Frequently Asked Questions
Unless you already have an existing website and know exactly how to you want it to change and grow, this may be the first time you have considered establishing yourself online. Doing so is not as simple as saying "I want a website," but SunRain will work with you to ease you through the process as much as possible.
Table of Contents:
- I want to build a website. Now what? (And what are some of the things I should know before I even call SunRain?)
- How much does a website cost?
- How do I secure a domain name and a web host? Why do I need both? Who does SunRain recommend?
- What is this Drupal thing?
- What is Open Source?
- How does SunRain deal with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
- What is Standards Compliance?
- Do I need Privacy or Terms of Service on my site? And how do I get those?
- I am looking for information about Charlene. Who do I call?
I want to build a website. Now what? (And what are some of the things I should know before I even call SunRain?)
A website offers you the opportunity to make your organization information accessible online 24/7. But a website can be much more than a glorified digital brochure. Many organizations are finding online social networks to be the best form of word-of-mouth advertising and communication, and are making strong use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and much more. Your website can tie into these mediums, bringing the larger global community to one destination.
As you consider what your website will be, where you have an online presence, and what you need your website to do, consider the broader possibilities. Do you want a news feed that can be aggregated or followed through an RSS reader? Do you want a mailing list? A web-store? Can users submit questions, sign up for events, or send in their stories through your website? Will there be frequent updates on your website, or will the content itself rarely change? Do you need to be found through search engines? Want to support ads? These are all questions you should be asking yourself and have a pretty good idea about before coming to SunRain.
You will also need to decide if you want to be able to easy manage the content yourself (through a CMS, or content management system), or if you would prefer to have a web developer maintain your content. A CMS is more of an up front investment, but will save you money in the long run and enable you to have more fun with your website!
You will also need a domain name and a web host for your website, and another FAQ line below addresses this question.
How much does a website cost?
Every website will come with a different quote based on the specific requirements of the site. If you would like a CMS (content management system) or CRM (community/client/customer resource management) system, the up-front cost will be greater, but the long term maintenance will be less expensive as you'll be able to do most content updates yourself.
Videos, photo galleries, blogs and other dynamic environments take more time and are more complicated to set up. Social networking on your site, especially in the form of groups and friend relationships as you might see on Yahoo Groups and Facebook, are complex functionality that require careful planning, development and testing.
Contact SunRain with specifics for your site, and we would be happy to speak with you about what it might cost, and how those costs work out, including alternative options available to you.
How do I secure a domain name and a web host? Why do I need both? Who does SunRain recommend?
Your "domain name" is the URL (uniform resource locator) that points to your site. SunRain's domain name is www.sunrainproductions.com. Yours might be www.yourbusinessname.com. A domain name is like a street address. It points to a house, but it is not the house itself. The house is a structure with rooms and walls.
Your "web host" provides the rooms and walls for your "house" (your website). This is where the files and code that make up your website resides, and where the domain name itself points.
These are two entirely separate services. Domain names usually cost around $10/year. Web hosts cost more, though costs vary depending on your needs.
Domain names can be purchased through any number of online services, including Network Solutions, GoDaddy and most standard webhosts. For purchasing domain names, SunRain likes GoDaddy because they are affordable and offer a comprehensive user interface. You may prefer to procure your domain name from the same company you purchase your web hosting plan, which might save money due to package deals and make the process more convenient. SunRain likes to keep things separate for added security. It's personal choice.
Web hosting space can be purchased through vendors such as Dreamhost, GoDaddy, Media Temple, HostMonster and WorkHabit. These are all vendors that SunRain likes. If your site is a small site that will not have a lot of end-user interactivity, you should be fine on shared hosting. Shared hosting is less expensive, and is what most providers offer. If your site will have a lot of end-user interaction and social networking features, or frequent news updates or videos from you, you need more powerful hosting options such as a Virtual Private Server or Dedicated Hosting. For these, you should look to Media Temple or WorkHabit.
SunRain has a discount code with Dreamhost, which you can use when purchasing hosting through them. Ask SunRain for the code.
SunRain also offers hosting to the smaller sites we build (those that will not have frequent updates or a lot of end-user interaction). Please ask for details.
What is this Drupal thing?
Drupal is an open source framework written in PHP that is used to create websites with content management systems, community features, blogs and e-commerce environments. Because it is open source, the framework and code base is free! When you pay for a website, you are paying for the design, configuration and customization, not for the tool itself. This enables a significant cost savings.
Some top-notch sites built with drupal include:
- www.Gouvernement.fr (French Government)
What is Open Source?
Open Source is a movement that has emerged from the tech industry. At it’s core, it is an ideological concept: the idea being that if we open up the source code to everyone, everyone can build what they need, improve each other’s work, and every human being has equal access to the tools to do great things, and each will help and support each other. In practical terms, this has lead to a large international network of people working together to make the tech world a better place. Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and many other extremely valuable online resources now available to the global network were made possible by the existence of the open source community.
SunRain is working on a project featuring Open Source: We Are Open Source.
For a less ideological and more literal explanation of open source ;), check out Wikipedia.
How does SunRain deal with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Search Engine Optimization is not as much of a mystery as we tend to make it out to be ;) In fact, there is really only one truly critical element in SEO: content! There are tricks to writing your content that SunRain will help you with. Additionally, content will need to be formatted effectively by SunRain to ensure that the principal phrases are marked up appropriately.
Other considerations for SEO include: standards compliance (SunRain believes very strongly in making sure that standards are adhered to as closely as possible on a site), accessibility, proper use of Title and Header tags throughout the site, a site map, and various other techniques used to provide search engines with substantial meta and crawling data to help them through cataloguing your site.
Second to content, however, is another approach that is in your hands more than SunRain's: making use of social networks, blogs and like-minded sites to create meaningful links to your site. (We do not recommend paid linking services as these are not meaningful links and will create a high-bounce rate, meaning that visitors leave your site because it isn't where they intended to go, which will hurt you more than help.)
We will be happy to speak with you in great detail about what you need to do and what we will do to help your site along the way to "being found."
For some basic tips on SEO, read more here: SEO Techniques.
What is Standards Compliance?
With so many competing internet technologies, including web browsers (such as Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox) and mobile devices (such as the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry), it is easy for proprietary code bases and techniques to get in the way of equal access to websites and internet applications. Web standards exist so that there is a base across which everything should be compatible.
Additionally, web standards are used for accessibility, such as screen readers and lower-tech access points to the internet. A site that adheres to standards will be accessible to the end user even if the formatting (layout design) is disregarded by the tool or the end user's settings.
For more information, visit the Web Standards Group.
Do I need Privacy or Terms of Service on my site? And how do I get those?
I am looking for information about Charlene. Who do I call?
Please contact SunRain and write or leave us a message. Rain will get back to you as soon as she is able to. You can also donate to the Sun Cinematography Award here or write a note on her memorial site, cwsun.sunrainproductions.com.