If you want to set up a website, there are two important things to do first:
1. Organise some Web hosting.
This essentially means finding somewhere for your website to live. Very few website owners use their own internal servers to host websites, instead they rent some server space from a hosting company. Hosting companies operate large, high-tech data centers, where huge numbers of servers are home to many client’s websites.
We recommend HostGator for web hosting. They have hundreds of thousands of clients and an enviable reputation for reliability and good service. If you want further proof of this, look no further than the fact that we choose to use HostGator for a number of our own websites!
2. Register your domain.
Before you can launch your website to the world, you need to choose and secure a domain name. This can sometimes prove quite a laborious process, as you may well find your first choice of domain name is already in use. For this reason, some research will be required.
We will now take you through a step-by-step process to set up an account with HostGator and register your domain name.
1. First you will need to visit the HostGator website. We know you will want to refer back to these instructions, so we have configured the link to open the site in a new window. You can therefore safely click the link now.
2. As you can see from the screenshot above, all the options are a little overwhelming initially! Don’t worry – just click the “Web Hosting” link, as shown in the image below.
3. You will now see a breakdown of all the different shared hosting plans available from HostGator. If you want to go into detail, you can click the “Compare all hosting plans” link for a comparison chart.
NB. “Shared hosting” means that your site will live on a server shared by several other website owners. Don’t worry – this is perfectly normal! If your site becomes wildly successful, you may need to think about a dedicated server or another more expensive option, but for now, shared hosting should suit you just fine.
We will leave you to compare the features and decide which plan is most appropriate for your new site. You will notice that the costs are not excessive for any of the plans, so it makes sense to go for one that gives you breathing space for future developments. It’s worth nothing that (at the time of writing) the “Hatchling” plan only gives you scope for a single domain name, do unless your ideas are very simple, you’ll probably want to go for the “Baby” or “Business” option.
4. Click the “Order Now” button once you’ve chosen a suitable hosting plan. You’ll then be taken to an order page.
The first thing you will have to do is choose your domain name. If you’ve not yet checked if the domain you want is available, you will notice that the HostGator website checks the availability of your site immediately.
Once you have chosen your domain, make sure you pay particular attention to the “Billing Cycle” section, indicated with an arrow in the screenshot above. This allows you to select how often you are billed and also determines how long a time period you are committing to. If your site is experimental, you may wish to choose a shorter commitment period, but it does make sense to pay for a long period up front, as you will be given a substantial discount.
5. Fill out all the other details on the order form. You will notice that you are offered a number of add-ons. If you wish to keep costs to a minimum, you can of course deselect these, however we would recommend at least the “Site Lock” and “Site Backup” options. If you don’t want people to be able to easily find out you own the domain, you will want to subscribe to the Domain Privacy Protection service too.
6. You will be able to see a breakdown of your total hosting costs at the bottom of the form. Once you’re happy with everything, click “create account” to complete your order.
7. All being well, you should receive a message telling you that your order has been successful. Shortly afterwards, you will receive an email containing full details of your hosting account, including a link to your new Web-based control panel.
You will also receive a second email containing a verification link for your new domain. Make sure you visit the link as instructed, as this will complete your domain registration process.
You should also ensure that you’ve taken note of your chosen username and security pin, as you are sure to need these in the future.
8. You have now signed up for HostGator and secured your chosen domain name. Go to your welcome email, and click your “Control Panel” link. You should now be able to log on using the details provided in the email.
9. Once you have logged on, you should see the Control Panel featured in the image below. It may feel rather intimidating at first, but don’t panic – you’ll probably only need to use a few of the myriad options available.
10. Congratulations! A key phase of setting up your website is now complete.
If you followed these instructions as part of one of our other tutorials, we suggest you now return to that page and pick up where you left off!