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How Do I Get Started?

Taking the First Important Steps in Making the Internet Work for Your Business
By Tina George

You will need a Domain Name.

What is a domain name? A domain name is the .net, .com, .org, .info, .biz, etc. address that folks enter into their web browsers (Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla) in order to find you on the internet. You should try to pick a domain name that is easy to remember and relevant to your business. Go for the .com addresses over the others whenever possible. If you are an organization, go for the .org. You can have more than one domain name all set to point to the same website, but each name will cost you a nominal fee. Purchasing more than one domain name increases the likelihood that you will rank high in the search engines (Google, Yahoo) and that you will be easily found on the internet.

Register.com Email Packages

How do I get a domain name? You will need to go online and purchase a domain name registration from a registrar. The most popular and reputable registrars are: www.networksolutions.com, www.register.com, and www.godaddy.com. However, typically it will be cheaper for you to register your domain name at the same time you register your webhosting. I use a company called Aplus (www.aplus.net) to register domain names and webhosting. They have won many prestigious awards and are extremely affordable with plans from $5.95 a month.


You will need webhosting.

What is webhosting? Your website files must be stored on a computer that is connected to the internet 24/7 and is properly maintained. You can do this yourself at home if you have an extra computer with no programs installed on it, have time to install the proper networking programs, have a high speed or better internet connection hooked to a router, and have a backup power supply to keep it active at all times. But, in the “real” world, it’s easier to pay someone else to do all of this for you. Typical webhosting costs for basic internet capabilities range from $5.95 to $30 a month with a nominal set up fee and are available without contractual obligations.

So where can I get webhosting? Webhosting companies are easily found by entering search requests at www.google.com (search for “webhosting” or “webhosting providers”). You may choose whomever you wish for webhosting, as long as they have server computers that are up to date enough to recognize basic coding standards (most do – but be careful).

Some questions you may wish to ask your webhosting provider are:

  • Do you support include virtuals? Include virtuals assist a programmer in designing a quick-to-load, easily maintained site. If the answer is no, don’t even think about using them, you’ll have problems. Include virtuals, also known as SSI for “server-side-include” are a very, very basic server software function. If their servers can’t handle that, they are likely not up to date on a number of software settings that are necessary for having a successful website.
  • Do you support cgi applications? You see all those pretty forms and polls out there on other websites – yeah, they are written in a language recognized as cgi or perl – you will need that one day. If the answer is no, use them only if you can deal with a site that cannot have forms, polls, and other bells and whistles.
  • Do you include emails and email forwarders with your webhosting? You will likely want some email addresses to go with your new website. Don’t worry, you don’t have to check them all, you can have them all forward to your personal address automatically. This way your customer sees orders@yourdomain.com instead of joeblow@xyz.net.


So I have my webhosting and domain name, now how do I get my website?

Well now you need two things: a web developer (the person who builds your website) and a webmaster (the person who maintains your site). Often times you can find a company or individual that does both, as my partners and I do at Inspired Design Pioneering.

You will need to get together the following things to provide the web developer:

  • Your logo and any photos you wish to use, including those for a scrapbook.
  • Your website navigation list (home, about us, services, links, contact, etc.)
  • Your keywords (all words having anything to do with your company to ensure your optimal search engine placement).
  • A description of what you would like to see on your website.
  • Your home page verbiage.
  • Your contact information. Try to include an address, email, and phone number.
  • A list of all of the email addresses that you would like created for your site, if available with your webhosting plan.
  • Verbiage for all of the other pages.

I store all information in a folder with your name as you are sending it and when I have all of the pieces, either I, or my partners, put it together as quickly as we can comfortably create a nice design that we can proudly add to our portfolio of work. The way my partners and I design, once the foundation of your site is laid in, graphics can be easily changed out again later to reflect changes and advancements for a nominal fee. Nothing is ever written in stone.

So I have my website, how do I get it updated?

Short of learning all of the complexities of good, clean html and programming, you can hire a webmaster. Most webmasters work on a retainer flat fee, or by the job. Frequently webmasters disappear after a few updates to your site, so make sure you are working with a professional. It’s always best to get whoever built your site to maintain it, after all, who has a vested interest in seeing their work grow and prosper…

At Inspired Design Pioneering, monthly maintenance is available for a negotiable fee depending on the type and frequency of updates and are available without contract or obligation. If you don’t like our work, just let us know and stop paying, it’s that easy. Billing can be done by the job, by the month, quarter, or annually. No up front money is required to start building the site. When you are satisfied that your website is a good representation of your business and shows a competitive edge in web presence, let us know and we’ll send you an invoice either via email or the postal service. You can always decide later how you would like to handle maintenance.


So I have my domain name, webhosting, web developer, and webmaster and my business is doing great…I kinda like this technology thing…what else should I look into doing?

  • You could sell items or services on your website. Visit www.paypal.com to see how easy it is to set up a free business account in order to accept secure credit card and e-check payments over the internet. You will need your web developer to build your e-commerce shop and you webmaster to maintain it but you will be able to manage your own finances through Paypal. There are merchant accounts available at your local banks, but all of them want upfront set up fees in the hundreds of dollars…paypal is a very respected, secure, and cheap way to get your business selling on the net for a very small investment.
  • Not selling the things in your store as well as you would like? Advertise your store on www.ebay.com. Setting up an ebay account is easy and listing items for auction is very inexpensive.
  • Still not getting as many hits on your site as you would like? Advertise with google “adwords” by visiting www.google.com.
  • Want your site to come up higher in the search engines? BEWARE – do not pay someone to “optimize” your website for search engines, it is almost always a gimmick to get your money. If your site is designed correctly to begin with, like the ones we put out at IDP, it has already been optimized for search engine placement. If you’re concerned about your site coming up high in searches, request a copy of your keywords from your webmaster or web developer and review them to make additions as needed.

 
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