What is a “domain?’

A domain is the web address that you type in or search for when you browse the internet. cnn.com, netflix.com, google.com, soliamedia.com, are domains. Domains are just easy to remember ways to invoke a numerical internet protocol (“IP”) number.  The internet uses IP addresses to direct traffic and connect you to a service you desire such as a website or an email server. A classic IP address is four numbers separated by periods. When you type in Google.com, your computer actually looks up Google.com to find out what its IP address is.

How do I get a “domain?”

Domains are obtained by ordering them from a “registrar.” A registrar brokers those names. Legitimate domain name registrars are accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is a private (non-government), non-profit corporation that has the authority to allocate IP addresses and managing the Domain Name System. Network Solutions, ENOM and GoDaddy are examples of registrars.

You can secure a domain directly or have someone else do it as your agent.

What does my Domain Account do?

At the very highest level, your domain account is where you configure how you want your name to work. For example, let’s say that you have a website located on a web server with an IP address of 108.099.777.345. Your domain controls allow you to direct website traffic to that numerical address. You can direct other forms of traffic – such as email traffic – either to the same server or even a different one.  Those changes are edited at the “name server.” The domain account specifies the name servers to be used. Then the user can make the changes in traffic via that name server.

What is web hosting?

A hosting server is a machine that contains the files that comprise your website. A hosting server also usually has an email server function, and other functions too. At the simplest level, a server is a computer that holds your files and often receives and transmits your emails.

What is email hosting?

An email server provides email management functions. Often that is done at the same server that has a corresponding website for a particular domain. But it’s possible to use different servers. For example, using the domain control and “DNS” entries, it would be possible to use Google for Business, Microsoft 365 or another service to handle a particular domain’s mail traffic. That is done by setting the MX (Mail Exchange) records.

Can Solia Secure a Domain for Me?

Yes.

What if I don’t want to do business with Solia anymore; can I get control of my domain?

Yes, we would transfer the domain to an account under your control.

What if I have a domain already and want to use Solia to create a new or updated website for me?

Easy. Our clients access their domain controls (or give us access) and tell the domain to direct web traffic to one of our servers, where we have constructed their new websites. After that change, the new Solia website will begin to be displayed.

Google now does mobile-first indexing. In the past, Google crawled and indexed the desktop version of a website, but Google now crawls, index and rank the mobile version of the website – which means a responsive site is favored.

Responsive websites are now the industry standard. We at Solia Media can make sure your design is responsive.

 

The nature of our business is such that we can, and we do, serve clients all over the world. We are not limited by geography at all!

However, we do have special relationships with certain communities in which our professionals spend significant time and have “on the ground” relationships with businesses and organizations. Some of these include:

Covington and Newton County, Georgia

Norcross and Gwinnett County, Georgia

Monroe and Walton County, Georgia

McDonough and Henry County, Georgia

Conyers and Rockdale County, Georgia

 

Sites that require usernames and passwords use what are referred to as “session cookies.” It’s a small bit of information retained by the browser which tells the site “I have logged in.”

Basically, that’s how a browser and a website that accepts logins remembers that the person using it has logged it. The cookie expires when someone closes the browser.

Sometimes people updated their browsers and set the privacy settings to not accept cookies of any kind. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but it is really overdoing it. It limits a person to essentially window shopping. Without cookies on a site which has user login capability, the viewer can look, but cannot interact. They can disable third-party cookies but not first-party cookies.

All a visitor needs to do is enable cookies. It is a BROWSER function, not a computer function. The method is determined by the browser settings.

For example, for Firefox:  https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/fix-login-issues-on-websites-require-passwords

For Edge: https://www.laptopmag.com/articles/disable-enable-cookies-edge-browser

Safari: https://support.apple.com/kb/ph21411?locale=en_US  (Note the explanation of third v first party)

SSL (secure sockets layer) can be implemented on a client site. In such a case, the website incorporates a security certificate, which encrypts information from the user’s web browser to the Solia-developed and hosted site.
With SSL, login information and other information would be secure from the user to the site. That would go a long way to prevent, for example, a person from intercepting such information if the visitor or site owner uses public WiFi, for example.
The web browser will reflect the “https” prefix rather than “http.” You can see the secure URL on our site.
Many users prefer to see that a site is secure (usually by seeing the browser indicate that in the address bar), so SSL does help keep visitors on the site.
We do NOT implement SSL by default but we certainly offer the option. If a client desires SSL, we charge a one time set up fee to configure SSL. Recurring costs for the certificate and a dedicated IP address (which is required for SSL to work) are $75 per year. Alternatively, SSL may be priced as part of a larger proposal.

