When running a business website, there are three critical components that you'll want complete control over: Your website's domain name, your web hosting, and your website's email. The longer you're involved in running your own business's website, and with web design in general, the more you realize just how important it is to keep these three services separated and isolated from one another. Experience has taught me that by keeping these three components separate, if a problem ever arises with one of them, the other two won't be affected at all.
So, I wanted to put together some material that details exactly why I think it's important for you to consider keeping these three key services separate. But as I began working on putting all this together, I wound up with so much material on the subject that I've had to break it up into three parts. This means there's lots of great info ahead!
In this first part, I'll give you an overview of why it's important to separate your business's domain name, web hosting, and email—our three crucial online business services—and I'll provide some real-world analogies to help you along. In part two, I'll address separating domain name registration and web hosting. And finally in the third part we'll talk about isolating your business's email from your web hosting. I hope all this sounds good.
And by the end of these three parts, you'll know pretty much everything there is to know on the subject of isolating your three essential web services. Specifically, you'll know why you shouldn't use your web host to register your domain name, why you should avoid using the free email service that likely came with your web hosting, and you'll know how to protect and control your business's valuable online assets.
If you want to know what specific web services and tools I recommend for registering domain names, setting up web hosting, and handling email, I'll share some top picks below. But be sure to head over Ten Ton's web design for business resource page, where you'll find loads of resources and links for web services—reputable web hosting companies, domain registrars, top dedicated email services, and much more. It's a wealth of information, so I hope you'll check it out.
Now if you're interested in learning more about why it's so important to keep these essential web services separate, keep reading! Even if you're not exactly sure what this stuff means, like I said above, you'll be an expert by the end of this tutorial series!
So let's start off with an analogy or two, to help explain why we should isolate our essential web services. Follow me on the Magical Mystery Tour for a moment...
You know how the banking industry is kinda related to investing and mutual funds...and how insurances of various kinds got wrapped in there too somehow? And insurance companies and banks alike now offer credit cards? A lot of companies in these industries use the same terminology, they kinda look the same, they're all kinda stuffy and boring, and they offer a lot of the same services, and it's all somewhat of a confusing mess, right?
It's the same with web design, and web design-related services—specifically domain name registrars, which is the company who we use to register our domain name(s) with, web hosting companies, and email service providers. A lot of vendors in these markets look the same, offer a lot of the same services, and use the same lingo. That makes it confusing for people like you and I who want to run online business websites, and have a need for these kinds of services.
Now I don't know about you, but I don't like the idea of buying life insurance from a stock broker, or opening up a savings account with a credit card company. And the same holds true with web design. We have three completely different services, that we'll need for our online business endeavours and each should be treated as separate and independent.
Especially considering the fact that if our business's web services are bundled together, if one of these services goes down, it could potentially take the other two down as well. Imagine...your entire business going offline because one of your key services got disrupted! Even if you're just running a small website, keeping your three essential services separate means fewer headaches and potential problems down the road.
What muddies up markets like this (whether it's finance, web design, or other markets) is increased competition. More competition brings more cross-over in services (remember when Walmart started selling groceries? Or when the grocery store started selling clothes?). Previously separate service providers begin infringing on one other's territory, and start offering more and more services as a way to entice customers to spend more money with them. Service providers become one-stop shops. We see this in all kinds of industries. Cable companies are in the mobile phone business. Office supply stores repair computers. Mortgage brokers now offer life insurance. And on and on...
In the world of web design, this means you can register a domain name, set up your web hosting and email service, get some consulting, and even have some custom site design done for you, all under one roof.
So what we're learning here is that domain name registration companies now offer web hosting, email, SEO services, and a pile of other add-ons as extras to their main service. And web hosting companies offer to manage your email and your domain name registration for you, as well as provide other extras like website builders, advertising credits and so on. It's a confusing mess!
If your head's spinning a bit, I don't blame you—it's bewildering! With so many options and add-ons available, it's hard to know what's important for you and your business, and what isn't. In fact, I put together another tutorial that addresses this exact issue, called Small Business Web Hosting Feature Rundown: The Critical, The Helpful, And The Completely Useless. It'll help you sift through all the options and determine what's most important.
Now while a one-stop solution for all your business website needs might sound convenient, keeping our three primary business web design services—domain registration, hosting, and email—separate from one another not only gives you and I the most control and autonomy over our businesses online, we also get the best quality of service. That's huge.
But that's not the only reason to keep your services separate. Issues like reliability, security, protecting your business's online assets, and more also factor in. Or, in the event that a particular provider's service begins to slip, or our business needs change (it sometimes happens), we can easily switch out that service's vendor without impacting our other two critical services. This does mean a bit more work and a bit more management on our part, but it gives us complete autonomy and control over our creative and business assets. And to me, after doing this stuff for so long, that small price is totally worth it.
So if you agree that keeping your business services separate is a smart move, then when your domain name registrar offers you web hosting when you're in the process of signing up, you can safely ignore that option. And when you're signing up for web hosting, and you see an offer for a free domain name and email, you can politely decline. We'll be using dedicated services for our business instead.
In terms of specific recommendations for essential web services, I'll make some quick mentions here, but as I mentioned above, be sure to check out Ten Ton's resource page for a full listing of web services and resources.
For domain name registration, there are many registrars you can use. I've used a few of the most popular ones over the years, and by far the best is NameCheap. They provide a clean, simple interface, a great domain search and suggestion feature, and good pricing and support. I put together a tutorial called How To Register A Domain Name With NameCheap which you might find useful.
For hosting, there's no shortage of choices. I've spent a lot of time and resources searching out the best web hosts, and have boiled it down to Web Hosting Hub and SiteGround for business websites that are just starting out, or WP Engine for business owners who are using WordPress, who don't want to handle some of the more technical aspects of their website. But there's a lot I'd love to tell you more about web hosting, so check out this tutorial that I've put together that provides all kinds of valuable information about web hosting and what to look for with your small business website.
Finally, for dedicated email service, like domain registrars and web hosting, there's no shortage of options. But the best of the best is either Google G Suite (which I've been using for years) or Microsoft Office 365. Both provide great pricing, excellent customer service, and modern, easy to use web-based email. Just as with domains and hosting, there's quite a bit I'd love to show you as far as setting up your business email service goes, so check out this tutorial that gives you lots of information on email and email services.
Alright, I've given you a solid overview as to why it's important to separate your business's critical web services, and I've even jumped ahead a bit and provided you with some specific recommendations for each service. This is to help you get your business website up and running as quickly as possible.
But I'm a stickler for detail, and there's loads more that I'd love to share with you! We have the fundamentals of...let's call it service separation...down. Now, let's continue into part two where we'll get into your business's domain names and web hosting. Then as promised, in part three we'll take a closer look at why it's so important to use a dedicated service for your business's email.
Stick around, there's lots more I'd love to show you. I'll see you in part two!