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Things That Make Web Sites Work: Domain Names

If your car is out of gas, do you take it to a mechanic to find out why it isn’t working? You can, but that will be a costly trip. The same is true of web sites; there are many elements that go into making a site functional that have nothing to do with the web developer. Here are some of the most common “web site problems” and how to fix them without calling your web developer:

Expired Domain Name: the domain name (or URL) is the name by which a site is called. It’s usually preceded by ‘www.’ and often coincides with the name of the organization (for example, www.thestonefoundation.com). The domain name is usually the first thing we reserve when planning to develop a site. The domain registrar is the company that 1) reserves the domain name for you, so that it is unique to your site; and 2) points the name to the server where the web site is hosted (the Domain Name System, or DNS). You pay the registrar an annual fee (nowadays, around $10 – $15/year) to reserve the domain name for you, and you can pay in advance for multiple years.

When the paid period is up, your right to exclusive use of the domain expires and it reverts back to the general population of available names. This usually doesn’t happen until after several warnings, but you can miss this if they go to your spam folder, or you have an old email address on file in your contact information. Once this happens, the domain name will no longer point to your web site.

Troubleshooting:

  • if you have an email from your registrar with a warning notice about expiration, click on the link and pay the fee. There is a grace period after expiration where you can have your rights to the domain name reactivated. If you web site has become unavailable during this time, it will generally come back within a few hours once the fee is paid
  • go to your domain registrar (or any registrar, including www.directnic.com, www.godaddy.com, and www.networksolutions.com) and check to see if the domain name is expired. There is usually a link called ‘WHOIS that will tell you who a domain belongs to and when the registration period starts and ends. If your name no longer appears there, you’ve lost it. You will have to reserve the name again (if it is still available) and reset the DNS servers (you should be able to get this info from your web host)
  • KEEP YOUR DOMAIN PASSWORD and if possible, the email that came with it. This will be valuable, particularly if you’re changing web hosts or web developers. Sometimes the domain name and web hosting are managed by the same company, but many times they are not. If they are not, this username and password will NOT be the same as your web hosting information.

Things That Make Web Sites Work: Hosting

In our previous blog, we discussed domain names and how they point visitors to your web site. Well, the location where the domain is pointed is the web host, where the actual files reside that make your web site what it is.

A web hosting company maintains a group of servers where your HTML, images, video, audio and data base files are kept. Keeping web servers from having hardware or software problems, or being attacked by viruses, is a full time job, which is why you should sign up with a hosting company and not try to host the site on your home server using your DSL, cable or fiber broadband line. Another good reason is that if you get a surge in web traffic (which is supposed to be a good thing), your web site will load very slowly and probably crash!

Most small businesses get between 10 – 500 hits per day. The only time it makes sense to host your site internally is when you grow to the point where you’re getting several thousand hits per day (hits are individual visitors to your site, either by people or by search engines) or if you have very confidential data that requires a high level of security. When you’ve grown to that point, you will want to have an IT staff person or vendor to manage it for you.

Nowadays, most web hosting companies charge between $10 – $50 per month for what’s called shared hosting (because you’re sharing a web server with many other web sites who are also getting limited traffic. When you start getting more traffic, you will have to move to dedicated hosting (where you have you own server maintained by the hosting company and used exclusively by your site). This usually runs between $100 – $500 per month depending on the features provided.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS ALWAYS keep your access link, userid and password that the web hosting company provides to you when you sign up! If you change web developers, or hosting companies, you want to be able to have complete access to your files. Don’t depend on the web developer to do it for you. If they’re cooperative and organized, they may track it for you (like I do), but if they’re not, you need a backup.

Creating A Client-Centric Organization

Business and organizations are like nations: dictatorship can’t last forever. Now more than ever, customers have the final word about your success or failure.

The worst thing a customer can do to you is simply ignore you. Stop buying your products, stop eating at your restaurant, stop calling you for service…

And yes, organizations have customers, too…they’re called members. They vote (or not), participate in committees (or not), come to events (or not) and pay dues (or not).

Be honest with yourself. Did you go into business (or become an organization leader)… a) because you enjoyed being in charge, or b) to serve others?

If you answered a), you’re not alone. Most of us enjoy the self-determination that entrepreneurship affords us. But if you’re going to be successful, you’re going to have to switch your priority to b). And don’t worry…a) will take care of itself!

Someone put it this way….The Consumer has a BIG, LOUD VOICE!

Whether it’s Google, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, or simple Word of Mouth, the customer is empowered to endorse you or berate you in front of millions of people with the touch of button.

Here are some things you can do to create a Client-Centric Culture and use that consumer voice to your advantage:

  1. Make sure EVERYONE in your organization is focused on doing what’s best for The Customer. If that means giving a freebee once in awhile…DO IT! If it means staying late to fix a problem…DO IT! If that means firing somebody who can’t get with the program…DO IT! Leadership means making sure that everyone has the same focus.
  2. Use all media to create conversations with The Customer. This includes the web, social media, and print.
  3. Be responsive. Answer phone calls and emails immediately, even if that means using autoresponders. Then act on the information and follow-up with the Customer to let them know what you did. This may mean placing somebody whose only job is to do that.
  4. Empower your staff to advocate for The Customer. The more everyone is listening, the more you’ll know about the Customer’s needs and buying patterns. This will keep you ahead of the curve on important market trends.

Bloom Where You’re Planted!

