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Web Hosting, Domain Name Registrations & Emails….

Web Hosting, Domain Name Registrations & Emails….

I’ve been working with advertising clients since the beginning of the web and there’s a lot of confusion about email and web hosting and the registration of your web address. If you want to understand the basics of having a website or know how to set up and manage your own website, hosting account or email accounts you will need to at least have a basic understanding of web hosting, domain registration and email set up (I’m sorry there’s a lot to say here, but the only way to do this is to write it all in one place):

#1 Registering your Domain Name: When you want to do anything on the web you may already know that you’ll need to start by registering a web name or web address (aka “registering a URL” or a “domain name registration” or “registering a DNS”). For that you can go to any online domain name registration company and do the following (Note: You can find an online domain name registration company by typing those words into Google or Yahoo, and then clicking on one of the links that appears and exploring the features & prices of each company that shows up before signing up or acquiring a new web address):

  • Search for and decide on a web address name (I’ll refer to this as the registration of your “domain name” from here on out)
  • Decide how long you want to register the name for (1 year, 2 years, 5 years, or more).
  • Follow the steps on the Domain Name Registrant company to find, pay for and acquire the domain name that you want.

When you’re “registering” a domain name, you’re essentially “renting” it for a given time period (whatever period of time you initially pay for).  Keep in mind that a web site address is sometimes called a “DNS” and also at times it may be called a “URL” but essentially they mean the same thing.  ALSO be forewarned that we no longer are using “WWW” in every case when we type in a web address.  So if you try typing the web address you want into your browser (WITH the “WWW” letters), and that doesn’t work, then try typing it again without the “WWW” at the front of the address to see if that works.  (If you have NO idea what I’m talking about – you may need to start over at the beginning by going to Amazon and buying a book about using your PC such as “Computer Basics“.)

If you register your own domain name all by yourself, you’ll have to remember to renew it at the end of the time period that you have “rented” it for (you’ll have to look for an email that should be sent to you around the time of the renewal and be sure to re-register the domain name or set a reminder in your calendar for 1 year or 2 years [etc] to re-rent your domain name….if you forget to do that your web site will go down and worse yet, you may lose your domain name altogether).

Don’t forget that when you sign up for your domain name, whatever email address you use as a contact for yourself, (on the domain registration site), needs to be working in the future so you can receive any “warning” emails about your domain name registration expiration. If it’s not working, then you will have to remember to go back to the Domain Name Registrant’s website and UPDATE your contact information in your account before that time.  By the way each year “ICANN” (or the organization that oversees all domain name registrations) will send you an email asking you to reconfirm your contact info for this very reason – so be sure you look for those notices and respond to them on an annual basis or you won’t get your domain name reminders.

Once you register your domain name, you’ll have to “Point your Domain name servers” to your “hosting servers” (there will be at least 2 name server addresses)….this just means you will be connecting your new web address [or name] up to the computer where your website will be found. This sounds more complicated than it is. In order to do this you’ll need to know (and enter) the “addresses” for your name servers into the account you just set up at your new domain name registrant’s website (more on hosting & hosting servers next). AND you won’t be able to do this until you have set up a web hosting account. Once you set that up, you will get the name servers for your hosting server, (this can be REALLY confusing, but think of the “name server” as just a combination of numbers &letters that identifies your hosting server) which usually look like this “xxx.xxxx.xxx” (and there should be 2 sets of digits, one for the primary name server and the other for a backup name server). (Note: remember, “server” is just another word for a computer).

#2 Setting up your Hosting Servers:Above we’ve just established that in order to have a website, you have to select and register a web address or name for that website. Then once you’ve done that, you’ll need a computer where you can “put” your website files and that computer is called the “Hosting Server”. Whenever you hear the word “Web Hosting Account” – that’s just a computer where you rent space and connect your web name or domain name up to (and later you’ll put your website files and perhaps even your email on that same computer).

You can find a web hosting provider online…..there are a lot of ins and outs to know about selecting a web hosting provider, so don’t just do that without first thinking it through (I’ll leave that info for another blog). But for now, you need to know that any website requires a web hosting provider (or account).

Once you select a hosting provider and sign up for a hosting account, you will be given an “address” for your hosting servers. ONCE you have that address (i.e., those letters and/or numbers) you can take them back over to your “domain name registrant” account and enter them into the appropriate fields.

Please note: once you set up (or change) the name servers at the domain name registrant, it could take up to 96 hours to propagate throughout the world wide web (or to show up or take effect). Every registrant is different so check yours for more specific information and time estimates.

  • A hosting account is something you have to pay periodically (monthly/quarterly/annually, etc.). If you stop paying for this account your website will no longer function.
  • There is such a thing as a FREE hosting account….but you still have to set it up and connect your domain name up to that hosting account. There are a lot of negatives associated with having a free hosting account an if you want your business or venture to appear “professional” you won’t want to even consider this option.

