If you are not sure if you actually need a website or if you need it now, check this first - Why, as a game developer, you need your own website?
This post will try to explain everything you need to know about domain names, hosting and getting your first website up and running.
1. Domain name.
Domain name is the "address" of your website. Something like yourteamname.com or yourgame.com. You purchase a domain name for 1 year (or more). I recommend buying it at http://www.godaddy.com/
Tip: If you are about to finalize an online purchase and you see a field for a discount code, Google for "webstore name discount code" first. This doesn't apply do domains and hosting only, of course.
When buying a domain name for branding always buy .com, unless it is already taken (in which case you might consider renaming your group or game name). .org, and .net are options, if .com is taken, but stay away from .info and other cheap domains, because they are associated with spam.
Not as professional, but free option (still more professional than cheap domain like .info), is to get a subdomain - like yourteamname.somedomain.com.
Check out redeyesblackpanda's Free Website Hosting for VN Related Sites
for free subdomains related to visual novels (like vnovel.com).
In order for your website to display and run on the web, it needs a host computer (users web-browsers are clients).
Hosting is renting computer resources, that run your website(s). You usually rent hosting for a month.
I recommend http://www.hostgator.com/
Be careful before paying for a year or even multiple years in advance. Make sure you are happy with you hosting provider first.
Most domain registrars and hosting companies offer both domain names and hosting. You can get both domain name and hosting at either GoDaddy or HostGator, but since GoDaddy's primary business are domains, you can expect better and cheaper service buying and handling domains. Likewise HostGator is specialized in hosting, so you'll get better offer for hosting there.
If you do decide to get both domain name and hosting at one company, Go with HostGator for both. Having good hosting is much more important than where your domain is registered.
If GoDaddy is too expensive, you may also try http://www.namecheap.com/
or another domain registrar, but make sure you buy from an established and trustworthy company. As an alternative to HostGater you can check http://www.bluehost.com/
Host will effect things like website loading speed and will ensure your website is displayed at all. This can be a big issue with a lot of hosting companies. If you are trying to find a cheaper solution, make sure to research the company behind it first or your website might end up being hosted at someone's home computer and at the mercy of their internet outages.
If you will get the traffic from Google (if not you can skip the next paragraph):
Make sure that the hosting computers are physically located, in the area that you are targeting in Google. If your website is in English language, make sure the hosting computers are located in the U.S. If your website is in your native language, get hosting from a local company. If you are not familiar with the hosting company, make sure to check where their computers are located, not just the offices. Many U.S. hosting companies, have their computers located in Europe or elsewhere, for lower maintenance costs.
Good hosting provider will cost you around $5-$10 a month.
If your website is VN related, you can get hosting for free: Redeyesblackpanda's Free Website Hosting for VN Related Sites
. No strings attached, professional hosting ($10/month range) on your own domain or on a subdomain, if you don't have a domain.
There is one more thing you need to do, before we get to the website. You will need to set the DNS records. First, to get your DNS numbers from the hosting provider, check the first two emails they sent you - they are probably there. Then you enter the DNS numbers at your domain registrar.
Then you need to wait, for the DNS records to be updated woldwide. It usually takes a few hours, but it can take up to 48 hours, so don't panic, if nothing happens for a while.
Once they update you will see a change on the website - enter your domain name in the web browser. It will display a default page from your domain registrar. Once the DNS'es update, it will display a blank page or a default page from your hosting provider.
The easiest way to build the website is to install Wordpress. Wordpress, that started as a blogging platform, is a content management system (CMS) and is just as effective for static sites.
Your hosting provider probably has automatic installation enabled, so you probably won't even need need to download it and go trough the installation.
(click on "handy guide" for installation instructions).
In most cases you will want simplicity and power of Wordpress. This will allow you to focus on creating content for your site and not on fixing technical issues. You can install wordress in about 15 minutes (faster if its not your first time), but more importantly - updating and mantaining is easy and so is extending your website functionality trough wordpress plugins. Both (updated content, functional site with social plugins) are very important in order to get the visitors and to keep them.
Of course there is a variety of alternatives, that you may want to use for various reasons. You may also want a different type of site like a Forum, a Wiki or a webshop, for which Wordpress isn't the best choice. You may also decide to build the site from scratch. This will require manual uploading of new content or you can program your own CMS. While this will make designing the website easier, than customizing Worpress themes, it will also limit the site in functionality, such as commenting and implementing various social plugins.