A website domain name
A website domain name is the address of a website on the web. This is why it is also called an Internet Address.
For example, the domain name wikipedia.org is the Internet address of the Wikipedia Foundation website.
Every domain name is unique, so no two website can use the same domain name. Once you buy a domain name, no other company can buy or use that domain name until you either lose it, or sell it.
Without a domain name, your website will not have an address on the Internet. Without an address, people will not know where to go on the Internet to reach your website.
On average, you can expect to spend about $ 10.00 for a domain name.
Whatever you choose to pay for a domain name, before you buy, make sure your domain name provider also provide you with complete Domain Name Service (DNS) hosting and online access to manage your DNS information, otherwise you will have to purchase this service independently in order to use your domain name.
You can buy your domain name as soon as you find a name that you want and it is available. Good domain names go quickly, so the earlier you buy it, the better.
Due to the low cost of domain names, there is virtually no risk of significant financial loss with a domain name purchase. The Law protects your ownership and property rights to the domain name that you buy, irrespective of whom you buy from.
However, make sure that your name, email, mailing address and phone number is the one listed on the domain name registration.
Make sure DNS hosting is included
Don't be fooled by the low prices alone. If DNS hosting service is not included with the domain name registration, you are not getting a bargain!. You cannot use your domain name without a DNS hosting service. If you fall for this marketing trick, your vendor is hoping to make you buy this service at an additional, and often more expensive cost than the domain name.
Make sure you have direct online access to change your DNS information
If your registrar do not provide you with an online tool that you can use to access and change your DNS information when you need to, be sure that you will have a very bad, frustrating and possibly costly experience building your website.
Know your annual domain name renewal rate
Domain names need to be renewed every year. If you don't renew your domain name, you will lose it. Your renewal rate should not be too much more than your original purchase price.
Do not unwittingly assign your domain name ownership rights to your registrar or vendor
Make sure to check your domain name purchase agreement, for any limitations placed on your ownership of the domain name by the registrar.
Make sure that your name, email, mailing address and phone number is the one listed on the domain name registration.
If you are not explicitly listed on the domain name registration as the Registrant, then you may have unintentionally assigned ownership rights of your domain name to a third party.
You can pretty much purchase your domain name from any reputable domain name provider offering you the best price, DNS hosting services, and online management tools.
A website CMS solution
A website content management system (CMS) is software that helps you manage your website information (content) easily.
Every new website today should be built on a content management system
, and existing website should be overhauled and moved to one.
Running a website is all about working with information; creating, sharing and using it online. Information such as web pages, pictures, audio & video media, animations, office documents like MS-Word, Excel, email, and so on. All these information is collectively referred to as content.
At the very minimum, a good website CMS gives you real control over all these various content that you need to use on your website. It allows anyone to run a website. This means you don't need a "webmaster" or "web guy" to run your website, publish your content, update and maintain your information. You can do it all by yourself. Considering that the average webmaster service rate is $ 75 per hour, a good website CMS will provide you with huge savings in operational and maintenance costs, while giving you the freedom published your content on your own schedule, and not the web guy's.
On a more advance level, a good website CMS gives you more productivity tools and website applications
to implement your ideas and business models online. For example, if you want to sell goods online, you will need a store catalog manager
, shopping cart
, and order manager
applications integrated into your website. By using the right website CMS solution, you won't have to "custom build" such solutions by yourself, while having access to the market-proven tools you need to continue to grow your website and business operations.
Bottom line is, a website CMS solution, in the short-term gives you immediate content publishing control of your website, and save you money; and in the long term gives you access to well built applications tools you need to grow.
Take the time to carefully research and pick the right website CMS solution for your website and you will be rewarded with real control over your website, reduce operational & maintenance costs, and a website that is able to meet your growing needs.
Picking the right website CMS for you really depends on the level of support you need, and the type of application services, features and functionality you need.
For commercial solutions focused on the personal, small business and organizations, you can expect to spend anywhere from $ 0 - $ 20,000 for a website CMS solution.
For commercial solutions focused on the enterprise markets, website CMS solutions can easily exceed $ 100,000.00.
You should purchase a website CMS solution after making a careful list of the features and functionality that you need in the short and long term, compare it to the features and functionality available in various solutions, and speak extensively with representatives of the vendors to assure that all your requirements can be met.
Finally, you should carefully evaluate the level of support that you will need, and who will provide that support to you when you need it. As with most complex technologies, the product by itself can only take you so far, without the expert technical support.
You should only buy a website CMS solution that meets or exceed your requirements, and provides a reliable source of technical support when you need it.
As with most things, what you don't know will hurt you. When it comes to website CMS solutions, it boils down to knowing what you are paying for. Do your homework!
Avoid bundled services and vendor lock-in. Own your website infrastructure.
Website application service providers (ASP) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions bundled web hosting and website CMS solutions, offering low setup costs in exchange for higher monthly fees and no ownership of the website infrastructure you depend on. Sometimes the software works great for you, but the hosting, reliability or support works against you. The solution would be simple if you can just move your website to a new hosting provider or contract with another technical support services firm. However with ASP and SaaS solutions, you are locked-in. You do not actually own your website, you are merely renting the use. With vendor lock-ins, you have no defense against vendor price abuse.