#3 Setting up your Email: When you get a web hosting account, you can put your website on that “rented” computer (once you have the website created….hopefully by a professional web programmer). In addition to holding your website, many web hosting accounts will also host or include a certain number of free email accounts. So if you set up a web address such as “www.yourwebsite.com” at a Domain Name Registrant (#1 above) and then connect that up to your Web Hosting Account (#2 above) you should be able to also set up and start using Email Addresses that go with that same account (#3 here)

(NOTE: the good news is that once you have your web address registered you can use that address for your email for examples: yourname@yourwebsite.com or youremployeesname@yourwebsite.com.) (if your hosting account doesn’t include email services you’ll have to get an ancillary email hosting server – very much like a web hosting server but that would be just for email; you can get a free email hosting server from companies like Yahoo or Google, but they have all sorts of negatives that aren’t nice if you’re trying to appear professional such as really annoying ads that appear on your web pages).

So, in order to set up your email accounts on your web hosting server, you’ll need to create the account for the email addresses on the hosting server itself (each system is different so it’s impossible for me to tell you exactly how to do that). In order to do that you’ll need to have and use the user name and password that you created when you set up that web hosting account….and you’ll need to set up each email address individually, each with its own u/n and p/w and other info that will be specific to your particular hosting service provider (which may be hard for you to figure out if you’ve never seen this before, sorry!).

Once the Email Hosting server is set up, you’ll also need to set up each individual email account you want to use on your computer(s) (and on each computer where you want to be able to receive the emails at). Specifically how this is done will depend on what type of computer you have i.e., PC or Mac and what programs you use. We use a PC and a program called “Microsoft Outlook”, so I’ll give you an idea of how this works from that perspective.(more on this in a future blog or email me for complete instructions at emily@brandx.me)

In Outlook you’ll need to create a new account (see “Account settings” from within the Outlook Program). There are a number of settings IN your Outlook program that need to be “filled out”. First you’ll need your new domain name and the specific email address you want to set up (youraccountant@yourwebsite.com for example) plus you’ll need your hosting server address and the associated incoming and outgoing mail servers (SMTP & POP), the u/n and p/w you used when you set up your new web hosting account and info from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) (your ISP will have certain “port settings” that will need to be set up according to what ports they use).

If you’ve made it this far, I think you’ll start to see why it’s impossible to find a simple set of instructions regarding how to set up your hosting & email accounts and why a client might want to pay someone (like my company) the up charge of $10/month that we ask for in order to do it for them.

ISP the last thing I’m going to explain to you today is this – your ISP or Internet Service Provider. I’m pretty sure you know what this is…because everyone has to have one in-order to be able to receive their emails at home or surf the Internet. This is also something you have to pay on a monthly or periodic basis (as you may well know) in order to be able to access the web and to be able to upload and download your emails. I can’t tell you how many times our customers have called us to tell us “something’s wrong with our web hosting account” and it turns out they didn’t pay their ISP bill that month (or they did not remember to renew their domain name registration!). All these little pieces have to be set up correctly AND they have to be maintained and renewed when necessary in order to keep your website and emails up and running properly.

In conclusion, there’s a lot to know about registering a new web address, setting up a web hosting account and email accounts…..and while it can be done on your own, it’s also nice to have someone to set it all up for you and to be there if something goes wrong (and to get your site and email back up and running as quickly as possible). If you’ve ever wondered why you should pay someone to do this for you I hope this has helped you to get a feel for why that’s a good idea!!!!


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Your Website Checklist

You’ve just hired someone to design and program your new website and they’re asking you Checklistto give them all the things they will need to create the site. The problem is you don’t know the first thing about it, so what do you do?  You can start with this list of  things that most if not all website designers and programmers will need in order to create a new website:

 1)      Unformatted digital text – be prepared to give your development team all of the text for your website in one UNFORMATTED, Microsoft Word or Word Pad document (or other digital word processing file).  Be sure to label each section of text with the page names that the text goes on (so put “About Us” at the top of the text for the About Us page and so on). Make sure that the headers for each page in this section match the names of each page.  These page names should correspond to and match the primary navigation tabs on the home page and any sub tabs or links that may be included with your site. Don’t forget to include all the headlines, sub headlines, and other text that you want used through the site (you may want “pull quotes” to be used on side bars, for example or quotes or captions to be used on photos; also include all the contact information, copyright dates, email addresses, names of employees.)  To ensure you don’t forget anything use your initial “site outline” that you should have created when you asked for the quote for the job, as a guide for the text you need to write and prepare.

2)      Website Instructions – First let me say that there’s nothing more dangerous and confusing than receiving 35 emails each with a snippet of text or a photo with a name like “25944GP.jpg” or other files that are not properly named and prepared to be handled by the development team.   Be sure to include any and all instructions for the website in the above “Digital Text” document (these instructions can be before or after the text for the site). Be sure to make a clear differentiation between the web text and your instructions, perhaps by writing the instructions in colored text or a different font.

