I had written this some time ago and decided it was time to bring
it back and update it. If you have just decided to start a website,
just starting a company, or looking to update/ rebuild an existing
website. Here are some suggestions on how to make it successful and
save you some headaches in the future.
- Domain: for those who are not exactly sure what a domain is,
for purposes here we will refer to the simple meaning of your
sites name! That is it.
- Pick a name, see if it is available by going to
network solutions whois listing and type in the name you
want with the .com or what ever extension you want to use. Well
lets say you want
www.breadsticks.com but you find it is already in use. Well
you could choose a different top level domain (the part after
the name ie: com) like .biz, .bz, .info, .us, .tv, but
remember that if you use the name with a different name your
potential customers could out of habit type the .com and end up
at your competitions site. Better to search for a name you can
use with a .com if it will be for commercial use.
- Register your domain name! This is the most important part
here, well almost! I can not tell you the number of companies I
come across who do not own their domain name. So often the Host
company or web developer will offer to register the name for you
at no extra charge. Then they will register it in their own
name, holding you hostage with your own company name. I have
seen this hundreds of times and it still goes on. If you need
someone to register for you make sure you are listed as the
Registrant and the Administrator of the domain name. Again you
can use the Network Solutions Whois data link to check this. One
note here, there are other Registrars like GoDaddy and
register.com among other. You can use these and some have great
deals but some make it difficult to host your domain at a
location of your choice. Plus Network Solutions I have found to
have the best customer service. Who ever you use be sure they
have a phone number where you can reach a living, breathing
person, before you sign up!
- Hosting: This is the real estate you lease on a server
(computer) that is connected directly to the web. You can host
yourself but the cost of hardware, software and bandwidth, not
to mention the headaches of maintenance, will leave you spending
a lot more than if you went to a reputable host. The cost of
hosting has dropped substantially over the years. You can host
with a reputable company today for a year at what it cost per
month just a few years ago. Remember you want to use a reputable
host in the US. Some seemingly reputable host will hoist anybody
including some very, shall we say illicit, sites that will farm
e-mail addresses from the servers including yours and your
clients. It can be very embarrassing to have a client spammed
with porn and find the leak came from you!
- The Website: Now you are ready to build your site. You can have someone
build it for you but keep in mind that you want to be active in
the design of the site. Most web developers will want to build
your site and use it to show off their talents not your product
or service. The majority of sites I look at I can tell when a
independent developer was used because the site will have all
the latest bells and whistles but it is hard to tell what the
site is about. Or it is hard to navigate. Remember the site is
suppose to be about you and/or your product, do not let the web
designer take it over. The old adage KISS "keep it simple
stupid" works. Focus on what the site is about. If you are going
to roll your own, then you are going to need some software.
There are many to choose from from no cost to hundreds of
dollars. Some of the simplest to use software is available at no
charge. Komposer is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web
developement software that is based on mozilla (the original
browser that FireFox is based on). Blue Griffin,
SiteSpinner, CoffeeFire are just a few of the web design
software you can download for free. Serif, MS Web Expressions,
Web Design Studio, and CoffeeCup Web design studio are a few of
the sub $100 packages. Do not forget that many host companies
have a web based solution to design your site right on the web.
This may be the easiest and most effective solution, with the
only drawback being a backup. So use you ftp or http file
transfer to copy the website to your computers hard drive as a
backup. This way if something goes wrong or you screw up the
site while editing you can restore it.
- E-Mail: This is the final and I think the most important
part of the process. It amazes me how many people have websites
today but still have e-mail addresses like
You have a domain now so use it. If your site is for a business
make it business sounding.
email@example.com are a good start but do not
forget to add addresses like info@ , cs@ or clients@ for a
general e-mail for clients to respond to off the site. You can
set these as a forward or just add them to your desktop client.
You can even set up rule for the e-mails from different
addresses to download to different folders.
Now you have a website and best of all it is all yours!