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Preliminary Steps

While I hope this won't happen, and for my clients it rarely does, you may decide at some point that you want to have someone else take over working on your website. If that happens, it will be much easier if your domain name and hosting are in your name. Then their ownership won't need to be transferred, and you won't have to worry about whether I will cause problems if you want someone else to take over (though I would never do that). My recommendations about where to buy these are based solely on merit; I have no financial stake in this.

A domain name is the technical "dot something" name of a website, such as mysite.com. If you haven't already registered the domain name that you want, you should do so right away, so that no one else beats you to it. You should be prepared for the possibility that your first choice is already taken. You shouldn't have to pay more than $20 per year, and you may end up paying substantially less, so you won't be out much if you register one or more names that you end up not using.

If you haven't already purchased the rights to your domain name, I suggest using GoDaddy. They're the biggest seller, their prices are hard to beat, and I'm relatively adept at making my way around their website, since most of my clients have used them. You can check the availability of different domain names on their home page.

I can help you in selecting an available domain name and purchasing the rights to use it. I don't charge for that, regardless of whether you have me build your website, or even whether we meet in person. One thing to watch out for is that GoDaddy and other domain name registrars will try to sell you additional features and services during the checkout process that may seem desirable or intriguing. I can explain what these things are and why you don't need to buy them, either at all or at that time from that company.

Typically an initial phone call leads to one or more meetings at which we discuss your needs, how I can meet them, what your website would contain and look like, etc. Often I will show you similar features in other websites that I have built, including relevant aspects of their Content Management Systems.

We may also discuss the good and bad things in other websites that you consider relevant, typically because they are competitors of yours and/or they contain features that you would like to have in your website. It is helpful, though not required, that you tell me the domain names of those websites before we meet, so I can spend some time looking at them before we meet.

Meeting with me to discuss your website costs you nothing and can give you some good ideas, even if you ultimately decide to have someone else build your website. Although it is clearly desirable to meet in person when practical, the same things can be accomplished via phone and email. I have built websites for several clients who did not live nearby and whom I have never met.

The next step is for me to write, and if necessary rewrite, a contract that we agree upon and sign. My contracting and terms are described in the Pricing page.

Buying hosting is renting space on a server computer, which is said to host your website. The files that create your website will be uploaded to, and thereafter reside on, your hosting server. I recommend that you DO NOT buy hosting until you know who is going to build your website and where they would like to have it hosted. Hosting servers vary quite a bit in their installed software and features, and different website developers may need or at least prefer different software and features.

If you want to take a look, I prefer that my clients buy hosting from HostDime. They charge a little more than GoDaddy, for example, but it's still relatively inexpensive - around $50 per year for their cheapest plan, which is more than sufficient for most of my clients. Their hosting has the features that I need, and their technical support is both good and easy to reach. Their website and associated tools are relatively easy for me to use, though that's partly due to familiarity, as most of my clients use them.