Set up a web address and a place on the internet for your website
1. Register a domain name
A domain name is a unique website address. Some examples of domain names are coderdojo.nz, google.com, youtube.com, trademe.co.nz, wikipedia.org.
The letters that appear after the last dot are called the Top Level Domain (TLD). The most common TLD is .com (com for commercial). Other common TLDs are .net (net for network) and .org (org for organisation). There are also country specific TLDs e.g. .nz for New Zealand, .uk for United Kingdom, .au for Australia, .jp for Japan.
Watch this video to help you understand more about domain names:
Usually you have to pay a fee to a domain registrar to register a domain name. You can only register a unique domain name that no one has registered before so you have to check if the domain that you want is available, i.e. not registered by someone else.
You can register a domain name for free at: www.freenom.com. Note that domain name with the common TLDs such as .com or .nz are not available for free. The free domain names that are currently available have the TLDs as .tk, .ml, .ga, .cf and .gq.
2. Sign up for a website hosting service
Websites are hosted, or stored, on special computers called servers. These servers are always connected to the internet so that your website is always available on the internet.
Usually you have to pay a monthly fee for a service to host your website. This is like renting a space for your website on the internet. There are some free web hosting services available which are probably not reliable enough for an important website such as a business website but perfectly fine for our purposes.
If you are confused by domain names and website hosting watch this video to help you understand:
You can set up free web hosting at www.awardspace.com.
3. Point your domain name to your web hosting service
To do this you will need to set the nameservers for your domain. Nameservers are special computers (servers) that convert the user-friendly domain names that we use into a string of numbers that the computer actually uses called an IP address. This system of converting IP addresses to more user-friendly names is called the Domain Name System (DNS). See this video to learn more about IP addresses, DNS and nameservers:
Aidan will show you how you set the nameservers for your domain name.
NOTE: Note that when you make changes to nameservers it takes some time for the settings to take effect. This is because the information about your nameservers needs to spread to other servers all over the internet. Sometimes it can take many hours, sometimes it can just be a matter of minutes, about one hour is pretty typical. Since this step will take an unknown amount of time, you could stop here and start working on something else and come back to it later to test if the settings have taken effect.
4. Get started on making your website
- Create an index page (index.html) for your website. This is the home page of your website – the page that appears when you type in the domain name and nothing after it. You can use Notepad, a very simple text editor to make your index.html page. Just start with something very simple for testing purposes.
- Upload your index page to your website
- Test that your website is working. The settings for your web address may not be ready yet if you are just after setting the nameservers – see the note in step 3.
- Now you should have a domain name and a place on the internet to put your website. Next steps will be to start planning and then build your website.