Can any business, no matter how small, get by without a website? Creating your own, and maintaining and developing it, is an essential step in starting a business. What’s more, it needn’t cost a fortune.
This will be your company’s web address and what internet users will need to type into the search bar to go to your homepage.
Think of a name and check if it hasn’t already been claimed. You can search for, and register, your domain name at a web hosting company, such as www.123-reg.co.uk, www.fasthosts.com or www.godaddy.com.
If you want your company name and domain name to be the same, it’s a good idea to secure your domain name before formally deciding on a company name, otherwise you might get your new company set up only to find you cannot have a website in that name.
Decide on the suffix at the end of the web name. The most common (and usually the most expensive to buy) is .com, but there are many more, such as .co.uk and .net. Depending on cost, it may make sense to register your domain name with multiple suffixes to ensure visitors find the site, while also protecting your brand.
A .co.uk address costs about £3 a year with a minimum registration period of two years. A .com or .biz address costs about £10 a year.
Building a website
When it comes to designing and building a website, you can either do it yourself or get someone else to do it.
DIY websites are largely done from templates – often free on the internet, which will usually have limited scope for customisation which is what creates an individual look.
Low-cost DIY deals include web building, hosting and a domain name.Our agency offers a Takeaway Website from £2.30 per day. The cheapest packages give you more internet space and email addresses, and an online shop facility.
Web design and building are two different skills and a good web design company will use graphic designers and programmers together to provide the website.
Chris of website builder on Alexander’s Studio says: “You can pay anything from a few hundred pounds, to tens of thousands of pounds, to have a website designed, depending on the number of pages, complexity, functionality and whether the designer is also coding the website. At the lower end of the scale, you’ll generally be looking at a freelancer or boutique agency.”
When choosing a web company, ask for recommendations from friends, or search websites you like the look of, for the name of the design company (it’s normally on the homepage). Check out the company website, have a look at its portfolio and see whether you like its work.
It is best for you or your web company to code your website in HTML and CSS. Some website builders use Flash, although this is not supported on Apple products such as iPads and iPhones, and makes the website difficult to find in search engines.
A website needs to be hosted on a dedicated web server in order to make it available on the internet. Hosting involves housing, serving and maintaining files so visitors are able to view the site contents.
Some web companies will have their own hosting facilities but most will act as resellers for a bigger hosting company, such as Heart Internet or www.fasthosts.com.
“There are plenty of companies that provide free hosting space – BT (home broadband) and Google are just two. “This hosting comes with no guarantees, though, and may have limited facilities,” explains Nigel Day, director at Clarihon Web Services.
“For a reliable, reputable hosting service for business use, the cost is £9-10 per month or more. This will be on a web server shared with maybe 50 other websites. If you want to have your own web server, then the cost starts at over £60 per month. Domain name registration and hosting can usually be set up through the same company.”
What type of hosting will work best depends on a number of factors, such as the volume of traffic you expect (bandwidth), whether your website contains a lot of images or videos and how important it is that you have as close as possible to 100% uptime.