Archive for May, 2009

May 31

Part 1 - the Domain Name

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Filed under Small business website tips | 1,406 Comments

Selecting a Domain Name

Selecting a Domain Name

The Domain Name

This is always a deceptive step as it’s so easy to forget there are already literally millions of websites up and running today. This means millions of domain names are already unavailable, and when you add in the fact many are also bought and held to reduce competition, increase traffic, or for resale to the highest bidder, the once endless ocean of possibility has shrunken to a mere kiddie-pool. Once you’ve read this article, check out our domain name search tool to explore available names for your business.

What’s in a name…identity, image, and product.

Domain names ideally convey your product or service while at the same time being memorable. Thinking of what I might name a day-spa I searched It turned out to be an active domain, not for a spa but rather a site promoting RV’s. This still illustrates the point, however, as one can see the thought process that went into picking LazyDays; the domain name itself promotes the RV-ing lifestyle and is bound to sound attractive to the client who is most likely dreaming of retirement, holidays, and lazy days.

A name does not always have to reflect the product or service being offered. I have seen some interesting and catchy names out there, and it is possible this helps them to be memorable. This is alright if you’re looking to engage in a “branding” campaign and have the capital and time to make your name just as desirable as the product/service you sell. But the risk run with an arbitrary name selection is that the disconnect between the name and the content of your site/business can result in a similar disconnect between the client and your site. Take for example an imaginary e-commerce site that sells original-print t-shirts and has the fanciful and dreamy domain name (I am sure this name is taken, it is used for example purposes only). This is all well and good, but there is no relevant link, no mental connection between the two, and so it is more easily forgotten and will most likely have a negative impact on web searches like “funky t’s” or “t-shirt design”. A name like or implies your product and creates a distinct mental connection in the mind of the potential client.

How long should a name be?

Equally important is the length of a site name, as one that is too long can be easily forgotten and easily misspelled. Short words with simple spelling are best, and limiting your domain name to between four and seventeen characters is usually a good idea. Any longer than this, and people will be left scratching their heads instead of browsing your products.

Hyphenated names?

Only as a last resort. If you are thinking of hyphenating it usually means that you are trying to use a phrase which is already taken. Hyphenating a domain name falls into the category of easily forgotten, confused, and misspelled names. A user who forgets your domain name has a hyphen may not arrive at a blank page, but at the site that owns the unhyphenated name. They may never know that the site they arrived at was not the intended site at all, and if the unhyphenated site is competition, you’ve kindly handed them a client. This can, of course, be to YOUR advantage too as it is possible you could receive their clients by mistake, but this is of dubious value so it is best to steer clear of hyphens.

.CA,? .COM,? .NET? Aaargghhhhh….

This will be the subject of a whole other post – please check back soon!

May 13

Static and dynamic websites…what’s the difference?

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Filed under Website structure/development 101 | 1,413 Comments

The terms static and dynamic describe both how the page of a website is “served” to the browser/client, and how the browser/client can interact with that page (my use of browser from here on will mean both the software and the human client).

Static websites:

Static websites are just that - static.  They are delivered directly from the server on which they are stored to the browser that has accessed the site, and - just like an envelope of coupons received in the mail - once delivered, what you see is what you get.  The reason there is no change in a static site is that the two main components of the site, the information and the design, are both hard-wired into the pages of the site and then stored on the server, waiting for the browser to call them up (see illustration at the bottom of this post).

The pros of a static site:

  • quick to develop
  • cheap to develop
  • cheap to maintain as they require little storage space

The cons of a static site:

  • even simple updates or alterations require a payed professional
  • they can quickly become stagnant as little or none of the content changes
  • their functionality(for both client and the owner of the site) is limited

Dynamic websites:

Dynamic sites, on the other hand, provide the browser with a potentially variable experience each time they visit the site as the content can be easily changed by an administrator or owner of the site.  This is because only the design elements of the site are  hard-wired into the page while the content is stored separately.  The actual coded pages of the site are like empty envelopes, and the content of these envelopes is drawn from a database that lies between the server and the browser.  The beauty of this structure is that it is the owner of the site that manages the information in the database.  Without getting too technical, this means that the content can be managed (rewritten, edited, etc.) easily by the owner or an administrator through a simple content management system - it can be as simple as signing into an email account, writing an email, and pressing “send”.

Pros of a dynamic site:

  • updates and alterations can be done quickly and cheaply by the owner/administrator
  • content is always relevant and fresh, providing users with a reason to return
  • increased functionality - the possibilities of a dynamic site are far less limited than a static
  • provides the owner with real-time direct communication with browsers and the possibility of client feedback

Cons of a dynamic website:

  • they take more expertise and time to develop
  • hosting can cost (depending upon site requirements) somewhat more than a static site

It is safe to assume that the vast majority of sites out there today are not static - the web has moved beyond simple “business-card” websites.  E-commerce, information exchange frameworks, and even “simple” business sites demand dynamic capabilities, and fresh content is becoming paramount.  Static pages are a good way to start if one’s budget is low and a simple presence on the web is desired, but relevant content and administrative control can never be undervalued.

A (simple) illsutration of a static website as compared to a dynamic website
A (simple) illsutration of a static website as compared to a dynamic website