Avoid closed source solutions. Keep your independence.
Having access to the source code that runs your website allows you to customize and extend the functionality of your website as you need, just as you would if you custom build the system from scratch. This is important because more often than not, your business process integration needs will not fit in with the CMS solution development roadmap of the CMS developer. By having access to the source code of your website CMS, you can implement your business process integration projects independent of your CMS developer / vendor.
Know who is providing your technical support.
Many solution developers are not in the business of supporting their products. They outsource support to their independent vendors. This can be a huge problem for you. The common sense fact is the best people to help you fix you problems in a timely and efficient manner are the people who built your product. If your vendor is not the solution developer, you should consider other options.
Website hosting service
Website hosting is basically a home for your website on the Internet. All websites are hosted on web servers, i.e. the actual computers that are connected to the Internet.
A good way understand this is to compare it to real estate. If you think of the web server as a large apartment complex, and your web hosting as an apartment you are rent for your website.
As such, when you purchase website hosting service, you are committing to pay a fixed monthly fee (rent) for the web server resources (utilities) that your website uses every month. This is the more popular form of web hosting, and it is called Shared Hosting, meaning you share the use of the web server (apartment complex) with other websites (renters).
Just as in real estate, website hosting (homes) comes in other forms. Instead of sharing with others, you may opt for a Dedicated hosting, where you are the only one living in the complex, your own private mansion.
So why would you opt for a Shared hosting vs a Dedicated hosting? Depends on what you want to be able to do in your home. If you own your own mansion, you can pretty much do what you want. Where as, if you are sharing with others, you have to live with some restrictions.
In order for your website to be on the Internet, it needs a home. So website hosting is not optional, you can't do without it.
How much you pay for website hosting depends heavily on the amenities (services) you need, or more precisely said, your website needs. You should not buy website hosting unless you know what your website will need.
Shared hosting prices can range from as low as $ 1.00 per month to as much as $ 99 per month.Realistically, you can expect to spend an average of $ 20.00 per month for shared hosting service.
Dedicated hosting prices can range from as low as $ 50.00 per month to as high as $ 700 per month.
You should never buy website hosting until you have made a full determination what sort of services your website will need. You should always consult with your technical support manager or web developer to get detail hosting requirements for your website, before you buy a hosting service.
All hosting services are not created equal. Know what you are paying for!
Most hosting services are non-refundable.
Once you pay for it, and it's not what you want, your only option is to lose your payment, or buy a more expensive upgrade.
Never buy hosting before you know what your website will need.
Always speak with your website solution provider to get the detailed hosting service requirements for your website, before you buy hosting.
Avoid buying prepaid hosting services bundled with other products.
These are designed to lock you in to buy more expensive service upgrades.
Website design service
Website design is all about putting your best face forward on your website. It's about your brand, message and presentation.
Website design service is a graphic & media design service, and should not be confused with website development (see item # 5).
If you are building a business website, an effective website design builds on your existing corporate brand and media design assets, integrating your online website brand with your offline business media. So, if you have not already completed a corporate brand design, and you do not have your media integration kits, you need to complete those first before starting your website design.
A good website design makes it easy for you to communicate your messages clearly and effectively, and serves as a strong foundation for all your online efforts, from marketing, sales to customer service. It builds confidence and gives you instant online credibility.
A bad website design will cost you time and money.
On average, you should expect to spend about $ 1000 for a professionally designed website.
If you are a building a business website, and you have not already completed a corporate brand design, and you do not have your media integration kits, you need to complete these first before starting your website design. On average, you should expect to spend about $ 500 - $ 1000 on this.
Combined, you can expect to spend on average about $ 2000 for a corporate brand design, media integration kits, and website design.
Generally, you should complete your professional website design after you have bought your domain name and completed your corporate brand design and media integration kits. Your web design builds on all these things, hence building an effective web design would be impossible without these foundation assets.
You do not need to buy website hosting or even buy a website CMS solution before you complete your website design.
You should allow yourself enough time to carefully work with your creative design and branding professional to properly document, conceptualize and execute your brand design templates. On average you can complete a website design within 1 week, or 1-2 weeks if you are building your entire brand foundation assets at the same time.
When it comes to web design or branding, it's not how much you spend, but what you spend on. Too many spend on media design services that have no cohesive strategy or clearly defined goals.
Complete your foundation brand assets
From your logo, to corporate colors, fonts, and corporate trademarks, every element of your brand is an opportunity to deliver your messages. Complete your foundation assets early.
Know what you are paying for. Hold on to your media design templates & integration kits
When you pay for media design, you are paying for creativity of the design professional. The result is that creativity is a set of graphic production template files that you can use to reproduce your approved brand assets, such as logos, colors, signs, trademarks, fonts, and so on. You need to keep these files safe and secure to use in future media development projects, like website design.
