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  1. #1
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    Am I going about things the right way?

    I've been reading the posts of other Sitepoint members for a while now, but thought I'd write my first post to ask for a bit of advice. It might be helpful for you to understand my background. I'll try to keep it brief!

    I'm a complete newbie to web design. I've been working in a government job for years and really want to go it alone and believe I've come up with a good idea for a golf based website. I had been trying to just work on it in the evenings and weekends, but found that I needed more time (as there is so much I don't know), so I recently cut back to part-time in my 'proper' job and come 2009, this will be what I do full-time. Somewhat scary but definitely exciting.

    After much web research I bought a copy of Ian Lloyd's book and have just finished it. I would recommend it to anyone else in my situation. I have now ordered a few other books from Sitepoint.

    Therefore, I have some understanding of HTML and CSS and am enjoying playing around with it. I've now spent hours and hours (literally) pouring over domain names (those that are still available) trying to select this best. I've now selected one, which unfortunately is hyphenated, but I can get both the .com and .co.uk The site will initially contain information that is UK based, but the audience will be mainly UK/European and North American (I hope).

    Q1. My first question is should I take a hyphenated name, if the unhyphenated version is already in use? I think I've been lucky in avoiding the pitfalls of front running so far, but I want to buy it asap.

    Q2. I've got my head around domain name registration and realise that the majority of advice says to keep this seperate from hosting, but should I just work on the site offline before seeking hosting (saving me £'s) or would I learn more by looking for this now?

    Q3. Should I be looking for a UK host, as I'm in Scotland, and may need the support?

    Q4. And should I start with a budget package and upgrade as my needs/skills increase?

    I've got a thousand more questions, but just incase this is not the correct forum for them, I'll leave it at that.

    Any advice greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tailslide's Avatar
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    Hi and welcome to Sitepoint!

    I don't claim to be an expert about these things so others may well disagree with me - but in my opinion:

    Q1. I'd be a bit wary... depending on how different the actual service is between you and the non-hypenated domain name.

    Q2. Personally I haven't come across a company that's good at both domain names and hosting. That's not to say they don't exist but I prefer to go with a company that specialises in each. I'd also recommend checking out some of those hosting review sites to get opinions on hosting companies - biggest is not always best. I've spent a good deal of time being fobbed off by several large famous hosting companies. They can also be really inflexible.

    Q3. I know a lot of people use foreign hosts - but I prefer UK hosts where possible. I've found one good one in particular and I tend to stick with them as they're reliable. BUT for a "sand-pit" site where you're messing around learning stuff there are several very cheap US companies. It can be handy to have a spare bit of web space like this just so you don't inadvertently mess your own up!

    Q4. That's what I tend to recommend. No point in spending a fortune at the outset unnecessarily.
    Little Blue Plane Web Design
    Blood, Sweat & Rust - A Land Rover restoration project

  3. #3
    SitePoint Guru cyjetsu's Avatar
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    I use enom for domains and hosting because I read lots of good reviews about them. So far their support has been pretty decent. Although some things worried me like I could not change mail file size settings in my control panel because they said they needed to upgrade their servers and last time I asked they just said "very soon it will be done". Besides that rather worrying issue they have been excellent. There are probably much cheapers ones though.

    I would check out some free hosts first, it is a good idea to use them to test your design skills out befroe starting to pay up every month while you are still practicing.

  4. #4
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surfinggoofy View Post
    Q1. My first question is should I take a hyphenated name, if the unhyphenated version is already in use? I think I've been lucky in avoiding the pitfalls of front running so far, but I want to buy it asap.
    Normally I'd go with a domain name without the dash since it's easier to remember, but if there's a chance the search engines could extract "unintended" keywords (such as "Expert Sex Change" from expertsexchange.tld for instance) then I'd go with the one with the dash (which is what Experts Exchange did when they registered experts-exchange.com all those years ago).

    The main concern though is whether or not the name has already been branded as a trade or service mark. If another company in the same or a closely related industry has the same name, chances are you'll have to give them the domain if they ask for it (or threaten to take you to court for trademark infringement).

    Quote Originally Posted by surfinggoofy View Post
    Q2. I've got my head around domain name registration and realise that the majority of advice says to keep this seperate from hosting, but should I just work on the site offline before seeking hosting (saving me 's) or would I learn more by looking for this now?
    I'd keep them separate (the domain and hosting). If you haven't done so already, I strongly suggest you read www.domainwarning.com - even if you have read it, I recommend you read it again. Since the site would initially be used as a sandbox, I'd create a text file called robots.txt and put the following information in it, then save it and upload it to the root directory on your server.

    Code:
    User-agent: *
    
    Disallow: /
    When you're comfortable enough with the site to launch it, replace the disallow directive in that robots.txt file with the directories you want (and should) block, such as cgi-bin for instance. You can learn more at www.robotstxt.org

    Quote Originally Posted by surfinggoofy View Post
    Q3. Should I be looking for a UK host, as I'm in Scotland, and may need the support?
    I would. Not only does having a UK host better identify your site with the search engines as being UK-centric, but having a company that keeps the same hours you do can really come in handy.

    Quote Originally Posted by surfinggoofy View Post
    Q4. And should I start with a budget package and upgrade as my needs/skills increase?
    I would. Just make sure your "budget package" has PHP and MySQL support in case you want to play around with a CMS like Drupal, Joomla, Mambo or WordPress - or even a forum like phpBB, SMF or vBulletin. Just remember that there is a cut-off point where the lower price just isn't worth the service you get (in this case, "what service?").

    Quote Originally Posted by surfinggoofy View Post
    I've got a thousand more questions, but just incase this is not the correct forum for them, I'll leave it at that.

    Any advice greatly appreciated.
    I've got a thousand more answers. And even if I don't there are plenty others here who do, so don't hesitate to ask.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard
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    A budget package deal will suit you, because your site is probably currently rather small, and most people don't need huge amounts of hosting space when they first start (or for several years often - many sites occupy just a few MB).

  6. #6
    SitePoint Enthusiast Kernelpower_Ltd's Avatar
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    ^^ agree with the above post something like zen cart or one of the many others , this should mean you could launch a catalogue based site that looks fairly good without you having too many coding issues, or of course you could pay a company to do the design for you , if you can afford it that is???

  7. #7
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    Thanks all for taking the time to reply. Gives me a lot to think about.

    Dan - You may come to regret your offer. I've a feeling I might be posting quite regularly now!

  8. #8
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    That's the idea.

  9. #9
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    Never use a "-" in your url. It will confuse potential customers, and benefit some company you are not involved with. Most domain names are "taken", which mean available for a few hundred dollars. Invest wisely and get a good domain name before you put the effort into developing a confusing one.
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