Hopefully within the next few weeks I am going to write a FAQ on website builds.  In the meantime, I have to clear up some confusion that 90% of my clients have.  Most small business owners don’t understand the difference between hosting and domain registration.  These are two completely different items that each and every website owner must understand.  Here are the basic definitions:

Hosting: A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their own website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server they own or lease for use by their clients as well as providing Internet connectivity, typically in a data center. Web hosts can also provide data center space and connectivity to the Internet for servers they do not own to be located in their data center.

Domain: Domain names are used to identify one or more IP addresses. For example, the domain name microsoft.com represents about a dozen IP addresses. Domain names are used in URLs to identify particular Web pages. For example, in the URL http://www.pcwebopedia.com/index.html, the domain name is pcwebopedia.com.

Now that you know the basic definition you need to understand why it is so important.  I recommend all business owners with a website know where their hosting is and where their domain is registered.  Ideally you should have control over both, but the most important one to understand and control is your domain registration.  If you allow an agency, freelancer, etc… to register your domain they might put themselves as the owner and administrator which means you lose control of your website address.  If for some reason your working relationship ends with them, they might not hand over the information for your domain and there goes your domain.  The website address that all your customers associate with your business is no longer yours. Domains are very inexpensive.  It will only cost you $10-15 a year to keep it registered and you can go to any big website online company to register it even if you don’t use the same company to build a website.  Some examples include Go Daddy, Register.com, Network Solutions, etc… My domain (www.gofetchmarketing.com) is registered at Go Daddy but my hosting provider is a company called Viux and I built my own website.

I have had several clients get themselves in a pickle with their domain because they have no clue where it is registered and/or the company they have been working with won’t give them control over the domain.  Two of my clients, actually had to aquire a new website address because of the problem.  Remember, a good website address that works well with your brand is as important as having a business card.

Now onto hosting.  Hosting is simple and cheap.  Hosting is just paying for server space so your website has a place to “sit” so the world can see it.  It is $10-$20 a month and can be purchased just about with any company that does websites.  I strongly recommend you work with your website designer/agency to get their recommendation on a hosting provider.  It is OK, to let your designer or agency purchase the hosting for you.  As long as you own your domain name if you decide to leave your current designer/agency you can always set up hosting with someone else and then “point” your domain/website address to a new provider. If you let your designer/agency secure hosting for you, I do recommend you get the name of the hosting service, and the user id / password to the account.  You might also want to request all artwork “source files” from your designer/agency when the job is completed.  This will guarantee that if you leave and go to another company for website help you don’t have to start your design from scratch again.

Hope that helps.  Keep checking back for our upcoming FAQ on website builds.