you purchased a domain via a hosting company but want to use the GSuite features for email, there are ways to connect these. If you purchased your domain via GoDaddy and also purchased email in GoDaddy, you can use Office 365 or Outlook for email functions. Email is one of those web services that is easily implemented but depending on where you purchased it, can get tricky.
Although we are an Internet marketing agency, and web services like website design and lead generation is our forte, our clients will often ask us about their email issues. Our goal is to help but if tech problems arise with your email, the proper folks to fix them would be an IT support company.
The basic elements of websites and web services can often feel, well, not so basic. We hope that this general info has helped you uncover some of the mysterious terms you may often hear thrown around. Remember, your website is your online brick-and-mortar store that’s open 24/7. Making sure that your website design is flawless and your domain, hosting, CMS, and email choices are reliable, organized, and secure is essential to running a successful business.