Before you actually go about creating your website and registering it with a host, there are a couple of things to think about and plan for the future. The number of websites on the Internet is a staggering number, up in the hundreds of millions. You may be asking yourself, “how can I compete and make my mark with that much competition?” It all starts with the website and designing it correctly.
Let us look at a few preliminary steps to think of that will be discussed in the following section. These preliminary steps include:
- Selecting a domain name
- Selecting the web host
- Determining who will manage the site
- Deciding who will make the site’s creative content
- Itemizing your end goals
- Formatting the site’s layout
Selecting a Domain Name
When planning your website, it will be essential that you have a domain name that grabs the attention of your current and prospective customers. Most of the time, you should include your company’s name as the domain name, but there are other things to consider when choosing a domain name.
- Match the Domain Name and URL- First, we should mention that a site’s domain name and its website name are not necessarily the same thing. Don’t worry if this sounds confusing. Most people do not know this and will not take this into consideration when choosing a domain and website name. Domain names are the names that a site is called, and this name must be registered with a registrar. You must also annually pay a fee for the rights of that name. This is what your website is called.
A website name, or the URL, is the actual web address that you type into a browser’s address bar to get to that website. The domain name could be entirely different, but the most direct way to access the website is through the website name. Think about your customers, and how easy it would be if they had to remember just one name to get to your website. This is why the domain name should match the website name. Customers do not want to spend time remembering multiple names. You want to simplify how they find you, and this is one of the first steps. So, make your domain name the same as your website’s URL. This will be a much easier process for customers.
- Domain Name Length– Consider how long your domain name will be and ask yourself the following questions: Will it be too long to say in normal conversation? Can it be posted easily to brochures, billboards, or advertisements? Can people easily spell it? These questions are important to consider because simplification is key. You should assume that if it is tough to say in normal conversation, it will not be said. You should also assume that if it is hard to spell, people will misspell it. The bottom line is this: Go with something simple.
- Company Name– Before determining whether or not to put the name of your company into the domain name, think about the following. Is your company’s name easy to remember? Is it a tongue twister? Are there any other companies out there with a similar name? Does your company sell something unique from everyone else?
You might think that simply naming the domain after your company is the way to go, but reconsider that thought. If your company’s name is not easy to remember, then your domain and website name will not be either. If it is difficult to pronounce or spell, it will be difficult to remember the website name. If there are companies out there with a similar name that they own the rights to, your website could potentially be shut down. Finally, if your company sells something unique, you should consider putting that into the title of the domain and website name. Ultimately, you are going to want to have a domain name that sticks in your customer’s mind.
- Top Level Domain (TLD)- Also consider TLD – the ending or endings you will use for your domain name. They are designed to be used as follows:
➢ .us, .uk or other two letter country designations identify the country of the business
➢ .biz is for business use
➢ .com is for commercial websites
➢ .net was originally designed for networking technology companies but is now general use
➢ .edu is for educational organization websites
➢ .gov is for government websites
➢ .org is for nonprofit organization websites
➢ .info is for informational websites
➢ .co is a new domain that is global but not yet as recognized as .com
If you are concerned about competition using your domain name but with a different top level domain ending, you can always purchase more than one domain and set the second or third domains to “point” to your main website – or even to a specific page on your main website. This is helpful for another reason as well; you can have more than one domain name so that you can do some split testing in your marketing campaigns. For example, you could use one domain name in one campaign and another domain name in a separate campaign and see which one pulls in more customers (note that you don’t need to have a separate domain to run split tests – you can often get the information you need from the advertising platform’s software). Selecting the Web Host
Web hosts are a network of computers and servers that hold all the information about your sites and the pages of your sites. Users are able to view and access these pages and sites by connecting to the web hosts. Before you can launch your website, you must first sign up with a web host. There are two kinds of web hosting services: free and commercial.
- Free– Free web hosts are beneficial if you are looking to save some money. However, there are more restrictions imposed on free web hosting services than paid web hosting services. For certain services, you may be required to put banners and advertisements on your pages. You may also be limited in the size of your files and the types of script you can use. Your bandwidth and speed can also be limited.
- This may seem like a lot of downsides, but when you think about your Internet marketing strategy, you must also think about the expense. Is it worth it to have your site hosted for free, but have ads plastered all over the page? Sometimes, you might not have a choice but to start with a free host and work your way up. After all, every company and website has to start somewhere.
- Commercial– This type of hosting means that you pay to have your site hosted. Having a host that you pay offers many more benefits than a free host. The amount of advertisement on the site is reduced to little or no advertising at all. There are far less restrictions than a free host and your speed and bandwidth are greatly increased. This seems to be a very nice proposition, but are there any downsides?
- You want to be careful how much you spend on commercial web hosting services. Paying very little is cost effective, but can mean that the service does not have the hired help to assist you if there is any problem. Paying a lot may mean you have a lot more service and assistance, but is the amount you pay worth it?
The bottom line for deciding on what kind of web hosting service you needs comes down to a combination of the cost, how reliable they are, and the features they offer. Do some research prior to choosing and see who is recommended as the best for how much you pay. Look into the features they have and if they have any restrictions.