Domain, Hosting, Security, Oh My!
There are several important parts involved in the making of a live, functional website. Sometimes they’re wrapped up in a bundle for a monthly fee, and sometimes you’re surprised when you read that it’s “only $0.99/year* for mywebsite.com” but by the end of checking out you’re looking at a $180 bill.
Here, I’ll quickly walk through the different things you may be charged for, which ones you need, and why.
- Domain Registration: This is the URL, or website address, for your website. Most .com sites will be somewhere around $15.00/year to register. If you’re looking for the perfect website name and it’s listed as much more, that means either A. Someone has owned that domain and posted it for sale at a higher rate. You’ll pay the sale price one time, and then register at a normal price in subsequent years. B. You’re looking at a Top-Level domain such as website.shop or marketing.consulting. Notice the new Top-Level domains don’t use .com. They use an extension that’s appropriate for the type of industry! They’re expected to be the norm in the near future, and they’re often more pricey per year to register.
- Hosting: Hosting refers to the actual computer or server the website files are stored on, which your domain then points to. Hosting is important. Choosing how to host your website determines how fast your website loads, how secure your website is, and how often your website will go down (or be inaccessible). It was common, in the past, for people to “host” their own websites, or store the web files on their computer at home. Anymore, hackers have gotten too clever for the average user to protect their computer that the web files are hosted on.
- Domain Privacy: Domain privacy is usually somewhere around $10/year. GoDaddy charges around $7. Registered domains are required to include contact information for the register, which then gets published publicly in a registry. “Domain Privacy” is simply a service that replaces your actual contact information with generic information in the public registry. For most people, it’s worth it to purchase. I have chosen NOT to in the past, and received a huge increase in spam phone calls for several weeks after registration. It wasn’t terrible, and if you’re a scrooge and want to keep your dollars, it’s tolerable.
- SSL Certificate: In the past, SSL certificates were optional if you weren’t accepting credit cards on your website. A recent change at Google, however, is changing the landscape. Google Chrome browsers are now displaying a “Not Secure” error in red text at the top of websites without an SSL Certificate, and the word is that Google’s search algorithms will more severely affect websites without SSL but hurting their search rankings. How do you tell a website has an SSL Certificate? Http:// does not. Https:// does. Essentially, the SSL encrypts the information sent between a website browser and the host server. There are different levels of encryption – you’ll want to make sure your SSL Certificate does everything you need it to do, and is provided by a trusted and reliable provider.
- Maintenance: If you’ve hired a website design company to build you a website, you may be paying for something called “maintenance.” This is a monthly or annual charge intended to keep your website up-to-date with changes in coding languages, web browers, and email systems that may affect the functionality of your website over time. If you’re using a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress with a custom theme (something many web design agencies create), you may need more maintenance as WordPress updates it’s platform regularly, and themes and plugins must follow suit. Know if you’re receiving what you pay for! When’s the last time they’ve checked in to let you know they’ve performed an update?
If you’re not sure what you’re paying for or what you should pay for, drop us a line. We’ll conduct a free evaluation of your current situation and our recommendations to better protect your website and lower your costs.