If you're selling any product or service, either online or offline, eventually you will desire your own Website. A website is essentially, a storefront for your products or services, that is never closed. It functions twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and exposes your products and services to a broader demographic market than any other form of advertising. Successful website publication does involve some thought and planning, and there can be a somewhat significant learning curve involved. Essentially, the basics need to be mastered first, and then other elements of web site publication mastered after the basics. The design of a site and the writing of the content, need to speak directly to the audience for which it was intended. The design and writing should be simple yet thorough enough that visitors find the experience of visiting a site a pleasant experience (one that they would like to repeat). Therefore, some thought and planning, as listed below, needs to be employed when creating a site: 1. Choosing and registering a domain name: The first step in building a website is to decide upon a domain name (this is the address where your site can be found by both search engines and visitors), and registering that domain name. The choice of a domain name should reflect what is on the site, and yet be simple enough to be easily understood. A BAD example, of a site that sells books, would be: ReadingRaven.com. This name doesn't effectively state what the site is about succinctly enough. A GOOD example would be: BookNook.com. This name states up front exactly what the site is about. Creativity is important, but it is also important to avoid being overly creative. After the name is chosen, domain name registration can be accomplished by searching for a domain name registration company (Registrar). Many exist online, and some even offer free parking in which you can reserve the name you've chosen free of charge before publication. Since names are rather competitive online, it's important to register a name as soon as possible. When registering a name, you'll also be asked to choose an "extension" for the name. Extensions, in all probability, should reflect the type of Web site you're building. i.e. the extension, .com is defined as "commercial", while, .net, means "network", .edu means "education", .org means "organization", .gov means "government" and .biz means "business". Recommended registrar: Godaddy (http://www.godaddy.com/) 2. You basically have two options for designing and publishing a web site. You either do it yourself or you hire a professional designer. Both the methods have their advantages as well as disadvantages. Doing it on your own would involve some learning curve which might consume lot of your time and no matter how much you learn, your website might still lack that professional touch. You'll also have to incur some additional investment on a designing software. However, you'll have full control over your site and you won't have to run to your designer for every small tweaks you have to make to your site. If you would like to take this route, read more about your options in the following article: http://www.home-based-business-opportunities.com/library/web-design.sh tml Hiring a designer would involve lot of pre-planning on your part such as the number of pages, layout, etc. Improper planning will not only frustrate your designer but also can delay the project considerably, thereby increasing the overall cost of your project, as most designers work on a hourly basis. 3. Once a site is designed and the domain is registered, it is important to select "hosting". Hosting is the service that will maintain your site all day, every day, each hour of the day. A website is live at all times, and therefore it is important to give some thought and consideration into picking a hosting service. Downtime (when a site is down due to technical problems) can't be avoided altogether (all hosts experience technical difficulties from time to time). However, since downtime affects sales, a minimum of downtime should be sought when choosing a host. Tons of hosts exist, with differing price ranges. Most can be found via a search online. It is important to determine your hosting needs, that of your site, and your price range before starting. Cheapest is not always best when determining which host to employ, as cheap hosting packages sometimes entail a great deal of downtime. Some guidelines are as follows: a. Look for a phone number and physical address. In case of difficulties, it's important to have contact information for the hosting service. b. Speak with others that have used a host. Many complaints would indicate sporadic service. c. Find out what the refund policy entails. Some hosts require packages that include set timeframes in which you can't break the contract. A money-back guarantee is also nice. My sites are hosted at: Pair (http://www.pair.com) 4. When all the above are in place, you will need to change the name servers to point to your site. The name servers that you've been previously using will be ineffective at the time of publication, as the name server needs to reflect the actual pathway one must take in order to reach a site. Your domain registrar panel will contain the ability to change the name servers, no matter which registrar you've used. You simply login to the administration panel, and change the name servers. The name servers addresses will be provided by the hosting company and you simply change them to the ones they provided, and click "save". It may take a while (24-48 hrs) for your domain to resolve to the hosting server account. 5. Uploading a site is the final step in the process of designing and publication. After the above three steps are implemented, the site and the content, needs to be directed itself to where it sits on the World Wide Web. This is done via an FTP (File Transfer Protocol of all files to the domain name address. As all messages (and your web site is a message to the world) require certain formatting for transmission on the Web, the proper uploading of your site is of the utmost importance. The file transfer is not really difficult, but can be somewhat confusing to a newcomer to it. A careful and thorough research of "how" to transfer files can effectively dispel any nervousness or prevent mistakes, especially when attempting this for the first time. The general rules for transferring files during an upload are: a. FTP to the provided hosting URL b. Log-in to your Web master panel c. Go to the website's main directory d. Upload HTML documents to the available "docs" directory e. Upload CGI programs to the available "cgi-bin" directory For an in-depth tutorial on transfering files, visit: http://www.pageresource.com/putweb/ftpmain.htm As with anything being done via the Internet or a computer, it is paramount that everything is saved and backed up. Mistakes do happen, and trial and error is sometimes necessary in successful designing and publication of a web site. However, tragedy can be averted, by taking the time to religiously save all work as soon as it is done. Happy Publishing!