Server control: Servers have to be configured to accommodate dynamic websites. We use Linux based servers, as they are the most secure. We have to configure the proper type of underlying server functions. This takes time. We can view all our sites and control them efficiently when they are on Solia’s servers.

Security and updates: We update our sites as code fixes and improvements are made. We also do our best to comply with security best practices. We track the attacks upon our websites. You cannot believe how many people have nothing better to do than the try to hack sites. Vulnerabilities are discovered from time to time. We monitor security updates and we keep our sites as secure as commercially feasible. We do NOT permit others to modify the code. Sites are often broken that way.  We maintain regular backups to allow us to quickly restore the site following any injection of malware or other corruption.

Web Designers perform a few different functions.  The actual design and deployment of a website are related to SEO.  At Solia, we generally do both functions, but they are not the same.  Web design responds to the following client need:

Create a visually appealing and easily navigable website that contains the information the client wants to convey to visitors, with a nice style, which can be viewed by whoever navigates to its URL, and keep it secure and updated.

Solia’s design fee includes primarily design (usually a one-time flat fee).  Depending on the support plan chosen, a basic annual fee covers basic maintenance and support that includes website hosting, simple text edits, website security updates, and program upgrades.

Search Engine Optimization is all about GETTING FOUND. So, SEO responds to a related, but distinct, objective:

Develop and post content, and place the client’s information on a variety of other sites which link to the client so that the client site will more likely be found by people who may search for the goods or services the client provides.

Another designer nicely described the relationship between design and SEO as follows:

“There is an important relationship between web design and search engine optimization. SEO services are responsible for improving the search engine rankings of a website to bring more internet traffic on the website. Whereas a good looking web design grabs the attention of the visitors and keeps them on the webpage to check the content and navigate through different pages. In other words, SEO is concerned with the marketing and advertisement of the website letting internet user know about the presence of an online website and driving them to visits the web pages while web design is responsible for the attracting the users once they arrive on the website.”

Thus, SEO is the ongoing process of adding content and evaluating performance and getting incoming links (among other things). SEO is a very important process for many if not most everyone that has a web presence. If the client requests the need for SEO, Solia will provide a separate SEO quote based on the client’s budget and needs. Optimizing the website itself for SEO purposes is referred to as “on-page” SEO. Enhancing rankings by ad campaigns or increasing the number of incoming links are external to the website itself, and are often called “off-page SEO.”

Hence, on page SEO work means editing the content of one’s own website to improve search rankings. That could include (as just a few examples):

  1. Using Alt Tags for images
  2. Taking care with page titles and headings
  3. Carefully constructing the actual content of the articles and posts to use the words that would help in searching. For example, a Solia post might say “we handle real estate photography.” A better construction of a post would be “We at Solia provide top quality real estate photography of interiors and exteriors of homes and businesses, plus FAA certified aerial (“drone”) videography in Rockdale County, Newton  County, and Conyers.”
  4. Creating a directory that draws people to your site who are looking for related services.

Off page SEO is designed to draw traffic due to external links. As an example, an owner would like to be placed on directories, have a YouTube or Facebook page that has a link to the website (and also have feeds on the site itself), have partner ministries place articles on their own sites about Restoration Storehouse with links. (Generally, reciprocity is given).

We have a basic plan for a fixed fee of $400 which enhances the site for SEO. We have options that involve ongoing SEO work that cost more because they are ongoing processes. SEO work typically involves the following key elements, among others:

  • Keyword and phrase analysis – working to ensure that site content, keywords, and metadata are more likely to have your site indexed in a way that helps you get found.
  • Backlinks – the more sites that link to your site, the higher your rank will be as a general matter. We have identified strategies for placing our clients on more sites which will link back to the client site.
  • Social Media – Social media integration is another key element of a good SEO strategy.
  • Image tags – site images should be high quality and they also should contain text descriptions so that the can be crawled by search engines.
  • Content editing – the more your site content changes, the higher your ranking generally is going to be.
  • Monitoring via site analytics – We can monitor the visitor data by geography, search terms used to find the site, visitor behavior once on the site and other factors. This helps in making adjustments.

