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What is required to create a website? On hostings, domains, CMS

What is required to create a website?
Nastya Kuznetsova
Content manager

If you are not a developer, and you don’t want to go to a studio — it’s expensive and unintuitive, you want a simple website after all — you can do it by yourself using a sitebuilder or CMS. The first option is easier, the second one is better.

A sitebuilder is software that allows you to create a website from scratch using pre-made blocks. You don’t need to know anything about programming to use those: JS, HTTPS, Angular... what? Don’t bother. It sounds cool but site builders’ functionality is fairly restricted, especially the free ones’. Original design, additional settings, new plugins — you won’t find these things in a site builders. Even a professional developer will shrug and say «should’a used CMS».

We recommend CMS as well. What is it? It’s a website’s engine or a content managing system. So basically it’s a piece of software that helps you add, change and delete the website’s content: separate texts, images, whole pages, and plugins, analytics, for example. It’s a bit harder to figure CMS out rather than just use a website builder. On the other hand, it’s much easier to make changes to a website, even for a developer.

The most popular CMS is WordPress. It has lots of pre-made themes that are also sometimes called templates. These are blank websites, starter-kit of pages with a particular design. They can be either free or paid, very basic or beautiful, general or tailored to websites of certain subjects. With a premade theme, you can create a website in no time.

So, how to create a website by yourself? You’re gonna need: CMS, themes for CMS, hosting, a domain, and a hosting control panel.

Hosting is a place on a server where your website will be stored. Theoretically, you can store a website on a desktop, but it’s not safe and not serious. You need your PC to be at least always on. If you order a server from a hosting provider, it will be supplied with uninterruptible power and a fast internet connection. You can also add DDoS protection. They got it all covered.

A website also needs a domain. It’s an address that people are going to use to open your website. Type it into the browser address bar and voila! If a website doesn’t have a domain, it can be opened by IP-address. That is a long set of numbers, your clients will hardly ever remember it. But when it comes to a domain, you can choose a short and memorable one, like youtube.com or our vepp.com. You also can’t install an SSL-certificate without a domain, so your website won’t be protected.

More details on IP-addresses, technical domains, and DNS. It will prove useful when you assign a domain to your website and configure an email ↓

IP-address is also your desktop’s address on the internet, just like a domain. A classic IP-address looks like 4 numbers divided by dots: 185.60.134.89 and is called IPv4. But there are only about 4.2 billion of those. So the new ones were created — IPv6. Now everyone is slowly transferring to them. Don’t be surprised if you see an IP with colons like this one: 2001:db8:6:56::53

We told you, that a website without a domain can be opened by an IP-address — that was a little lie. Oftentimes an IP-address is a general address of the whole server. And there are probably many other websites on the server apart from yours. Enter the IP-address in the address bar and some other website will open — the first one on the server. That’s why you need a domain, but at first, you can get by with a technical one.

A technical domain is basically an ugly one. Usually, a temporary one as well, because you’d be ashamed to show it to the public. For example, domain.hostingname.com, horrible, isn’t it? There is «hostingname» in the example because oftentimes you get a technical domain from your lovely hosting provider for free.

If you don’t have a basic domain, you can use a technical one at first. But once you buy a normal domain, you’re gonna need to assign it to your website. Basically, establish the information that «this IP = this domain» in the domain name system. Yes, one IP often coincides with several domains but that doesn’t prevent the internet from choosing the right one once a user requests it.

DNS is a domain name system. All the information about domains is stored here. This system looks like lots and lots of servers, routers and communication centers. Every domain registrar has its own DNS-servers (or name servers).

A domain registrar is a company that sells domain names. You can find out who your registrator is here: Whois. How registrars work: you choose an unoccupied name, pay for a certain time and then use your new domain, until you stop paying. Now you only need to create resource records on the name registrar’s servers so that your website could be opened via its domain.

Resource records or DNS-records contain information about the domain and are located on the name servers. Every record holds its own important info.

A-record is a DNS resource record that holds the information about the domain’s connection to the IP-address. It has a subtype called AAAA-record, which is used with the new IPv6. You are going to need such records to assign a domain to a website.
— How to assign domain to hosting through your registrar

MX-record is a DNS resource record that holds the info about the connection between the email domain and the email server. You’re gonna need this one to configure an email on your domain.
— How to configure mail server in Vepp and make it work

NS-record is a DNS resource record that holds the info about your name server. The easiest way is to just leave the domain registrar’s name server. But if you want to work with domains from the control panel, you’re gonna have to enter your hosting provider’s name server. Or specify your IP and turn your own server into a name server (but it’s not as reliable and few registrators give such an opportunity).

