What you need to have your own WebsiteThe pages: The text and images for your site.
Hosting: Your text and images need to be copied onto a computer people can access (a web server).
Domain name: You need to register a name that people will type in to look at your website (eg www.finestsites.net).
The PagesThis is the most important part of a website because this is what people will see. Essentially a web page is just text and images neatly arranged to make up your site.
Websites fall into a number of categories:
Static Sites are simple web pages where the html is either hand written code typed in to a text editing program, or made with a program like Adobe Dreamweaver which is a kind of Microsoft Word for websites. To make or change hand coded sites, knowledge of html and css is necessary.
This is the simplest form of website because what you type into the html file determines what the page will look like. There is no changing elements.
Editable Sites are a step up. These are sites where you (the owner) can login and click and type to change the text and click save. To do this all the text of the website is saved in a database, not in html files.
The 'back-end' login allows you to type and save text in a similar way to typing in Microsoft Word. When someone looks at your page, the text is taken from the database and displayed on your page. Because there is a database involved, this type of website is more difficult to set up, but once it's running it's simple to edit your pages.
An example of this is wordpress. You can install wordpress on a web server and then edit the text to say what you want.
The drawbacks to these kind of sites are problems caused by system upgrades, and backups are not as simple.
Custom Made Database Sites are for when you want to be able to accept user data, for example an application form where your customers details go straight into a database. It can be set up to send an email to notify you someone has applied, and you can login to some staff only pages where you can see the application details.
HostingWhen you have your website files, you need to put it on a computer (server) somewhere so when someone types in your web address, your website files will be sent to them from the server, and they will see your website.
The normal way to do this is to rent space on a web server somewhere and copy your files onto it.
This is commonly called web hosting.
For more information about this see Hosting.
Domain NameThe domain name is the name or address people will type to look at your website. The domain name for this website is finestsites.net. You need to register a name with a domain registration company and it needs to be maintained on a yearly or 2 yearly basis.
FinestSites can do all of these steps for you, but your welcome to do as much or as little on your own.