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Website Description

What is a Web Site?
and
Why Should San Build One for You?

Actually, there are three topics to cover here:

  1. What is a Web Site?
  2. Why Should San Build One for You?
  3. Do You Really Need a Web Site?

What is a Web Site?

A web site is your presence on the internet. It has a number of components. The primary ones we will cover here are:

The URL, Including Domain Name

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. This could be your own domain name, or you could have a page or pages on someone else’s website. This is the address of your web site.

If you have a web page on someone else’s site, you would not have your own domain name; you would use their domain name and your URL could be long and complex, e.g. www.AcousticByLines.com/performers-entertainers-musicians/ErnieMartinez.htm. This might be an economical way to get started: some sites offer free web pages on their site, sometimes in exchange for letting them advertise on your pages. Sometimes your Internet Service Provider (ISP) offers space for your web page at no additional charge.

If you want to have your own domain name, e.g. www.SLReay.biz, you need to come up with a name that isn’t already purchased or in use and “buy” it from a domain name service. Actually, you don’t “buy” it, you rent it for 1-10 years, at which time you can renew it for up to another 10 years. The domain name consists of www (which stands for world wide web), your name, and an extension. In the olden days, there were a limited number of extensions, such as:

  • .com for commerce
  • .org for non-profit organizations
  • .net for internet service providers
  • .edu for education institutions
  • .gov for government entities
  • .us for united states

etc. New extension are being added as the need arises:

  • .biz for business
  • .ws for website
  • .info for information
  • .me for egos

etc. It is possible to buy YourDomainName.com, YourDomainName.org, and YourDomainName.net, if you want. One would be the actual domain name and the other two would be “aliases” (pointers to the first domain name).

There are high-priced domain sellers. Originally, domains cost $70 / year. Some of the high-priced domain sellers still charge that, or give you a break by selling you 2 years for the price of 1. There are other, equally as reliable and frequently easier to use, domain sellers who will sell domain names for about $10 / year. Godaddy was the lowest priced domain seller that San found, has an easy to use web site, and has excellent support. San has been using Godaddy since 2000.

You should know the user id and password associated with your domain name, and where is was purchased. This is necessary information if you want to move your web site to another host or another web developer. If you are paying for your own domain name, it is your information and it has value. Make sure you are registered as the owner of the domain name.

A governing body called ICANN creates rules for the internet and maintains lists of domain names, their owners, and where they point to, which is the physical web site.

For other considerations about choosing your domain name, see Bad Domain Names.

The Physical Web Site

A web site consists of text, format & colors, images and sound that reside on space which is accessible to the internet 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year. A web site can consist of one or more pages. Each page corresponds to a separate file or files (including images and sound). Multiple pages are joined by links, so it is possible to move back and forth between pages.

If you put your web page on someone else’s site, they might build the page for you or they might have a template for you to build your own page. This makes it easy to get started. It might not give you the flexibility to build exactly what you want, though. You might be limited to fewer pages than you want. You might be limited to doing updates only when it is convenient for them.

If you build your own web site, you should be able to make it look exactly like you want it to look and contain just what you want it to contain. This would include the text you want, the images (drawings, animation, and photographs) you want to include, the sound (music) you want to have available, the organization you want, and the presentation you want (color and layout). This is not always as easy as it sounds. There are books and web sites to help you learn about how to do this.

If you put up your own web site on your own space, you either need to have your own server, available to the internet around the clock, or you need to rent space on someone else’s server. This document will not cover putting up your own server--it is not a service that San offers.

If you want to rent space for your own web site, you need to find a web site host. Like domain name sellers, there are high-priced and cheaper web site hosts. Here are some criteria to look for when choosing a host:

* Space. Some sites restrict the amount of space you can use to store the components that make up your site. Space is measured in bytes (a byte roughly corresponds to a character) and noted as a thousand bytes (K for kilo) or million bytes (M for mega aka "meg") or billion bytes (G for giga aka "gig").

Text pages, even with color and formatting, don’t take up a lot of space. Simple pages can take less than 10K. Large pages will probably stay under 100K, depending on how much text is there.

Images take up more space, but can be stored in a a compressed format (.jpg or .gif) to save space. They can also be modified (change the size and/or the resolution) to be more efficient. Images over 12” height and width, in high-resolution can be around 500K. Images in the 50-70K (or smaller) range are usually of sufficient quality for a web site.

