In order for people to see your website, you need to place it somewhere that has access to and from the Internet and is able to 'serve' the pages of the site to the web browsers used by visitors on their mobiles, tablets and computers. Most individuals and small businesses do not have the setup necessary to do this for themselves and so need someone who can provide and maintain this service. This is where the Web Host comes in.
A Web Host provides both storage and Internet access in much the same way as a warehousing distribution centre provides storage and access to transport links for goods.
Server farms are huge data warehouses which hold servers hosting thousands of websites, email systems and other services.
A web browser uses the Domain Name to resolve the IP Address and then connects to the server which also uses the Domain Name to locate the required website.
Using a professional email address creates a better impression with your customers - like wearing a suit instead of a t-shirt!
In the same way as a distribution centre handles goods from multiple sources, a Web Host handles websites for multiple clients. In both cases, costs are kept down by the scale of the operation.
Just as several businesses might share a sub-divided warehouse, several (in fact, many) websites can share a single hosting server. Again, this keeps costs down.
When you type a website address into your web browser, the first thing it does is to 'resolve' the domain name into the corresponding IP Address. The browser then sends a request to that IP Address, along with the domain name. Much as the physical address and company name is used to identify a warehouse unit, the IP Address and Domain Name are used by the Web Host to identify the required website on a shared server.
One of the additional services that can offered by a Web Host is Email. This allows you to have professional looking email addresses, such as: 'firstname.lastname@example.org' rather than the somewhat less convincing 'email@example.com'.
Lack of a professional email address is one of the biggest giveaways that you are dealing with an individual rather than an organisation. It can also be a disincentive for prospective customers.
It's rather like the difference between turning up for a job interview dressed in ripped jeans and a t-shirt rather than a smart suit and tie. It may be the same person inside, but the impression created in the mind of the interviewer is completely different.
One of the other advantages with having your own email service is that it makes generic addresses, such as 'firstname.lastname@example.org' possible. The email system can be set to automatically route such messages to one or more real individuals for attention.
Just as in the physical world where the size of the warehouse unit you rent depends on the amount of goods to be stored and the amount of traffic generated, the same applies to web hosting where the service packages on offer will differ according to the amount of data to be stored and the amount of web traffic that will be generated.
It is always better to slightly over-estimate rather than the other way as the charges for exceeding your storage allowance or traffic levels can be quite significant.
Equally, if visitors can't reach your website because it's too busy or you don't receive an important email because your mailbox is full, you could lose out on important business opportunities.
If you want to know more, then take a look at the other pages on this site. If you want to do more and have your own domain name and a professional web presence to showcase your business, but without the hassle of dealing with the 'techie' bits, then get in touch now to see how we can help.