Practical Guides
Hosting & Domain Names

This week we’re taking a break from the sector-specific articles, and instead are looking at the two things required for a website to be online; hosting & domains.

Hosting

Contrary to popular belief, websites don’t just float about in the sky; they are stored on computer hard drives all around the world. For a website to be accessible to the public, it must be stored on a computer that is always running and connected to the internet, so it’ll always be available should someone request to view the site. This is known as hosting.

Technically you could host your website on your laptop (some hobbyists do it “for fun”) but they aren’t built for that kind of use. Even if you could have it constantly on & connected, it would be bad for the computer, and also very annoying! Instead there are dedicated computers called servers that are made to handle these requests and ‘serve’ back the relevant data.

However, before you rush to the hardware store to purchase a machine, an easier option is to purchase space on someone else’s. Using a good hosting company will mean your website is stored upon banks of reliable up-to-date servers maintained by professionals with fail-safes and backup systems, plus it doesn’t have to be expensive. (Our hosting packages start at £5/month for instance.)

Domain Registration

To get to the servers you can use a number (like a telephone number) called an IP address. If you type the IP address of our server for instance (178.62.36.144) into your browser’s address bar, you’ll be directed to our website*. But those numbers aren’t very easy to remember. It’s a lot better if you purchase a nice relevant looking domain, like ‘mishmedia.co.uk‘ and assign it to point traffic to the server’s IP address. Here are some more examples…

IP Address**
mishmedia.co.uk 178.62.36.144
bbc.co.uk 212.58.246.103
google.com 216.58.210.14

*This won’t necessarily work for shared hosting, as there are multiple sites on the same server/IP Address – in that case the server uses the domain requested to determine which site to serve up.
**These may have changed since the time of writing

People may also talk about the ‘web address’ or ‘Universal Resource Locator’ (URL) depending on how geeky they are! But they don’t have to be complicated, and they don’t have to be expensive. Our prices start out at 35p/month for .co.uk or .org.uk and £1.20 for a .com or .org

Choosing your domain

Some things to remember when choosing your domain – on the one hand you want something relevant that contains crucial keywords that people will search for on Google, but it also needs to be easy to remember, easy to say, easy to write & type as well as it fitting nicely on business cards etc.

Get Creative

Sometimes your ideal domain will already be taken, in which case you may have to get creative. Using calls-to-action can be good, or inventive domain endings.

Domain Strategy
B&Q diy.com Topic
Listly list.ly Finish with a domain ending
Loverly lover.ly
D&AD’s Creative Search creativesear.ch
Grouper joingrouper.com A built-in call to action
Cover paywithcover.com
Headspace getsomeheadspace.com

A Word of Warning

On the flip side, check you don’t fall into any traps such as these ones…

Ah… awkward
IT Scrap itscrap.com
American Scrap Metal americanscrapmetal.com
Choose Spain choosespain.com
Therapist Finder therapistfinder.com
Speed of Art speedofart.com
Experts Exchange expertsexchange.com

There are many more examples we could list but we don’t want to have our site blocked for inappropriate key words!

Multiple Domains

You’ll have heard that it is recommended to purchase multiple domains if possible. (We have mishmedia.co.uk and mishmedia.com for example.) This is for a few reasons.

  1. To catch typos, and make it easy to remember
  2. To stop others setting up a neighbouring site that may damage our brand or reputation
  3. If we want to focus on the local vs international markets

But you should choose one domain as your primary one and forward all the others to it. That’s partly for brand consistency and ease of maintenance, but also so that the domain is made as popular as it can be when it comes to the fight for the top spot on Google. More on that next week…