Domain names and web hosting for dentists

Understand the difference for your dental website project

High quality dental website hostingIn another of our “understanding the basics” blogs, today we take a quick look at website domains and hosting. For lots of people this is already clear, but for those relatively new to the web and just starting out on the road to get a dental practice website established, these basic building blocks are essential to understand. So let’s dive in.

Web domains

You can think of your website domain name as a “sign-post” on the Internet for anyone searching for your website. This is linked to the IP address for the server where your website files live, 24/7/365. The IP address is another unique identifier which helps links everything together when someone searches for you on-line. You don’t have to worry too much about how all of these elements are linked together as your web designer will be able to do all of the “techy” stuff that is required. However, you do need to be involved in the selection of your domain name as this is the public-facing address which links to your overall business identity.

Domain names are made available through “registrars” i.e. companies who sell them. More accurately domains are actually rented, as you never really own then outright; more that you lease them for defined periods of time. This is why you have to be careful to ensure that you renew your domain(s) in good time to prevent them expiring and being picked up by someone else. There are numerous domain extensions, .com, .co.uk, .net etc but in the UK, the recognised variant is .co.uk. This is the type we recommend using unless you have aspirations to grow your business outside of the UK. There are some specific variants for various types of institutions, so please research those which are available. However, for a standard UK dental business, .co.uk should suffice.

You can register and look after a domain yourself but it may be simpler to let your designer do this on your behalf – but please ensure that they register it in your name and not theirs! With the latter, they are the formal “owner” and not you and this is not good practice. It is likely that you designer may charge a little more to cover the admin and renewals etc but this is usually worth it and then you don’t have the worry about the domain expiring. They will also look after the technical aspects of linking the domain to your website.

So when you’ve registered a suitable domain name for your business, you then need to consider the website hosting.

Website hosting – the basics

First off, it is important to understand that your website can be hosted independently from your domain registration i.e. separate companies. Some domain registrars also offer hosting but it isn’t always high quality and may not be suitable for business needs. So don’t rent hosting at the same time that your domain name is purchased. Your domain can be “pointed” to any hosting provider and your designer should be able to look after this for you.

Here at Dental Media we run our own hosting in one of the UK’s best data centres and it is configured with the needs of dentists in mind. For example, the hosting is run to ISO27001 secure data management standards and is also fully GDPR compliant. We also look after the following and these are the types of services you need to ensure that you website is safe, secure, compliant and reliable:

  • exceptional up-time (> 99.95%)
  • on and off-site back-ups
  • fast, uncongested servers
  • excellent support (< 2 minute response time)
  • secure email connection supported
  • scalable – quick expansion if required
  • full support for https (encrypted data connections)

Whilst you can purchase hosting for £35 per year, this typically doesn’t meet many of the criteria noted above and is foolhardy for business critical websites. So spend a little extra for peace of mind.

As with domain name registration, your website hosting needs to be renewed periodically, typically annually. Your designer should also look after this for you seamlessly so you don’t have to worry about it.

Summary

Securing a good website domain and high-quality hosting are two of the main fundamentals for building a great web presence and it’s sensible to take the time to do it right. You will then have peace-of-mind that your website (and email) will have the firm foundation they need. Your web designer should be able to help you choose wisely, but please check that what they are offering is cost-effective and technically excellent.

If you need help with securing a domain name or hosting for your dental practice website, we’ll be pleased to assist. You can even transfer to us if your website was designed elsewhere and you are not getting the service or value you expected. Your can reach the Dental Media team on 01332 672548.