Perhaps the biggest advantage of having a website is that people can access it at any time of the day from anywhere in the world. However, to make this possible, your website must be permanently accessible.
This is achieved by having the files for your site stored (or hosted) on a computer that is permanently connected to the internet. The computer is called a web server. When somebody wants to see something on your site, they send a message from their PC via the internet to your server. The server finds the information requested and sends it back via the internet for the person to see.
It sounds straightforward but, as with all technology, the basic principle is just the tip of the iceberg. The ability of a web server to deal with requests for information varies enormously depending on its specifications and how it is set up. It is important to make sure that your server is suitable for the type of website you have and the traffic you expect to receive.
The first thing you have to do is decide what you want from your website. Do you simply want a ‘brochure’ site, with basic information about your business, your products or services and some contact details?
If so, the server hosting the site will be different than for a site with lots of high-quality images and online order forms. This in turn will require different server specifications than a fully-fledged e-commerce site with online transactions and searchable catalogues of products.