Launching a new website can be like moving your TV: Once you start, you notice the dusty, tangled web of cords hiding behind it. You don’t really know which cord belongs to which device, and then there’s the cord that isn’t even plugged into an outlet…
A new website suddenly reveals that tangled web, and it can leave you scratching your head. Here’s a breakdown of four pieces you’ll need when setting up your church’s online infrastructure:
- Website domain name
- Website hosting
- Email hosting
- DNS hosting
If your hands get shaky every time you try to dive in, here’s the guide you’ve been looking for!
Piece 1: Your domain name [essential]
A domain name is your website’s URL. It is what visitors type into their internet browser to get to your website. As a result, you can’t have a website without a domain name!
You can purchase a domain name from a registrar. GoDaddy and Network Solutions are some of the most popular domain registrars; at eCatholic, we prefer Name.com.
Here are the most common issues you might face when dealing with your domain name:
- An old employee or volunteer owns it. You need to have ownership of your domain to launch a new website. So if someone else purchased your domain name years ago, it’s best to transfer the domain into your organization’s ownership. Then, be sure to keep an official employee on file as an owner of the domain to prevent future headaches!
- It’s already taken. Domain names are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Once they’re claimed, you’re out of luck. If another organization has claimed your domain name, you’ll have to get creative and come up with a different domain name.
- Your domain has expired. When you purchase a domain, it is assigned an expiration date. If your domain isn’t set to automatically renew, make sure you know your domain’s expiration date (and have access to renew it yourself). Otherwise, your website will break if your domain expires.
Pro tip: To be safe, some organizations purchase multiple domain names that are similar to their primary domain.
Piece 2: Website hosting [essential]
To put it simply, this is what eCatholic does! When you sign up for an eCatholic website, you select a specific website hosting package. This guarantees your website has a comfy home on eCatholic’s servers. 🙂
Once you launch your eCatholic site, there is no need to continue paying for any previous website hosting agreements. However, you may want to first verify that you’ve saved any old content or files that you might need in the future.
Piece 3: Email hosting [optional]
Another piece of the puzzle is email hosting. While not essential, it’s often best practice to set up email addresses with your domain (e.g., email@example.com).
To make it happen, you’ll need to find the appropriate email hosting package for your needs. Normally, organizations wanting to use their domain name for email addresses would need to pay for monthly email hosting. However, Google (G Suite) and Microsoft (Office 365) provide this service to nonprofits (e.g., Catholic parishes and schools) for free!
If you don’t work for a nonprofit or are looking for a quick and simple set up, consider hosting your email with a paid provider like Zoho.
Hint: When you set up email hosting, you can still use your domain name with your email addresses. (e.g., Using Google’s email hosting does not mean your emails will be @gmail.com).
Piece 4: DNS hosting [essential]
The final element is the most critical: DNS.
DNS (which stands for “domain name system”) controls your domain’s website and email settings. In short, it gets complicated quickly.
If you know one thing about DNS, know this: Don’t mess with your DNS unless you know what you’re doing. Changing one small setting can break your organization’s entire online infrastructure (trust me, I’ve done it). It’s best to leave it to the pros. 😉
eCatholic can host your DNS at no extra charge. (Many domain registrars also offer free DNS hosting.) Contact our support team if you:
- Have specific questions about your DNS.
- Need help transferring your DNS records from a previous provider.
- Would like to set up specific DNS configurations (such as email).
- Are confused. (Which actually isn’t uncommon at this point!)
We’re here to help!
All this tech jargon can get overwhelming, just like the prospect of organizing the cords behind the TV. It’s just one more reason to let us help you focus on your mission. We’ll handle the technology.