Welcome to the third installment in our cornerstone series, Build your own WordPress website in 3 hours (or less). In this series, we will be guiding you through the ordeal (not!) of setting up your own WordPress-powered website, step-by-step.
Third step: Assigning nameservers to your domain name
(Estimated time: 5 minutes)
Once you have your hosting account purchased and set up, it’s time to set your domain name’s nameservers.
What are nameservers, you ask? The short explanation is that they are specialized computers that serve as the internet’s ‘phone book’. They simply map names – your domain name – to numbers – your hosting account’s IP address. If you want longer explanations, follow the Wikipedia links.
To us humans, the internet operates by domain name: http://launchthebook.com, http://google.com, http://facebook.com. But the computers that are the internet run on numbers. Every device that attaches itself to the internet – your phone, your computer, the computer that serves up a web page – is assigned a number, known as an IP address.
What you’re doing when you ‘set your nameservers’ is updating your domain name’s information in the internet’s phone book, the layer between us and the machines: DNS – the Domain Name System.
The welcome email you received your from your hosting company should have the nameserver information in it. There will be at least two addresses, and look something like this: ns55.hostgator.com. You’ll notice there’s no ‘http://’, or ‘www’. Once you’ve located the nameservers in your email, it’s time to log into your domain name registry account, the one you set up in Step One.
Here’s where we go a little hypothetical. Every registrar (Namecheap, GoDaddy, Enom, etc.) has a little bit different procedure for getting into and changing the particulars of your domain name. You’ll likely need to consult their help files for instructions.
Here’s a quick video showing how to change nameservers if your domain is registered at GoDaddy:
The process at other domain registrars is pretty much the same as at GoDaddy: search for ‘how to change nameservers’ in the registrar’s help files, then step through their directions.
The changes you make will take some time to make their way around the internet – in some cases as long as two days. Many times you’ll see results in an hour or so, sometimes a few hours. I’ve never had it take more than a day.
Stay tuned for our next installment: how to navigate the rabbit-hole known as the Control Panel.
As always, please leave your comments or ask questions in the comments section below.