Before I walk you through the process of creating a website for your business the right way, I want to help you understand some the basic concepts related to this process.
In case you want to go directly to the ultimate guide to creating a website for your online business visit this article How to make a website in 2018 the right way (PART TWO).
Starting an online business in a process built upon a series of activities.
I have already discussed the first two actions you need to complete on the previous posts.
Step one: Choosing a niche
Step two: Creating a buyer persona and defining your unique selling proposition for your business.
Step three: Creating a website for your business
This post is meant to be an introduction to step three on creating a website for your online business, and that is why it is titled PART ONE.
Before I can give you a step-by-step guide to creating a website for your business, I would like to discuss three things you need to have, and explain what they are and why you need them before starting an online business website.
The three things I am talking about are:
- A domain name
- Web hosting &
- A website building platform
Want to learn more about web hosting, domain names, and web design? If so I think these two books can help you out.
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What is a Domain Name?
Before starting any online business, you need to understand the art of creating a website for your business. The site you decide to build must have a name, and this brings us to the topic of domain names.
Just like people and businesses have names, your website should have a unique identity name, which will identify it from others on various online platforms.
Therefore, a domain name is a string of characters or a network address, which users and search engine with use to access your website. For example, Google.com, Facebook.com, and Yahoo.com are all domain names.
Why do you need a Domain Name when creating a website for your business?
- Every individual, business or organization with an internet presence must have one before starting an online business.
- It will increase your search engine positioning.
- It will protect your copyright
- It makes your business look professional, and this builds credibility and brand awareness among your audience.
Is domain name and URL the same thing?
If you are a beginner in the concepts of starting an online business and creating a website for your business, it is most likely you will use these terms interchangeably to mean the same.
However, they are not same although they have an interdependent relationship. Let me illustrate their differences with examples.
Academicexperts.com, Google.org, and Yahoo.cu.uk are all domain names, while www.academicexperts.com, https://www.google.org, and http://yahoo.cu.uk are URLs.
Therefore, a domain name in the unique name of your website, while a URL is a full address used in the search engines to identify your site.
What are domain name extensions?
Let me explain with an example, Google.com, Linux.org, Europa.info, Yahoo.co.uk are all domain names. So the extension in them are .com, .org, .info and .co.uk respectively.
There are different types of domain name extensions as shown in the few examples below.
|Type of Domain Name Extension||Examples|
|Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD)||.COM, .NET, .INFO, .ORG|
|Generic Restricted Top-Level Domains||.BIZ, .NAME and .PRO|
|Sponsored Top-Level domains (sTLD)||.EDU, .GOV, .TEL, .JOBS|
|Country Top-level domains||.QA for Qatar and.TR for Turkey.|
|Reserved Top-level Domains||.INT, .TEST & .EXAMPLE|
What common terms related to Domain Names should you know before creating a website for your business?
WHOIS Data: This is a database that records all information related to your domain name, such as registration details, domain registrar details and all other technical and personal information you provide during registration. ICANN requires that this information is made available for public use by domain registrars. To avoid your details leaking to the public you should consider buying domain name privacy service when purchasing your hosting package.
Domain Privacy: This is a service offered by most hosting providers that will protect your WHOIS info from being accessible to the public where people can find personal info, such as telephone numbers and email addresses.
ICANN: Stands for “Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers.” It is the body that oversees the numbering of IP addresses, domain name ownership and all activities related to the two.
IDN: These are domain names written in foreign languages, such as Chinese and Japanese among others.
DNS: Stands for Domain Name Server, and is the system that translates your domain name into an IP address for machines and back to a normal address for humans. If you are interested in the technical stuff of understanding how domains work, use this article Domain Name Servers and the image below.
Free vs. Paid Domains
This answers the question of whether you should use a free or paid domain name where creating a website for your business.
A paid domain is unique, and you only get it from domain registrars or web hosting providers.
For example, Google.com is a paid domain, while Google.weebly.com is a free sub-domain provided by Weebly website builder.
I believe you are starting an online business with a long-term goal of branding it and growing it into a multi-million dollar empire. Right?
If that is the case, you should avoid using a free sub-domain when creating a website for your business at all cost because of the following reasons;
- You do not own the domain, the issuer owns it, and if you decide to switch service providers or platforms, you cannot migrate with the sub-domain. Too bad right?
