What to Look for When Starting a Community

Most modern day websites are now community based. For webmasters stuck in the era of completely static websites that hasn’t existed for 10+ years, it can be a real challenge in order to re-learn everything. There’s certain types of requirements and strategies one must have knowledge of in order to maintain a reasonably active community. Here we’ll discuss what some consider to be the three most important aspects of running a community and what that means when choosing a web hosting company.

1: Security

Security is of utmost importance when dealing with a community type of website. Why? Because it’s not just your security that’s at risk, it’s your visitors’ security as well. Having things happen like password theft and constant spam is not something that your visitors are going to be willing to work with you on. Most people use the same passwords and information on all their accounts on the internet, and you don’t want to be the one responsible for letting all that information slide.

You want to look for a web host that has a reliable way to protect against things like brute force attacks and other forms of mischievous behavior. Safety issues like these shouldn’t require spending cash on 3rd party software; it should be something that your web host takes care of for you (or at least lets you monitor).

2: Popularity

A web host isn’t going to get your community popular, but it certainly can do things that can help. One way is to allow a constant amount of server processing power and bandwidth to let users communicate without any kind of limitations. Another way is that most web hosts have servers which are optimized for today’s common community-based scripts such as forums, blogs, and sometimes even microblogging platforms (like Twitter-type sites).

Using the same interface as the next guy may seem a little less creative then we’d all like, but think about it. Your visitors have probably already used a similar interface before and will less likely become confused as to how your website works. For this reason, it’s important to not only choose a web host that allows commonly used content management systems, but also encourages their use and automatically installs and maintains them if possible. You can choose a good web host from a list of user friendly web hosting companies.

3: Flexibility

What we mean by flexibility is to be able to use the types of scripting languages and advanced features that make community-based sites that much easier to run. Sometimes MySQL isn’t exactly suited for the type of community that requires thousands, even millions of database entries, each being maybe the length of an article. Sometimes you may feel that eventually you’ll need to upgrade your service all together. The idea is that if you’d ever seriously think about using some type of service, make sure that your web server lets you do it if you so choose. Communities aren’t usually willing to wait around for you to change to a different server, and moving a community that’s consistently communicating without shutting it down temporarily is, well, impossible.

Domain Selection – .Com vs .Org, .Net, .Biz & More

The level of competition in domain name selection has grown fierce as interest in the internet has exploded. Single name intuitive domains are being valued, and purchased for figures in the millions of dollars. It has even become difficult to find multiple word domains that meet the phrase popularity criteria.

In reaction to the short supply, many creative organizations have developed new domain locations designed to allow internet focused companies and individuals to register names and phrases of value to them. Development in this field is both a factor of need, and potential profit for the organizations who control the locations.

Some of the most recent additions to this ever-growing list include:

* .biz
* .home
* .info

Without a doubt, there will be many more to come as demand creates potential for even higher earnings for both the registrars and sales agents for these locations. When considering an alternative location for your online venture, keep the following in mind:

Dot Com is King

Though the prevalence of alternatives to a .com location are increasing daily, the power of a .com domain continues to be unrivaled for its acceptance by consumers and search engines alike. The .com name generates a virtual sense of legitimacy, as the domain where it all began. Even old timers like .net, and .org have yet to obtain the general appeal of a .com name.

Without a doubt, everything has its time, and its place. Newcomers like .biz or .info may play a significant role in coming years, and they do allow businesses the flexibility to choose a far more intuitive location name than that which is available in the .com world. But with a limited appeal, and limited search engine recognition, one should likely consider them for additional location registrations, versus the cornerstone location for a new online venture.

My Own Dot Com

Rule number one when selecting your .com name is simply this – take your time! Getting this step right the first time can save you countless hours and headaches down the road. Some recommended steps are:

1. Do the research. Find out what your potential customers are looking for on the net. What keywords and phrases are they looking for? Try visiting Goto.com for help with this step. Goto provides a popular search tool that allows you to enter keywords and phrases, and view the number of searches done on that, and other related terms for a one month period. This can give you a very good idea of what your keyword focus should be.

2. Search the domain registry. Once you’ve narrowed down to a few specific terms and phrases, search the domain registry to check on what’s available in that area. Be creative, always keeping your potential client’s habits in mind. Online for Success provides a domain search area to get you started, located here.

3. Still having trouble finding a suitable name? Why not register with an organization that tracks about to expire domain names? Should a domain not be renewed in an area of relevance to your business, they will inform you of its availability. One never knows – perhaps luck will be on your side, and online success just around the bend!