I had a plant that I was given by a client about 2 years ago (the only plant in my life that I’ve managed not to kill!). It was still in the original pot, and had actually grown quite a bit. Anyway, I decided a couple of days ago to re-pot it. I went out, bought a bag of soil and a new pot, not remembering the size of the original.

Well, I got it home and I put the 2 pots side by side, and said to myself, “this pot is HUGE! This little plant is going to be swimming in it.” But I thought again, pulled the plant out of the old pot (the old soil was practically all roots compacted together), filled the new pot with soil and stuck the plant in. Then I looked at the old pot, and thought, “how tiny is that thing? How did that plant survive all this time? Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

The plant reminds me of my dreams (and a lot of other people’s). We keep them confined to fit our circumstances, when in fact we should expand our world so they can grow freely. And then we look back and say, “why didn’t I do that sooner?” I can’t wait to see how big it gets now!

Don’t wait another day. Broaden your circle of influence – your environment, your skills, your relationships. Don’t shrink to fit your present condition; it may not kill you, but you won’t become any better either. That is very definition of stagnation. Make room for the growth that is coming – more growth than you could imagine!

Can you think of a time in your life when you didn’t know what you were capable of…until you changed your perspective? Share it with us…

9 Lessons from the Sock Drawer (Part 1)

One day, I was getting dressed for an event and almost dressed. When I was ready to put on my socks, I couldn’t find the pair I was looking for. After fumbling around the sock drawer for what seemed like forever, I had only found one. Because I was already late and stressed, panic set in; where was the other sock? Why was this taking so long? Why did this minor activity killed all my momentum? In the end, I couldn’t find it, picked another pair, and in frustration, dumped the entire drawer on the bed!

When I came home later, the sight of my ransacked bedroom made me do something I hadn’t done in years: sort the socks. Because I was no longer rushing, it seemed much easier. But as I was doing it, an idea struck me – I was having the same problem with other “piles” in my life: receipts, business cards, menus, and, of course,  stacks of newspapers and magazines. Each had reached a point where they were so overwhelming that I didn’t want to deal with them!

I realized these are all forms of data. There was information in those piles that could have helped me make better decisions. Those receipts could have helped me track my spending and save money. Those articles could have given me valuable information that could help my business. And those business cards could have turned into profitable business relationships.

So my Sock Drawer Adventure taught me some important lessons that I began to apply to the other data in my life. In the end, it wasn’t that painful and it took less time than I thought. For you, I’ve broken it down into 9 simple steps:

    1. YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO GET STARTED.

One of the first things I realized was, “damn, I’ve got a lot of socks!” Every Christmas, my Mom gives me a pack of socks, yet I never stop using the ones that I had. As a result, I had more socks than I could ever possibly wear.

We all collect information that we never use. The volume alone overwhelms us, and never get to any of it. The first step in getting control of our data is to stop hoarding data and take a good, hard, honest look at what you’ve got.

    1. GO THROUGH EVERYTHING.

Every scrap of paper is information, and you never know what you’re going to find. I found some interesting socks that I had never worn. I found some that brought back memories of specific events. I also found a fair amount of spare change, stamps and other trinkets that were stashed there.

Leave no stone unturned. It could be a long, messy process, but look through that old file box or that discarded thumb drive. You never know what useful things you’ll find.

I’ll continue with steps 3 and 4 in my next post. In the meantime, start tackling your own piles of data…that should keep you busy until then! 🙂

 

 

9 Lessons from the Sock Drawer (Part 2)

In my last post, I talked about my experience organizing my sock drawer, and how it turned into a metaphor for decluttering other ‘piles’ in my life. The first two lessons were really the most difficult and time consuming:

1. You have everything you need to get started; and
2. Go through EVERYTHING.

Hopefully, you were able to put these to use since last time and you’re ready for the next steps. So here they are…

3. GET OVER THE FEAR, GUILT AND SHAME

As I was sorting socks, I began to feel silly – why I hadn’t I done this sooner? Why did I have so many of them? How many times was I in a situation where I could have really used that spare change? And why did I waste time going to the post office when I had those stamps the whole time?

We often procrastinate because the past reminds us of our own shortcomings. We don’t look through receipts because somewhere along the line we told ourselves we weren’t good at accounting. We put it off because someday we’ll hire somebody to do it for us.

News flash: the Cavalry isn’t coming! Not only do you have to rescue yourself, you should rescue yourself, because only in doing it will you realize that you can! And if you do it yourself, only you have to know what you did and why.

But the amazing thing is, as you cope with your data, you also cope with your feelings. By the time you’re done, you’ll be able to talk intelligently with you accountant, your IT guy, your marketing consultant or anybody else you have to deal with to get your systems back on track. You can hold your head up proudly instead of burying it in the sand!

4. BREAK IT DOWN INTO MANAGEABLE PIECES

As I looked at the pile of socks on the bed, I started separating them into obvious subcategories – white vs. dark, business vs. casual, long vs. short, thick vs. thin.

Whatever information source you’re looking at, sort it into smaller segments, then tackle one at a time until you get through them all. Reward yourself each time you complete one of these mini-tasks, but never lose track of the big picture!

Dealing with the emotional side of decluttering takes just as much time and energy as the physical task. But without dealing with it, you’ll end up right back where you wear this time next year.

Stay tuned for more lessons next time. Meanwhile, have you found these tips helpful? Let us know by posting a comment or sending an email.