You could argue we live in a world of communication overload.  Telephone, text messages, instant messaging, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, e-mail, postal mail, TV, radio,…did I miss anything?  Oh yeah! Tablets are here.  Can you name how many of these forms of communication is not tied to the Internet in some way? One.  Every modern form of communication is influenced by or provided by the Internet.  And there’s some big news where the Internet is concerned.  We’ll mention our top contenders.

In our number one spot goes back to the roots.  ARPA, Advanced Research Projects Agency, was responsible for the first computer network that eventually became the Internet using a 32bit addressing system.  The current addressing system, IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4), allows for over 4.2 billion addresses…and we’re running out!  Vint Cerf who was part of the ARPA project and a Vice President at Google is involved again promoting the new version 6 that will allow for hundreds of trillions of addresses.  Google along with Facebook and Yahoo! are planning on testing the newer protocol within their highly trafficked sites on June 8, 2011, proclaimed by the Internet Society as World IPv6 Day. This will be the largest scale use to date and could determine the future of the Internet, literally.  Anyone remember that webpage that said “You’ve reached the end of the Internet”?  Who’d a thunk?

Web 2.0 has been around for awhile now and video is a large part.  You can watch TV shows, movies, tutorials and public videos on the web now.  It may be transparent to most but the new standards for web documents are in process and its name is HTML5.  Well, unfortunately there continues to be no agreed upon standard for videos.  They’ve been dispersed into proprietary formats for Flash, Quicktime, Windows Media Player and more. Just when developers and users thought that a new standard would be born for the future of web video, the big players, Google, Adobe, Apple, Microsoft and others can’t agree on what that should be.  So, Mozilla’s Firefox and Chrome backed by Google will support one format while Microsoft’s Internet Explorer will support a different format.  The losers? You, the users who will undoubtedly carry the headache of installing plugins (and don’t forget updates) for your browser and web developers that will continue to pay for the burden of these Goliath vs. Goliath battles by creating workarounds and multiple outputs to allow the masses to view in their favorite format.

Speaking of video entertainment, federal regulators approved a merger between Comcast and NBC (who also owns majority stake in Hulu, a provider of network TV on the Internet) on January18th.  Apparently, a stipulation was that the merger support the emerging online video market and broadband accessibility rather than stifle or manipulate the market with their formidable combined content and delivery capabilities.  I’m sure they’ll be happy to comply.  Relatively sure…
How would you like to make a 75,000% return on your investment?  The domain name, ringtones.com, recently sold for a whopping $750,000 according to DN Journal.  The original registration cost was likely around $10.00.  This is not typical but it is becoming more and more commonplace as the demand for domain names increase and the available domain names decrease.  After all, an estimated 47 million websites were added in 2009 and they all need domain names.
A little about domain names:  Domain names are registered through registrars accredited by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).  You might be more familiar with some of the accredited registrars such as GoDaddy, Dotster or others.  The domain name (sometimes referred to as the URL) is the address, www.MyDomainName.com , by which viewers find your website.  When a viewer looks up a particular website, the request goes to the registrar that documents the name server for that domain name and the name server then points to the web server where the website’s files reside.  Think of the name server as a post office. It keeps track of the addresses (domain names) and their physical location (web server/IP).  The appropriate web file is retrieved and your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) then interprets the file and presents the page for your viewing pleasure.
Typically, a domain name can be registered for about $10-$30 per year.  However, we live in a capitalist society so you can buy an unregistered domain name and resell it for a profit.  Since there is a limited supply of unique desirable domain names, many have bought up domain names with aspirations of making money.  So are you out of luck?  Not really, unless your surname is McDonald and you’re looking to create a family web page McDonalds.com.
The more generic or commonplace the name, the better chance that it’s already been registered.  However, domain names are potentially as limitless as the letter/number combinations that make them up.  So it’s possible that you can find a name that is specially suited to you.  Furthermore, there are a number of suffixes available for each name.  Although .com is by far the most recognized, many others exist such as .net, .org, .us, .info and many others, some of which are country specific.  If ‘gidgetsandgadgets.com’ is already taken, perhaps ‘gadgetsandgadgets.us’ is available.  Most registrars will offer alternative names if the one you choose is taken.  (Note: domain names are not case sensitive.)
One thing to keep in mind when purchasing a domain name is that google may place a website higher in the search results if it has a pertinent keyword within the domain name.  So if you sell gadgets then you may want a domain name like Bobsgadgets.com.  Your web designer should be able to help you choose a name that will work for you.
Are you a fan of cheesecake, apple pie or chocolate chip cookies?  My mouth waters just thinking about them.  But I’ve had bad desserts.  Maybe the baker wasn’t really a master of his trade or the ingredients were not entered in the right quantity, or maybe the process wasn’t followed quite right.  If you’ve ever substituted baking powder for baking soda or vice versa you’ll know exactly what I mean. Yuck!

The reason I’m catering to your taste buds is because I often use baking a cake as an analogy for building a website.  Ingredients, process and human interaction all work together to create the finished product and a flaw in any one can dramatically affect the outcome. Let me explain.

The ingredients are the most important part of a website and that’s where you come in.  It’s your business and you know it best.  Who is more suited to provide the content than you?  Who knows your customers better than you do?  No one.  But one of the most common errors made is relying on your web designer to provide the content of your website for you.  The second most common mistake is not providing enough information.

Don’t underestimate your knowledge.  We all go through our daily routines never thinking twice about things we do on a regular basis.  But would you ask a random person to fulfill your daily tasks with just a handful of information?  No way!

It’s the same when asking your web designer to fill in the blanks of your website.  You know your products or services best.  You know your customers and competition.  So dig deep, access those important reservoirs of knowledge that only you know and put them in words.  There is no limit to how much information you can share on the internet.  The more information (ingredients), the more cake.  And everyone loves cake!

So now you have some quality ingredients.  The economy is tough and everyone is looking to save money by doing things themselves.  Now, I know my way around the kitchen to a point but I also know that there are others that are much more adept and can accomplish tasks faster and more efficiently in this arena.  If I was trying to impress others I would call on my mom.  She’s definitely a master at baking.

The same holds true in our website analogy.  Your purpose is to impress others enough to buy your products or services.  With the right ingredients a web master can create something that will do just that and he/she can likely do it much faster and with better results.

That’s not to say you can’t be of any more assistance.  Learning about the process can help everyone involved.  I hope to share some of those things in my next article.  Stay tuned.