Oftentimes, new clients reach out to us for website design after they have already purchased their domain name and/or signed up for a web hosting account. While these services are indeed a requirement for a new website, we have seen many clients fall into recurring traps that cost them money they don’t need to spend.
If you haven’t already registered a domain or signed up for web hosting, we hope these tips will save you money right off the bat. But even if you’ve already got a domain name and hosting, review these tips – you may be able to cancel some services that you don’t need (or, we can help you switch!).
You’re starting a new business or organization, and one of the first, and most exciting steps is to register your domain name: mycoolnewidea.com. You Google search how to register a domain, and are presented with a plethora of companies that will sell you your domain name. You choose one from the search results, and begin your journey to own your great domain name – all for a great new-customer deal of $1.99 for the first year. Awesome!
Then, you’re presented with option after option. Get your .org and .net and .io and .me version of your domain name! Add on domain privacy! Website hosting! Email? Well sure I’ll need email! It all sounds great, and a one-stop shop for all of the services that you need. You get to checkout, and your $1.99 domain name will now cost you more than $200.
The same thing can happen signing up for website hosting. You already have your domain registered at, say, GoDaddy. You sign up for hosting through another provider, and they’re trying to convince you that it’s better to transfer your domain name from GoDaddy to your web hosting company. Then, they’re also trying to sell you email services, website design services, managed hosting services, dedicated IP addresses, security scanning services….. and your brain is spinning. (By the way, we cover why you should NOT have your domain, hosting, and email services through the same provider in another article.)
So what DO you need?
Let’s break down what you need when setting up a brand-new website.
The purpose of your domain registrar is to provide you with a domain name – period. When you register for your domain name, there are no additional add-ons that you need. Some of the common up-sells offered are:
Additional domain extensions: .net, .org, .us, .info and so on. While there is an argument to be made that in some cases, you may want to register additional domains, it’s not usually necessary to do that at the time of initial registration. You can always go back and register them later. If you feel that you are in a highly competitive market for your business type with a very unique name, and think a competitor could try to use your very unique business name against you, you might want to register the three common extensions: .com, .net, and .org.
Domain privacy: this is not something most businesses need. When you register your business or organization, your information will become public. Trying to hide your identity through your domain won’t keep people from finding out who owns a business or the registered business address. On the flip side, if someone wants to verify for themselves that your website is legitimate and not a phishing site registered to someone in another country, blocking their ability to verify who you are may deter them from shopping with you.
Email Addresses: You do not need to use your domain registrar to provide paid email services for you. You can get free email through your web hosting company, so paying for email through your domain registrar is an unnecessary upsell, oftentimes a reseller arrangement with an email provider that you should purchase separately. In another article, we cover in-depth why you must always separate your domain, hosting, and email services instead of bundling them.
Website hosting: Put bluntly: there are good domain registrars out there, and there are good website hosting companies out there. Rarely is a good website host also a good registrar; and rarely is a good registrar also a good hosting company. Stick with vendors that excel in their industry. Furthermore, as mentioned above, it is never a good idea to have your hosting, domain, and email all provided through the same vendor!
The one job of your web hosting vendor is to provide you with server space that is well-configured for serving your website. Your website host is like the land that your home is built on, and your website is the home. You don’t use your landscaper to build your house, and you don’t use your carpenter to tend your lawn. Find a good web hosting company that specializes in website hosting.
Regarding design services through your hosting company: these are offshore contractors that are paid to quickly turn websites around. You will get a website if you pay your hosting company for a website, but good luck getting any changes made or any sort of personal, individual attention once the site is built. You will have a cookie-cutter website that you’re stuck with and either a lot of cost for simple changes or a difficult time getting support at all. Want more information? Contact us and we can share dozens of horror stories from clients who hired us after bad experiences with these designers.
We wholeheartedly recommend that all businesses and organizations use domain-branded email, such as firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (shudder!!!). While you can get domain-branded email service for free through most website hosting plans, these email services are not the most reliable and tend to have lots of spam issues.
Many domain registrars offer reseller email services through Outlook 365 or Google Workspace. These are great providers for your email, but please avoid purchasing through a reseller agreement with your domain registrar. Aside from why you should always keep your domain, hosting, and email all separate, the reseller agreement often costs more than purchasing directly from the vendor. And should you ever wish to switch to a different domain registrar, it will be a LOT harder to move your email to a free-standing plan.
How to Choose Domain, Hosting, and Email Vendors
If all of this is making your head spin, don’t feel bad. Vendors prey on how confusing this is to someone who just wants to create a new website for a business or organization. Before you commit to any third-party vendor services, take advantage of our FREE Ask Anything consultation. We won’t bombard you with sales tactics to hire us – we just want to help answer your questions so you don’t go down the painful road that many of our clients did before they found us.