Starting Your Website
Ozdachs can help you through the start-up steps in creating a website.
This page covers some of the points you should consider when you launch your site. Also check out our tools page where we share the tools and services we use ourselves.
Why Do You Want a Website?
Do you want your site to reinforce your corporate presence by reassuring existing clients that you are real, up-to-date, and “in business”?
If your site services existing clients, you can give driving directions to your office, contact information, and other aids to people who know you and are already happy doing business with you.
Do you want the site to share information with your customers or organization members? For example, you can publish special holiday opening hours or updated list price information.
Do you want your site to sell products? Do you have a distribution system in place, waiting for web orders?
Do you want the site to attract new business? Are you hoping to snag passing web surfers who are searching the internet for products and services you provide?
Ozdachs helps you understand the different purposes of websites and how they effect content, look, and publicity. We also develop a written goal for your site which forms the basis of all web design activity.
Picking a Domain:
What’s in a Name?
When someone wants to get to your site, unless they are clicking on a link, they type an address into their web browser. For example, you may have typed in www.ozdachs.biz to reach the Ozdachs home page.
The “ozdachs.biz” part of the typed in address is called a “domain”. When you start a new site, you get to pick a domain name. You then register that name so whenever anyone, anywhere in the world types its name, your site appears.
You can use almost any name, so long as it’s not already in use and it’s not misleading (you cannot try for a name of another company, for example).
In the United States most domain names end with:
- .biz to indicate a business (but, most businesses use .com)
- .com for any purpose
- .edu for educational institutions
- .gov for government sites
- .info for any purpose
- .org for not-for-profit organizations
- .us for US-based activity, but most commonly used by governmental organizations.
These domain endings are technically named “Top Level Domains” (TLD).
There are many other TLD’s on the Internet. Most commonly these TLD’s are assigned to a specific country. However, small countries with interesting TLD’s sell the right to register a TLD. The nation of Tuvalu, for example, was assigned the TLD of “.tv”. They now make money from broadcasters and others who want a domain ending in “.tv”.
In recent years the domain registration authorities have opened up the TLD to a lot of identifying words. Recent TLDs unleashed as this page was being written are .builders, .buzz, .cab, .camera, .ceo, .finance, .cooking, .vodka, .vegas, .press, .website, .deals, … Check out more TLD details at Wikipedia.
We recommend sticking to the TLD’s listed above in purple. They are the most common and most identifiable to potential customers.
Selecting the Right Domain Name for Your Site
Selecting the perfect domain name is an art. If your site is just for fun or if you do not care if people find you in Internet searches, then you can ignore the following paragraphs and pick whatever name you want. However, if your site should attract new customers, volunteers, visitors, or readers, then you have a bit more work to do!
The most natural domain name is the name of your organization. But, unless your business has a famous name (say, “IBM”), use words that describe your service, product, or mission instead.
Your name should highlight the words people will type into Google. Some of our clients site names are www.SanFranciscoAccountants.com, www.criminallawyerssanfrancisco.com, and www.Sun-Valley-vacation-rental.com.
The reason for selecting domain names like these is because search engines put sites with recognizable words in their addresses high on the results lists. Google ranks www.Ashland-vacation-rental.com high in searches for “Ashland vacation rental”.
Once you have a name or two you like, check out if it is available.
If the .com version is already taken, consider if .info or .biz works for your organization. Of course, if you are a non-profit, you may prefer a name that ends in .org.
Picking Your Site’s Home — Signing up with a Hosting Service
Once you have picked a domain name, you are ready to find a company that will “host” your site.
Web hosting services price themselves according to the features you want on your web, how much data you want to store on disk, and how many people are going to be visiting your site.
Site uptime and customer/technical service hours are important for small businesses. However, most Ozdachs clients are indifferent regarding the host services’ Operating System, server technology, or database support. These matters can be important for more intensive internet operations, and Ozdachs can explore them with you, if required.
Luckily, for most of Ozdachs’ customers, a low-end package provides plenty of functionality, storage space, and bandwidth for anticipated visitor activity.
Additional Features in Your “Hosting” Package
With web hosting you should also get:
Email accounts. Most hosting services offer unlimited email account with ample storage for saving email online. You’re likely to need at least 3 email addresses and 100MB of storage.
Email Aliases or Forwarders. Aliases/Forwarders let you show one address to the public without revealing online the actual email account that will receive the message.
You will want to be able to forward inquires sent to addresses such as “[email protected]” to real, attended inboxes. You want to use aliases instead of real accounts so that you can change who receives the specific messages if roles in your business change. Or, you may want to periodically delete old public email addresses and set up new ones for inquiries/sales/etc. if the amount of spam gets too heavy.
An online control panel. An online control panel lets you create and delete email accounts and forwarders without asking for technical support. The control panel will typically also let you look at basic statistics and make other administrative and technical changes to your account.
What Does Hosting Cost?
Reliable web hosting costs approximately $100-$200 annually, including domain-name registration, if paid for in advance. These rates were available in 2018, and had been pretty much unchanged in ten years!
Services in this price range are generally adequate for small organizations. Add-ons for special commercial needs, of course, are virtually limitless both in variety and cost.
Ozdachs currently uses over five web hosting services for its sites.
We intentionally spread out our sites for Search Engine Optimization purposes. We also want to keep alternatives in case one service runs into problems.
Check out our Recommended Tools page for recommendations on hosting services.