This question comes up from time to time and although many of us understand the difference it's important to realize that many are new to the concepts of website design, hosting, platforms, content management systems, etc. I'm sure it's no different in any other trade or profession when they see something as obvious but those of us who don't practice their craft daily are a bit confused.
I thought it would be helpful to write about a few of these topics and to start we'll look at domains and hosting. Some have the idea that domain registration and hosting are the same thing. This misconception leads to confusion when they are confronted with separate domain registration and hosting accounts, and usually fees. Of course in many cases you can have your domain registered where you will host your website, but this isn't required. I generally advise clients to register their domain with Vendor A and establish hosting with Vendor B. My rationale is that if something should compel a change in hosting or domain, it will be less trouble.
Website hosting is where the files for your website are accessed by the web browser. This could be with any number of vendors, we recommend Blue Host for WordPress however Hostgator is a good choice also. Do some shopping around, see what services they offer and read the reviews. Try to get past the marketing glitz and get to the issues and features that matter. If you've chosen to go with one of our custom Weebly websites, these are hosted on their servers so you don't have to worry about setting this part of your project up. Keep in mind however that should you decided to move away from either of these products, you will need to practically speaking rebuild your website. This fact shouldn't discourage you in using their platforms, as time has shown, both of these platforms have improved their features, services and ease of use and we recommend both for novice users.
If you're going with WordPress you can host your website with any vendor that supports WordPress; which is practically all of them, including Blue Host and Hostgator. Quite honestly, if the vendor you're considering doesn't have the capability of hosting WordPress, you may want to ask them why. Should be an interesting conversation since somewhere around 25% of website are using WordPress as their blog or CMS.
Questions? We look forward to hearing from you!