A lot of times people understandably confuse domain names with hosting and vice versa. While they are both needed to make your website accessible via the internet, they are quite different.
Registering a domain name is a bit like registering your car, the domain name is the unique number plate. Your website is the actual car, and website hosting is like renting a garage to put your car in.
Domain name registration is done via an accredited domain registrar. Only domain names that not yet exist can be registered. In order to get a .com.au domain name (www.yourdomain.com.au) you will need to provide an ABN or Company Registration Number. If you are a not for profit organisation you can get a .org.au domain extension.
It’s usually best to have a domain name that somehow also describes your business, for search engine friendly purposes. Often websites use more than 1 domain, so people can remember the ones that are easiest for them. For example this site can be reached by using the allbusinesswebsites.com.au OR the allbw.com.au domain name.
Website Hosting and hosting servers
You need hosting so people can see your website. Renting hosting space allows you to upload your website files to a server. A server is a computer that can be located anywhere in the world, which runs a special program which allows anyone to view the files which make up your website.
When you have purchased a domain name you have to point that domain name to the name servers of your hosting space, usually something your web developer will do for you. That way your domain name is connected with the hosting server, and people will see your site when they type in your domain name.
Prices of hosting vary greatly. There are perfectly acceptable hosting plans available for $10 per month. But like anything else, you get what you pay for. The cheaper Australian hosting plans usually live on servers that are located in the USA. They often try to cram as many websites on 1 server as they can, which generally means that the sites will be slow to load because of distance, as well as slower computer memory access.
Beware of the plans that have unlimited everything, it usually means that they’re overselling their capacity which will make their servers overloaded and slow.
More expensive Australian hosting plans use servers that are based in Australia, with servers that are less crowded and therefore will make your site load faster. Support is usually quick to respond, and knowledgeable. A reasonable price for Australian hosting is $20 – $40 per month, depending on your space and bandwidth requirements.
Your website developer should be able to advise you on the right hosting. If your developer provides hosting services, even better, he or she will be able to quickly sort out any problems that might arise, without you having to deal with technical support geeks, bless their cotton socks.