The Birth of a Professional Web Site
Part Nine: Launching Your Web Site on the Internet
by Shelley Lowery
When you’re ready to launch your web site, you’ll need to make two very important decisions — what your domain name will be and where you will host your new site.
A domain name is used to locate a particular web site on the Internet. It is a part of the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and instructs the browser as to where to find a particular web page.
When a web address (http://www.domain.com) is typed into the browser, the web server will look for a page called index. This page may have different extensions, such as .htm, .html, or .shtml and will be displayed when the URL is called.
Additional pages within the site are called by including the URL followed by a forward slash and the page name. http://www.domain.com/page.htm
Selecting a quality domain name is of the utmost of importance. Not only will it tell your potential customers what your business is all about, but it will also play a role in branding.
A good domain name is one that will be immediately remembered by your visitors, as it connects with something they’re interested in.
A great domain name is one that can be guessed by a potential visitor looking for something in particular. For example, if someone is looking for information on dog grooming, they might type in: http://www.doggrooming.com. A great domain name will enable a potential visitor to guess the web address and will contain your most relevant keyword phrase.
Here are some basic guidelines to assist you in selecting a great domain name:
1) Select a domain name that contains your most relevant keyword phrase.
2) Your domain name should be easily remembered.
3) Avoid using abbreviations or anything that will be difficult for your visitors to remember.
4) Keep your domain name as short as possible.
5) Select a quality domain name that will grow with your business.
Although there are many new domain extensions available, dot.com is still the best choice.
There are many companies online that will enable you to register a domain name. Although Network Solutions is the original domain name registrant, there are now many less expensive options available. You may want to do some research to find a registrant that meets your needs. http://www.networksolutions.com
If you’re just starting out, you may want to select a hosting company prior to registering your domain name, as many hosting companies will register the name for you when you set up your hosting account.
A Web Host is a company that provides you with server space for your web site. This includes all of your web pages, graphics, scripts and files.
When your web address is typed into a browser, your web host is being contacted to locate and display the requested page.
Free verses Professional Web Hosts
All Web Hosts are not created equally. There are a number of free hosting services available on the Internet. However, if you’re designing a web site for business purposes, you should NEVER host your web site with a free host.
In order to establish credibility, you must be willing to invest in your own domain name and professional web hosting. Web sites hosted on free servers are not taken seriously and will suffer a serious loss of business.
Your visitors may feel that if you don’t have your own domain, you may not be a credible company. They’ll simply take their business elsewhere.
Not only is professional credibility a great reason not to host with a free service, but many Search Engines won’t even index a site hosted on a free server.
If you’re serious about your business and you have a sincere desire to succeed, having your own domain name and professional hosting is a must.
Selecting a Web Host
When selecting a professional web host, your first consideration should be the company. Check out their background. Talk with some of their customers and ask them if they’ve been satisfied with their service.
Do some research:
• How many customers do they serve?
• What is their uptime percentage?
• Do they require you to make payments in advance?
• Do they charge set up fees?
• How is their customer support? Test them.
• Do they offer fast connections?
• How much daily transfer do they allow?
• Will you be charged additional fees if you exceed your daily transfer?
• Do they offer shopping cart software to process your orders?
• Do they offer secure servers?
• Will you be provided with your own CGI-bin?
• Can you upgrade free of charge?
Web hosting prices vary greatly. When selecting a host, make sure you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for. Keep in mind, a lower monthly rate will not benefit you if your site
is down a lot, slow, or customer service is poor.
Selecting a professional web host is a very important decision. Make sure you do your homework and ensure the host you select offers exactly what you need.
Here are some basic features you should look for when selecting a web host:
1) 24/7 reliable tech support
2) Your own domain name (www.yourname.com)
3) At least 10GB of monthly transfer (traffic)
4) A minimum of 20MB – 50MB of server space
5) Unlimited true POP email accounts – firstname.lastname@example.org
6) Unlimited email aliases
7) Email forwarding
8) Unlimited autoresponders
9) Your own unrestricted CGI-Bin
10) Access to SSL Encryption for secure transactions
11) MySQL Database
14) htaccess password protection
15) Server Side Includes (SSI) support
16) Design (and upload to) your site using Netscape or other HTML editing software
17) Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions for those utilizing FrontPage
18) Unlimited free access to your server via FTP/Telnet
19) Easy access to your log files
20) Statistics on visits to your site
Some additional features you may want are:
• Web control panel
• Custom error pages
• Ability to run Cron events
• Mailing list/newsletter support
• URL redirect
• Web mail
• Shopping cart
• Referral program
Although there are many web hosting companies online, there are only two that I can recommend. They are as follows:
Adgrafix – Professional web hosting starting at $19.95/mo. for a 50MB web hosting package.
Host4Profit – Professional web hosting specifically designed for the Internet marketer. $24.95/mo. for 300MB
When selecting a domain name and hosting company, take your time and do some research before making a decision. It will be well worth your time and effort in the long run.
(Continued in part nine)
Copyright © Shelley Lowery
About the Author:
Shelley Lowery is the author of the acclaimed web design course