Frequently asked questions about domains
Disclaimer: The following information is strictly the opinion of myself, Ken Lanser. It is based on my own trial and error, personal experience and the experience my customers have shared since 1995. There are many ways to accomplish setting up a domain. I prefer to avoid the cheap, less reliable options and use proven providers.
Q: What is a domain and why do I need one?
A: A domain is basically a "Web name". You may buy any web name that is not already owned by someone else. Domain names end in a suffix like .COM, .NET, .ORG, .EDU, .BUS to name a few. There are many more but these are the most common. It is important to note that when you buy a domain you choose which suffix to buy. They are each separate domains so if you buy "yourname.com" you do not get "yourname.net" and "yourname.edu" - you buy each one that you want separately. .COM is used for businesses, .NET for networks, ,EDU for schools etc.
Mainly businesses want to buy a domain so they can have a website and so they can use the domain name in their email addresses. With domain email you get instant credibility compared to using an ISP's domain. (IE email@example.com sounds much more respectable than firstname.lastname@example.org!) There are people who would not engage in business with people using some ISP emails. AOL, Juno, and Netzero emails are frequently associated as "people new to the internet" especially by veteran internet users. Using hotmail, yahoo, gmail etc will cast suspision on any business person, as these free and therefore disposable email addresses are frequently used by scammers, theives, and other people who will not support you should anything go wrong in your dealings.
Q: How do I know if the domain name that I want is in use and where do I go to buy it?
A: There are several answers to this question. I prefer www.networksolutions.com. You can check on the availability of a domain and buy it using their service. I would not however recommend ANY of their other services including web hosting.
Q: I bought a domain - now what do I do?
A: Next you need a web host. This is a company who will rent you storage space on their servers for your web site, and allow you to set up email accounts for your employees. The price and services vary widely amongst web hosts. There are some companies that do this for free but I could never recommend any of the cheaper services to any business customers. Cheaper hosts frequently have much more downtime than the companies that are doing a job "well enough to charge for it". Downtime means your emails are returned to sender and your webpage is GONE. Some of the companies charge additional rates for every little feature you can imagine - my main issue with Network Soultions and Godaddy.
People are constantly asking me who we use. Once upon a time we had a great company that got bought out, the service declined, in turn this company was bought out and the service became non-existent. Since 2006 we have used a great company that has had zero downtime, all the features we need (in fact many more features than we need)
They are FutureQuest. If you click on this link it will show you different service plans. You can buy one online. You'll see Shared Hosting on the left , click it - they have several account types. For small businesses that do not require e-commerce (customers actually purchasing from the website) I find the "Visionary Plan" at $8.95 per month (1 1/2 month free if you pay for 1 year at a time) to be a wonderful choice. If your business outgrows the ability of the visionary plan they can move you up to whatever you require. For the record if you should click on this link and sign up with FutureQuest I get a free month's worth of service but I assure you that this has nothing to do with me recommending them to you. I have my web site and email through them. I did a lot of research in making my choice and I've been very happy with them.
Q: How do I set up email for my new Domain?
A: This depends on your web host. Most give you a "control panel" website. You go to the website, enter your username and password provided by the web host, and you can can perform various tasks like adding email account, you can have that users email forwarded to another address - etc
Q: How do I make a webpage? Some people prefer to make their own. A basic webpage is not much harder than a "word" document. In fact you can use Word to make a simple webpage including your address, hours of operation, phone numbers and email in a few short minutes/ There are many resources on the internet to assist you. Google search for 'how to make a web page'. A high school student can frequently be found to do a simple webpage. Alternatively, you can hire someone to do this for you. Be sure to be clear with a potential web design company about monthly charges and charges for any changes you want implemented. I would expect that most companies that needed similar web pages to mobilepcupgrades.com would pay a 1 time fee (no monthly charges at all) and a reasonable fee for future additions to the webpage. Be careful as I continue to hear horror stories about web designers holding their customers hostage by changing passwords on the servers, raising the prices and threatening to take your webpage down if you dont pay up now
Q: If I make my one webpage how to I send it to the internet?
A: Using a simple, free, FTP program, you copy these pages to the FTP space provided by the web host. If you can email an attachment you can do this. Some hosts may provide tools to simplify the process in the aforementioned control panel.