When you decide that you would like to utilize a website to give your business some Internet exposure, there are several components involved. So what's involved in owning a website?
A domain name is the name of your website beginning with a www. which stands for the "World Wide Web". To obtain a domain name for your website, you will need to register it with a company that issues domain names after you find a name that is available and not being used by another company.
There are many companies that you could use to register your domain name such as GoDaddy.com, Bluehost.com, HostGator.com. The cost to register a domain name is usually between $15-$25, unless you would like a premium domain which costs more. This is an annual fee and you will have to renew your domain name each year. Sometimes, you can find special discounts with your initial registration, but the next year the investment will probably be in the neighborhood of $15-$25.
Once you register your domain name, you will need a website hosting account in order to have a website. A hosting account gives you space on the world wide web to house your website. The number of web pages that you have and the size of photos, graphics, videos, etc. that you have on your website will determine the size of your website and the amount of space needed.
You can create a hosting account with companies like GoDaddy.com and Bluehost.com to house your website or you can have your webmaster house your website on their server. There are advantages of each. Generally, hosting your own account with GoDaddy.com or Bluehost.com will cost less than a webmaster, but you will be solely responsible for your website. If it goes down and you do not have a backup, your website will have to be rebuilt.
If you utilize your website on your webmaster's server, they will take care of your website and generally do periodic backups so if the server goes down, your webmaster can get your website up and running again in no time. Also, you have the option of your webmaster taking care of maintaining your website content, making changes, adding pages, etc. rather than you being responsible for that.
If you are a busy person or just don't want the hassle of website maintenance, a webmaster may be the best option for you.
What do you want people to know about you or your business? You will want a variety of written content, photos and possibly video as well as an eye pleasing design and layout to give visitors a good experience when they visit your website and educate them on you, your company, your products and what you can do for them.
You can write your own content, take your own photos, create your own videos or hire a professional to do this for you.
Website Design and Development
As mentioned above, you will want a website that provides a good experience for your visitors and prospective customers. There are several components involved in designing a good website including graphic design, user experience design with good usability and web accessibility and search engine optimization (SEO).
WordPress is quickly becoming a standard for website development, because it is much more user friendly and provides a platform where the website owner can create and maintain some or all of the content or a professional web developer can create and maintain some or all of content.
Content Management or Maintenance
Once your website is built, it is important to keep it up to date. The search engines love websites that make regular content changes. This tells them that this website has not been abandoned and that it is being maintained. Also, people searching for information on the Internet love websites that are fresh with no stale or out of date information. They will visit your website more often if they know that your content changes on a regular basis.
You may have a new product or service that you want to share with your audience. You may also have specials periodically that you would like to get out to your potential clients. Getting this on your website or blog can greatly enhance your marketing.
You may have an arrangement with your webmaster that you maintain your own content which means that after your website is built, your webmaster is done and you are responsible for making any future changes or additions to your website.
You may also have an arrangement with your webmaster that they maintain your content, make changes, additions, create new web pages, etc. which may be included in a monthly maintenance fee. Your monthly maintenance fee will typically include a certain amount of time or labor for updating your website. Beyond that, additional charges may apply which are typically billed on an hourly rate or you can bump up to a higher monthly maintenance plan.
What happens if your website goes down? What happens if your website gets hacked? Just like it is wise to do regular computer backups to keep your computer data safe, it is equally important to backup your website to keep it safe in case of a problem. Without a backup, you will be responsible for any costs associated with re-creating your website and getting it back online. With a valid website backup, you will be able to have your website restored more efficiently without incurring those additional costs to have your website re-built.
Marketing Your Website
Once you have your website up and running, how will people find it? It is important to put together a marketing plan to include a variety of ways to drive traffic to your website. There are many things that you can do yourself or you may want to hire a professional to assist you in marketing your website from writing good content utilizing keywords to social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc. as well as inbound and outbound links and more to optimize your website for SEO (search engine optimization) and drive traffic to your website.
We Are Here to Help You
If you are thinking about a new website or would like some recommendations, adr Business & Marketing Strategies can provide coaching and consulting services to help you through the thought process, planning and development process.
Dona Bonnett is a business and marketing coach and consultant specializing in business start-ups and companies that would like to grow. For more information, contact her direct at 256.345.3993.