Now we only need to find out what a hosting control panel is. From its very name you can guess that it’s a program that helps to manage a hosting and a website located on it. Or websites.

You have to be a web admin to create a website without a control panel’s help. It depends on the panel but usually, you need to have some administrative skills to create a website using one, and sometimes you don’t.

We recommend Vepp. It’s a very user-friendly panel, which will become a server’s administrator for you. You can create a WordPress website using Vepp in just three clicks, assign a domain to it, install an SSL-certificate, and configure an email. You can also upload a pre-made website to manage it in a simple and clear interface — no unnecessary trouble.

Vepp works with three types of hostings: the virtual and the dedicated ones, the instance from a hyperscaler. More on all types of hostings

I maked it! Actually, you didn’t

If you got yourself a hosting, a domain and created a website from some CMS template — congratulations. Now you’re a proud website owner. Save for it’s still blank and useless. There is a lot of work ahead if you want it to look decent and bring you money. To begin with, fill it with content and start promoting it. What do you need to know to do that?

SSL-certificate is a protocol for a safe connection between your website and a visiting person’s browser. SSL encrypts all the transmitted information. If a visitor enters their private information on your website (a bank card’s number or a CVC-code, for example), encryption will save them from hackers. Even the free Let’s Encrypt SSL-certificates are capable of this. The paid ones can also tell a visitor that the website is genuine and it belongs to a certain organization. The message depends on the certificate’s type and the thoroughness with which you are going to be checked to find out whether you deserve it or not.

Reserve copies or backups are precautions that never hurt. You can restore your website from a backup if something goes south. Copies can be full and partial. You’ll be better off doing both kinds because the degree of «going south» may vary. And it’s even better to store the backups separately from the website because even a server might go south one day.

Plugins for CMS are the programs that expand CMS’s functionality. They allow you to create forms, work with social networks, comments, images and a lot more. Not manually but in a user-friendly interface. It’s especially great to have a page builder such as Elementor for WordPress.

Attention, complex terms explained with simple words ahead. You may not face them right off the bat when creating a website. But you surely will at some point, and you will be prepared.

PHP is a programming language that most modern CMSs are written on. PHP allows you to create dynamic websites — you can interact with their pages: enter your contact info in the form or simply look for something using the search.

It is possible because PHP uses scripts and divides the website contents into static and dynamic ones: the template, the same on every page, and the content, different on every page. Once a website visitor requests a page, unique content starts loading into the general template. When a visitor looks for something through the search, a script (a sequence of instructions) triggers and finds the requested content in a database.

Dynamic websites are easy to edit: you can change a template for all the pages at once (general design) or for the separate content (add texts, delete images, move blocks).

Database or DB for short is a place on a server where the website’s content and service info is stored. All the texts added with CMS and the settings made there are stored in a database in a form of related tables.

A directory is a space on a server that is dedicated to every separate website.

If you create a website using Vepp, it will dedicate a space for the directory on the server itself and then it will create a database.

FTP is a protocol for transferring files on the net. It will help you to upload or download files from the server without a control panel. You’ll need to authorize on the server from another account — FTP-user. You can do it via the FTP-client, for example, FileZilla, WinSCP or even a standard Windows Explorer.

TXT-record is a DNS resource record, the textual domain description. It is required to carry out various specific tasks. For example, when you receive an SSL-certificate, it can be one of the ways to confirm your rights on the domain’s possession. Also, TXT-records are used to store SPF-records and the DKIM-key, which are needed to configure an email.

SRV-record is a DNS resource record, you need it to work with different services. It determines the location of these services: a domain, the server’s address and a protocol, that is used for the connection. SRV is used only for those protocols that require it, often to connect IP-telephony (SIP-protocol) and jabber-clients (XMPP is a protocol for instant messaging)

CNAME-record is a DNS resource record that is used to create the main domain’s pseudonyms. It works exactly the same way as it works with people: names are different (Nicolas Cage — Nicolas Kim Coppola), the person is the same. Addresses are different (veppsite.com — www.veppsite.com), the website is the same.

Such pseudonyms are usually used to shorten the domain’s name if the short variant is also used often: veppsite.com — vepp.com. The pseudonyms also connect different functions and services to the domain. For example, mail.veppsite.com for email and ftp.veppsite.com for the FTP-server.

DNAME-record is a DNS resource record, that is used rarely — to create pseudonyms for subdomains.

Subdomain is a child domain, that is one level lower that the main one. For instance, blog.veppsite.com is a subdomain of veppsite.com, the first link leads to the blog, and the second one — to the main website.

That is everything you need to know to create a website. 

More on the theme:

Nastya Kuznetsova
Content manager