Website design and search optimization – simple stuff that doesn’t cost much money

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The new
The new Construction Specifications Canada (cscottawa.ca) Ottawa chapter website -- built for $60.00 US
cpanel
The CPanel console — the heart and soul of independent website management

Yesterday, I turned on the switch of the rebuilt website for the local Construction Specifications Canada Ottawa chapter. My task: Achieving the voluntary results without burning significant amounts of money or effort.

Well, there was some effort, but certainly not much money. I submitted my cost reimbursement to the chapter’s treasurer this afternoon: $60.00 US, for the services of a freelance contractor selected through elance.com.

We’ll host the site without fee to the chapter under the rubric of our company’s corporate Internet Service Provider (ISP) account. Some years ago, a local ISP suggested the best way to restrain ongoing costs would be to go to a higher-level source and pay the fees directly rather than through a reseller. Hostgator.com has recently had some service flaws and outages, and the monthly fees of about $150.00 for a dedicated server with CPanel and web host management capacities may seem a bit high to some, but we can manage a few dozen internet domains on the server.  It took some painful experience, but I’ve now learned how to receive virtually instantaneous technical support to cover the sometimes vexing problems that occur when you have visible sites with occasional denial of service and brute force attacks.

The new
The new Construction Specifications Canada (cscottawa.ca) Ottawa chapter website — built for $60.00 US

Much of the magic behind the scenes is free, or virtually free. Templates, plugins and widgets within WordPress.org provide the design framework, and Google’s Webmaster Tools give us the core SEO (search engine optimization) foundation capacities, including guidance on creating sitemaps (and the sitemap code can be generated without cost by using one of the free sitemap generators you can find within seconds through Google search.)  I can add new domains, revise the Domain Name Server (DNS) instructions, and set up individual email accounts for countless individuals, all within a few minutes.

Google's Webmaster Tools -- a free service that helps your SEO, while ensuring you observe best practices in your site management and design.
Google’s Webmaster Tools — a free service that helps your SEO, while ensuring you observe best practices in your site management and design.

Of course, it took me some time and effort to learn this stuff — WordPress’s simple “five-minute installation” capacity certainly took me far more than five minutes when I first tried it a few years ago. I’ve made all the mistakes you can imagine, including one harrowing moment when I trashed everything (without backup) during a site rebuild. Just as you might know your trade inside and out, and have the ability to select suppliers and sub-trades who can do the job with skill and passion, you know of plenty of people who don’t get it — and end up losing far more than they thought they could save through do-it-yourself projects.

Yet there are really good arguments for mastering this stuff, along with social media management skills. You’ll free yourself from the whims of others, and be able to determine where you should seek support, and where you can take things on yourself. As well, of course, you can apply your skills for your community’s benefit.

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