Understanding the technical aspects of website, domain, and email
Confused about things like Domain? URL? Hosting? Maintenance? Email connected to your Domain?
Most of our clients don’t come to us with extensive technical knowledge about setting up the “.com” for their website, or how to get those fancy emails like email@example.com. Don’t fret - we’ve got you covered! To help you get started, we’ve created a blog post to help you understand the difference between all these techy terms, as well as some steps you can take to help jump-start the website design process.
Domain & URL
Let’s start with defining a Domain and a URL. A domain name is a way of identifying a particular space on the world wide web that’s attached to one (or more) IP Addresses (e.g. 123.45.678.90 - the language computers use to talk). It’s usually a word or group of words, followed by a Top Level Domain (TLD) - the last few letters at the end of the domain.
Our domain name is ladymoxiedesign.com
The TLD is .com
A note about “www:” It’ no longer necessary to include www in a domain name. It was an unnecessary prefix that was added during the early days of the web and is not longer needed. It’s actually better not to include it. Read why here.
A URL or Universal/Uniform Resource Locator is just a fancy acronym for the address of a webpage that’s attached to a specific domain.
Example ladymoxiedesign.com/blog would be a URL attached to ladymoxiedesign.com.
If you entered this URL into the search bar of any web browser (i.e. Google, Safari, Internet Explorer) it would take you to our blog page.
Most businesses typically have one domain name and have several URL’s attached to that domain. In our services, we offer custom design of six web pages in our standard website design package (e.g. Home, About Us, Services, Start Here, Contact, & Blog). You may have come across websites that have fewer or more pages than this.
Registrar and Domain Hosting
If you’re setting up a business or even thinking of setting up a business, we recommend that you purchase your domain name(s) RIGHT NOW! In terms of cost, it’s a relatively small investment in order to begin securing a little web-real estate and establishing brand recognition.
How exactly do you purchase a domain?
You first need to find a registrar. “A domain registrar offers services that allow you to pick a domain name and register it to an IP address.” Through the registrar, you’ll pay for your domain name(s) and the IP address that’s attached to that name. The registrar works directly with the international organization that controls the master list of all domain names.
Examples of Registrars: GoDaddy, NameCheap, Bluehost, HostGator
Usually these registrars also offer to host your domain name, or give it a place to live. A host owns servers or DNS (Domain Name Servers) where they hold authority over a set of domains and are therefore the DNS Host. Without a host, your domain name is just an address you bought and doesn’t have a place on the web.
Note: When you go to find a domain name, you may find that it’s not available either because the domain name is already taken, or the registrar your using doesn’t have authority over that domain (but another host does).
Domain Name Jump-Start
Here’s a set of steps to help you get a jumpstart on purchasing a domain (or two):
First and foremost! Do a thorough online scan and see if your business name is already being used. You can use a couple of websites (which may yield different results) to see which domains, social media channels, and even trademarks are available for your business name:
Make sure that all the popular social media channels (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) are available, as well as your desired Domain Name.
If you can’t get the whole kit-n-caboodle, we suggest tweaking your business name, or finding a new name entirely, so that you can maintain brand recognition throughout every platform.
When we began looking, we wanted “Moxie Design” as our business name, but it was already being used by a few different people. Instead, we tweaked the name to include the word “Lady” so we could have the greatest amount of brand recognition across all channels.
We own ladymoxiedesign.com and all our social media handles are @ladymoxiedesign
Once you decide on a name, start creating profiles for all your desired social media channels, and then some. You never know what you may end up using or wanting to use down the road. If you secure them now, no one else can take them!
Next, purchase your domain name.
As mentioned, we love Google Domains and Squarespace Domains and where we suggest our clients start. Both offer easy to use interfaces, include privacy registration in the cost, and are the simplest to connect to the websites we design for our clients.
From these two domain hosts, it’s also relatively easy to get your professional email set up as well, since they offer email hosting. (We know what you’re thinking, “More hosting?” Keep reading…)
If you’re running into problems, it may be that either Google or Squarespace are not the listed registrar for your desired domain, or you’re looking for a premium domain (a super popular name that someone has purchased and is now reselling for top dollar). If that is the case, try going through GoDaddy.com or one of the other domain name registrars listed above.
