How big a web site do I need?

Start small and work your way up.

Check to see if your ISP (Internet Services Provider, what you use for dial-up, cable, or DSN internet access) provides personal web space. Use your subscriber web space as a practice page, just be sure to observe the rules about commercial use, disk space limits, and content restrictions. (Don't forget to add a link to your commercial site when you get one.)

Your first commerical web site can function like an electronic business card. List your contact information, a brief description of the goods or services you offer, and a photo or two for interest.

When you do your research, you will find that most reputable web hosting providers offer a choice of plans with various features and will be happy to make adjustments should your needs change. Start with their basic plan, then add features, such as eCommerce or more disk space, as you need them. A common beginners mistake is to buy a huge site with all the bells and whistles, then to realize that you have neither the time nor energy to fill it.

If you decide to use a Content Management System (CMS) they also usually allow you to expand your site and often have other applications that you can install within them. For example PhpGedView genealogy software will let you install a forum using the same login database. You can often add extensions, modules, or plugins to expand CMS capabilities as well.

Finally, become an active Web Citizen. Look around and keep notes on sites that you like or don't like and why. For instance "I like the newspaper look of JS Online but I also want to host a forum, like on ..." gives your web consultant something concrete to work with. You don't end up paying hourly fees for guessing what you mean.

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