This guide describes how to register a domain (www.yourshop.com) and set up a web-hosting server for under 35 euros. The terminology used is technical in places, but overall it’s a pretty simple thing that we hope this guide will empower you to use.
Having your own website, hosted at a good web address, is a great way to build your brand and your online presence. It can be done quite cheaply, or with the help of experts. Either way, you can use it to find new customers, and promote your products and services. Using something like WordPress allows you to edit site content and ensure that online information remains interesting and up-to-date.
These PowerPoint slides from the first workshop may also help by putting this article into a broader context. (It also includes a couple of slides at the end showing how to customize the site’s icon using a Favicon.)
1. Buy a web address (register a domain name)
There are many places where you can buy your web address. Two of the most popular are www.godaddy.com and www.namecheap.com. Both allow you to register the most common types of web addresses like “.com”. For specific domain name extensions like “.fi”, you need to find a more specialized domain registration service. Some TLD’s (Top Level Domains, or domain-types) may have special requirements, but most are simply a case of being first! (Finding a catchy web address that isn’t already taken can be time time consuming.) You could try newer TLD’s like “.io”, or “.eu” if the “.com” or “.fi” that you want is already taken.
Once you have found an available web address for a price you like (a “.com” should cost you about 5eur/year), purchase it. At the time of purchase, you may want to use an anonymization service to hide your personal information (just tick the box during the NameCheap check-out process to enable it for no extra cost). It’s always a good idea to minimize the amount of personal information you reveal online.
Complete the purchase of your web address (domain name) and continue on to the next step.
2. Select a web host & create an account
Now that you have a web address, we need a web server account to host your website. There are many hosting services available, with a wide variety of features and pricings. We recommend MivoCloud as a very good value hosting service. Their basic package is plenty for most needs and costs only 25eur/yr. (We’re using it to host this website.)
To purchase the web hosting package, visit www.mivocloud.com and click “Web” from the top menu. Then choose the 3GB SSD Shared Hosting package and complete the check-out process.
3. Configure the Domain Name Server (DNS)
Now that we have the two essential components (a web address, and a web server), we need to tell the internet where to find the web server when users enter our new web address into their browser. This information is stored at the domain registrar in the name server configuration.
Set the name server by logging in to the place where you bought the domain name (e.g. www.namecheap.com) and clicking the “Manage” link in the domain name settings.
Change the name servers to “Custom DNS” using the drop-down menu. Enter the name server configuration for the web hosting account (e.g. www.mivocloud.com). You can find the name server details in your purchase confirmation email from the web host. Enter 2 or 3 lines for the domain name servers into the settings. The custom name servers for MivoCloud (from your confirmation email) will be something like “ns3.mivocloud.com” and “ns4.mivocloud.com”. Make sure that you click “Save”.
Once you have set the custom name servers you should receive a notification at the top of the page. It warns you that the update “may take up to 48 hours to take effect”. In my experience, it usually takes under 15 minutes. You will know when it has taken effect because you will see a blank page when you try to visit www.yourdomain.com instead of the NameCheap page.
Now that you have purchased your domain, purchased a web hosting service, and configured the name servers so that your web address resolves to the hosting servers, you are ready to continue to Part 2 where go through installing WordPress.
Additionally, you may want to set up your email addresses and email clients. If your business relies heavily on email, you may want to host an email service with a 3rd party like Google (e.g. Google GSuite) or Microsoft (Microsoft Exchange email). In the meantime, you can always use the MivoCloud hosting for your email services. Be sure to use the secure authentication (enable SSL), as described in the next How-To.
Congratulations! You now have your own domain name and a place to host your website.