Thursday, June 7, 2007

So you want a website? (Part 1)

Having your own website means freedom of speech, your own personal place to rant and rave, or somewhere just to setup shop. No matter what the intention, you can do just about anything you need to do online.

Before you start planning and spending the money to get the ball rolling, take a few moments to think about what its real purpose is. You may be surprised to know that many services and products related to websites are free and ultimately can save you lots of time and headaches. Before we talk about those, let’s first describe the website checklist;


a product or service

domain name

hosting and email

marketing and promotion

ongoing maintenance, webpage updates

more marketing and promotion!

More updates…

I’ll not get into the details of a business plan and research. We’ll assume you are 100% convinced and are ready to take the plunge. The first step is coming up with a domain name. You need to come up with many, and alternative spellings, etc. A good place to search for names is domains bot. .com domain names cost about $8 US each. Each domain name type has a different price, and there are no set prices. Shop around!

If you need to generate names, try dnwiz. Once you have a name, then you need to give it an address. Every webpage on the internet has an address. Think of it as a postal address. People need to be able to find it. It’s address is called an IP address. An IP address will be automatically assigned by the hosting domain registrar – which is where you “pays your money, and gets your name”

Once you have purchased the domain name, you have an address, but no house to put your website. The next step is to find a host. We hosting is typically a company with a room full of network servers split into many shared websites. One server could house thousands of separate websites, all completely independent of each other. This is called shared hosting, and typically runs about $3 – 20 per month for the average hosting package. Watch out for the setup fees; where the hosting is charged monthly, as well as an annual setup fee. Most setup fees can be waived if you purchase hosting by the year.

Hosting packages are defined by many factors, including:

- storage space you will need for your website (how many gigabytes)

- bandwidth requirements (how many visitors will you have each month, and what are they doing at your site? Reading, or getting data, music, or other files from you? (again, measured in gigabytes)

- Uploading – can people give you files and put them on your website?

- Number of email accounts you need

- Storefront (e-commerce, shopping cart, can you accept credit cards)

- Database – will users register to login, will they store any personal information, or interact with your website in any way

- Support for creating and publishing the website with Microsoft FrontPage, or Adobe Dreamweaver (you need special software on the server to allow you to publish the website from your own computer, directly to the internet)

To locate a hosting package you will need to shop around, and may look at hostsearch.

To be continued tomorrow...