Web Hosting – Is Your Service Keeping Up With New Trends

For any webmaster, it’s extremely important that your current web host has the ability to accommodate the latest types of applications that are taking over the internet. Gone are the days where a couple kids with an HTML 101 book from high school could create some of the most complex and intuitive websites on the net. In a world where a site visitor expects a little more than just a “picture and a paragraph”, are you going to be ready to build and maintain a website to handle a community, or are you just going to be posting the same old boring articles up that you can find in 100 other different community?

One thing that you really need to think about is the above-mentioned “community”. Today’s visitor expects to be able to not only communicate and gather information from you or your company, but your other customers and visitors as well. Even if you run a website that doesn’t have a whole lot of popularity, communication between your customers is still essential. If a customer or client has never heard of you, that’s okay. But if they discover that nobody has ever heard of you or done business with you, then that’s a different story all together.

Think about this. When you’re shopping around, don’t you feel a little more comfortable when there are other cars in the parking lot and other customers around you? Nearly every town has a little section where there’s a bunch of gas stations or restaurants. Ever notice how all the people tend to congregate around business and leave the empty ones alone no matter what the prices or services seem to be like? The point is that if you don’t have a heavy traffic flow, take the steps necessary to increase it. But in the mean time, you want to make the visitors you do have as visible and as social as possible.

Sometimes it’s necessary to incorporate a rating system within your website, but what most webmasters don’t understand is that a simple 5 star system just doesn’t cut it anymore. People want to see reviews, they want to know who’s creating those reviews, and they want them to be as detailed as possible.

Now, reviews on a website… in the short run it doesn’t take a whole lot of advanced technology, scripting, or hosting features. All it really requires is a simple entry into a MySQL database and a small PHP script to output it to the page. But what about management? Automated spam tools are becoming more and more advanced lately and reviews are one of the biggest targets people go after. You want to make sure that you hosting company supports as many anti-spam techniques as possible in order to keep your website professional and orderly.

The good news is that many programming techniques can be easily incorporated to ensure that your website is as social and spam-free as possible. Languages like Perl and ASP.NET can do things simple PHP could never dream of. Advanced server monitoring allows you to watch who goes in and out of your website like a security camera. Some hosting companies will even alert you when they think that you’ve had a major spam or hack attempt, and assist you with stopping it, fixing it, and preventing it from happening again. It’s features like these that will advance those that keep up with the times and destroy those who don’t. Make sure that you’re making the right choice with your business.

Your Rights as a Web Hosting Customer

When you are a customer of a web hosting company, there are certain rights that you have. You shouldn’t stand for being pushed around just because the hosting company can’t handle the problems that you have. That is what they are getting paid for, and they are going to have to deal with their customers’ problems one way or another in order to stay in business. If you are paying for a service, make sure that you are not letting yourself get ripped off when it comes to customer service.

A common mistake that webmasters constantly seem to put up with for too long is just bad service in general. No, we are not talking about customer service or dealing with tech support, we are dealing with the actual server reliability in itself. As a paying customer, you are entitled to use a server that actually works. In no place during the sign-up process does it say that you have to deal with constant server outages, slow speed, and poor interfaces. If it is your first time dealing with a web host and you are experiencing these problems, get the heck out of there!

Another thing that commonly goes unrecognized is the ability to access your data in a reasonable amount of time, no matter what sort of server problems they are experiencing or violations to their TOS agreement they have claimed you have done. No matter how bad of a day their having with either you or their own equipment, there is no excuse for them not being able to submit to you your website’s code and database entries in one form or another. Yeah, everybody has their off-days, but you shouldn’t have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost data and scripting because of it. Web hosting companies know this and if they feel threatened enough legally, they will eventually find a way to surrender your property back to you.

One last thing that no customer should have to put up with is a web host that doesn’t let you leave them in peace. For instance, some web hosts will try and constantly nag you to stay with them and offer some sort of deal that they only offer to their angry customers. Sometimes these deals come in the forms of free trials, for instance, they will continue your e-mail service for free for a few months and start to charge you eventually for it.

Practices like these are more likely to take place while using a company that doesn’t have much of a popular brand name. It’s important to research these types of things before selecting your web host. Everybody is entitled to make a mistake here and there; they shouldn’t be judged based on just that. They should be judged on the ability to deal with the problems that arise.