Music and video files take up a lot of space. .Mp3s of entire songs can take as much as 3M of space. Even small music clips or just a verse or chorus can be 400-600K.

* Pipe. This is the amount of data that can be transmitted over the internet at one time. This affects how long it takes to download your site and how many users can download at one time. The bigger the better, if you are realistically expecting a lot of users and a lot of audio and video. This should be measured in Gigs.

* Reports. Reports should be available to you that tell you about your space utilization, how your web page is accessed, and what pages are most popular. These reports are frequently available on line, to the site administrator, who has the user id and password for the site. You should have the user id and password for your site, too, even if you have someone else build and maintain the site for you.

* E-mail. You might want to have your own e-mail account associated with your web site, so you can send out e-mail from you@yourdomainname.com. You probably would have to log into a separate account to send and receive e-mail from that account. For the sake of convenience, you might want to set up a forwarder, so people can e-mail you@yourdomainname.com and it will forward the e-mail to your regular e-mail account. Some hosts offer one e-mail account and an unlimited number of forwarders. Some offer both multiple e-mail accounts and multiple forwarders.

* Support. This is not easy to determine until you need it, but support should be available when you need it (24 hours / day, 7 days / week). Look for support with a toll-free telephone number and/or live-chat and/or quick response to e-mail.

* Growth. Chose a site that will allow you to grow (purchase more storage space if necessary, add more functions).

* Functionality. Some hosts offer the ability to access a database and run web pages that change based on user input, using web programming tools such as Java, Javascript, CGI, PHP, etc.

* Maintainability. You should be able to maintain (change the contents of your web site) when you want to.

* Cost. Some site hosts charge $20 / month. A web developer looked into what it would cost to buy and maintain his own server and determined that $20/month was the bare minimum he could charge to make it financially rewarding for him to do the work. This doesn’t mean that $20/month is a good price to pay.

Godaddy hosts web sites for approx. $60 / year. Dot5Hosting offers web hosting for approx. $60 / year (for the first two years), which allows you to have multiple web site for that price. If you have or plan to have more than one web site, it's worth checking this hosting service out.

Do NOT go to Jumpline (formerly DigitalSpace.net). Their prices are significantly higher than Godaddy or Dot5Hosting, their response time to transfer files is significantly slower, and their tech support is significantly worse. DigitalSpace used to be a great low-cost hosting package, with easy access to features and detailed reports. As Jumpline has raised the price, they have eliminated the free reports and made it harder to manange other features.

Other web site hosts offer full-service web hosting, including domain name registration, custom web design and construction, and web site promotion. In addition, they offer branding, personal service, multiple email accounts, spam and virus filtering on incoming email, and problem solving when mission-critical emails are late / missing. They cost more than Godaddy or Dot5Hosting, but they should offer a lot more support and spam and virus filtering on incoming email. In addition, they should provide complete traffic reports, including words and phrases used in search engines to locate your site.

There are web development services and packages available that will work with your domain name provider and offer templates and software for you to maintain your own web page. They might make it easy to set up the web page initially, and take away the confusion from buying a domain name and web site host. Be sure if you go this route that you will be able to maintain your site in a timely manner and that you will be able to keep your domain name if you want to move your site.

Regardless, you should know the user id and password to your web site on your web site host, and how to access that host. Like your domain name information, this is your information and it has value. You should be listed as the owner of the site.

Entries in Search Engines

Entries in search engines help people find your site. You can also rely on word of mouth, print your URL on your business cards, and include it in your e-mail to your contacts.

There are free search engines, such as Google, and there are other search engines which require listing sites to pay. San only uses free search engines when searching the web, because they read and log all web sites, not just the paying sites.

There are ways to design and maintain web sites and code web pages that enhance your keywords to help your placement in search engines. There are also a lot of things you can do to help your web site do well in search engines. See "How to Make Your Site do Better in Search Engines".

If you use a web site service, they should be able to help you with that. Ask them what they do to help your placement in search engines.

For more information about search engines, see "Optimizing Your Site for Search Engines - A Step-By-Step Guide" in How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet, a book available from www.musicbizacademy.com. For more information about selecting keywords and using them in your web site, get "Web Site Wow" by Jeniffer Thompson of MonkeyCMedia.

Be aware that pages developed using a standard template usually do NOT do well in search engines. Some graphic designers who build web pages create sites that are pretty, but do NOT do well in search engines.

