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Watch for pitfalls when making website

August 11, 2010 - Opening a business is exciting, but establishing a presence on the World Wide Web can be sticky.

For a new Clarkston business owner, who asked to remain anonymous, a sour deal with a website designer cost money, time, and almost her name.

"It was a nightmare," she said. "Nothing was getting done. We were getting close to opening, and no website."

The designer also registered the web site under its own name, complicating a switch to someone new.

"I was out several thousands of dollars, which I took as a loss," she said. "I knew nothing about web sites. I didn't know what I didn't know."

Allowing a website designer to own the URL, the site's address on the Internet, is like handing over keys to your building, said Norm Pardo, local Internet expert.

"People are paying 2-3 grand for a web site and not getting the user name and passwords they don't own their URL," said Pardo, designer of Clarkston411.com. "Always keep control of your content. If you buy it, you should own it."

Business owners should own their website name, have it registered to them, and know the passwords to it, he said.

If not, they are vulnerable if they want to change web master, as in the Clarkston business owner's case, or even if the web master dies.

"Then you have to go through probate," he said.

He offers one-week classes for 1-2 students at a time on website basics.

"How to get your domain name, purchase a dot-com, build a web site by yourself, and know how to manage it," said Pardo, who offered the classes in Florida before moving to Independence Township in 2006.

Website templates can be purchased for less than $100, while designers charge thousands to build a site from the ground up.

"Most of them use templates anyway," he said.

Website management skills help owners keep content current, since they can update it themselves, without having to phone a webmaster and wait for them to do it.

For more information, call Pardo at the Clarkston News, 248-625-3370, or attend a Clarkston Coffee Clubs meeting, 7:30 a.m., Thursdays, at Clarkston United Methodist Church.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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