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Steps to Publishing a Web Site

Steps you need to take to publish your small business, nonprofit, group or family web site.

  • Identify your objectives for the site (e.g. communicate more effectively with customers or members): Start by brainstorming and coming up with a list of objectives that would be used to guide development.
  • Determine what capacity, features and functionality you will need (e.g. 25 MB storage, 20 POP e-mail accounts): Most local businesses and organizations do not need huge amounts of storage or high traffic quotas. Usually features such as e-mail resources, built in CGI software programs and scripts, control panel, and e-commerce options are what sets one hosting plan apart from another. Other differentiators that matter to small groups are the number of domains and subdomains included and FTP access.
  • Search and register a domain name (e.g. mywebsite.org): You need to research an appropriate domain name for your web site. The obvious domains will most likely be taken, so you will need to be creative. Identify any elements you prefer in the name. Then research and develop a list of available domain names from which to choose. Registration typically costs $15 per year, but can be as low as $9 or as high as $35, depending on the registrar.
  • Review and select an HTML editor or Web site design software (e.g. Microsoft FrontPage): The most commonly used web editors for small and local businesses and groups is Microsoft FrontPage and Adobe Live. However, you can create your site using less expensive, easier to use web editors such as CuteSITE Builder or Namo WebEditor. These cost around $70-$80. Many host providers now include a web-based site builder, eliminating the need to purchase standalone software.
  • Research and select a hosting provider (e.g., Interland): Host providers can besorted into two main groups: those that require you to build and maintain your site while you are logged in and online, and those that are independent of any software or FTP program you might use to create your site. There are many factors to consider when comparing and selecting a host provider, including the features you have identified as important to your goals, customer support, and pricing, to name just a few. Remember, as long as you have a domain secured, you can always change hosts in the future. The degree of difficulty in migrating a site from one host to another depends on the level of  hosting resources and features your site is plugged into.
  • Develop site architecture/structure: Site structure will be informed by a review of other like-minded web sites, available content, the site's objectives, and principles of good site navigation.
  • Identify and collect required content (e.g. calendar, "about us"): Sort your content into logical categories, adjusting the site structure as necessary.
  • Set up e-mail accounts (i.e. create e-mail aliases or POP e-mail accounts): Depending on the amount and nature of your system's e-mail resources, you can set up accounts for individuals (jstevens@mywebsite.org), committees/groups (membership@mywebsite.org), and functions (newsletter@mywebsite.org). You may also be able to create e-mail routing lists by configuring certain e-mail addresses to automatically forward to any number of designated e-mail addresses.
  • Create and publish Web pages: It's best to start with a home page and build out from there. When developing your site, publish to a hidden directory on your new domain so you and/or others can review the site before going public.
  • Update Web site on continuous/as needed basis: You should develop a content provisioning plan that includes how often the site should be updated, who is authorized to submit or make changes to the site, and who will gather regular content for the webmaster or web editors.

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