Web design for serious business

what you need to get started

You need three things to run a web site:

  1. A registered domain name.
  2. A web server to host your site.
  3. Code that is your actual web site.

    And you probably also want a fourth:
  4. An ISP (Internet Service Provider)

Here is a quick explanation of what these are, how to obtain them, and what help we can give you with each:

The domain name is obtained from a registrar. An analogy would be that if your web site were a telephone the registrar would be the phone book that associates your name with your number. It will cost you about $8 to $35 per year. Not all registrars offer all the same additional services, and not all are easy to deal with when you need to change something. The lowest price is often not the best deal. Consult with us before selecting a registrar. If you wish we will register your domain name for you at no cost beyond the registrar's fee.

The second requirement, called hosting, provides the computer and the software that responds when someone requests your domain namein their browser. It then sends your web page code to their brwaer. Your web site actually resides on this computer. Unless you have your own corporate computers connected to the Internet 24 hours a day and web server software on them, you will usually rent space on the machines of a hosting service for this function.

A hosting service will cost anywhere from a few dollars to $50 per month or more. It is very important to select a hosting service that provides features and services meeting the needs of your site. Do not contract with a hosting service until you have selected your webmaster; you will need their guidance on requirements. It is unimportant where your hosting service is physically located. It is often unwise to contract for hosting services that come bundled with some other service, such as your ISP, your site-registration, or your web site production.

We will act as your agents in finding and contracting for the right hosting for your needs at no additional charge.

The third requirement is the computer code that actually comprises your web site. This includes the code that tells the visitor's browser how produce the appearance of the pages, text, and pictures, as well as the much larger body of code that implements the 'invisible', behind-the-scenes functions such as databases, dynamic content management, client interfaces, e-mail facilities, credit transaction processing, audio or video, and many others.

Web design is the responsibility of your webmaster who must determine the scope and nature of your site's requirements, analyze and organize the layout and connectivity, and define and code the visible pages and the underlying functions to meet these requirements. Your webmaster will usually also be responsible for production of the graphics on the site.

This is a non-recurring startup cost, and will be your largest initial layout. There is a great range in cost depending on the magnitude and complexity of the site and its constellation of features and functions. For a decently-done business web site this can run anywhere from five thousand to several millions of dollars. In selecting someone to do this, find someone who will work with you by estimate, not by hourly rate (unless you know how long everything ought to take) nor by fixed-price packages, which are usually only suitable for non-commercial use.

To connect your oen computer to the internet and see and manage your web site yourself you will need an ISP or Internet service provider. This is not a part of your web site operation but you will almost always want to be able to surf the web and to receive and send email if you are running a web site. We find that many potential web site owners confuse the function of the ISP with the function of the host, but they are quite different. Your ISP is simply a business with a computer near you that provides a connection to the internet for your PC, through a DSL line, modem, or other type of connection. They usually also provide other services such as a mailbox and email address.

Some large, popular ISPs such as AOL are focused on making web surfing and access to services easy for the average non-technical user. Not all of the default settings they use are optimal for a user running a web site. A good, solid DSL connection at a reasonable price that lets you pick and choose the software with which you operate on the internet is your best choice, and there are many available in almost every location.


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Sidereal Designs™ is a trademark of Sidereal Designs, Inc. of Maryland.

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