Demand brand media templates delivery professional industry formats
Make sure your creative design professionals deliver your designs to you in the right high resolution graphics formats. For example, logos and brand identity symbols should be implemented in scalable vector formats like the Adobe Illustrator .AI format, while brochures and letter-heads can be implemented in bitmap formats like the Adobe Photoshop .PSD format. Keep all copies of your media design templates for future brand development and integration projects.
As long as you enforce delivery of your media design template files in digital form for your records, you can pretty much work with any creative design professional you are comfortable with.
Website development service
Website development is about making your website more useful for you and your website users, i.e. customers, partners, employees.
As a simple definition, a website is more useful when users can do more than simply read the static information that you publish on it.
Website development service is what you need when you need to build website applications.
If you need your website users to be able to do more than read the information you published on your website, you need website development to create the website applications that will provide these new features and tools.
Website development service is a time based service that is billed to you on a per-hour basis.
Independent web developers / programmers charge anywhere from $ 20 per hour to $ 150 per hour, while web development firm charge anywhere from $ 75 per hour to $ 500 per hour.
Who you pick to complete your website development work is a question of how technical you are, and if you are qualified to serve as your own project manager.
If you are not a very technical person, the first thing you need to do is hire a technical project manager to work with on your development projects. This person will help create your project technical specifications, development roadmap with short and long term deliverables, clarify the pros and cons of technology options you have, provide documentation, and manage project implementation.
Many web development firms will provide you with a project manager, but it is a good idea to have yours too. You would not buy a new home trusting only the seller's lawyers, you should get your own project manager to protect your interests.
Good website applications are not cheap or easy to develop. Even more important, your web applications are only as good as the people that built it. So it is quite easy to spend thousands of dollars on website applications that will not work as you hoped. This is a common problem that non-technical buyers face all the time.
The best way to get the website applications that you need is to build your website on the a website CMS solution. Hence, the right time to buy website application development service is when you decide on a website CMS.
If you pick the right website CMS platform, you can easily address 80% of needs, and can even more easily custom build the 20% or so that may remain, by working with professionals experienced with your chosen platform.
Using a website CMS solution, you avoid complex and cost application development that you may not be qualified to manage. You get the proven website applications you need, and form relationships with experienced professionals that can help guide your custom development and integration efforts on that platform.
Finally, by picking the right vendor, you should also have an affordable plan to get the bug fixes and upgrades.
Get a project manager
If you are not an IT or technical person, chances are you are not qualified to be your own project manager. You will not spend thousands of dollars building a house you sketched out, get a professional to make sure your development plan is based on reality.
Pick the right website CMS platform
All website CMS solutions are not created equal. Each target specific industries or functions. For example, there are solutions designed for just blogging, CRM, or just e-commerce. And each platform has their own internal development roadmap, i.e. a plan of new applications and features that will be added. Pick a solution that meets most of your immediate needs, and can evolve into meeting all of your long-term needs.
All the hidden problems to avoid when selecting a website CMS solution also apply here. (see Item 2 above).
Website technical support service
When things are not working or there is a problem with your website, who takes responsibility and work quickly to resolve the issue?
If you think the website hosting company will, you will be wrong. Virtually all hosting companies do not provide support for websites they host. Their support services is limited to their web server and their network uptimes, i.e. they promise you their server and network will not go down for too long.
However, most of the problems you get on a website are not server or network related. For the website users, the operational problems you get will be website use related.
Website technical support provides you with access to specific person that will take responsibility for the problem and work tirelessly to fix and resolve problems when they occur.
Depending on the type of website you build, you may or may not need ongoing technical support service. For example, if you are simply running a blogging website, you can probably run your operation all by yourself using DIY tools available to you in your website CMS.
However, if you are running a business website infrastructure providing services to customers, partners and employees, chances are you need to implement complex processes that allow your website to be even more useful to users. In which case, unless you have an in-house website operations department, you will need a strong technical partner to work with as your needs evolve.
Technical support service is a time based service usually billed to you on a per-hour basis.
You can expect to spend anywhere from $ 25 per hour to $ 300 per hour.
Some product vendors, may choose to include non-refundable fixed fees for ongoing tech. support in the original solution sales contract. We do not consider these as fair service contracts and do not recommend them.
Usually, you need to know who will support your website once you buy it, before you buy.
The best time to buy your tech support is when you decide on the website CMS solution for your project.
Choose solution developer support
The best tech support service provider is the one who built the system you are using. Since support is a time-based service, the people that built the system can identify source of problems and implement fixes faster than any third-party service provider.
Opt for a "Pay for what you use" contract
Tech support service contracts should be designed to give you peace of mind, not break the bank. Avoid non-refundable, fixed fee contracts that obligates you to pay for services you did not use. Opt for on-demand support with a fixed hourly rate.
Check your support response window
Make sure you are comfortable with the service level agreement (SLA) you have in place, especially the support response window. The best support is one provide, when you need it. A poor response window may cost you more than you can afford!
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