by Greg Ingalls, Sr.
CEO, Park Lane Services
27 February 2012
In my previous blog post, “Do I need a website?”, I ended saying that perhaps you should be asking, “What do I need to know to have my own website?” Let’s explore:
There are three main parts to having a website: 1) The Domain Name, 2) The Website Project, and 3) The Host.
1) The Domain Name - The domain name is what humans read to identify sites so they can find them. It helps if you have a name that is identifiable with your business. The domain name for this blog is parklaneservices.biz and, if everything is setup properly and working properly, typing that into your browser will bring you to the homepage of this website. (The URL, or Universal Resource Locator, for this blog is http://www.parklaneservices.biz/articles.html. That takes you directly to the articles page.)
Some notes about domain names: “Ownership” of a domain name is really a misnomer. What you actually do is “register” the domain name. Look at it this way: You don't really “own” a phone number, but nobody takes it away from you as long as you keep paying the bill. I’ve had a number of clients lose a domain name simply because they didn’t realize that they had to re-register the domain name in a timely fashion. (Just to be clear, this happened before they were clients of Park Lane Services!) Most of my clients leave their domain names registered in my account. In addition to making it easier for me to make the connections I need to the server, I can also provide services tied to the domain name (such as email) more easily and more cost effectively. And the clients don’t need to worry about the upkeep on their domain. Also, in the past, some clients have spent the extra money for privacy registration to keep their identity hidden. By keeping their domains in my account, their identity is automatically hidden. Just remember that, if you have someone else register your domain, make sure that it’s someone you can trust.
And, what if the domain name isn’t registered in time? Well, a late registration comes with a hefty fee (like an additional $80 or so) provided you register it within a set number of days after expiration. If you go beyond this “extended” redemption period, the domain name is “up for grabs” and it may go to auction or someone else may register it. In this case, there are people that will get your domain name and hold it hostage for hundreds or thousands of dollars! Depending on how many business cards, brochures, advertisements, or vehicles display your domain name, (or how long you have been depending on traffic to your website) you may have to bite the bullet and pay up.
2) The Website Project - This is the actual collection of images and text that the viewer is supposed to see. It starts out as a document (file) or collection of documents (files) on a computer. The project needs to be designed (programmed) in a language that can be read by a browser once it is ready for the internet.
While there are a number of “do-it-yourself” website development programs and websites with varying degrees of user-friendliness, you may or may not want to do your own site. Even if you have a very clear vision of what you think your site should look like, it may be difficult to make the site do what you want. It may be to your advantage to hire someone to do it. Besides being difficult to design the website to look and perform as you would like it to, there are also “behind the scenes” issues, such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as well as scripts for email forms, etc.
Even if you are tech-savvy, you may choose to have someone else build your website. Consider this example: I have no trouble changing the oil in my car, but it would take much longer for me to do it rather than to take it to someone fully equipped with the proper tools, expertise, and preparation. I would have to buy the oil, find the necessary tools, and make the necessary time to change the oil, not to mention the potential mess, the disposal of the oil, the clean up afterward, etc. It’s simply easier for me to spend a little bit more and get the job done by someone who can get it done in a quarter of the time it would take me and by someone with more experience.
3) Hosting / Management - Hosting is basically saving the website project to a computer that is connected to the internet, i.e., the server. Management refers to the upkeep and “tweaking” which is inevitably necessary over time. While simple hosting plans are relatively inexpensive, you may want to spend a bit more and have your site hosted by someone that takes care of the maintenance. It’s important!
So there's a simplistic view of what is required. Of course, everything here needs to be set up properly, i.e, the project needs to be loaded onto the server and the domain name needs to be set up to point to the appropriate project. But once it is set up properly, anyone on the internet should be able to type the domain name into their browser and see the website project appear.
If this brief article raises any questions you'd like to see answered, please contact Park Lane Services at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you'd like to see in future posts. Thanks for reading.