So you've decided to create a web site for your business. That's great! Having a presence on the internet can help your business establish credibility, increase sales and serve as a means of communication with your current and potential customers. But to some, the thought of creating a web site is overwhelming. This article will help to clarify what is required to have a presence on the internet.
STEP 1 - Purchase a domain name
A domain name is the unique name that identifies an internet website. (e.g., google.com, amazon.com). As the internet grows, getting the perfect domain name to represent your business may require some creativity. Most, if not all, of the more common names are already taken. You can visit sites such as godaddy.com or netsol.com to see if the domain name you wish to use is available. You can also purchase your domain name from these domain registrars or, if you've hired a web designer to assist in the creation of your web site, they can purchase the domain name on your behalf.
A domain name can typically cost between $4 and $35 for a one year registration. Once you register a domain name and continue to renew it each year, no one can use that domain name except YOU!
STEP 2 - Create a web site
Do-It-Yourself - There are many web sites out there that offer services that allow you to create your own web site online. Yahoo! Small Business is one example. For those of you that have no web design experience, this can be a great place to start. Costs can run from $5.00 a month and up, depending on the features you are provided.
Hire a web designer - If you do not have the time or the inclination to invest in a do-it-yourself web site, you may wish to consider hiring a web designer. While typically more costly than a do-it-yourself web site, a professional web designer can create a custom web site for your business. A professional web designer can also guide you in terms of the "look" for your web site as well as the content. Having the right content (text) on your web site is very important if you wish to appear in the popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN.
So, if cost is your major concern when creating a web site, a do-it-yourself service may be the best choice. Otherwise, consider speaking to a web designer about your site requirements, the services they offer and how they may be able to work within your budget.
NOTE: If you are considering an e-commerce site (selling your products or services on the internet) there are other factors to consider including site maintenance and credit card processing.
STEP 3 - Select a web hosting service
A web hosting service stores your information (or website) on a server (computer), allowing it to be accessed by users on the Internet.
Pricing for web hosting varies and depends on the features offered by the web hosting service. Monthly costs for hosting can be $5.00 and up. Questions to ask your web host provider (or web designer if they provide web hosting services) include: How much web space am I allowed? How many email accounts are included? What statistics are available about my web site once it goes live? Am I under a contract or can I cancel my web hosting plan at any time?
Follow the three steps above and you will be on your way to having your business on the internet!
Loretta Rinaldi is the owner of Crystal Clear Solutions in Baton Rouge. Loretta has been designing web sites and providing search engine marketing services since 2001.