Don’t forget website basics is a trite thing to say, sure. But it’s trite just like saying don’t forget to pack before you drive to the mountains in winter. So, here’s what to think about before you start your (online) road trip.
Your Domain Name
You know your domain name by its web address, better known as a URL (Uniform Resource Locator). Before you create your domain name, figure out what that domain name is. There are two things to keep in mind.
First, don’t make the domain name too long — no longer than a couple of words. Yes, we have bookmarks and links these days, but be brief so people don’t get frustrated if they have to type it. And if you have a shorter (but descriptive) name, it gives the impression that you take care to do things right. For example, I use my last name as my URL because it’s unique.
You also need to choose your domain name extension. That’s the dot plus three letters that come after the domain name. You know these extensions by com, net, org, and many others. The com extension is the most common and most valued in the Internet world, but you may have to choose a different domain name and/or one or more different extensions.
This can work out in your favor, though. The butow.com URL is already taken, but I found that butow.net is more descriptive of my business since I have a network of people working with me.
When you decide on a name, go to a reputable domain name registrar. GoDaddy is the one I use. It’s quick and easy to see if your desired domain name is available for purchase. If it’s not, you can see who owns it. Don’t be surprised when you see the domain name is for sale by companies that have purchased large numbers of domain names and sell it for more (sometimes much more) than what GoDaddy charges.
Once you have your domain name, you have to decide if you don’t want other people to have the same name and different extensions. Domain name registrars let you buy the same domain name with different extensions. That can get expensive, but some domain extensions are cheaper than others.
The standard time you have a domain name reserved to you is one year, but you can purchase the domain name (and more than one extension) for several years. If you plan to keep your site for a long time, get your domain for as many years as possible to lock in savings…and peace of mind.
Your Website Platform
Do you want your site to have a blog or not?
If you want a blog, then WordPress should be your choice because there’s plenty of help. What’s more, you can add just about any function you need to the system. You can also host your blog on wordpress.com so you don’t need a domain name. The downside is that you won’t have your own, unique domain name.
No blog means more flexibility. You can find a website creation service to fit your needs. Some of these services also offer website hosting services, so you can get everything in one place.
If you want to create the site yourself, you can also use website creation software or even write code in your favorite text editor.
Your Website Hosting Company
Speaking of website hosting, you need to choose a hosting company that can do two things today and tomorrow:
- Support your desired website platform.
- Provide related services like e-mail accounts.
Many hosting companies help you set up your hosting account, and they’ll ask you a few questions:
- How many e-mail accounts do you want? A hosting company should offer e-mail accounts for you and your team. What’s more, the e-mail will have your domain name, so your website and e-mail addresses are consistent.
- How much disk space do you need? If you have a lot of e-mail accounts, or you’ll store a lot of information like photos and videos, you need a company that can give you plenty of space.
- Do you want certain features? Many hosting companies offer popular features, like WordPress and e-commerce apps, with their hosting plans. Choose a hosting company that offers the features you need and can set them up when they create your account.
Your answers to these questions will tell you how much money you need to spend every year. You should also make sure that the hosting company lets you log into your hosting account so you can make changes. Many hosting companies let you do so with the easy-to-use cPanel interface. You may not need that yourself, but if someone else needs to access your website, it could be a lifesaver.
I hope this information is helpful so you don’t forget website basics before you start designing your site. Enjoy your trip!
Eric Butow is the owner of Butow Communications Group and has designed websites since 1997. Please feel free to comment with questions and ideas to help make this series as useful as possible. Thanks!