Know elements for Web site success

October 1, 2004
Robert C. Silkey

Security is the most critical component. Does the e-mail package you're considering meet the 2005 HIPAA guidelines for patient privacy and security? And does the hosting company have the ability to safely share files between two or three offices?

Understanding what it takes to establish a solid presence on the World Wide Web can dramatically affect the efficiency of your practice and potentially save your practice thousands of dollars. But, purchasing a Web site will only get you so far. To achieve successful Internet marketing, you need much more.

A number of services are necessary to support your Web site, and it is difficult to discern which company's technology is compatible with the needs of your practice. When looking to purchase Web site services, today's medical practices are forced to sift through a sea of local design firms, freelance Web designers, advertising agencies and Internet marketing firms that specialize in medicine. And for every existing type of Web site development service, there are thousands of companies vying for your business - some of them lacking scruples. Should you decide to go it alone, it's important to know just what you're getting into.

Choosing a hosting company

Here are just some of the questions you'll need to ask the hosting company:

Purchasing a domain name

Every Web site has a domain name. The domain name is a very important component, as it becomes your practice's Internet brand. While purchasing a domain name is fairly easy, purchasing it on your own can be a frustrating (and potentially risky) affair.

Understanding the process that translates a domain name to an associated number is difficult, and all kinds of information will be needed by the hosting company to make this happen. In order to host your Web site on its server, the hosting company will need various pieces of information in addition to your domain name itself. The company will likely begin by asking you all sorts of questions about your "DNS host." Be prepared to provide this information. Also remember that your domain name must be registered each year. As a result, you will need to ask the firm, "Do you provide automatic renewal, or will I need to manage this renewal myself?" In addition, you will need to know if there are any safeguards to prevent your domain name from being "hijacked" or stolen.

E-mail There are many important considerations when it comes to e-mail. First, you will need to find out how many free e-mail addresses a hosting company provides and whether it has a mailbox restriction. Mailbox restrictions can include:

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