Q: What's with domain registration? Is it really that confusing or is it just me?

A: Almost everyone is confused about the domain registration process and about the many layers of techno-babel that bombards them when they first start on the Web, so if you are confused too, consider yourself in good company.

Q: What is a Domain Registrar?

A: A domain registrar is empowered by INTERNIC, the international council that oversees the World Wide Web, to 'sell' and keep track of domain names, domain name owners and authorized administrators, and the machines (servers) on which the domains reside. Network Solutions used to be better than most, but since being purchased by VeriSign, lines have blurred even more than before. In the 'old days'--way back in 1995 or so--Network Solutions was the only domain registrar in the US. Now registration is distributed among several top-level companies which are also allowed to administer 'affiliate' programs. Prospective clients should check with me before purchasing a domain name if they haven't already. If you have your domain name already, be advised, we may need to dance a bit with your domain registrar to get things straightened out.

Q: What happens when you register a domain name?

A: When you register, your domain name usually is "parked" on the registrar's server unless or until you give them specific instructions for a different domain name server.

Q: I am so confused about how to transfer my domain name. I've tried to figure it out at the domain name registrar's site, to no avail. Can you help?

A: I can make this easy for you: If you trust me with the login and password you used to purchase your domain name, I will go into your registrar and handle the transfer myself. I often do this for my clients, and it is not an imposition. Armed with your login and password, it should take me only minutes. Then, as they say, we should be good to go.

Q: If I decide to use the domain registrar's hosting package, can you still design my site?

A: Usually I can, unless the registrar prohibits me or unless you need features the registrar's service does not provide. However, many of these packages are extremely restricted, and access is also restricted, making it difficult or sometimes even impossible for me to install the goodies that can make your sight work like magic. And be advised: These packages have a very low advertised price but often wind up costing much more by the time your site is launched.

Q: I think you can tell that I don't have a very good handle on the specific nature of how all of this "Web-hosting stuff" works. Would there be any clear advantage to spending more and going with a big firm?

A: The hosting companies I prefer are big firms, and they are also very good firms. Since I host many clients with them, I am able to pass my large discount on to you. You would have several other options, however: 1) you could buy a hosting plan from a major Web host service, and I can still be your designer 2) you could find a cheaper Web host, but be careful with that and be sure to discuss it with me before you put any money on the line, because some of these guys look better and cheaper than they truly are 3) you could buy a hosting package which is not on my hosting account. These usually start at less than $20/mo and go up to about $70/mo, depending on what you require.

Q: Do you hand code your HTML pages?

A: I can write HTML code, but I prefer using a state-of-the-art HTML editor. For the last several years, I've been a fan of the Dreamweaver and Fireworks by Macromedia. Dreamweaver is highly extensible, meaning that I can add many cutting-edge bells and whistles to make your site even more magical. I especially admire and make good use of the extensions available from PVII.com.

Q: What are your terms?

A: I have learned that clients often find it convenient to make payments for my service in stages. As a result, I have developed some general guidelines for my design business. I usually require a one-third deposit to reserve my time, develop the look and feel of the site, and refine the site template; the rest upon launch of the site, plus whatever additional fees, if any, that you have approved.

Q: Do you have a sliding fee scale for your design services?

A: I offer a discount for nonprofit organizations only. I cannot provide hosting space on my server at reduced rates.

Q: Is it possible to arrange installment plans to pay for part of your services?

A: I have found that installment agreements and deferred payment schedules are very difficult and time consuming to administer. I now agree to them only on the rarest occasions and do so very cautiously. If you have a special circumstance, I am happy to discuss it with you.

Q: Given our current post-9/11 catastrophe-driven mindset, I wonder about possible worst-case scenarios regarding servers, redundancy of systems, backups, and so on.

A: My preferred hosting company promises and delivers 24/7 service, including customer service over the phone. I have had rare occasions of downtime, and the company has been hugely responsive in those cases. The tech-support folks are well-trained and can usually identify a problem while you are on the phone with them. Never in my memory has one of my sites been "down" for more than a couple of hours. As for redundancy, the physical servers of all the major hosting firms reside all over the globe.

Remember: If you have a question that is not answered above or elsewhere on my site, please feel free to ask me.