You’ve started a new business and you may already have some paying customers. Now what? One of the first things you need to do is create your website. You might be wondering how to get started, how much to pay, and what to do about an email account. Let me help.
First things first! Getting your domain name is the very rst thing you need to think about. Go to bluehost.com, rebel.ca, godaddy.com or any other domain registrar, and register your domain yourself. This may cost anywhere from $10 to $40. For Canadian companies, keep in mind that not all registrars support “.ca” domain names. We generally use rebel.ca.
All you will need to register for a domain is a credit card or a PayPal account. Regardless if you are working with an agency or building your website by yourself, it is important that you purchase and control your own domain name. This gives you top-level control, and will save you headaches in the future should you want to change web providers.
Your domain name doesn’t have to be hosted at the same place as your website. In many cases, it’s best if it is not for the reason stated above – control. For example, you could find yourself with a domain name at rebel.ca, a website hosted on bluehost.com and emails hosted by Google for Works. Variety gives you flexibility and top-level control over your website. Hosting means you are renting space on a server to give people access to your site. Shared hosting costs around $10 a month. Shared hosting is perfectly fine to get your website started, but as your company grows you may want to consider upgrading.
Building your website
How you create your website might depend on whether you are short on time or money. If you are short on money but have time, then you may want to build your own website. Systems such as wix.com or sitebuilder.com offer an easy way to build an elegant website.
Wix is its own hosting platform, so your domain could be hosted at rebel.ca but point its DNS to Wix as the hosting provider. And yes, you do want to pay that $10 a month to remove the wix.com branding from your site.
If you are short on time, working with an agency may be a good option. Working with an agency can cost you anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on custom features, maintenance contracts, imagery licenses, amount of content, etc.
If your website is going to have an online store you may want to consider Shopify. Shopify.com comes with an all-in-one e-commerce platform and several templates ready to use. It’s a great DIY tool. WordPress is also a great e-commerce platform with 3rd party plugins such as WooCommerce and Cart66. (More on E-Commerce in issue 87 of SAY Magazine.)
Speaking of WordPress, if you are thinking of creating a website with weekly content updates, a blogging CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress may be the right choice for you. www.wordpress.com can host your website for you (similar
to Wix), and the WordPress app allows you to post content on your website right from your phone. You can also host your own WordPress site by installing it via the tools provided by bluehost, godaddy, or most other hosting providers. This is a bit more complex, but it will give your website more flexibility. Other great CMS options are Drupal, Joomla and Mambo. At Sphere Media, we specialize in WordPress.
There is nothing worse than reading Yoyofun55@gmail.com on a business card. Get that Joe@yourdomain.com and info@ yourdomain.com, and set them up to all go to the same inbox. Generally, emails are hosted at the same place as your web hosting service, but if you are emailing customers all day and rely on emails for your business operation, you will benefit from a more robust email provider such as Google for Works. It’s basically a gmail account which can support your domain name and can be configured in Outlook and your CRM. It filters your spam better than most email platforms, and you can be sure that recipients are getting your emails. Inboxes can have several aliases, so you can have emails like hr@, info@, and sales@ all going to one single inbox.
Build it and they will come…. Not quite! At the end of the day, your website should be a tool that generates leads and helps you with your sales process, but you will still have to work to drive traffic to your site. A website can help you look more credible, and it can automate a lot of your business process. Being found on Google is critical for a lot of companies, but for a new website, being found online is a process that can take time.
By Dominick Blais, Co-Publisher of SAY Magazine and Owner of Sphere Media Agency
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