COSTS

Yes, you guessed right; it’s not all free – the costs associated with websites have to be paid for by us the ‘consumers’. The purpose of this page is to list where those costs are incurred and to show you how the royal ‘we’ pay for those costs. The price to us as consumers for the privilege of just surfing and communicating on the internet is based on well-known factors (bandwith and contention ratio, etc (affecting download and upload speeds), permanently on, peak, off-peak, pay as you go, etc; you choose based on the speed you want and the time you expect to be online), but there is the grey expenses area beyond that, especially if you are using the internet for marketing products or services. For most commercial enterprises, these expenses are quite nominal actually, compared with those associated with other, more conventional marketing media, but, as has always been the case, they can be a lot more significant for a modestly-sized freelance operator or sole trader (large companies having the economies of scale):

Website Design Services

If you don’t design and upload your own website, the services of copywriters and website designers are needed; the costs for these services are analagous to those for the services of an advertising company, ie for experienced creativity and trade knowledge, using the necessary facilities that you therefore don’t need to buy. This particular website is designed by us.

Software applications

If you intend to design and upload a website yourself, it goes without saying that software applications are needed in your PC to create elements in your website and then to upload the files for the configured website to web space on a server. The leading software applications required many man-years of programmer effort to produce of course and this has to be paid for by the users of these applications.

Web space

Web space is normally made available in high-capacity, very high bandwidth, powerful, dual or even triple-redundant (one or two levels of failure mode fallback for every component), typically Unix mainframe computer installations, which need to be kept running and maintained round the clock (these things cost the big dot-com companies real money, not to mention the costs for lawyers to protect them if they caused downtime in safety-critical systems – we do need to remember that ‘there are more things in heaven and earth than that imagined by your philosophy’, etc). ISPs normally allow their online-time paying customers free space on their servers for websites and various other owners of servers also offer free space. However, you’ll have to put up with a long URL made up from your username and the server’s name and other conditions, such as an intrusive banner on your pages, lack of commercial support and clout when the system doesn’t work. This free space is therefore fine for personal or charity sites, but could become problematic for commercial sites. To avoid such problems, you can pay a server owner a monthly or annual fee to obtain a level of support (size of space; server side Application support; number of e-mail addresses; etc), depending on how much you pay (that’s the reality). You can also pay for a domain name (see below) and have that re-directed to your free webspace, but there are several ‘catch 22s’ associated with doing that, including the very serious one of being ignored by search engines (see later). This particular website (as are all websites under the Eclipse TBS umbrella) is hosted by PlusNet using the distinctive domain name ‘eclipsetbs.co.uk’.

I’m not allowing banner ads normally, but you might like to check out the following (rarely allowed) link, which provides an excellent service for small business and personal website generation and hosting. Being based in the US, it will be slightly more appealing to US readers (only because ‘phone help would be more expensive for others in the unlikely event of a need to progress beyond the efficient and free on-line communication arrangements). In any event, I would appreciate any feedback from users taking advantage of their services.

Domain names are made available by various ICANN-accredited registrars, who will charge you as much as they can get away with for doing next to nothing (remember that they’re only acting like a post box and don’t accept any responsibility for copyright infringements, but they do have control, so the answer is to shop around for the best domain name deal, which may be part of a package that includes other services). A purchased domain name normally lasts for one or two years. It gives you the advantage of having a memorable URL compared with the nondescript one provided with free webspace and you can normally have it re-directed to disguise the nondescript one (but see above). This particular website has a ‘nondescript’ one linked to its free Geocities host and the Eclipse TBS Publications website has a ‘nondescript’ one linked to its free NTL World host.

Search Directories such as Yahoo!, LookSmart and Open Directory manually create and administer their categorised directories and that costs them real money of course. Yahoo! and LookSmart accommodate applications for non-commercial websites without charge, but don’t guarantee inclusion in a directory and even if it is included it is unlikely to be anywhere near the 30 at the top of the directory (normally the only ones ever looked at). For a commercial site, Yahoo! will charge you £199 to look at it and then tell you if they’ll include it, again without any guarantees (but I guess that only serious problems with the site could result in a costly rejection). Open Directory is controlled by editors who are users and appears to offer the best deal, but this may not get the best ‘hit’ rate for your site. Sadly, the bottom line seems to be that your placing will normally depend on how much of the green stuff you’re prepared to commit (and risk)! This particular (non-commercial) website is currently hosted in the following search directories: UK Index, Yahoo!UK and LookSmart Zeal, with Open Directory pending. The Eclipse TBS (commercial) website is currently hosted free in UK Index, with Open Directory pending and no paid-for services are currently used (reflected by a low number of visitors, compared with this tutorial).

Search Engines trawl the internet for new websites to add to the indexes that they make available to us all when we’re surfing. They also accept applications for sites to be positively scanned and even have paid-for schemes (just another price to pay, unless you’re one of the lucky ones with your site already established in the lists). This particular (non-commercial) website is currently indexed free by the following search engines: Ask Jeeves and Google (see the above links under ‘Searching’), Lycos, AllTheWeb and Teoma. The Eclipse TBS (commercial) website is currently indexed by Google, Lycos and AllTheWeb and no paid-for services are currently used.

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