Welcome to our new Web Basics series. We’re creating this series because we’ve come to realise a lot of people are struggling to understand the jargon, costs, and setup of websites and online marketing. We want to help de-mystify these things so that you can better understand what’s involved, which will make you more confident moving forward – whether that is to set up things yourself, or in talking to developers and consultants.

To start, we’re going to look at domain names and web hosting.

Both of these items are essential to having a website. They are both also recurring costs, which means they will need to be paid on a regular basis in order to keep your website up and running.

Domain Names

The domain name is basically the address of your website. It’s what you type in (or click on) to get to a website. It’s your “dot com”. For example, our domain name at Impressence Web Studios is www.impressence.com.au – although the www part is not usually necessary these days.

Your domain name operates just like the address to your home does. When people want to visit you (or send you mail) they need to know your address, which is usually something like 123 Awesome Street, Coolsville NSW 1234.

So in order to visit your online home (i.e. your website), people need to enter your web address – which is your domain name.

Domain names are also needed if you want a professional email address for your business – for example, if you want to have info@coolhomes.com instead of a generic coolhomes@gmail.com.

Domain names are paid yearly and range from about $15 to $30 per month, depending on the type of domain address (e.g. .com vs .com.au vs .biz). 

What happens if I don’t renew my domain name?

If you don’t renew your domain name (your web address) before it comes due, then:

  1. Your emails and website will stop functioning. People will get an error message when they try to visit your website, and your emails will bounce back to the sender. Your website still exists, but no one will be able to get to it.
  2. Your domain name goes back on the market. That means someone else could buy your domain name. This could be a HUGE disaster. Some organisations buy up domain names with the intent of selling them at high prices. Or someone else could benefit from your already established domain name. If a competitor bought your domain name, suddenly all your customers could be going to their website instead of your own!

So, it might not seem like a big deal, but when your domain name comes up for renewal, don’t waste time paying the bill!

Web Hosting

Web hosting is literally space on a server – a server being a computer. This is the place where your website will live – or more specifically, where the code for your website lives. So when you have a website – that is, all those pages with images and content – that is where those pages of content reside.

Think of Web Hosting like a house. A house is where you live. Your Web Hosting is where your website lives. Then, your domain name – it being your address – is what you put on your front door so that your visitors can find where you live.

There are thousands of web hosting companies out there with various hosting packages for different needs. Not all web hosting is created equal, and the kind of hosting you need will depend on the size of your website, and the volume and kinds of traffic your website receives. (We will look more closely at hosting in a subsequent tutorial.)

Web hosting is usually paid monthly or yearly and can start as low as $5 per month and range upwards of $100 per month – again, this depends on the needs of your website. Most small businesses can expect to pay about $20 per month for good hosting.

What happens if I don’t renew my web hosting?

It depends how long you leave it before renewing. The details will be in your hosting agreement, but if you don’t pay within a certain amount of time, you’ll lose all information stored on your hosting account. That means your email and all your website information.

If we think of it in terms of the house analogy, it’s like the landlord throwing out all your furniture and personal belongings, and locking you out of the house.

If someone tries to visit your website via your domain name (which, let’s assume, is still registered), they will arrive at a “nobody’s home” kind of message. It’d be like your friends coming to your house to visit you, but finding it empty.

So if you don’t want to lose your website and content that you’ve paid good money for, don’t let your web hosting lapse!

In Summary

Having a website means having both Web Hosting and a Domain Name. The website lives on the Web Host, and your Domain Name is the address for your website. Both Web Hosting and Domain Names are a recurring cost and will need to be renewed on a regular basis.