Going Live – How to Get Your Website Online

get your website online

In some cases, if you are using a site builder like Wix or Squarespace, these steps may be automated for you.

Get a Domain Name

Selecting your domain name has become an art. You want to find a domain name that no one else is using, but also describes your site in an SEO-friendly way. There are some online tools to help you brainstorm domain names and see if they are taken or not. I like to check more than one because they use different software and

There are many companies who sell domain names. Some of them also offer to host your website for you. Getting both domain name and hosting can from the same company can save you some technical troubles. Shopping around for the best deal on each can save you some money.

Find a Web Host

Some things you need to consider when looking for a web host are how much space they allow for your website. If you have a lot of video or images you will need enough space to store them. Some hosts will allow you more access to the server than others. If you plan on using advanced software you (or your web developer) may need command line access. Simple site builders included in some hosting plans can give you a quick and professional looking website, but they may have limits to how many pages you can create before paying additional fees, so be sure to read the fine print.

  • GoDaddy (6%)
  • Amazon AWS (5.8%)
  • Google Cloud (3%)
  • Hetzner (2.9%)
  • DigitalOcean (2.2%)
  • Shopify (2.1%)
  • HostGator (1.9%)
  • WP Engine (1.8%)
  • SquareSpace (1.6%)
  • Bluehost (1.4%)
  • DreamHost (1.0%)

(stats from https://websitesetup.org/news/web-hosting-statistics/)

Installing Software

Many web hosting companies offer “one-click installation” for major website software like WordPress and many other frameworks that can build your website for you. These installations are very easy and you should not be afraid to do-it-yourself.

In some cases, you may need to install your software form the command line of your server. This is a more difficult task, but can be done quickly and easily by an experienced web developer. It should not cost you very much to simply install software. High costs usually come from developing custom templates or custom software for your website.

Pointing Your Domain Name to Your Website

DNS stands for “Domain Name Service”. DNS is like a giant database of domain names that maps out where to find a domain. It can take up to 48 hours for these records to be updated after you make a change, so don’t put this off until the last moment. If you buy a domain name from GoDaddy and host your site with them too, then they will manage the DNS automatically. This is generally the case with most web hosting companies.

There are places that offer discounts on domain names, but don’t offer hosting to go with them. If you fell comfortable setting your own DNS then you can pick the best deal on registering your domain name and host your website somewhere else.

About the author


Karen Freeman-Smith currently makes a full-time living from a small portfolio of websites. She has 25+ years of experience in programming and web development for companies like Lockheed Martin, PBS, Daimler and many others. She has a BS in IT with a minor in Business Systems Analysis. Karen lives near Portland, OR with her partner, two grown children (in and out of the basement), and a cats: Havoc and Shiva.

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