Friday, April 22, 2005

How to lose a web site

Here's some really good advice, with lots of real-life examples, on how not to create a web site.

#1. Don't choose a site that's a random sequence of letters

I was casting around for a web site last year for our church, something I'd never done before. I was doing publicity for Vacation Bible School at the time, so I thought I'd try ubcvbs.org, for University Baptist Church Vacation Bible School. It was available, which is probably not a surprise.

#2. Don't choose the first registrar that you come across

I typed that address into my browser, which of course told me, that address is not available, would you like to buy it? I clicked yes, and was sent to the default MSN registrar, some company in Australia, and they charged me $35 for the site. (Now I know that $8 or $10 is probably more reasonable.)

#3. Don't let the registration expire

When I figured out that I'd overpaid, I thought, Aha! I'll just let the domain expire from this registrar and buy it again later from somebody else. I did that, but found that the Australian company's policy was to keep their domains unavailable for 76 days. So I had to wait that long before I attempted to buy it again. Unfortunately, I got squatted on. Some company in India that specializes in buying domains that might have inbound links snapped it up before I could get to it, and now it advertises gravestones. A particularly ironic fate for a church site, I thought.

So, that site is gone. I bought a new one, http://www.universitybaptistonline.org/, which is a much cooler name anyway. I'll try not to make quite as many mistakes this time.