I need a website for my small business/organization – where do I start?

company-websiteIt’s relatively easy to get started.  You need these basic ingredients:

  • web hosting
  • domain name
  • the content

Web hosting

web hostsYou’ll need to establish an account with a web hosting company.  You could do it yourself or it may be set up and/or managed by your web designer/company.  The web hosting account will have an associated fee that you will either pay directly to the hosting company or perhaps indirectly through your web designer/company.

Some features and services provided by the web host might include: email accounts, website backups, storage for your content, CMS or blog software, shopping carts, etc. In short, it provides all the hardware and software needed to run your website.

There is a lot of competition amongst web hosts, and it’s critical to research and separate the good ones from the bad ones.

Don’t use price as the only factor when deciding on a host. Customer support and reliability are equally important and can be worth paying extra for.

Domain name

You’ll need to register a name for your website. For example, YourCompany.com or YourSite.org.

It typically costs around $10/year to register a domain

You may register a domain name directly with a domain registrar (GoDaddy, Namecheap, etc.), a web hosting company (HostGator, BlueHost, etc.) may offer this service, or your web designer/company may handle it for you.

The general guideline is to choose a short, memorable domain name – your organization’s name for example

It’s easy to check the availability of domain names, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a good one since most of the desirable names have already been registered.

In 2013, ICANN (the internet name governing body) will start releasing many new gTLDs (generic top level domains). This program is meant to give many more naming options to the internet community to help fix the current debilitated system. The effects of this program won’t be known until later this year and beyond.

Content

This is obviously the most important component of your website since it is what your visitors/customers see and should be a showcase for your business or cause. You may have an idea of what your content should be and how to present it or you may need guidance from your web designer/company.  If necessary, professional copywriting services can also be utilized to help fill your site with optimized content.

These days, your site should definitely be mobile-friendly (able to display well on phones & tablets) and be optimized for search (SEO) so visitors/customers can find it.

Content management systems (CMS) and blog platforms make it very convenient for you to update your own website content keeping it fresh (good for SEO) and allowing you to keep your visitors well-informed and up-to-date on your products and/or services.

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