Domain Names & Websites 101

A domain name is your address on the internet. Also referred to as a URL, it’s how people find you. (The domain name of this website is www.TechEasyMarketing.com.) Although you own your domain name, it functions more like a lease.  You have to pay a yearly registration fee to keep it.

The process of getting a domain name.

1. Check to see if the name you want is available. All of the registrars are working from the same database so it doesn’t matter which one you use to check availability. The ideal name is short, memorable, easy to spell, includes a keyword (a word someone would use when searching for your service or product) and ends in .com. The problem is that there are few of those names still available, so we are seeing longer and longer domain names.

Check to see if your name is available

Keep in mind that you can have multiple names pointing to the same website, so you could have your name, or your company’s name and another name that is more descriptive of your product.  If you choose a domain name that is likely to be misspelled it’s a good idea to get the common variations of it too.

2. Register the name(s). Where you register your domain name has nothing to do with where your site is hosted.  Unless hosting comes with a free domain name I generally register my names with a company that specializes in domain registrations, and host my websites elsewhere.  That makes it easier to move your website to a new host if you want to.

Domain name registration has become very competitive. If you search for domain name discounts you’ll find lots of discounts and coupons. Sometimes you can register a name for a dollar or two.   What you pay for the first year of registration isn’t really important. It’s a lot of work to keep moving your name every year chasing the discount, so what’s more important is what the renewal is going to cost and what extra charges there may be.

Go Daddy is popular because they do a lot of advertising and offers big discounts on the first year registration. They can afford to do that because they charge for features that other companies include, and there renewal fee is much, much higher.

I’ve started using NameSilo and Namecheap because they include private registration (which GoDaddy charges for) and they make it easy to manage multiple domain names.  If you are going to have a Weebly website, you should choose NameSilo because they have integrated their system with Weebly‘s.

3. If you have already chosen a web host as part of the set-up process you will enter their nameservers. (A nameserver is the host’s address.) If you don’t have hosting yet, or this is a name you are going to use in the future, you can just park your domain with the registrar.

If you are just getting started check out our website setup services. We can help you get your domain name setup too.

 

Hosting

Now that you have your domain name you have to connect it to your website.

Your website lives on a (computer) server at a hosting company (AKA a host.)

Your domain name is tied to both your website and to your email addresses, but they don’t have to be in the same place, and where you register your domain name isn’t tied to where your  website is hosted.

Some examples:

You register your domain name with GoDaddy and sign up for a hosting account at the same time.  At any time you can move your domain name to a new registrar. They will add whatever time you have left on your registration to their first year. If you want to leave GoDaddy you can move your website (hosting account) to another hosting company and point your domain name to the new hosting company by changing some settings.

You register your domain name with NameSilo, a company that only does domain registration, and doesn’t offer hosting, and you host your website at Dreamhost. Dreamhost can handle your email, but they recommend that you set it up through Gmail or Google apps, and offer that as an option through the set up process.

What you need to know:  You can move your domain name, hosting and email independent of each other. If you change to a new registrar before the term is up at the old one, the new one will generally credit you for whatever amount of time is left at the old registrar, so you don’t lose any money.

WordPress or something else.

I often say that the biggest internet myth is that WordPress is easy. Sure it’s easy for some people, but they are a minority. For most people there is a real learning curve.

The good news is that you don’t have to learn to build a WordPress website to be able to manage one. You can think of it sort of like music. You don’t need to be able to write music, to compose a song or a symphony to be able to play one. If you learn which keys to press on the piano you can play a song without knowing anything about composing.

The same is true for WordPress. You can have someone build a website for you (we can do that) and you can learn to update and maintain it. The WordPress Garden Club is about just that — learning to care for and maintain your WordPress Website.

Hosted websites vs. Self-hosted

One of the things that often confuses people new to WordPress is the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.

WordPress.org is the community supported site. At that site you can download the software and any of the thousands of plug-ins that add functionality to the basic program. You can install a WordPress site at any hosting company. Most of them have a simple process for doing it.

WordPress.com is a hosting company that is set up to host WordPress websites. While it’s easy to get set up with them there are two disadvantages.    If you take advantage of their free hosting you can’t use your own domain name. That means your website address will be YourName.wordpress.com.  As you market yourself you are telling people where to find you. If you ever want to leave WordPress.com your address will change to YourDomainName.com. It’s like moving to a new address without having your mail (or in this case traffic) forwarded to you.  The other drawback about WordPress.com is that you can’t take advantage of one of the best features of WordPress. The features that are available by using plug-ins.

 

How readable is your writing?

hemingway app

How readable is your writing?

 

You  just  have a couple of seconds to grab the reader’s  attention and draw them into your website.  The pressure is on, your posts have to be interesting, search engine friendly, and easy to read. 

The more you work on something the harder it is to be objective about it.  But I recently found an online helper – Hemingway Editor. It’s a great little tool.  Simple, easy to use, and free.

You cut and paste your copy, hit enter and it tells you what the lowest reading grade required to understand it, and thenreadabilityhemingway app color codes grammatical errors. I tested my post, 7 tips for shooting videos – for people who don’t like to see themselves on video. It’s grade 4, has 2 sentences that are hard to read, and 1 that is very hard.  I used passive voice once. It recommended changes, but I left  most of them alone. The app didn’t understand the nuances of my writing. 😉

Hemingway Editor

 

How readable is the type on your website?

 

what is x-heightIs it easy to read?  Is it big enough? Is there enough contrast with the background? What about your line length? The space between lines? The x height? (the height of the lower case letters.) 

You don’t need to know all the jargon – the bottom line – is the size, color, or shape of your type hurting your website.

We’ve all had the experience of leaving a website because it was just to hard to read. It’s easy to get caught up in the design without thinking enough about usability.

A couple of months ago I saw a site with the headlines in a handwritten font. It really worked. It was interesting, created the right feeling, so I tried it on my site.

I thought it looked great, until someone told me it was too hard to read.  

Were they right? It wasn’t my experience , but I don’t think I was totally objective. (I really liked how it looked.) 

But they weren’t really interested in how it looked from a design perspective. They just wanted to be able to read it. 

So I changed my fonts this weekend. 

 THIS IS A SAMPLE