Having a website business can be a pretty easy thing to have and manage, but as there are with many things, you’ll want to make sure you have everything set up correctly and efficiently to ensure more peace of mind and less stress filled nights.
Unless you are familiar with how websites are set up (and by setup I’m talking about everything besides the actual coding), you’ll need to get your hands on a web developer, or at least an IT savvy type of person to help you. It’s not difficult, but there are a some things you should be aware of.
By avoiding the common pitfalls below, you can make your transition to an online presence relatively quick and painless!
1. You Let Someone Else Register the Domain
I can’t stress enough how important this is. A domain only costs around $11 a year, but if you don’t register it correctly it can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in time to fix. One of the most common things I see as a developer is the client says just do this and bill me for it later.
Ok. That’s fine. But it shouldn’t stop there. After the website is launched, you should have it transferred to your own account. Otherwise, you can be in trouble. If your current developer has it registered under their name, and they disappear for any reason (moved on, death, etc), you will be stuck with almost no way of getting the domain back. If your name isn’t attached to it, most companies won’t budge. It can also cause problems if the current registrar person slacks on the yearly fees.
2. You Registered Your Domain at the Hosting Company
This one isn’t as bad as the first one, but it can still cause you serious issues. You know the saying “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? Well that’s the line of thinking here. Most hosting companies will let you buy hosting, and they’ll throw in one free domain registration. Seems like a good deal, until you want to transfer it out for any reason.
If you lock your registration into a hosting account, there are more hoops to jump through if you decide you don’t like them anymore. Usually all you have to do is repoint your domain nameservers, but that’s only if you’re using a third party company. The other thing to note is that if your hosting company goes down, or away, for any reason, the domain will be stuck in limbo. It’s much easier to have a domain at a domain company (I recommend name.com) and your website somewhere else (I recommend inmotionhosting.com).
3. You Signed Up For Hosting Before Talking to Your Developer
It’s not always common knowledge, but when you decide to host a website, your have 2 choices. You can either host on a Windows Server, or on a Linux Server, and the two are not easily interchangeable.
You might think that a Windows Server is what you need, due to the name recognition, but the truth is that you are probably more likely to need a Linux Server, just because of how different the code language requirements are on both. Windows Servers use a scripting environment called Microsoft Active Server Pages (ASP), and Linux Servers use a scripting environment called PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. It’s always important to talk with your developer first, to find out the needs you might have before purchasing hosting.
You also don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot by purchasing hosting for $3/month, because even though you’re saving money, your website performance will take a major hit. Luckily, a number of web developers and web companies offer hosting as part of a monthly service package (we are one of them!), so you don’t have to worry about the headache at all.
4. You Are Still Using Your Gmail/Yahoo/AOL Email Account
This is probably more of a personal choice, and less of a critical issue, but it’s important to address anyway. Email is something just about everybody uses, everyday.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with using your original email, it’s worth noting that it could be causing potential harm to your business and your brand. My business is called WebInke Design, and as a result I have an email called firstname.lastname@example.org. It connects the brand to the communication, and reinforces it. Now imagine if I was trying to sell website services, and I was still using my email address email@example.com (not my real address just fyi … yet). You might wonder if I was serious about my business, or if maybe you ended up on some weird mailing list.
There’s a level of professionalism that comes with having your email address tied to the domain name, and most email accounts are very easy to tie into mail programs (such as Postbox, Thunderbird, Mail, or Outlook). There’s really no reason not to have one.
5. You Decided Free Was Better Than Professional
The temptation is strong, I know it. Parting with your hard earned money for something that doesn’t seem tangible can be a difficult choice to make, and sometimes it seems like there’s nothing wrong with taking the free road.
There are a number of companies who offer free services, if you’re willing to compromise a bit. Wix, Weebly, and Yola are just a couple of examples. They offer you space to build and host a website, for free, and they don’t ask for much in return, or so it seems.
The truth is that this could hurt your business more than you know. Internet visitors love consistency, and they love feeling like the websites they visit are legitimate. Take a minute and consider, would you be more willing to give your business to a website that was called anniedonuts.com, or one that was called anniedonuts.weebly.com? They could literally be the same website, but one of them looks less professional.
Many times you also have to settle for the hosting company putting ads on your website. These are ads you can’t control, and you can’t get rid of unless you pay. And wasn’t paying the thing you were trying to avoid? And if you did actually want to use a custom domain with your free hosting, you better have an IT guru on your team, because it involves changing records most people don’t even know about. Everything free has some kind of price.
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