To get your site on the internet you're going to need some web space. For most people, and certainly beginners, this means something called Shared Hosting. What you're basically doing here is renting a folder on somebody else's server. That "somebody else" will be a Web Hosting company who either own the servers themselves or are acting as a middleman for the company that owns the server (called a reseller).
The size of the folder you get on the server will vary, but is typically between 500 megabytes to a Gigabyte. This is usually more than enough. In fact, 100 megabytes is usually more than enough. If, for example, each web page on your site is 10 kilobytes, a 100 megabytes means that you will have room for about 10, 000 pages.
In this section, we'll take a look at some for the things you need to look out for when signing up for Shared Web Hosing. First, we'll take a look at domain names.
As far as web sites go, a Domain Name is the bit after the www in your address bar, followed by an ending, such as .com, .co.uk, etc. When signing up with a Web Host they'll usually let you register a domain name with them. It's up to you to come up with a name, though. You can register any name you like, unless someone else has already taken it. It's pretty much "first come first served". You have to be careful not to tread on someone's trademark, though, as you'll quickly find yourself in hot water if you register something like www.megcorp-helplines4u.com, where megacorp is the name of a giant company like Apple or Microsoft.
Whether to go for a .com or a .co.uk ending (or any other country ending) is something you'll also need to decide. If your business is international in nature, or your site can be used by anyone in the world, go for a .com ending to your domain name. If your customers are going to be local to your own country, then get a country domain ending (.co.uk, for example). One thing to be aware of, though, is that the .com domain is to all intents and purposes an American domain. This means the authorities can and will shut your web site down if you break laws in the USA. (This also applies to domains ending in .org and .net.)
Other common domain ending to consider are .org, .net, .eu, and a whole host of others. (To confuse the situation even more, though, there will be a lot more domain endings to choose from. This is because an organisation called ICANN is allowing people to register their own domain endings, such as .learn, .learning, .learner. You'd need deep pockets, however, as the price is $150, 000 per ending.) To save yourself from bankruptcy, however, it's probably better to just buy a few endings. For example, if you were selling black widgets, you could go for blackwidgets.com and blackwidgets.co.uk. The fees involved vary, but shouldn't set you back too much. But remember: you have to renew your domain names every year or two, which means paying again. If you forget to renew a domain name then it goes on the open market and anyone can buy it.
One more thing to consider is singular and plurals. In our example above, if we register the domain name blackwidgets.com somebody else can come along and register the singular version, blackwidget.com. You can complain to an organisation called ICANN, who oversee the .com ending, but it would take a while to resolve, and your business could be damaged before a decision is reached. To defend against this, you'd need to register the singular as well as the plural for your domain name, if this applies.
In the next lesson, you'll learn how to buy some web space.