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"getting started" worksheet

domain names / urls

Consisting of the name of your site, followed by dot-something (.com, .org, .net, .edu, etc, etc, etc.), your domain name, or "URL" (Uniform Resource Locator) is the "address" of your site on the Internet. You purchase the right to use a particular domain name to identify your site, generally in increments of a year (1 year, 2 years, 5 years).

The following services may be included with a domain name purchase:

Free Parking/Parked Page: This allows you to post a "Coming Soon" page while your site is in development, sometimes with a contact email address.

Domain Forwarding/Redirecting: This allows you to send a visitor to another existing site. For instance, Martha Stewart owns both marthastewart.com and marthastewartliving.com. The site is hosted at marthastewart.com, but when a visitor types in marthastewartliving.com, he or she is automatically "redirected" or "forwarded" to marthastewart.com. This can be helpful if your organization is commonly known by more than one name.

Free hosting: Beware of this one. You're generally required to allow the company to place advertising on your page, and you usually don't have control over what that is - you could end up with an advertisement for a competitor at the top of your page!

Email address: See Email addresses

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Just because you own a domain name doesn't mean you have any place to put your website. You also have to, in a sense, "rent" space on the Internet by contracting with a hosting company. In exchange for your money, they'll provide you with a certain amount of space to put your site, and they'll usually include a variety of services along with it. Each site has its own needs, so you need to make certain that the hosting package you chose is suited to the requirements of your particular site. It is generally wise to consult with your site designer before committing to a package that may not suit your needs.

The following are some of the possible requirements you may need to be aware of:

Space: If you've got a small site that is primarily text, you'll often be fine with the smallest package a host may offer. If you have a large number of images, or many pages, you'll need a more extensive package.

Bandwidth: This is the rate at which information travels through a network connection. A hosting package will allow a certain amount of bandwidth per month, and will charge extra for more. Again, if you've got a small site and don't expect a huge number of visitors, you'll be fine with the smallest package. If you plan on getting a LOT of traffic, or have a site where there will be a great deal of uploading and downloading of large files, you'll need a package with more bandwidth.

CGI-BIN: CGI stands for "Common Gateway Interface." If you want your site to do anything that allows "interfacing" between your visitor and the site (for example, filing out a form) or between you and your site (for example, using a photo album script allowing you to simply upload photos, while the script formats them into an album), then you'll need a CGI-BIN.

Databases: If you'd like people to be able to "register," receive a password, make a purchase, etc. you'll need your hosting plan to have some kind of database capability.

Supported Scripts: Depending on how your website will be programmed, your hosting account will need the capability to support certain scripts. Common ones include PHP, JSP, ASP & PERL.

Shopping Cart: If you plan to sell anything on your site, you'll need a way to record purchases and collect money. Some hosting packages provide a shopping cart script; others allow you to implement one of your choosing.

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internet service providers (ISPs)

This is the company that makes it possible for you to access the Internet from your home or office. Earthlink, Comcast, and AOL are a few examples of the many ISPs available. Although they often allot a small amount of web space to their clients (more on this in a minute), your ISP has nothing to do with your website. You must still maintain a contract with your ISP if you wish to access the Internet. You may have an email address with your ISP, and you will still have it, even if you chose to use your domain-related email address. As far as the web space that your ISP provides, they generally dictate the URL that you'll use (though you may be able to do a redirect) and may or may not provide a CGI-BIN or any script support. More often than not, that space is not appropriate for a professional site.

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email addresses

Your current email address is probably either through your ISP (i.e. anybody@earthlink.net) or through a web-based provider (i.e., Yahoo, Hotmail). One of the services you receive when you purchase a domain name or hosting is an email address related to your domain name. In most cases, you're provided with a "default" domain name, and then are allowed to add a certain number of email addresses of your choice. For example, if your domain name is mydomain.com, your default name may be mydoma@mydomain.com, and you have the option to add names like mail@mydomain.com, info@mydomain.com, asdfghj@mydomain.com, or whatever you like. Because you are the only person who has the right to use the combination of letters following the "@," you don't have to worry about finding something unique to precede the "@." Once these email addresses are set up, you can either:

1. Configure your email client (Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora) to receive the mail sent to that address.
2. Access your mail via the web, much like you may do with a Yahoo or Hotmail account, or like you may do to access your mail when you're not at your home computer.
3. Forward the mail to whatever address you currently use.

If you have an email address through your ISP, you will STILL have that email address. Some people never use their domain-related addresses, but continue to use their ISP address.

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