What is the main reason why your business does not have a website?
Getting a website can seem like an overwhelming process to the small business owner who is busy running his or her small business. However, having a website for your small business is extremely important. According to data from Nielsen Online Custom Survey and WebVisible, Inc., 2008, only 44% of small business owners have a website, yet 82% of consumers use search engines to find local businesses. If a consumer doesn’t find your business website online, he or she will go with your competitor, simply because they do have a website online. To help small businesses move forward into the world of online marketing, here is some basic information concerning the three main parts of a website: the domain name, the content or the website itself, and hosting services.
A domain name is the part of the web address after the “www”. In http://www.wordpress.com, the domain name is “wordpress.com”.
Example of a domain name
The “www” tells you it is on the World Wide Web and the “com” is the extension which usually refers to a business. Other extensions include: .org (non-profit organizations), .info (information websites), .us (US based websites), .me (Maine based websites), .net (technical websites or a network of such), as well as many, many others. When you decide to get a website, your first decision is what to have for a domain name. Most businesses choose their business name as a domain name. Domain names have to be registered annually through an approved Registrar. Registrars charge anywhere from a few dollars on up for their annual fees. Whenever you buy a domain name, always make sure your contact information is used for the Registrant Name, address, phone number, and email address. This ensures that the domain name belongs to you if you ever decide to move your website from one hosting company to another, your domain name will go with you.
Each website has to have content. This content is generically referred to as the website. Content consists of links, text, and images as well as other content which is categorized in sections called pages. The content is not limited as far as the Web is concerned and can have from one to an unlimted number of pages. Links to these pages are in a menu that serves the same purpose on the Web as a Table of Contents does in a book. Most companies charge for website creation based on the amount of content involved (number of pages, number of images, amount of text, etc.), the techical expertise needed to create the content and the design of the website (the way it is laid out or formatted, colors, special menu effects, etc.). Some websites incorporate special effects such as Flash elements, animated graphics, videos or other effects, which will add to the cost of website creation. Most companies charge a one-time fee for creating a website. Once the website is created, any updates or changes are charged on a per request basis.
Once you have a domain name registered and a website created, you have to have a hosting service. Hosting is like renting space on a special computer connected 24/7 to the Internet. Hosting costs vary according to the amount of space your website requires, whether or not you are selling products, how much traffic (visitors) your website gets, etc. Most hosting companies offer monthly, quarterly and annual hosting plans with discounts available for people who purchase annual hosting. Some companies offer free web hosting, but your website will be forced to have advertising on it not controlled by you. Also, free web hosting usually limits the amount of your traffic your webiste can have and the amount of server space available for your content. Most small business websites require 50MB or less of server space.
Many website designers offer all three services as a convenience to their customers. Customers, however, are not obligated to purchase all three elements from the same company. Whether you choose to have one company provide all three services or you choose a different company for each service, know which Registrant has your domain name registered and make certain that your domain name has your name and contact information listed as the Registrant. When you sign up with a company to create your website, make sure your website and its content belong to you. If you decide to change companies later, you do not want to have to pay to have another website created. The same is true with your web hosting services. If you decide to transfer your website to another host, make sure all parts of your website belong to you so they can transfer smoothly over to your new hosting company.
Just remember, your domain name is your special name on the web and is written as http://www.yourbusinessname.com. You have to pay an annual registration fee for your domain name and it doesn’t have to end in dot com. Make sure you are listed as the owner of the domain name. Your website is the content which is laid out in pages of text and images with a menu that links to each of the pages. You pay a one time fee for the creation of your website and updates are usually a “pay as you go” service. Once you have your domain name and website, you have to have your website hosted in order to make it available to the online community. Hosting is a recurring service in which you are “renting” server space on a computer connected 24/7 to the Internet. Hosting services are paid on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. These three main elements are required to put your business online.
Copyright Julie M. Watkins of Maine Simple Webs 2012 – All Rights Reserved. If you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact her by using the contact form found at http://mainesimplewebs.com/index.php?id=contact-us.