Domain names point towards a particular IP address and they are easier to remember as compared to a number series. It is important to have a domain name before setting up a web site. Web addresses like mywebsite.com is an example of a domain name that is easy to retain.
Now all websites are assigned with a unique IP address which comprises of a series of numbers. E.g. 123.456.78.9. These number series are converted or translated into domain names like mywebsite.com. All domain names are registered in a central registry maintained by InterNIC, a subsidiary of ICANN – the organization which certifies domain name registrars. Domain names are filtered through Domain Name Servers (DNS) which link IP addresses with domain names. Duplicates for each website are created for greater reliability so each website has a primary and secondary DNS.
The first step comprises of actually choosing an appropriate domain name, ideally a name that reflects the nature and purpose of your website. So, if for example you are selling skin care products, a domain name like dermstore.com or skincareessentials.com would suit you best.
When assigning a domain name for your website, only hyphens, letters or numbers are allowed. Moreover, a domain can have 70 characters or less, and it is advisable to keep it as short as possible. The domain names can be in both upper and lower case, and it does not make a difference and both are identical to the DNS.
The most common extension available is .com and is universally known as internet related. Other common extensions include .biz (for commercial sites), .org (for non-commercial organizations), .net (for organizations involved in Internet infrastructure) and .name (for personal names). For more specific appellation .museum, .aero, and .coop are also used by certain organizations. For country specific names, .us (America) and .de (Germany) etc. can also be used.
All domains must be registered with a registrar that has been certified by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). The full list of registrars is available at the InterNIC website (http://www.internic.net/regist.html). The domain name registration services are offered by many web hosts even if they are not registrars themselves.
A domain name registration can be taken for a minimum one year or on a even 10 year registration contract. If you are planning to a long term presence on the internet through your website, it is advisable to take a long registration contract as that will cost much less. You may be also entitled to a decent discount if you are planning to make bulk purchases. You can also transfer all your domain names to the same registrar in order to save money.
After you have decided on the domain name, registering your domain name and selecting the right web host, the second step involves getting all details and information required to set up your website from your web host company. These details could include passwords to get into your account, paths to directories where your files should be uploaded, and most importantly, what your domain name servers are.
Domain name servers (DNS) provide the link between your domain name (mywebsite.com) and your Internet Protocol (IP) address. DNS is necessary for websites operating on shared servers. Domain names are the only way to request these websites – they cannot be requested by IP address.
Your domain name is first registered on the DNS of the registrar. You need to arrange for a web host or else your domain name will be redirected to an error page or an ‘Under Construction’ page by the registrar company. Hence you must open an account with a web host and then transfer your website to their server. Part of the process of preparing your site for publication on the World Wide Web is to alert your domain name registrar of the DNS of your new server.
A DNS configuration looks something like this:
Primary Name Server: NSA.AVAHOST.NET (126.96.36.199)
Secondary Name Server: NSB.AVAHOST.NET(188.8.131.52)
It is important to retain this information and will be made available to you by your hosting company. The DNS information can be entered into your account on the website of your registrar.
Domain names are registered in a distributed data base that is maintained on thousands of computers around the world, so when the DNS is modified or registered it can take up to 24 hours for your website to become accessible around the world.
After setting up the DNS and opening a web host account, you need to upload your web pages. This is usually don’t by using the FTP (File Transfer Protocol) software. FTP is an Internet Protocol (like HTTP) that allows data files to be transferred from one computer to another. Further information on this can be received by your web host. FTP software such as WS_FTP or FileZilla is usually used to connect to the FTP server on your website. The address of the FTP server is usually ftp.mywebsite.com (where mywebsite.com is the domain name).
Your account will essentially consist of two main folders in the root directory – public_html and www. Your web pages should be uploaded to the public_html folder. The www folder is for people to access your website.
In order to upload files correctly, it is important to reset your FTP software. For example, if you are using a firewall on your computer you should set the transfer method to passive. If you are using a proxy you will have to adjust the proxy settings.
Files can be sent or received in either binary or ASCII mode. The mode of transfer may be determined by your FTP software by ascertaining the content of the file. However, if this option is unavailable, you need to manually select the correct transfer mode. Files that should be sent in ASCII mode include HTML (and variants like HTM, SHTML, DHTML, etc.) TXT, CGI, C, ASP, JS etc. Any file that can be viewed by the text editor, editor should be transferred in ASCII mode. Binary mode is used to transfer everything else – graphics, compiled programs, and media files.
Using the FTP software, you need to connect to the web server. Select the folder where you will be uploading the files, and then find the local files that need to be uploaded.
The home page can be accessed by typing http://mywebsite.com or http://mywebsite.com/index.htm. There is one essential file in each directory – index.html or a variant (index.htm, index.shtml etc. Without an index file in each directory, anybody who browses to that directory can see all the files there. This could prove to be a security risk as private information is made available to the public.
Besides using FTP method to transfer files, web authoring packages have built in transfer methods to automatically upload your entire site or individual pages like Microsoft FrontPage. However, you need to have FrontPage extensions installed on your website in order to make use of this method and can be provided by our web host company.
You also have the option of building your website online. Browser controlled software; usually provided by your web host will help you to lay out web pages. The pages are then saved to the appropriate location on your server. Your hosting account will give you access to the web builder through the control panel in your account.