Website Insghts

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Website Insghts

So you want a Website!

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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 mikedoe@aol.com or greenthumb237@yahoo.com. You have a domain now so use it. If your site is for a business make it business sounding. m.doe@realcomfortableshoes.com or nancysmith@acountantanywhere.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!