Getting Started

Maybe you are a business owner who is looking to start a web presence. Or maybe you are the Director of a non-profit organization who deeply desires to help people. But no one trained you about the need for, or what a website entails. This article attempts to de-mystify starting your web presence.

I have tried to make this explanation ”Mom friendly.” I love my mother very much, but computers are not her strong suit. I have tried to go out of my way to explain things here so that she could understand. You may find these thing rudimentary, if so feel free to skip this article.

In this article we will look at:
The Components of a Website
Choosing a Domain Name
Buying a Domain Name

Components of a Website

A website consists of three parts:

1. A domain name

This is how people find your site. For instance, is our domain name. It is what you enter into that bar at the top of your web browser. We will look at choosing a domain name in a minute. A domain name will typically cost between $10 and $15 annually.

2. A host

A host is often confused for the site itself. I think the most useful way to look at it is to see the host as the box in which you will put your site. It is essentially storage space that is connected to the internet.

That place, where your site is stored, is called your host. Your host and your domain name do not need to be with the same company (something we will explain later).

3. Site Content

This is the actual site design that you see on your screen. It is placed on the host. It is placed on the host so that it can be accessed by computer users world wide.

Choosing a Domain Name

Open your web browser to one of the excellent domain registars that are available online. (ie.Network Solutions)This will allow you to test various domain names to see if they are available. Just because you type a domain into your browser and no web page comes up does not mean that the domain is not taken.

There are four questions to ask when selecting a domain name:

1. Does it reflect your business?

This may seem self-explanatory, but not always. Your business name is always the best option (as long as it doesn’t violate the other three criteria below). If that is not available get creative, try different variations.

2. Is it memorable?

You will be telling people your domain name often, in hopes that when they sit down at their computer they will be able to remember it. Make sure that what you choose has sticking power. The shorter the better.

3. Is it easy to spell?

The most memorable domain name that is hard to spell will still cause you problems. Remember that every time you give someone your web address they are going to have to spell it correctly to get to your site. If you choose something difficult to spell you are going to have to spell it for that person every time you give them your web or e-mail address, and then you have to hope that they remember or record it correctly.

4. Are there unintended consequences?

Sometimes when you squish words together in a domain name new words unintentionally form. Sometimes words you don’t want associated with your business. A friend wanted to start a BLOG named Corey’s Hat. unfortunately when put into a domain name it looks like: coreyshat. Not what he had in mind. (if you don’t get it, don’t worry, it’s not that important)

Buying a Domain Name

Buying a domain name is something that anyone can do, and is not as complicated as it sounds. We will be happy to help you with the process as a part of a website design package. (there is a $10 charge for this, not for our time but for the cost of the domain.) However if you are working on your own, here are a few things to think about.

1. Use a reputable domain registar.

There are tons out there, and any of them will work. Networksolutions and Godaddy are two of the most popular.

2. Beware of the upsell.

These companies offer low priced domain names ($10-15 annually) because they know they can sell you on other products. When you go to buy your domain name they will try to sell you on tons of services they will try to convince you that you need. I know of one person who went to buy a $10 domain name and ended up spending $120, and they still didn’t have hosting. Feel free to buy whatever you think you need, but for me I simply keep clicking “No Thanks” until I get to the payment options.

3. You can easily host anywhere

This is a question I get asked often, and is a misconception about domain names. Say you buy your domain through Network Solutions and want to host with us. No problem! You do not need to buy hosting with the same company you buy your domain name through. It is very easy to point your domain to your hosting and it is something we will walk you through.

4. Just buy it

Domain names are cheap. If you find one that you like my advice is to buy it. If you find you don’t use it you can always let it expire in a year. This way when you are ready to set up your site you already are guaranteed to have the name you want. If you wait to buy there is always the possibility that the name you want could be gone by then. Don’t laugh, it’s happened to me.