How To Get A Web Site For Your Business

photo of John Michael Pierobon By: John Michael Pierobon

The other day I called my realtor, Tony, to ask why my house has not yet been sold. His response was "I do not know why it hasn't sold yet, but I am getting calls about listings found on the Internet. What do I need to do to get a web site for my business?"

His is a question I believe is asked by many since the number of web sites has doubled in the past twelve months. Here is pretty much what I told Tony.

First you have to get on the Internet. You need to sign up with a local ISP (Internet Service Provider). For that, I referred Tony to my previous column on selecting an ISP.

Sometimes it is preferable to go with an ISP that offers both dial-up and web hosting so you can upload and download files, review activity reports of your web site, as well as check e-mail with a single log on.

However, this is not necessary. Because it is a virtual world, I know of Brazilian companies hosting their web site in here in Florida, but dialing into their local ISP in Brazil. I also know of companies located in Florida having their web site hosted in Canada. Reasons why this happens include cost and performance.

Once you have decided on an ISP you need to pick an easy-to-spell and easy-to-remember, yet appropriate, domain name. For example, if you are going to sell Barbie dolls on the Internet, you might want to choose "" as a domain name. (Sorry, is taken.) You then have to check to see if the domain name is available. The best way to do this is by visiting .

You or your ISP can register your domain name with the InterNIC. The InterNIC is a quasi-governmental institution run by a company, called Network Solution, that won the contract to provide this service. When filling out the form to register your domain name, you need to provide the name and IP (Internet Protocol) address of the primary and secondary Domain Name Server (DNS) for the site. Your ISP should make this information readily available to you.

The fee to register your domain with the InterNIC is US$70 for the first two years and US$35 for each year after that. Sometimes an ISP will charge a fee on top of the InterNIC registration fee, but it may be worth it if you do not want to get involved with IP addresses and DNS names.

If your ISP does register your domain, make sure you are the registrant of the domain. It is the registrant who owns the domain. If you later want to move your web site to another ISP and the original ISP is the registrant, they can block the move and hold your web site hostage.

The setting up and registering of a domain name takes a couple of days. Once that is done you will have a web site without any content. You need to create some web pages. You can use any number of tools such as Microsoft's FrontPage, Netscape's Composer, Claris' Home Page, Adobe's Page Mill, etc., but if it is to look professional, it should be done by a professional.

Some web authors charge by the hour. Expect to pay between US$50/hour and US$80/hour for web page development. Others charge by the page. Expect to pay between US$160/page and US$250/page.

What makes a good web site is content. Before you go to a web page developer, make sure you have in mind what you want your Web site to say. Figure out the purpose of your web site. There are web sites out there that sell, inform, educate, recruit, handle reservations, answer questions, etc. Then figure out what you want to communicate and how to say it. After all, your Web site is your electronic brochure; your image on the Internet.

John Michael Pierobon is an Internet consultant based in Fort Lauderdale.
John Michael may be reached by sending electronic mail to

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