In our previous article we discussed the basics of Internet Access. These foundation pieces are necessary before you can begin considering more advanced aspects of the Internet. In this article, we’ll look at the issues of Domain Name registration, web site hosting, domain based e-mail, basic home pages and more advanced web sites.
DOMAIN NAME – YOUR ADDRESS ON THE INTERNET
When you formed your company, one of the first things you did was research and choose a name. The Internet version of this name is known as a “domain name”. For example, “infonetx.com”, “sco.com”, “whitehouse.gov”, “nwsa.com”, and “lincolnelectric.com” are just a few domain names you might recognize. Note, the familiar “www.” prefix is not considered part of the domain name, but rather a service associated with the domain name. The extensions and their meanings include “.com” (commercial entities), “.org” (non-profit organizations), “.gov” (government bodies), “.edu” (educational institutions), and “.net” (network providers).
Generally, you only concern yourself with choosing a name that is unique within your local area or marketplace. Then, you register that name with the appropriate government entities. Domain names however, have to be unique throughout the world. It is possible to acquire overlapping names with different extensions. Perhaps the best example of this is www.whitehouse.gov, the real site, and www.whitehouse.com, a separate site registered by some creative individual.
The Internet’s ordained entity for registering new domain names is known as the Internic. Formed originally as a governmental entity it has transitioned to the private sector.
Your domain name will be forever your company’s location on the Internet. All e-mail to your company will be through that domain name, as well as access to your web site. Therefore, it’s important to choose a simple, easy to remember domain name that customers will quickly be able to recall. It also helps to choose something that’s easy and short to type.
WEB SITE HOSTING
Once a domain name is chosen and registered, various Internet services can be associated with that name. The most obvious is a web site, of course. Hosting a web site though can be an interesting challenge. For those looking for a real challenge, you can build a PC/Workstation to serve as your web hosting machine. Get a high speed dedicated line to your Internet Service Provider, and spend a month of evenings setting it all up and you too can host web sites. Or, you can leave the headaches to someone else and rent space on their web server (like INFONETICS).
DOMAIN BASED E-MAIL
Perhaps one of the most important services to associate with your new domain name is e-mail. Rather than being known as firstname.lastname@example.org, you can now be known by your real name @ your domain name (email@example.com). This too, is a service provided by your web hosting service. They’ll collect all mail addressed to your domain name and hold it until your own internal e-mail system picks it up for re-distribution to your users.
BASIC “HOME” PAGE
Remember that first listing your company placed in the local phone company’s “yellow pages”? A “home page” is the Internet’s version of this yellow page listing. However, this yellow page ad is accessible from any computer attached to the Internet, anywhere around the world! We like to think of a “home page” as a starter web site, usually consisting of a single level page with limited graphics or functionality. It’s usually easy and quick to program, and will serve you well in your early days on the net.
ADVANCED WEB SITE
Soon though, you’ll be thinking of all sorts of additional information, pictures, maps, drawings, catalogs and features you’ll want added to your web site. Before undertaking this step prepare a “story board” of those features you want added. Get a fixed quote on the cost of these items, and then stick to your choices. Web site design and implementation is pretty much a dollars for time equation, and last minute changes or additions can dramatically change the scope (and cost) of any project.
The ultimate goal of this endeavor is to facilitate electronic commerce with your customers. Start small with simple techniques including e-mail forms, small generic catalogs and communications tools. Full-blown interactive electronic commerce is a massive undertaking, and still in its infancy in many regards. Temper your enthusiasm with a dash of the real world and take small steps on this road to the information future.
WHAT INFONETICS CAN DO
INFONETICS is very interested in providing all of the previously described services for you. We’ve recently formed an Internet group to undertake the design and implementation of web sites. Our “www-setup” offering includes researching and registering your domain name, setup of our web hosting service and domain based e-mail along with design and programming of a basic “home page”. Our web hosting service includes 30 megabytes of web space, billed on an annual basis.
For more advanced sites, we’ll gladly work out a story board of features with you and provide a quote for construction of the site. Our experience in your industry provides us with the knowledge and ideas needed to get a leg up on the competition and get your site up to snuff quickly and affordably. And, as authors of the INFONETICS accounting software suite powering your business’s day to day activities, we’re well positioned to provide you with the eventual tools needed for true electronic commerce. Of course, if you’re interested in maintaining your web site yourself, we can help you select the software and tools needed to get the job done.
Give us a call, and let us show you what we can do.