Consider purchasing more than one Top Level Domain (TLD)
Remember, the TLD is the few letters or the word after the “dot” in your domain name. When it’s available, always purchase the .com as your primary domain name.
Each domain name typically costs around $10-20/year to register (more if the host makes you pay for privacy or if you’re purchasing a premium domain). If you have room in your budget, we suggest purchasing at least two TLDs or two domain names:
Example | 2 TLD’s:
ladymoxiedesign.com & ladymoxiedesign.llc
Example | 2 Domain Names:
ladymoxiedesign.com & ladymoxiedesignllc.com
When in doubt, we recommend purchasing the domain names that allow you to keep your business name (and social media handles) intact.
Example: if ladymoxiedesign.com wasn’t available, we would have purchase ladymoxiedesign.llc and ladymoxiedesing.biz over ladymoxiedesignllc.com.
Store your login and account information is a safe place.
If you’re not quite ready to start that business, that’s okay. Even if you are, make sure to record your username and password you created with the domain registrar. Sometimes, you’re asked to include a secondary email with the registration process as well. Also record when the next payment is due (usually a year from when you first purchased).
We would say the most confusing part for clients is understanding the difference between their domain name, domain hosting, and website hosting.
Just like your domain name needs a server to be visible on the web, your website content also needs a server so that it’s visible to the world. This is where a web host comes in.
When creating a website, most people rely on a Content Management System (CMS). According to Kinsta.com, “A content management system…is software that helps users create, manage, and modify content on a website without the need for specialized technical knowledge,” like writing code.
You’ve probably heard of Wix or Wordpress, right? These are popular CMS systems; our favorite is Squarespace. Once you have created all your content (e.g. uploaded images, written blog posts, created your homepage) on the CMS, you need to have a place to store that content so that it can be seen on the world wide web.
Once your website is ready to go, you need to purchase hosting for your site. Essentially this is space you buy on a web server to store your website files. Without storage, there’s nowhere for your files to be stored and then served out over the web. Many CMS providers include some sort of temporary storage via a server that is connected to their domain name. For example, when we were creating ladymoxiedesign.com, Squarespace loaned us space on the web at ladymoxiedesign.squarespace.com. But this loaning of space was temporary. We had to purchase hosting from a web host. Luckily, Squarespace does this too!
Web Hosting Jump-Start
Interested in creating a website for your business? Go through the ‘domain name jump-start’ section above and then Contact Us and let us know your details!
Professional or Branded Email
So, you’ve purchased your domain(s) and domain hosting, you’ve got a website and web hosting, now how do you get those professional, branded emails that end in your domain name? Here’s where email hosting comes in.
Email hosting is a hosting service which rents out and operates email servers. They usually offer premium services which are different than the free webmail host that you’re already using. According to Techopedia, “These hosting providers cater to more demanding users like…small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that require their own domain name in order to distinguish them more.” In other words, branded email that is attached to that domain name you’ve worked so hard to secure!
If you’ve used either Google Domains or Squarespace to purchase your domain, setting up email will be easy. Google offers email hosting (servers where all your email files get stored) either through their regular gmail services or their professional G Suite service. If you’ve purchased your domains from Google, you can learn how to set up your email here.
We suggest purchasing the ‘custom email with G Suite’ since you’ll get added features such as the ability to add team members, (Growth and scale will be in your goals someday!), as well as access to other G Suite tools such as “Google Drive (file storage and sharing), Hangouts (video meetings and chat), Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and Calendar.”
The simplest way, however, is to go directly through your Squarespace site and set up your G Suite email address. Squarespace is actually partnered with G Suite, so they make the process super easy and streamlined. (See, just another reason to love Squarespace!) For a step-by-step, watch this wonderful video with my design friend, Emilia Ohrtmann (monthly and annual prices have increased since this video was made):
With G Suite, you also have the ability to set up to 30 email aliases per users. For reference, we have two email aliases set up for Lady Moxie Design:
Primary Email Address:
Email aliases are good way to add a general contact email that’s not tied to a specific name or team member. We typically use aliases in the contact information for our clients’ websites and on general brand collateral (e.g. brochures, business cards, flyers). To learn how to set up aliases for your G Suite email address, go here.
You Did It!
Hopefully now you’ve gained a clear understanding between domain, website, and email hosting. Basically, there’s all types of servers out there that store specific types of information; to run a professional business, you’ve got to have all three.