This website is an initiative of J-Lab

# Plan It!

Planning a Web Site

Domain Names

  • Domain Names

    Domain names are, strictly speaking, not necessary for the functioning of the Internet. If all the domain names tomorrow disappeared overnight, it would still be possible for computers to talk to computers, by means of their IP address.

    Choosing a Domain Name

    When you create a website, it’s not enough to have a good name. You also need a good domain.  A domain is the name users will type to get to your site - like,, or

    Registering a Domain

    If you want to find out whether the domain you want is available, don’t just type your preferred name into a web browser.  Even if no website appears, the domain name may already be taken.

Web Hosting

  • Choosing a Web Host

    It used to be that you’d buy a domain one place, then have to decide on a Web host. Not anymore.

    What to Shop For

    There are many reliable Web hosting companies to choose from. So what separates one from another?

    Other Considerations

    Cost isn’t the only consideration when it comes to choosing a Web host.  Here are some other factors that you should weigh before you make your decision.

    Help, My Server is Overloaded

    As your site attracts more visitors, your Web server may start to slow down because it’s processing more requests for pages and files. At this point, you have two ways to deal with the problem: Streamline your pages or upgrade your hosting.

Hiring a Designer or Developer

  • Knowing When You Need to Outsource

    Some aspects of developing your website might benefit from an extra set of hands or a professional’s expertise.

    Writing an RFP or Specification

    Whether or not you plan to hire outside professionals to design or develop your site, it's a good idea to write a Request for Proposals (RFP) outlining the specific capabilities (specifications) you want your site to have.

    Finding Contractors

    Now, you’re looking for someone to bid on your well-crafted RFP.  Where should you look?

    Legal Nuts and Bolts

    While we focus on many legal issues involving websites in the Law and Ethics chapter, there are a few issues specific to hiring contractors that you should keep in mind.

    Managing an Outsourced Project

    The web developer has been chosen, the bid was approved and the papers are signed. Let’s get started!

News Site in a Box

  • Choosing a full-powered, open-source CMS for your news site

    A content management system (CMS) is used to create, edit, manage, and publish content in a consistently organized fashion. A CMS is frequently used for storing, controlling and publishing a variety of different types of content, including news articles, operators' manuals, technical manuals, sales guides, and marketing brochures. The content managed may include text, photographs, audio files, video files, electronic documents, and user-generated Web content like comments and ratings.

    Use a blog system like Wordpress to power your news site

    Over the past few years, an alignment of stars has led many news sites of all sizes to switch from a traditional content management system to a blog platform like Wordpress. The two forces at work: rapid development from the Wordpress community that has grown the back-end framework from a simple blog system to a powerful CMS (content management system), and online news publishers’ collective need to have more flexible, social news sites that are more than just static, digital representations of an old print model.

    Enhance your site with advanced features

    New technologies for online publishing that have specific application to publishing a content website abound. Below are some of the best options, most of which are free and easy to use, so you can take your site to the next level.

    How to build a simple website using free services

    There are dozens, yes dozens, of free website builders available today. Some have been around for years, others are new to the game bringing new, innovative approaches.

    Following is a look at some of the leading build-a-site applications that independent publishers should consider. These are tailored to publishers who need a simple solution and don’t plan to publish new content more than a few times each day. The biggest questions to answer before analyzing these services are:

    1. Do I want my own domain name? (See section on Domain Names)
    2. Do I want a customized design? If so, do I have the skills to play with the code (or know someone who does)? (See section on HTML and CSS)
    3. Are the pages optimized for search engines so I can build traffic? (See wikipedia entry on SEO)
    4. Am I trying to create a publishing business? Am I hoping to sell ads or products to produce revenue?

    Quick, easy and powerful Web publishing

    So you want to be a Web publisher? Thankfully, today’s technology makes it easy for anyone to jump in and produce a content Web site with a professional look and performance.

    There are other sections of this site that detail how to build and host a Web site the “old fashioned way.” But if you are planning to build a news or content site that will be updated frequently, building a static site is probably the wrong way to go. You need dynamic Web technology, which means you create content in a database, and then the web site pulls from it to update the pages. While this sounds complicated (and until a few years ago, it was), there are a multitude of Web services and open-source technology that make this even easier than building and publishing a site the old way. (To learn more about the difference between static and dynamic Web sites, visit the Wikipedia entry on Web sites.)

    News Site in a Box

    How to launch a website with these free and easy tools.