- The free domain contains the name of the provider, such as YahooExperts.WordPress.com. Seriously, this makes it look ugly and unprofessional with the term WordPress on it. Why not chuck out a few coins to get a professional looking domain, such as YahooExperts.com?
How to Choose a Domain Name: Quick Tips and Tools
- Extension: If you are starting your online business, stick with .COM when creating a website for your business because it’s the most established and credible domain extension. Most sites on the internet us it. Additionally, domains with this extension are memorable and less technical, which is favorable to your audience.
- Length & Simplicity: When creating a website for your business, you should choose a domain name that is memorable and attractive? In that case, try to stick with less than 15 characters. It will be terrible losing users because your domain is too long and complicated to type in the browser and too hard to remember.
- Special Characters: Avoid special characters, such as hyphens and other signs at all costs in your domain name. Stick to numbers and mostly letters in most cases when creating a website for your online business.
- Keywords: Where you can, it is considered a proper search engine optimization (SEO) practice including your target keywords in your domain. This is not a must, but essential if where possible.
- Take advantage Domain name generators: The good thing is that there are a countless number of tools, such as Domain Name generators you can use to make the process of choosing a domain name for your website simpler. My personal favorite is NameVine, for checking domain availability and NameStation, for crowd-sourcing domain name ideas.
How and Where to Buy a Domain Name
Before starting an online business its good to know that on average a domain name costs around $14.99 per year.
Note that the price will vary based on the domain name extension. In this example, I have sampled for prices for the .COM extension.
Remember that if you add other services provided by these registrars, such as Domain Name Privacy this price will go higher.
When creating a website for your online business, you can get a domain name from two places: Domain Name Registrars and your Web Hosting Service.
The image below shows several examples of domain name registrars.
There are many domain name registrars out there. I have summarized a few examples in the table below.
|Domain Name Registrar||Cost per Year|
|1&1 Network Solutions||$8.99|
The second place you can get a domain name when creating a website for your online business is from a web hosting service provider.
Remember you will need web hosting for your website, and many web hosting providers offer domain name registration services free.
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting services are vital when starting an online business. Before beginning the process of creating a website for your online business, you need to understand that you will need a web hosting platform.
Web hosting is a service provided by a web host or service provider. These providers have servers and data centers that store your website resources.
Your website information will need a place where they can be saved, and these are the servers provided by a web host.
When internet users enter your URL or domain name on the browsers, the search engines crawl all the servers available on the internet and delivers the results to the users, which will be your web pages.
Therefore, a web hosting provider will provide you with resources, such as a data center and servers which will allow internet users to access your website.
Types of Web Hosting
1. Free Web Hosting
Sometimes you want to start an online business so badly, but you cannot afford the budget involved.
The good news is that there is the availability of free web hosting you can use when creating a website for your business.
This is web hosting with zero costs just as the name suggests.
Free web hosting is offered by several companies, such as the four below.
From personal experience, I would advise you not to use this kind of web hosting when starting an online business.
Firstly, you will get a sub-domain, which I explained above that it looks unprofessional.
Secondly, you will have limited access to features, which might discourage your progression.
In this case, I think you should consider self-hosted web hosting options like the ones discussed below.
|It is free no costs||Less secure|
|You can terminate its use anytime||You will have access to limited features|
|Offers an excellent platform for learning, especially when starting out||Customization flexibility is low|
|Availability of templates and other free resources you need when creating a website for your online business.||Many place ads on your site, which can put off your customers|
|Unreliable because of no customer support|
2. Shared Web Hosting
Starting an online business with a long-term strategy of growing it into a brand will require you to invest a few bucks into buying a web hosting plan before creating a website for your business.
This is the most common type of web hosting, let me illustrate with a real-life example. This type of web hosting can be likened to an apartment with 100 tenants all sharing resources, such as parking space, water points, and other recreational facilities.
Therefore, in shared hosting, multiple websites utilize one single server. The upside of this is that it is pocket-friendly since the cost is shared among various users.
However, the downside is that it can easily cause instability on your website because you may be sharing the space with sites with higher traffic.
Shared hosting is a great place to go when starting an online business because it is affordable.