 

As mentioned in the previous question the time to complete a project depends on the client’s requirements in a website. Also a key component in completing the work is the availability of the client with the materials and images needed to start and complete a site. Also, client availability to allow for continuance communication is vital.

With a cooperative and involved client, and depending upon other pending jobs, we can have a basic site up and running within a week. Obviously, more complex sites require more time and testing.

Technology changes and changes FAST.

Modern websites now have “must have” features that were not evident just a few years ago. Security challenges always exist and vulnerabilities are continually being identified and must be promptly remedied.

A well-designed website should last between 3 and 4 years, with maintenance. At that point, a major web update can be expected to be required. That would be a separately priced re-design.

An example of a major change in website design occurred when the industry moved from static HTML websites to content management sites with server-side processing.  In old HTML sites, each page was separately designed and the site itself did not perform data functions. The pages were more like paintings that just sat there until the designer altered the code behind that painting.  In content management (dynamic) sites, the pages shown to the user are OUTPUTS from PHP code. The sites are hosted on servers that have databases and the sites themselves perform functions like member management, searches, web commerce, and many other valuable functions. That is also known as “server-side processing.” Clients of ours with HTML websites expressed a desire to have functions possible with newer technology, but the HTML sites could not be adopted for such uses as they were not capable of such functions. Therefore a completely new site was required in such circumstances. We have not maintained a pure HTML site in many years.

Another big shift occurred when Apple chose not to support Flash. For years animations displayed by websites were designed in an Adobe product called “Flash.” Web browsers used a Flash plugin to display the animations. Flash was a proprietary standard. Apple’s Steve Jobs decided that his products were not going to support Flash. So, a person using an Apple desktop or early iPhones could not see those animations. The result was the prompt abanding of Flash in favor of a new standard called HTML5. In no time, Flash-based websites become obsolete and had to be replaced. This sea change commenced in 2010.

Another big change was the need to make websites “responsive,” whereby the website would alter its layout to display nicely on a varied number of devices with different screen sizes. Responsive sites very quickly became an expected standard. That required web designers to edit the themes and site CSS to make them responsive.

Mashable called 2013 the Year of Responsive Web Design. Many other sources have recommended responsive design as a cost-effective alternative to mobile applications due to its ability to house all of the code in a single website. Users and developers alike began realizing the benefits and importance of mobile-responsive designs as mobile use continued to rise. This realization of importance was confirmed when Google made their announcement that search engines were going to reward responsive websites with increased rankings. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsive_web_design

A good non-software analogy might be the purchase of a car. A warranty may exist under which the dealer fixes things that go wrong with your car and keeps it maintained. At some point, however, you may want or need features that are not available on that car. Or, the car just becomes so outdated it makes no sense to maintain it. At that point, you need to get a new car! A software example is easy. Microsoft periodically releases new versions of Windows. It supported Windows XP for years with updates, but eventually, a rewrite in the form of Windows 7 was necessary. That version was supported with updates, until Windows 8, then Windows 10 and so on.

We maintain websites that we design under our support system. However, if after a few years our clients want features that they see on newer sites, or technological changes are such that the old site cannot be reasonably maintained (often due to security issues), then a new website is the right choice.

Solia Media cannot predict the pace of change, but we do remind our clients that such external and industry-driven progress may require more than routine updates of a website – particularly if the client wants the newer features and functions which will most certainly be made possible in the coming years. In sum, we design our websites to current standards. We will maintain them as long as the industry considers it to be feasible from a technological and security standpoint. If the current platform cannot be maintained (this is not just our decision; this is determined by industry experts), we will coordinate with our clients to determine how to ensure that the client’s web presence is not unduly outdated.

Solia websites can accommodate some incredibly advanced features including e-commerce, newsletter control, and member management. Please keep in mind that functions like e-commerce require significant work to incorporate, configure and test. Although our websites can include such advanced features, or that we may have discussed those with you, they are not included as part of the quote unless clearly shown.

We will list the functions that are included on your estimate and check those functions that will be part of the scope of work. Other features will NOT be included. You can certainly add them later. In such a case, we will provide a quote for that work, and upon your acceptance proceed to enhance your site with the feature requested.

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