Creating a Web Presence for Your New Company
Coming up with a business idea, writing a business plan and finding capital to fund your new business is the process taught by teachers. There is one important step that is almost never mentioned, how to actually go about creating a website. It isn't a very hard step for the most basic functions (simply creating a website that your customers can visit, contact you, get information about your product and perhaps even order it) but it is often crucial to any business' success. So I will break down the process into two steps: the door and the store. The door is your domain name, this is what every potential customer will go to before ever stepping into the store. A domain name name is alphanumeric code with a suffix like .com/.net/.org attached to it to help people locate your store. The store is your server, which responds to potential clients' requests for information. It sends the web page to them and interacts with the client as they access your website.
The first step to creating your website is having a domain name. There are a couple ways to go about getting a domain name. You can check to see if your name is available here and buy domain names at Moniker, one of the world's most secure domain registrars.
It is strongly recommended you own the .com version and/or the local version for instance .se for Sweden, .co.uk for the UK, .de for Germany, etc. If you plan only to have a presence in a single country where the country extension is popular and .com is taken but country version is available, this might be a good option.
However, many people trying to find a good domain name for their company will more than likely run into the problem that what they want is taken. You have two options in this case: find another domain name or try and purchase the one you're interested in. If you opt for the second option the best way to contact the owner and make an offer. To do this visit http://www.iwhois.com and type in the domain name, and get the full whois (not short version). Find the registrant/admin contact, that is who you want to contact about purchasing the domain name.
A few things to keep in mind when making an offer:
- If you're making an offer, chances are you're not the first to ever do so, so be polite and upfront.
- Domain prices vary wildly based on quality, popularity and a variety of other factors, if the domain name has been registered for many years, most people will get insulted at offers under at least a few hundred dollars (or thousands depending on quality).
- Do a bit of homework on what similar names have sold for, search http://www.NameBio.com for similar keywords or styles of name to see what market price seems to be.
- Don't make up a story, domain owners hear 'I need this domain name for a assignment/project/anything' all the time. Just state you want to buy it and include an offer.
- INCLUDE AN OFFER. This is probably the most important tip of them all. Domain owners get tons of emails asking if a domain is simply for sale, these are almost always time-wasting. Include an offer, it lets them know what sort of ballpark you intend to play in and whether it's worth their time to bother replying.
- Don't be offended if you don't get a response. Either up your offer or try contacting another way (phone, mail, broker) if you are still interested.
- Do business securely, use Escrow. Lots of companies/lawyers offer this service, one of the most popular being Escrow.com.
- Don't lose your cool if you get turned down. There is one sure way you will never get the domain name, and that is being rude in a reply email even if you think the price they are asking is ridiculous or they won't sell to you.
Web hosting may seem almost like a commodity these days, it's just a computer with certain hardware and software, but this is a grave misconception. Depending on the importance and complexity of your website the web hosting you should be using may vary wildly. For a new company that simply needs a website some of the large players in the web hosting business are probably your best choice. HostGator and BlueHost are both fairly good options. They provide your basic shared web hosting which is perfect for running a basic website such as informational pages, blogs, email, pictures, etc. While these may be good choices for you at the start, once you're established you have to think about the (hopefully!) growing value of your website where being in a shared environment might not be the best idea. A shared server is a server with many (sometimes hundreds) of accounts are all located on the same physical hardware. For security and uptime reasons later down the road you may want to consider a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or Dedicated Server which are your own environments that you get all the resources exclusively for your website. These generally cost a bit more than shared environments because they are more finite and don't allow the same level of overselling that shared environments do. The advantage is other people on your server can't cause your website problems and you can use more resources which allows you to run more websites, get more visitors to your websites, and run more complex applications. For more advanced setups I strongly recommend LiquidWeb who I have been using for years for my own servers. They provide managed VPS and dedicated servers at competitive prices with reliable 24/7 support.
What are the most important considerations when thinking about what sort of web hosting is right for you?
- What do you intend to do? Simple sites (content oriented, <100 pages), blogs, galleries and most things you install easily are just fine in a shared environment as long as they don't get too popular. Larger, more popular sites, applications, large databases generally require more advanced setups.
- How equipped are you to manage/install everything you need? If you're not that comfortable a web host with good support, script installers (Like cPanel with Fantastico) might be a good choice. If you're very experienced and don't need a control panel you can save money and manage everything yourself in some cases.
- Unlimited hard drives and bandwidth don't exist, it just means they aren't going to stop you from using as much as you can without over-using your share of the servers' memory and processing power. It doesn't mean these companies aren't suitable though, the large ones know how to leverage many accounts based on what expected use is.
- Got questions? Try asking the company, if they don't meet your expectations before you buy anything, what are the chances their service will improve once you're paying?
If you're still not comfortable enough with finding web hosting you can also have a free consultation at Host Charts which will help talk you through your options via email or phone (US/CA only for calling, can receive international calls). If you need help with domain names contact the author at Ohashi.info.