Last time I wrote about what not to do on your Web site. This month I'll cover what you should do.
Register your domain name. Owning your “domain name,” www.yourbusiness.com, is the first step in enabling your customers to find you on the Web. Register every derivation you can, including common misspellings and alternative roots (.net, .org, .biz). Register them yourself. I don't have space here to tell all the horror stories, but trust me, your name and address need to be on the domain name(s), and you need to protect your brand. Stick with either GoDaddy.com ( www.godaddy.com) or Register.com ( www.register.com).
Hosting accounts. Next, you need a place for your site to “live.” The better providers like 1&1 Internet Inc. ( www.1and1.com), GoDaddy, and Register have features such as photo galleries and blogging software, often available on even their least-expensive accounts. Avoid no-name hosts. They're no less expensive, but you will get less for your money.
Automatic site builders. In the “old days” building your Web site meant battling with a Web developer or DIY with complicated Web authoring software. Today, most major hosting services (like those that I've listed above) have some kind of automated template builder to quickly walk you through a site-building wizard. You will need ready-access to your logo graphics and photos to customize the templates, but it's pretty much point and click.
For remodelers, wizard-built sites are a quick, easy way to get online with a site that looks good and is simple to use. Nothing is carved in stone on the Web; you can always move up to something more customized.
—Joe Stoddard is process/technology consultant to the building industry and manages SMA's Best Practices BrainTrust at www.builderbt.com.