Getting a website up and running isn't just about writing the code and placing pictures. There are several services that work together to get your site onto the web. In this article, I want to identify and outline the major components required to get a site up on the web. This information will help you if you want to build your site yourself, or make sure you know the right questions to ask if getting someone to quote on building a site for you.
An Internet Service Provider (ISP) provides you with access to the internet. Their services allow your computer to access the web, send and receive email and download files. There are lots of ISPs available. Check out Westnet, iiNet, and Highway1.
ADSL is the current standard internet connection offered by ISPs. An ADSL web connection shares your phoneline without interrupting normal telephone service, and it is always active and available.
ADSL is available in most areas, but due to technical limitations, isn't available in some regional areas. Users who can't get ADSL web connections can use alternative non-telephone web connections like satellite and microwave to provide access. The federal government provides financial assistance to subsidise the cost of satellite dishes and installation of these services.
A web hosting service supplies a place to store your website and make it available for viewing on the web. Many ISPs provide some free website space as part of your standard connection account. This isn't usually suitable for a business website because you can't use your own domain name.
Paid web hosting (through your ISP or a specialist web hosting service) lets you use your own domain name, and usually includes a number of email addresses and other useful features. Your hosting requirements will vary depending on the type of site and types of services you require. It is important that you choose a hosting provider and hosting plan that suits your needs, especially for business sites. Digital Forge can help you choose the hosting solution that is right for you.
A domain name is the web address people use to visit your website. For example, the domain name of this website is www.digitalforge.com.au.
Free web space provided by your ISP usually has a web address like www.yourispname.net.au/youraccountname. This is OK for a personal site, but a long address is too hard to remember or type to be really suitable for a good business web address.
You can easily and inexpensively register a suitable domain name to use as your own website address. Choosing the right domain name is important. When selecting a name for your site, remember that you want an easily remembered address usually based on the name of your business.
This is the most tricky part. You have a lot of freedom when creating personal sites, but remember that a business website reflects on the business.
You probably need some professional advice about what sort of website is suitable for you. For example, most businesses don't need an online shop, but there are lots of other internet services that can save you money, or help you communicate with or attract more customers.
A good rule of thumb is that a website should be customer driven and be designed to produce a response or generate a contact. A customer-focussed site talks about services and products, not company history.
A growing trend is for buyers to research a purchase online. Your site should answer the most common questions customers ask, and give them enough information about the products or service to make a buying decision. Sites that rely on "Call us for more details" aren't serving their online customers. If they wanted to ring you, they would have already done it. If your site is helpful, they are more likely to contact you to make a purchase.
Use your web address on cards and other promotional material for your business. However, make sure your website offers access to more in-depth information than the brochure it is printed on.
A good website should be regularly updated. Outdated information means that your site will be considered an unreliable source of information.
as we have seen, there are a number of services involved in making a website. Digital Forge can offer advice and help you set up any of these services to get yourself or your business online.
I am not promoting or recommending any of these services or companies mentioned in this article. I have provided links to representative services and companies to give you a start in researching your web requirements. I make no representations as to the quality of services provided by these companies, or the suitability of their products for your particular needs. That should keep the lawyers happy.