Step 3. Choose a Web Host

A web host is a company with a server that maintains the files of websites. There are a variety of free and subscription based web host services available, including those offered by many Internet Service Providers.

Web hosting services often go beyond website maintenance to include domain name registration, website design, and search engine registration. For some online exporters, it may be most feasible to use a web host in their target market to take advantage of all of these localized services. The location or nationality of the website host does not impact accessibility of the site. However, when choosing a host, companies should ensure that the host servers reside within a stable infrastructure and are maintained to ensure optimal reliability. Companies also should consider whether they will be storing personal information of EU citizens or citizens of other nations that restrict the export of personal data. EU citizens’ personal data can only be sent to countries deemed “adequate” or to companies using approved model contracts, binding corporate rules, or those participating in the U.S. EU Safe Harbor program (discussed in the privacy section of E-ssentials at right). Companies also should take into account potential negative perceptions if they store personal data in nations in which fraud or identity theft are rampant.

As with domestically located web hosting services, agreements should be clear and enforceable about ownership of intellectual property, performance specifications and warranties, security, privacy, the right to transfer the site to a different host, and contract termination. Your contract with a hosting service should provide the same level of security and privacy that your company promises clients whose information it collects, when applicable.

The U.S. Commercial Service officers in your target market can help you identify professional local web hosts. See also, research on the "Top Internet Markets FAQ " at right.

Step 4: Website Content -- Localize and Internationalize