The good thing is that most shared hosting providers also have other types of hosting where you can upgrade to when your website grows and begins to receive higher traffic.
|Cheap and affordable (you can get it with as low as $2 to $25 per month).||The load times of your website will be slower.|
|Has an in-built cPanel with a simple user interface, which allows you to make changes quickly.||There are higher chances of instability because other sites on the server have higher traffic|
|You do not need any technical experience to manage this kind of web hosting because everything comes set in the hosting package.||Your site is vulnerable to the risks of other sites. Though this is rare and, most host providers take care of it.|
|There are limited customizations you can perform on the server resources as an end user.|
3. Dedicated Web Hosting
Dedicated Web hosting is the complete opposite of shared hosting. In this type hosting, you do not share the server resources with anyone else.
The upside of using this type of web hosting when creating a website for your business is that you will experience high load time. However, the downside is that it’s costly.
In other words, you become the sole owner of that server until your hosting plan expires, which you can renew.
You have full control of customizing all resources, hardware, and software on the server as you wish.
If you are non-techie and do not want to shoulder all the burden of managing this kind of server, some host provides managed dedicated web hosting where you will not have to worry about the technical stuff.
|You have full control to make any customizations you want on the server resources.||Come with higher management responsibility, such as OS updates and other activities.|
|More secure, especially for handling confidential information, such as E-commerce websites.||Costs higher than Shared hosting in the range of approximately $60 to $800 per month.|
|It is Reliable in regards to speed and performance.|
4. VPS Web Hosting
VPS stands for Very Private Servers web hosting.
This type of web hosting mimics the features of both shared and dedicated web hosting.
So this form of web hosting is like a mediator of dedicated and shared hosting.
Instead of being on the two extremes of sharing resources and owning your server, you can choose VPS, which allows you to enjoy goodies from both sides.
Unlike in shared hosting, where sharing of the server is random, in VPS the server is partitioned, such that you will have access to your operating system, disc space, bandwidth and other server resources. Yes, you will have some form of ownership, but the access to these resources is limited than in dedicated hosting.
Therefore, creating a website for your online business with VPS hosting is like living in a Condo, where the estate is divided into small privately owned units.
|Less costly than dedicated web hosting, its prices range $10 to $70 per month||More expensive than shared hosting|
|Allows customization of the server to meet your needs||A high possibility of poor allocation of resources by the host provider, especially if purchased from a bad host.|
|Scalable, you can add other resources as you grow.||Slow load times than in Dedicated hosting|
|It is semi-managed, this friendly for non-techies|
5. Cloud Web Hosting
This one operates on a different model altogether. While other forms of hosting use physical servers and data centers, this one uses virtual resources.
Dedicated hosting is the solution when your server outgrows the resources provided, but it is usually very costly. In this case, cloud hosting is the cheaper alternative.
In this hosting resources are stored on multiple virtual servers and are rendered based on a request by different cloud users. This reduces the possibility of experiencing downtimes in the website, which are common in physical web hosting servers.
|Convenient, you only pay for the resources you use.||Security is lower than in dedicated hosting|
|Scalable and flexible, you can access additional resources as you grow.||You need a lot of technical and computing expertise to manage this hosting.|
|A cheaper alternative to dedicated hosting with a price range of $1.60 to $170 per month.|
6. Managed WordPress Web Hosting
WordPress is a famous and widely used CMS all over the world, and powers more than 25% of websites on the web globally.
The popularity and relevance of WordPress have led to some hosting service providers to create a form of hosting plan dedicated to WordPress users.
Unlike in shared hosting, it is fast, secure, take care of updates, it is scalable, has high website uptime and provides daily backups.
If you are planning to use WordPress as your CMS, consider using this hosting when creating a website for your business.
|Fast since it is configured for WordPress||Price is a little higher than shared hosting|
|More secure||You will have little customization control|
|You will get expert and knowledgeable support||It is non-scalable and limited because the architecture is configured for WordPress.|
|You will get extra services, such as daily backups, automatic updates, and developers tools|
Final thoughts on the types of web hosting
If you are starting an online business, shared hosting is okay to settle for when creating a website for your business. It is wallet-friendly, and some hosts, such as SiteGround and Bluehost give more than enough to downplay the cons of this hosting.
Also, if you plan to use WordPress as your website platform, feel free to consider going for managed WordPress hosting plans.
As your site’s traffic grows and resources exceed the server space, you should consider upgrading to dedicated web hosting. However, in the case where you cannot afford to rent a whole server to yourself, VPS and Cloud hosting are cheaper options to dedicated hosting.
Remember that the hosting you choose will also depend on the type of website/online business you are starting. For example, if you are starting a blog, portfolio website or simple company website shared or managed WordPress hosting is okay to go with at the beginning before your business grows, but an e-commerce store will need either VPS, cloud or dedicated hosting.
