How to Put Your Website Online


Have you been wondering how a website goes online? Wonder no more because after reading this, you will be surprised at how easy it is. Now, putting a website online is also referred to as web hosting and involves three simple steps:

  1. Getting a domain name
  2. Securing hosting space
  3. Transferring files

To make things even simpler, let us compare putting a website online to starting a small business. Before you start selling, you need to find a suitable location for your business, rent a stall and stock it with your products. We shall compare finding a suitable location to getting a domain name, renting a stall to securing hosting space and stocking to transferring files. Let us start with getting a domain name.

Getting a Domain Name (Finding a Suitable Location)


You can start your small business at any suitable location in the world. In like manner, you can host your website at any suitable location on the internet or World Wide Web (WWW). And like locations in the world have addresses, locations on the World Wide Web have addresses too, referred to as web addresses. Your customers will need the address of your small business and so will any internet user need your web address to visit your website.

All web addresses begin with the letters www. followed by what is called a domain name. For example, the web address of this site is www.gathiuwangari.com; therefore, its domain name is gathiuwangari.com. The domain name is further broken down into a name and a suffix. Here, the name is gathiuwangari and the suffix is .com.

It is important to choose an appropriate name and suffix for your domain name, just as you would choose an appropriate location for your small business. Here are a few factors to consider.

Factors to consider for an appropriate name

  • The name should be descriptive. It should resemble your business name.
  • The name should be easy to remember. Avoid names that are so long that users will find them hard to remember or too long to type in. For example, the name of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology’s domain is simply jkuat (their web address is www.jkuat.ac.ke).
  • You might also like to check that the name of your site is not very similar to that of someone you would not want to be associated with, just in case the user mistypes the web address.

Choosing an appropriate suffix

The suffix is also known as the Top Level Domain, abbreviated TLD. The most common one is .com, but there are several other TLDs available. Most importantly, you should understand what a Top Level Domain is meant for before choosing it. Below is a list of some more common TLDs and what they are used for.

.com

Stands for commercial. It is used for any commercial website and is generally accepted as the standard for all TLDs. Therefore, you can use it for your domain name regardless of what your website is about.

.org

Stands for organization. It is used for non-profit-making organizations, personal sites, open-source projects, etc. It is suitable for any non-commercial website.

.net

Stands for network. Used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or as a substitute for .com. If you cannot register your domain name with the suffix .com (because it is taken) try using .net.

.info

Stands for information. Used for informational websites.

You can find the full list of internet Top Level Domains at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Internet_top-level_domains

There are also country specific domain suffixes such as .ke for Kenya, .co.uk for the UK, .de for Germany and .ru for Russsia. You should choose a country-specific domain only if you are based in that country. Below is a list of some .ke Top Level Domains and what they are used for. Some of them are restricted (they require supporting documents).

.co.ke

For companies

.or.ke

For non-profit-making organizations or Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

.ac.ke

For institutions of higher education. Requires supporting documents.

The Kenya Network Information Centre (KENIC) will require either a copy of the Certificate of Registration from the relevant Ministry, a copy of the College Charter or a copy of the Act of Parliament that was passed to establish the institution. The documents MUST bear the name of the Entity. The document should classify the entity as a Tertiary Institution: Polytechnic, Technical Institute, College or University.

.sc.ke

For lower and middle institutions of learning. Requires supporting documents.

KENIC will require a copy of the Certificate of Registration from the Ministry of Education. The document MUST also bear the name of the Entity. The document should classify the Entity as a Kindergarten, Primary or Secondary School.

.me.ke

For personal names. Suitable for personal websites.

.info.ke

For information.

You can find these and a few more .ke Top Level Domains at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.ke

Registering you domain

So now you know where you want to be located on the World Wide Web. What next? You need to register for that location so that nobody else will take it. And like most registrations, you pay to get registered. And like some registrations, you renew your registration after a certain period of time. How much you pay and how often you pay depends on whoever registers you. Also, some Top Level Domains are more expensive than others. The cheaper ones (most of which we have discussed above) go for about Ksh. 1, 000 per year.

Domain name registration is done by domain name registration companies. One such company is Kenya Website Experts, which Gathiu Wangari registered this domain name with. Otherwise, there are hundreds of domain name registration companies available on the internet.

Each of these companies' websites has a form which allows you to search if your domain name is available. If it is taken, consider changing the name or the suffix, just as you would find another location for your small business if the location you desired to place it is already occupied. All the best as you search!

You now have your domain name ready. Comparatively, you have found a suitable location for your small business. But you cannot start selling yet. You still need to rent a stall and stock it with your products.

Securing Hosting Space (Renting a Stall)


You have already found a suitable location for your small business. What you need now it to rent a stall (in which you will stock your products) from a trusted renter. View the stall as the hosting space, the products as the website you want to put online and the renter as the web hosting company.

NOTE: Most domain name registration companies also offer web hosting, and so does Kenya Website Experts.

Obviously, the size of the stall you need depends on how much products you want to stock. In like manner, the amount of hosting space you need depends on how big your website is. If, for the sake of an example, your website has a size of 500MB, you may as well need a hosting space of 500MB. However, you will want a much bigger hosting space to provide room for expansion.

Now to the cost. The bigger the stall, the more the rent you pay and the bigger the hosting space, the higher the web hosting charges. You will also be required to pay tax for your small business depending on how much you sell. More sales will mean more tax. Web hosting companies also ‘tax’ you depending on how much content the world retrieves from your website. Hence, the more people visit your website, the more your web hosting charges rise. But that is not something to worry about because the same people will become your customers and you will earn more than enough to fund your hosting charges.

Web hosting companies measure the amount of content retrieved form your website using what is called bandwidth. Bandwidth is the total amount of content retrieved from your website expressed in data form. For example, if a user views two pages of your website, with each page having a size of 75KB, we say that he/she has used a bandwidth of 150KB. Likewise, if your website gets about 1000 visitors per month, with each visitor using about 1MB of bandwidth, you will need at least 1000MB (or 1GB) of bandwidth per month.

Unlike paying taxes for your small business, which you do after doing business for a certain period of time, you pay for bandwidth before it is used. The tricky part of deciding how much you will need is to judge how successful your site will be. You can never predict how popular your site will be, and if it is mentioned in a popular newspaper or magazine, it can suddenly gain a lot more traffic. Most hosting companies will charge you an extra fee if you exceed the bandwidth allocated on your account, and their site will usually tell you how much bandwidth you have used in a month.

Rent and tax are usually scheduled to be paid either monthly or yearly, and so will you pay for hosting space and bandwidth. For example, Kenya Website Experts sold a secure disk space/hosting space of 30GB with a bandwidth/web traffic of 300GB at Ksh. 2, 100 per year, during the time of this writing.

And there we have secured hosting space! What is left now is to transfer our website into that hosting space and go live.

Transferring Files (Stocking)


To start selling at your small business, all you need to do now is to transfer your products into the stall. Likewise, for people to start viewing your website online, all you need to do now is to transfer all the files that make up your website into the hosting space.

When you secure hosting space with a web hosting company, they offer you an online control panel which you use to manage your site. It is from this control panel that you upload all the files that make up your website to your hosting space, just as you would upload a picture on Facebook. However, this can be a little technical depending on the complexity of your website.

Once you have transferred all the files that make up your website to your hosting space, it’s Christmas! Anyone with your web address can now view your website. And now that your website is online, you may want to read this article on how to get as many people as possible visiting your website.

The process of putting a website online can be quite some work and you might be a little busy for it. So, when Gathiu Wangari builds you a website, he hosts it for you for free provided you pay the hosting charges at your web hosting company of choice.