3)      Correctly prepared and formatted Images – The exact size of photos that your team will need won’t be clear until AFTER the design phase of the web development is File format imagesdone.  For that reason it’s just better if you give your team the biggest, highest resolution images you have. If you have those images on your computer, do not try to email them to the team by embedding them into a word document or an email.  You CAN send them as an attachment to an email OR better yet use a service like “drop box” or see if your team has an “FTP” server that will make it easier for your to transfer files that are very large.  If you try to email these images they may clog up your email software’s outbox and even if they go out of your own email system, you won’t have any way of knowing if the client can accept files that are that big.  For that reason it’s just better to upload them to an FTP server or use a system similar to Drop Box.(to use an FTP site, someone from your development team will have to send you the instructions and log-in information separately).  Be aware that not all images are “ready to go”…and your design crew may have to do some photo retouching, cropping, resizing and other word that may or may not be included in your initial website quote.  If you have a choice to send your images in a variety of different file formats, most designers would prefer .jpg images (pronounced J-peg).

4)      Image and file Naming – Be careful how you name the files and  images that you give to your development team because it’s REALLY hard and very confusing when they get files or images that are named “qap239r809.jpg”.  If you could name the photo or file WHAT it is……that is very helpful and avoids unnecessary delays.  If the image you are sending is a photo of “Mary Smith” then you could just name it Mary Smith.  It would be even better if you could add the name of the page where you’d like that photo, for example marysmith_pricing.jpg  (don’t forget you can’t ADD a period in the text name…. you CAN add an underscore OR a dash, without a problem – no other characters can be inserted into a file name and the .jpg part is added automatically so you don’t need to worry about that part…just name the first part of the file name (before the period) as I’ve explained here.

5)      Captions – if you would like a caption on or above any of the images, please provide the information to your team by creating a list using the Image file name (see above instruction about naming your files) plus the text that goes with that image next to the name. You can include this list with the text for the website (with the instructions, before or after). If your website is going to have a series of photos with captions, you’ll want to consider how those photos will look next to each other and try to keep any text or captions that go with the photos in a similar style and length.  It’s better not to have one photo with a big, long sentence under it while another photo has two words.  Also remember that if your site is going to have any moving images or text, which are usually programmed with FLASH instead of HTML, for example, you will want to have those captions of similar length and style as well.

6)      Forms – if you plan to have a form on your website, be sure to include the text for the form (or the field names, in other words) with the unformatted digital text that you’ll be providing to your development team.  Also you’ll need to include the email address where you want the form information to be sent to (so for example if you have a form on your “contact us” page, then whenever someone fills out that form, your team will need to know what email address you’ll want that information to be sent to).

7)      Logos – you development team will also need any and all logo artwork that you use for your company and possibly the name of the font that goes with your logo and business package (some companies have a typeface or “font” that they use for all of their outgoingfavicon 1 materials and some organizations even have instructions or rules that go with those fonts & logos, that a marketing team would have to have in order to use those items correctly).  Be sure to send your logo in the highest resolution possible and if possible send the version that’s color and the one that has a clear background or no background.  If you are not sure which logo to send, then I’d suggest that you send  them all the logos you have (you can include these files with the images you will be emailing or posting to the FTP site or putting into “Dropbox”).

8)      Social Media Links – if you want social media links on your website please send 20-social-media-iconsthe links or web addresses to each of your social media webpages.  Try to avoid telling your programmers “can you link my website up to my Facebook page?” because this opens up a whole new can of worms and a number of opportunities for the programmer to connect your website up to the wrong Facebook page.  If you want your site to be developed quickly and correctly, make it as easy and clear as possible for your team so that you minimize confusion and maximize the chances of things being done right the first time.

9)      Contact info – Don’t forget to include any and all current contact information with the content for the website including all the email addresses you want listed on the website (and where you’d like those items to be listed or located).

I often hear horror stories of companies who have hired someone to work on their website, only to have that person drop off the planet or stop working on the project abruptly with no explanation.  I’d wager to say that these people get frustrated asking for materials, waiting for them, asking for the next thing, then waiting for that item and so on….only to lose time and money and ultimately any and all profitability on the project.  This isn’t inevitable however and you’ll greatly reduce the likelihood of having any major issues if you will take the appropriate amount of time on the onset of the project in order to prepare the materials that your team is going to need.

Finally, don’t forget that your development team is most likely made up of a number of people – you may have a marketing person who is helping you plan and outline the site, a copywriter who will help you to write the text, a designer who will develop the design of the website, a programmer who will program the basic site (an HTML programmer or WordPress Programmer, for example) and possibly other programmers who will do specialty programming such as FLASH, database or E commerce programming.  Finally you may have someone to help you after all that’s done to market your website and get it listed on the quality management teamssearch engines.  You may not need to send all the above information to each person who is working on the site, but it will be helpful to you and certainly the initial people working with you to be able to see all the information in one place – well-organized and clearly thought out – before they start on your web development project.


Web Hosting, Domain Name Registrations & Emails….

I’ve been working with advertising clients since the beginning of the web and...
article post

Your Website Checklist

You’ve just hired someone to design and program your new website and they’re...
article post