In summary, when creating a website for your business, you need to choose a web hosting service, which is within your budget and allows for the customization to meet your business needs.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Web Hosting Service Provider
Pricing: Make sure that the best option is pocket-friendly, affordable and reliable based on your budget.
Area of Specialization: Every website is created to serve different purposes. For example, an e-commerce site is not similar to a WordPress blog. For this reason, when creating a website for your business, you should choose a host that specializes in your target business model.
Support: It is essential to choose a hosting provider with a solid positive reputation when creating a website for your business. They must have a wide variety of ways you can reach them in case there is a problem, such as live chat, email, and phone call.
Features and Add-ons: For example, some hosts, such as SiteGround offers a free domain, free website transfer, free SSL and free CDN while most other hosts charge for these features. Read a full SitGround review here in this article. Therefore, the best hosting provider who offers most features free or at a low affordable cost.
Reputation and customer reviews: Visit review sites, such as Trust Pilot and social media to find out what customers are saying about that hosting provider.
Room to grow: Look for a hosting provide that also supports higher hosting plans than your current one so that you can upgrade to them later as your business expands and receives more traffic.
Hardware: This has to do with all technologies related to speed, servers, and uptime. The best host must have 100% uptime and equipment that supports backup, security and other processes that make web hosting smooth. Bluehost and SiteGround have a leading market reputation in the best hardware and performance records in the industry.
Refund Policy: You might get disappointed by the services of a given host, and this is why it is essential to choose one with a money-back-guarantee to ensure that your money will not get wasted and lost in case you find a better option.
User friendliness: A web host C-panel and website should have a simple user interface, which is easy to follow even for newbies.
Now after you purchase a domain and hosting, the story does not end there in the process of creating a website for your online business.
You will need a platform where you can build your website from and manage all pages and other activities on your site.
There are three major types of website management and building platforms:
- Coding from scratch
- Using a website builder
- Using a content management software (CMS)
Coding From Scratch
This is a method used mostly by web developers and designers.
|Less repetition of code, which makes a site to load faster.||Need technical expertise in coding, web design and web development.|
|Low margin of error||It is costly to hire a developer|
|It is easier to solve errors and problems that occur along the way on a cheaper budget||Time and energy consuming|
Using a Website Builder
There are many site builders out there you can use when creating a website for your online business, but the most common three are Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. You can find an in-depth comparison of the three in this article.
These are drag and drop builders where you do not need any coding experience to use them. You can put up a website in few hours just by using these simple platforms.
If you choose to use this option when creating a website for your business, below are some pros and cons you should take into consideration.
|Even non-techies can use them because no coding skills are required.||Templates look generic and common if you want a unique feel look elsewhere|
|Cheaper than hiring a designer||Slow loading time|
|Flexibility, you can export your website pages to other platforms.||Limited features|
|Fast to create a website with the drag and drop tools and a wide range of templates.||Most have poor customer support|
Using Content Management Systems (CMS)
These are platforms for both non-techies and developed designers who understand HTML, CSS, and PHP. Do not worry you do not have to understand or know either of this when creating a website for your business.
|Many options to choose from||Need prior training before using them|
|Saves time to build a website quickly||Can reduce load time because it uses server resources as opposed to static pages|
|Most are open source and free||High risk of hacking if not well secured|
|Have a broad ecosystem of themes, plugins and other templates||Limited functionalities compared to coding from scratch.|
|Allow for a full range of customizations||Need investment in time and resources for management.|
|Makes content editing easy|
|Regular updates of code|
I will repeat what I said at the beginning just to emphasize this whole process of starting an online business. Remember I said that building your online business idea from scratch is done in phases and small little steps.
You begin by choosing a niche, specifying the buyer persona and defining your unique selling proposition before creating a website for your business.
After you are done with these two, you will need an online presence, and that is where creating a website for your online business comes into play.
Before you create a website, you will need three main things: a domain name, hosting service provider and a website building platform.
The purpose of this post was to openly discuss the three in detail so that you can understand how to choose the one that meets your needs best.
Are you are ready to create a website for your online business? If so visit this article How to make a site in 2018 the right way PART TWO to get a highly practical step-by-step guide to creating a website.
Want to learn more about web hosting, domain names, and web design? If so I think these two books can help you out.
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