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The Basics of Starting a Website for a Small Business

Okay, as a small business owner you had to learn a lot more than what it is is that you do or sell. You had to learn about HR, Accounting, Marketing and heck, even Sanitation Services. Now you have found that you need a website for your business and you have no idea where to start. These are a few tips to get you going on making your own website.

You need a good domain name.

A domain name is the user friendly address that someone types into a web browser to find your website (like conceptincarnate.com); without one, someone could only get to your website with a crazy hard to remember IP address.

Domain names are not inherently free but they may be free with a hosting package. Most likely though, you will have to pay for one. Basic domain names run about $10 a year. Short, 1-4 letter domain names will be pricey.

Try to keep the domain name short though. The longer your domain name is, the more likely a user is to forget it or mistype it.

The domain name does not necessarily have to be the same as your business name. Sometimes using a domain name with your market region or services or industries offered works too, for example, widgetsalessanantonio.com .

You need server space to host (store) your web files.

Big companies will ¬†probably host thier websites on company servers. As a small business, you will probably want to rent server space. You probably won’t have the time to manage a server or the technical knowledge. Renting server space for a small business will probably run you between $3-15 per month. Some hosting providers wll give you varying amount of space for files, bandwidth, email accounts, varying amount of databases and varying amounts of IT support (some local, some offshore). Don’t sign up for extras that you dont understand; you are not likely to use them and most likely can add on those extras at a later time.

Don’t forget to take advantage of introductory pricing. You will pay more per month if you only sign up for 3 month of hosting VS a year or 3 years of hosting. This is partly because of a pseudo set-up fee built into the hosting. When you sign up, someone, somewhere will have to set up your web server space. The cost of this person setting up your space can be spread across many months or just a few; either way you have to pay for the person to do the set-up.

You need to actually MAKE a website.

Nope, just because you have a domain name and server space, doesn’t mean you get a free website build. You have to work to have it made. Some hosting providers may offer you a WYSIWYG website, but most likely that website will be proprietary and not be able to be moved to a different server and have professional touches to the website.

Unless you are a website designer or programmer, don’t build your own website. Just as you wouldn’t do surgery on your own or represent yourself in court, you should leave the website creation to a trained professional.

You have a lot on the line here with your website. It needs to work. it needs to be mobile friendly. It needs to have an easy to use interface. It needs to support your business goals. It needs to allow your users to achieve the goal of visiting your website. It also needs to represent your brand in the best way possible. You only have one chance to make a good impression with your visitors, so make sure its great.

Websites are composed of web files that your browser reads and outputs as that fancy website that your users remember. The web files are instruction for the content and look of the website. Those files will be on your server. Any time someone types in your domain name to find your website, their browser will read the files stored on the server and have them output into a user friendly manner known as the front end of your website.

If you don’t have web files, you don’t have a website. If you don’t have professionally crafted web files, you don’t have a good website.

Additionally, your website may make use of a database to store your data for parts or much of your website.

You Need to be Able to Update Your Website

Now that you got a website set up, you need to be able to update your website with timely information like sales hours, new products, If you spent your money wisely, you hired your web designer or programmer to build your website using a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS allows non-programmers, with as much knowledge as needed to type in a word processor, to be able to update their website on their own time without any special software. All updates can be made on your own computer in a web browser.

If you are unlucky or did not pay the designer/programmer enough, you may have a website that requires coding knowledge to update. In that case, ask your designer/programmer for a tutorial of how to make updates and with what software OR set up a time and materials contract with them so that you can send in your updates and have them implement them. The disadvantage of this is that you have to wait for the designer/programmer to be available to make the updates, the may raise the rates, they may not be available to do updates, the quantity of updates will rack up your bill higher than paying for the CMS in the first place.

That being said, you should be updating your website regularly for it to be beneficial for you. New, relevant information will help your SEO and keep your website visitors engaged. A static website that doesn’t change is almost not worth having.

If you need help making a website or being walked through the process, contact us so we can give you professional assistance.

 

 

 

Ellice Sanchez

About Ellice Sanchez

With six years experience in design, Ellice has done work for clients such as San Antonio Parks and Recreation, the City of San Antonio, Delicious Tamales, The US AirForce, Christus Santa Rosa, the University Health Systems, Sunset Station, Sushi Zushi Corporation of Texas, San Antonio Conservation Society, NIOSA, the San Antonio International Airport Concession, Representative Ivory Taylor, the Vidorra Condominiums, American GI Forums National Veterans Oureach Program, Republic National Distributing Company, Lifetime Fitness, Mr. W Fireworks, the RK Group, Pape-Dawson Engineers and other companies, working on projects ranging from signage, business cards, content management, design support, website design and coding, flyers, billboards and e-blasts.

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