An online presence for your business is pretty much necessary these days. Gone are the days of looking up a business in the phone book. People Google. People want to get information about your business before reaching out.
What, exactly, does it take to get online?
#1 You need a website
There are blogging platforms like Medium that allow you to have an online presence, and there are social platforms, like Facebook, that allow you to create a business page. But you can only create within their limitations, and not everybody uses those platforms. Even all-in-one solutions like WIX have their constraints. To truly customize your website you need a web developer.
Creation of a website is generally a one-time fee.
#2 You need a place to host your website
Your website needs to reside on a server someplace. A server “serves” up your website when you type in the address of it (www.mysite.com) in the browser. The web is made up of a bunch – A BUNCH – of servers. Hosting companies maintain a group of servers containing websites. You can have a dedicated server for your site, which means just your site sits on it (and it also is pretty pricey) or you can put your site on a shared server.
With a WordPress site, it is good to pick a hosting provider that specializes in WordPress hosting.
Hosting is a recurring fee, paid either monthly or yearly.
#3 You need a domain name
A domain name is the address of your website (www.mysite.com). You set it up to point to the server on which your website resides. Many hosts bundle domain registration with web hosting. This is convenient, but can make it more involved to move your site to another hosting provider, should you want to in the future.
We think it’s a good idea to use a service like Google Domains to register your domain. Their pricing includes domain privacy (often an add-on with other registrars). Domain privacy hides your personal information.
Domain registration is a yearly fee. For example, as we write this, Google Domains charges $12 a year.
What else is involved in getting online?
You need someone who can make changes to your website and keep it current. This could be you or someone you hire.
You need someone to pay attention to security. Sites are prone to attacks by hackers. Hosting providers don’t want this to happen on their servers and will take preventative measures, but oftentimes the solution involves changing code on your site to make it less vulnerable to attacks. And sometimes you need a programmer to go in and remove code that was injected (called Malware) by these hackers into your site.
You need your website to be accessible. This is the law. You can get sued if people of differing abilities can’t get the information they need from your site.
You want your website to be fast. Users who come across a site that takes too long to load will abandon it.
You want your website to be Search Engine Optimized. This is called SEO. It allows your site to show up higher in a set of search results.
I want a website, what’s next?
We recommend you hire a web developer that will build you a website using a content management system (CMS) that allows you to make edits to your site as information changes. We also recommend WordPress as your CMS. It is popular and there is lots of documentation and support online if you ever get stuck.
You can use web hosts with website builders, or hosting/website bundled solutions, but you won’t get the years of experience a web developer provides. YOU will be creating your website and even the easiest of website builders can be frustrating to use. Your time is money, and building a website yourself takes time.
Still, hiring a web developer is not an off-hands solution. YOU are the one who knows your business and thus will need to be involved every step of the way. A good web developer will want to know the following:
- Who is your target audience? Are there any secondary audiences?
- What websites have you seen that you like?
- Are there any websites you don’t like?
- What “feel” do you want for your website – business, casual, fun and hip, sophisticated, etc.
- What existing business materials do you have? Are they current? Are you looking to update them? Is there any additional information you would like your potential customers to know?
- Who is the person at your business who will be making final decisions about your site?
- Who are the subject matter experts that we can work with when creating the content for your site?
You can expect to sign a contract that will detail the process and timeline and costs. You may even be provided with an expectations document so you know what is expected of you and what you can expect from the website developer.
Let us know how we can help you!
SimpliCSSity would love to talk to you about getting an online presence. We offer affordable solutions for any budget. Please see our services page for more information