Your domain name, hosting account, and professional email are crucial components to launching your business website. What the heck does all that mean?
I’m not going to teach you how to access your zone file in GoDaddy, setup your email by updating your MX Records to point to Google Apps, and then point your IP address to WPEngine for hosting, making sure your DNS remains there with GoDaddy.
What I am going to teach you is what the heck that sentence means.
There are 3 main things you want to make sure are accounted for when setting up a new website — in a way, you’re deciding where these things will live. These 3 things are the domain, the hosting, and the email**. There are more things that you may want to set up, eventually, but these are 3 main things that will need to be addressed when you launch a website, and I’m going to try to help you make sense of these.
**I assume you are creating a website to have some kind of professional presence online — and you don’t want to give out the personal email you’ve had since you were 16 to the general public. That’s why email is included on this list. If you don’t care, then feel free to ignore the email part. But seriously, it’s worth considering if you’re going to the trouble of getting a new website made.
Domain Names, Hosting, Email, Oh My!
It all starts with your domain name. Say you decide you want your website to be www.donutsforever.com. You very likely went to GoDaddy and purchased www.donutsforever.com. Now, what you just purchased, for the cost of about $15 per year, is a name. That’s it. You own that domain name. Great job!
Once your website is ready to launch (after hiring Website Muscle to build your site and approving the final product, but before the final steps of “going live!”) we’re ready to host the website somewhere.
Hosting is how you connect a website design, and all of the pages and content, to display on your domain name. The hosting company “hosts” all of your website content. It is where your website lives. You will pay a hosting company for this service, which typically costs around $10 – $30 per month.*
*We recommend WPEngine for any sites built on WordPress. They use built-in malware prevention technology, have one-click backups, and have a great customer service team. They will keep your WordPress site secure!
To connect your domain name to the website files (which again, are in your hosting account), you (or your developer) will simply change the IP address within GoDaddy. This means you “point” your domain name to the hosting account you choose.
Ta-da! The domain name and hosting account are connected, and your website is live on the internet.
Now that you have your awesome and professional website set up, you want people to be able to email you at firstname.lastname@example.org (omg, I really want that domain name now).
So how does that work?
This is also a matter of making some changes within GoDaddy. GoDaddy’s zone file is where you connect your domain name with all kinds of things (it’s where we changed the IP address to connect your domain name to the hosting account, remember?) It’s also where we will connect your domain name to an email service.
First, you’ll choose your email service (typically Outlook or Google Apps). Google Apps is very popular because of its affordability ($5/month) and ease of use — it’s exactly the same as using a Gmail account. So basically, you sign up for one of these services, tell them you want to use email@example.com, and then connect your domain name to that email service.
This is done through MX records. I don’t know what MX stands for. It doesn’t matter. (Okay, it stands for Mail Exchanger. I knew that! Don’t argue.)
All you need to know is that by changing the MX Records in GoDaddy, you are telling GoDaddy to point your domain name to your Google Apps account, and that’s how they get connected.
That’s about it. I didn’t include every detail, and there are some smaller steps that might need to happen to get these things going. This was on purpose. You don’t need to know every detail. (If you do, just call me, I’ll walk you through it.) In the end, now you’ll have a basic understanding of what the heck is going on with a website, which will make your website interactions easier in the future.
So, a final recap:
Domain Name: the name of your website. It costs around $15 per year to own.
Hosting Account: where your actual website lives. All of the files, design, photos, text, everything — it’s all housed in your hosting account. This costs around $10 – $30 per month.
IP Address: what you change in your domain name account, so that it’s pointed to your hosting account. Once this is done, your website will be live on the internet.
MX Records: what you change in your domain name account so that you can use an email address @yourdomain.com.
Zone File: what you click in your domain name account in order to make these changes.
Finally, a quick word on GoDaddy. I used their name a lot in this post, didn’t I? That’s because I want you to use them for your domain name. I don’t want you to host your website with them, but I want you to buy your domain name from them.
They do offer hosting. And email. And tons of other stuff. Most of it is pretty junky. Except for domain names. They do domain names better than anyone else, I promise.
That zone file thing, where you make those little changes to make your website live and make your email work — that can be really difficult with other domain name companies. It’s suuuuper frustrating! But not with GoDaddy. Use them. Please. And if you call them, they will answer the phone and help you. The companies where you buy your domain name for $1? They won’t help you. They won’t.
GoDaddy = Domain Names. Period.
Thanks for reading, and please let us know if you have any questions at all!