Why Should San Build A Web Site for You?

San offers a wide range of reasonably priced web services and provides you with the information you want and need to know.

San builds sites that are informational and advertisements.

e-Commerce sites with online-sales and/or customer- or membership-only access are outside the scope of the web services listed here.

If price is a consideration, decide how long you want to keep your web site. You can hire web site development services that charge by the month. It could seem like a reasonable price / month, like $10-35. It might provide you with software to design and build your site and that might restrict you to a limited number of designs and a limited number of pages. The software may not be as easy to use as advertised. Eventually, you'll pay more for a site you're not satisified with than you would if you paid the upfront cost and had no maintenance fees.

Even if you hire a web site builder, it is NOT necessary to pay monthly maintenance fees if you don't have a lot of changes to your web page each month.

* If you are an acoustic musician or have a business that offers goods and services to acoustic musicians, you can join AcousticByLines and have your web page on an existing, established web site. This is the most economical way to establish a maintained web presence, short of having someone design, build and maintain one for you for free.

* If you want your own domain name and web site, San can help in a variety of ways:

  • San can purchase your domain name for you, guide you through the process of buying one, or use one you provide. If San purchases your domain name for you, she will use Godaddy, set up a separate account for you, list you as the owner, and provide you with the user id and password for your domain name. You will determine how many years to purchase initially.
  • San can purchase your web site host for you, guide you through the process of buying one, or use one you provide. If San purchases your web site host for you, she will probably use Godaddy or Dot5Hosting, set up a separate account for you, list you as the owner, and provide you with the user id and password for your web site. She will purchase only the options you want and need.
  • San can design a web site for you, or build one from your design. She will talk with you and discover what you want your site to do and how you want it to work and what you want it to look like. She can use images your provide or take digital photographs for you.
  • San was a professional photographer and can take photos as needed.
  • San can train you to maintain your own site, once it is built, and/or maintain it for you.
  • San can train you to build your own site. She teaches computer classes and private lessons in local sites or her clients' homes.
  • San will work at your site or at her own office, as you prefer.
  • San knows a lot of techniques to help with search engine placement and has been quite successful. These include site design, coding techniques, and maintenance functions.
  • San knows coding techniques to put your e-mail id on your web pages and keep it from generating spam to your e-mail id.
  • San works on a time and cost basis. She charges an extremely reasonable amount per hour to build and maintain web pages, and passes direct costs (purchase of domain name and web site host) on without adding to those costs. She charges less per hour if she can work from home, so long-distance clients are welcome!
  • If San does maintenance for you, you are not required to pay a minimum amount per month -- you will be billed only for the actual time spent.
  • San does NOT require you to sign a long-term contract. You may request or cancel services at any time.
  • San can make some YouTube videos for you, which will refer back to your web site and help you promote your business.

For website development or assistance, Contact San.

Do You Really Need a Web Site?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I need a web page?
  • What do I want it to do for me?
  • Is it worth the money I might have to pay for it?

A web site is a way to advertise your business, sell your products, generate interest in something you like and make contact with others of similar interests, or draw attention to something you do. All are legitimate reasons to have a web page. Only you can decide whether or not it is cost effective. Like all advertising and new businesses, there are no guarantees that it will be effective.

Some additional advantages of having a web site are:

  • Lower costs than an ad in the telephone book
  • Available 24 hours / day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year
  • Advertising world-wide
  • Convenient for clients and prospective clients to do business from home

Bare minimum costs to buy a domain name and web site host for one year are $70. That does not include building the web site. An attractive web site, with a moderate amount of functionality (a good starter web site), should cost about (or under) $300 to design, build and install. Sites that are complex, require a lot of graphic work, and/or require additional work with music or video files will cost more to build. (Sites that use a database, and/or use e-commerce functions will cost a great deal more to build and are outside the scope of the services San offers.)

There are intangibles to evaluating the effectiveness of your web site. You might not experience enough direct sales from your web site to make it profitable, but it might become an effective, efficient way to communicate with your clients, generate additional interest, teach you how to build web sites, and help advertise / promote your services.

Only you can decide if the benefits are worth the cost.

For more info about deciding to build a web site, please see "Your Own Web Page" and "Questions" from "Home Office: Weaving Your Web" by Mark Landsbaum, from NASE Self Employed, March-April, 2006.

For website development or assistance, Contact San.

 
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