Well, the first thing to remember is that all the web host actually provides is exactly that – web hosting. The customer is be provided with a location at which to store the website and all the technical aspects of that storage – maintenance, software updates and so on – will be taken care of by the hosting service. But where are the webpages? And what is the site to be called?
Let’s start with that last question. The site needs a domain name and it has to be one that no one else is already using. Computers actually find each other by using IP addresses, which are a set of numbers, and when someone asks their computer to look at someone’s website, their computer needs a way to find the correct IP address. That way is a domain name. Think of it as an address in a directory; the other person’s computer uses the directory to find the IP address of the computer the required website lives on.
There is a Domain Name System (DNS) with which all domain names must comply. The ultimate authority is ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) but most people don’t need to worry about that. There are a number of agencies scattered around the world that will take a request for a particular domain name and say whether it is available; if it is, they will then help register it (for a fee).
So the domain name is registered; the next thing is to design the website. This is dealt with on a separate page. Then it must be uploaded to the host. A hosting service will provide instructions on how to do this – but anyone wishing to self-host will need to have mastered the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and a number of other things.
When uploading is finished, the new website is in business.