This is a guest post by Tom McFarlin
When it comes to maintaining an online presence, the modern church is not exactly flourishing. To make matters even more challenging, the church is still about four years behind everyone else with respect to technology.
But there’s a problem: The Internet is a big place. A really big place.
When you sit down to begin building a site, there’s a lot of stuff out there you must sift through – various services, applications, technologies, and so on. Unless you’ve got a background in web development, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of this information let alone trying to even find a starting point.
Processing all of this stuff is like drinking from a fire hose. But I’d like to try to slow the flow a little bit.
Each week, I’m going to toss out a couple tools, utilities, applications, and/or best practices that are geared towards those of you that are looking to bring your church online but lack the time to invest in all the research.
Ready? Let’s go.
Where do I start?
Forget about development. Simply finding a place to begin is an incredibly daunting task.
Yeah. I know. So. much. stuff. But that’s okay – we’ll get to it eventually. There’s really no well-defined, clear-cut place to start so we’ll pick one.
Your website has gotta have a place to live. Sure, there are a lot of free hosts out there, but rarely are you gonna find a church site hosted at Blogspot or Tripod. A domain name is your address on the information superhighway.
That was a lame pun and I apologize.
Still, if you want to have a relevant, easy-to-remember site then it helps to have a good domain name. Here are three services – in no particular order – that make it incredibly easy to see if your domain name is available all of which feature the results in real time.
Instant Domain Search is arguably the simplest of the three. Enter the domain name that you’re interested in purchasing and it will give you the availability of the .com, .net, and .org equivalents in addition to several registrars that can be used to purchase it.
PCNames is very similar to Instant Domain Search in that it will provide results for your requested domain as well as a set of available registrars; however, this service also returns available domains featuring the suffixes for .info, .biz, .us, and .mobi.
Domai.nr is the mother of all web 2.0 domain searches. It will scan all of the available domains for the aforementioned suffixes as well as domains that can use the domain as part of the suffix. For example, say you’re considering purchasing a domain for a family night supper-oriented church called Lets Eat It. Domai.nr will return all available results including a suggestion for LetsEat.It. The word is part of the domain? Yep. Ultimate creativity.
There you go: three free applications you can use to begin setting up your church’s online presence. But what’s in a name? If you’ve got nothing to show for it, it’s not gonna be worth much.
Next, we’ll take a look at some of the more popular web hosts and things to consider before purchasing some space for your stuff.
[Image from B Tal]