Saturday, August 13, 2016

Creating a website for your business

Today, creating a website for your business is quite straight forward. In fact, it’s never been easier. Besides adding your content, all you need to do is organise three things: your domain name, your website hosting provider and your content management system.

Let me take the mystery out of each one and show you how it’s done:

You need a Domain Name

Also known as your website address or URL (universal resource locator), your domain name is your location on the internet. It’s where your customers find you, either by typing your address into an address bar, a search engine, or a link on another website. Registering a domain name is the first step in creating a website for your business.

Your domain name acts like your shop front in the online world.

The Australian Government has a useful page on registering a domain name here and you can use the following link to Domain Registration Services for lots of tips and advice on domain registration.

Technically, you never ‘own’ a domain name, you are only given the exclusive right to use the domain name for a set period (usually 2 years), which you can renew without question.

The domain name you choose will be assessed by an accredited industry registrar. You have (almost) full control over the domain name you choose for your small business. The main website naming guidelines are:
      You can’t use a domain name that’s already been taken by someone else
      You can’t use a domain name that incorporates a trademark
      You can’t register a site under an education (.edu), government (.gov), military (.mil) or other category extension without appropriate authorisation
      There are certain rules if you want to use (for example, you need to have an ABN)

A domain name costs money to purchase, and there are lots of organisations offering ‘cheap’ domains. However, you should register your domain name with an auDA* accredited registrar, officially certified as compliant with the auDA Information Security Standard (ISS).

The accredited registrar I have used before and recommend is Domain Registration Services.

It’s important that you take time choosing the best domain name. Once you select and purchase your domain name, you can’t change it. So choose wisely.

* .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA) is the Australian Government endorsed authority and regulatory body for the .au domain space.

You need a website Hosting Provider
Selecting a host provider is the second step in creating a website for your business. Every website must be hosted by a website hosting company. This host will ‘hold’ the content of your website for you and make it available to users on the internet. Put simply, a host provider holds all the information of your website (eg images and text) and makes it available for people when they enter your domain name in a search engine such as Google.

Your website hosting provider will store your website content on their servers.

Website hosting also costs money and costs can vary considerably. A bit unsure what to look for? I recommend you use an Australian based hosting provider with a guarantee of 24/7 local support, and two Australian providers of quality web hosting solutions are Digital Pacific and Melbourne IT.

Note: You don’t need to purchase your website hosting from the provider you buy your domain name from. You are free to choose any website host provider, except for Wix – see below.

You need a Content Management System
OK, you have a domain name and a host provider. All you need now is a program that helps you create and edit the content on your website. This program is called a Content Management System (or CMS for short) and is basically a website builder for you to build your website.

Selecting a CMS is the third and final step in creating a website for your business.

The common theme with these Content Management System’s is that they are all website builders that allow you to use templates, themes, plug-ins and apps to quickly build your website and link it to your hosting provider.

Some of the popular CMS’s are:
      Big Cartel
      Wix, and
There are Pros and Cons with each of these website builders, so it is best to do some research of your own before you start.

Shopify is geared towards online stores that need Shopping Carts, and is quite expensive; Big Cartel, which is also geared for online stores, is much cheaper and better - a customer of mine who has used it, told me it is very easy to set up and use.

My recommendation would be to use either WordPress or Wix. They both come with Shopping Carts that can be added for free, if you need one (also referred to as eCommerce). For a really good ‘side-by-side’ comparison of WordPress and Wix, visit this site here.

WordPress has small business plans that cost up to $25 p/month and you pay separately for hosting; Wix has monthly and yearly plans that you pay for, but you must have your site hosted by Wix, which is included in the price – they have small business plans for $20 - $30 p/month.

WordPress itself does not natively have a shopping cart and you need to add a third-party plugin, which is normally free (WP-ecommerce is a good example).

Wix small business plans can add a shopping cart, also for free (called Wix Stores).

Shopify is more expensive than Wix and WordPress because of more extensive features that come with it; a medium size plan with Big Cartel costs $25 p/month.

Summary: To create a website for your Business
So just to summarise, if you’re creating a website for your business you will need to:
      Purchase a domain name (I recommend Domain Registration Services)
      Arrange website hosting (I recommend Digital Pacific or Melbourne IT)
      Install a Content Management System (I recommend Wix or WordPress)

This may sound scary, but to create a website yourself is relatively straight forward if you’re ‘tech savvy’. What’s more important, however, is to consider how much time it will cost you to figure everything out.

If you build your own website, you will have to deal with all the technical aspects of things, such as get your website linked to your host, worry about security updates, design your own website, learn how to populate your site with content and so forth.

Basically, you’ll need to figure out how to build a website from scratch and this can be time consuming and challenging if you are not technical.

For more information on creating a great website for your business, with ‘mobile-friendly’ responsive design, see this post elsewhere on my Blog ‘Website design trends’.

Conclusion: DIY or Made to Measure
If you are particularly 'tech savvy', you can create your own website (DIY) using the advice above. 

However, by the time you have mastered the templates and learned the skills, you will have been better to leave it to the experts.

Website design and development by professional web development companies is so cheap and fast these days that they are the best way to go. Professional web development companies have teams of designers that can create the perfect website for your business, and they can also host your website and provide 24/7 support within Australia, as well as give you a Content Management System to manage your own changes down the track.

Costs can vary from $995 for a ‘mobile-friendly’ website, including shopping cart, up to approx. $1,695 for something with the lot.

Do not be tempted to have something developed overseas, as you will always be disappointed by the quality, especially in design, and simple issues like spelling and grammar. And, when you try and get it hosted in Australia, there will be problems with future changes down the track since the original developer will have disappeared and there is no one around that can support it.

If you are tempted to use a friend who thinks they ‘know the ropes’, remember to ask your friend for two important things – a ‘mobile-friendly’ website for responsive design, and a platform for you to make changes down the track – preferable using one of the common CMS’s listed above.

Good luck.

How can I Help?
When it comes to websites, I can offer you a rebate on the cost of having your own website designed, developed and hosted by a national company based right here in Melbourne. ‘Mobile-friendly’ websites start as little as $495, and the company offers a no obligation, no deposit service where they come to you and discuss your requirements. They also host your website and provide you with an easy-to-use ‘Content Management System’ for you to make whatever changes you want later on, as well as free 24/7 support by phone and email.

I have negotiated rebates of 20% off their prices and all you need to do is contact me for further details and information.

For further information, contact me below:

David Haigh
(t) +61 (0)3 9885 7688
(m) +61 (0)412 550 020


About me
I have recently retired after 30 years consulting for corporate clients such as NAB, AXA, IOOF and AustralianSuper. My experience covers website design, social media and business strategies. I am now focussed on providing consulting services to small business for free.
My services are provided on a voluntary basis, free of charge, and with no obligation.


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