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Case Study: What You Need To Start A Website

Starting up a new web site involves several steps. There's a much bigger guide at Business Link under "IT & E-commerce" in their left side menu, but this is the basics of what you really need to know.

Example: One of our customers, Business X (a sole trader) wanted a basic web site to give more information to people who saw their adverts in the local news or received their business card.

There are several things which they needed, but you can work them out from the steps involved in viewing a web page:

  1. Type in the web address - the domain name registration
  2. The computer converts the name into numbers - Domain Name System
  3. Contacting... - the webserver hosting
  4. Transfering data... - the web pages

1. The Domain Name Registration

When a web browser tries to view a web address (starting http://), the first thing it does is convert the first part of the address from a name (like www.software.coop) into a numeric network address that tells it which webserver to contact to ask for the page.

The conversion is done by asking a Domain Name System (DNS) Server. Most Internet Service Providers run their own DNS servers and their customers' computers get the details when they connect. So how do you get your name on all these DNS servers?

There are a number of registrars who can add names to DNS. Which registrars can help you and how much they charge varies depending on the suffix of the name.

Examples:

  • businessX.co.uk or .org.uk - our country-code domain - from about £6 per year
  • businessX.com - a global domain - from about £10 per year
  • businessX.coop - a verified domain, only available to co-operatives - from about £70 per year

The usual advice is to use a country-code domain for local businesses and global or verified domains for global or specialist businesses.

We can manage domain names for you. All domains are registered to our customers, to give you control of the domain no matter what happens in the future.

2. Domain Name System

Once the name has been bought, the conversion between names and network address numbers is done by Domain Name System (DNS), so you need someone to list your names and numbers on their DNS server.  Popular choices are your registrar or your web hosting provider.

Example: businessX.coop was hosted by their registrar for no extra charge.

3. Webserver Hosting

Once the web browser has converted the name into numbers, it contacts the webserver to ask for the pages. For a site to be usable all the time, the webserver needs to be on all the time. For a site to be fast, the webserver needs a fast network connection. This means that most sites are hosted on specialist webservers run by web hosting providers, rather than company servers at their own offices.

When buying web hosting, it is important to check that the server offers enough storage space and data transfer for your site's needs, as well as any specialist facilities or guaranteed response if required. Web hosting is usually charged per month.

Example: Business X was starting with a small web site, so not much space or transfer allowance was required, and not looking to do anything like sell online at first, so no particular specialist facilities were needed. At first, we hosted it on our hosting in London, which offers few specialist facilities but is often the cheapest option.

When you become popular enough, the site can be moved to another server offering more features when required. As well as our own webservers, we also configure and manage servers for clients. If your site or domain name is hosted with someone else, please make sure there are no transfer or exit fees.

4. Web Pages

Finally, once the webserver is contacted, the web pages are transferred.

Example: Business X's site used mostly static pages, which are ones that do not change, except when edited by the webmasters. There was one dynamic page, displaying a contact form which converted its messages into an email to the site owner.

It was still important for the pages to meet various standards, as described in our web technical buyers guide, so that they can be viewed easily by as many people as possible. The source and description files are also important because it makes it easier for you to buy from another supplier later if you want.

In the future, Business X might add database-driven dynamic pages to display product information, run a newsletter or sell online. Those pages can be added using the same design. The co-op can develop them, or they could be bought elsewhere and uploaded within the terms of hosting.

Also

Other services which may be useful when buying a first web site are email forwarding, web mail and advertising services.

To Complete: Your Website Budget

  1. Domain Name Registration: 
  2. Web Hosting:
  3. (if not included) DNS Hosting:
  4. (if not already done) Logo/Graphic Design:
  5. Web Design:
  6. (optional and if not included) Email Services:
  7. (optional) Advertising and Marketing:
  8. Transfer or Exit Charges: (zero if you buy from the co-op)

Total:

Ready to Start Your Website?

We offer a full service including domain name registration, DNS servers, web hosting and email services, or we can supply just a few of the individual elements.  You can view our web products on this site or contact us and we'll offer to help you get started.