Last month, we looked at how to set up your own web site on a $15 budget.
Here we take the next step to making your site a true success: redirection.
Once you have your storage space arranged and your domain name registered, the next step is to connect the two so that the cumbersome URL given to you by your ISP (e.g. www.users.
hostingprovider.com/members/youraccountname) can be reached using your own domain name (e.g. www.mysite.com). This provides an easier-to-remember and far more professional-looking entry point for your content.
Your ISP or free hosting provider will want to sell you a proper hosting package and charge you a monthly fee to do this for you. Given that under current exchange rates (see note) we only have $US1 – or about $AU1.50 – left to spend from our $15 budget, this is out of the question. We need to find a cheaper alternative.
This is brings us to a technique called 'web site forwarding', also known as 'redirection' or 'cloaking'. This links your domain name to your content using an HTML frame, like
<frameset rows=100%,* scrolling=no frameborder=0 framespacing=0>
<frame scrolling=auto noresize src="http://www.users.hostingprovider.com/members/youraccountname">
Once the web site is taken care of, you can get yourself a matching email address using email forwarding.
The concept is similar to web site forwarding, that is, emails sent to addresses at your domain name can be redirected to your existing ISP email account or even your Hotmail inbox.
This means that if you ever need to change your hosting provider, there will be no impact on your site's users as you won't need to change the site's address. Simply change the pointers
to your new location and you don't need to worry about changing your stationery or tracking down broken links from other web sites.
Since the company providing the redirection service is not actually hosting anything other than these pointers, their costs are extremely low, – to the point where some businesses have found it worth their while to offer redirection for free, hoping that loyal and satisfied customers will go on to buy higher margin services from them at a later date.
However, many of these providers have recently switched to charging for redirection. One of the leading providers, DomainRedirect.com, now charges US$10 per year per domain. Although it doesn't sound like much, it can add up quickly if you have several sites to be redirected. Redirection.net moved in the opposite direction, reducing their price from US$30 per year per domain to US$5. This is better, but it still takes us over our $15 budget. Companies such as MyDomain.com are still free.
Other companies offer redirection services as value-adding incentives attached to domain name registration. MyDiscountDomains.com offers free web site and email forwarding with every domain you register with them. However, it is worth noting that because they are a reseller for the ItsYourDomain.com registrar, you can take advantage of this service through them if you have registered your domain with any of the other hundreds of ItsYourDomain.com resellers on the Internet.
Once you have selected your redirection provider, there is generally only about a minute's work required to set up the necessary pointers and you will have your own professionallooking domain name for your web site and email – and still have change from your $15!
Keep in mind though, that in the ever-shifting world of the Internet, the companies listed here may change their prices at any time and new services will continue to appear. Before you make your choice, be sure to check: www.PetersonITConsulting.com/redirection for an up-to-date list of free redirection service providers.
Note: Keep in mind that most web sites offering domain registration, web hosting services etc, will be quoting prices in US dollars – the value of which is subject to constant fluctuation against the Australian dollar. To make sure that you know how much you will be paying in your own currency, keep a currency converter site such as www.xe.com or www.oanda.com handy when making purchases online.
David Peterson is a Principal Consultant for Peterson IT Consulting. (www.PetersonITConsulting.com) - providing eBusiness and security consulting services.