You have decided it’s time to take the plunge and start a website for your business.
But where do you begin and how do you make sure you are setting a concrete foundation that will help your business grow for years to come?
In this article we are going to touch on the basic fundamental decisions you have to make before you can start a website for your business.
URL/Domain Name Registration
Your domain name is the single most important factor to starting a website that represents your business online.
It is a name that your business will have to live with forever, so take your time and make sure you get it right.
In an ideal world, you would want your domain name to be your business name. However, with over 2 billion domain names taken, there is a good chance you will have to be creative when deciding on your domain name.
Here are some tips that can help you find the perfect domain name for your website.
Make it easy to type
Avoid using slang, such as u instead of you, and hard to spell words. You want your domain name to be spelled exactly how it sounds to reduce the frustrations of potential visitors mistyping your domain url and ending up on a competitors website.
Keep it short
The shorter your domain name is the easier it is to remember and less likely to be mistyped by potential visitors.
Using keywords in your domain url is not only good for SEO purposes, but it also gives consumers an idea of what your website is about.
If you business relies on local consumers, include your city, state or even neighborhood into your domain name. Local SEO has become a hot trend over the years and including local signals to search engines in your domain name can help you climb to the top of search engines for local searches.
Avoid # and –
Numbers and hyphens can over complicate something as simple as a domain name. Think about it, if I told you my website was “5 dogs dash on a leash” how would you type it in a search engine?
Before purchasing a domain name make sure you’re not infringing on somebody else’s trademark or copyright. The last thing you want is to start building a name for yourself only to find out you have to shut it down.
Use the right domain name extension
The most commonly used domain name extension businesses use is a .com extension. However, if you are a non-profit, using a .org extension is more appropriate. Additional domain name extension available include .co, .info, .net, .biz and .me.
Ask for feedback
Share the domain names you are considering with friends and family. Find out which domain names they like and why, then use their feedback when deciding on your domain name. You never know, they may even come up with a domain name you haven’t considered but is perfect for your website.
Registering Your Domain Name
Now that you have found the perfect domain name for your website, it is time to register your domain name.
Generally speaking, you will want to pick out where you want to host your website before registering your domain name because you will be able to access your domain a lot quicker if you register with the hosting company you will be using.
Additionally, some website platforms and hosting companies offer free domain registration for up to 1 year.
Choosing The Right Website Platforms
Since there are so many platforms to choose from, we decided to review the top 5 platforms we have used over the years and let you decide from there.
Additionally, with most of these platforms there is a free version that allows you to go into the backend of the website to see how easy, or hard, creating a website can be.
WordPress is by far the most popular website platform and is used on 30 percent of the top 10 million sites!
With WordPress, you have literally thousands of free templates and plugins to choose from to completely customize your website.
Additionally, WordPress has a number of free drag and drop template builders that are compatible with just about any theme. This gives you the ability to play around with them to find out for yourself how easy they are to use.
WordPress itself is free and many of the hosting services we reviewed here have a 1 click install.
Lastly, WordPress gives you complete control over every aspect of your website and can be used to build an e-Commerce store, community forums, social networks, membership websites and of course your professionally looking business website.
The only real downside to WordPress is that you will have to manage the updates and create backups. That means, on a weekly basis you will have to login to your website and click a few update buttons to keep your website running smoothly.
Shopify is an all-in-one fully hosted solution which means you won’t have to purchase a separate hosting package. However, pricing for Shopify starts at $9 per month that allows you to add a buy button on any website and can cost as much as $299 per month to have full control of your website.
Shopify also offers an integrated payment solution that allows you to seamlessly collect payments right on your website.
Since Shopify is strictly an E-Commerce website platform, it comes fully loaded with inventory management, unlimited products, analytics and marketing solutions.
Furthermore, if you have a brick and mortar store, Shopify offers an in-store POS that allows you to take advantage of Shopify’s inventory, shipping and management tools all in one place.
Other than pricing, the only real downside to Shopify is, if you outgrow their platform or want to move your website to another platform you will find out that it is nearly impossible.
Wix is a popular cloud based website builder that also offers a fully hosted platform so you will not have to pay for a separate hosting service.
Wix offers a free plan that is branded with a Wix sub domain and littered with advertisements. However, they also have paid plans ranging from $9.16 per month up to $26.25 per month.
Wix comes with hundreds of templates and dozens of free and paid plugins that allow you to add custom features and functionality to your website.
Additionally, Wix offers a drag and drop user interface that makes website design a breeze and they provide comprehensive tutorials in case you do encounter problems.
The downsides to Wix is, if you decide to change your websites template you are going to have to rebuild your entire website and it is also nearly impossible to move your website away from Wix.
Weebly is a popular platform that is also fully hosted so you wont have to purchase a separate hosting service.
Weebly offers a very limited free plan that does include advertisements in the footer of your website. From there, their paid plans start at $8 per month for a basic plan, $12 per month for their pro plan and $25 per month for their business plan.
Weebly is one of the easiest website builders to use and comes with 40 pre-designed page layouts for you to choose from.
Unlike Wix, if you decide to change your website template in Weebly you do not have to rebuild your entire site.
The downsides to Weebly is, there are only 40 pre-designed templates to choose from and these templates cannot be customized.
BigCommerce is designed specifically for E-Commerce websites and offers the most practical tools that you can use to grow your online business on a self-hosted platform.
BigCommerce does offer a 15 day free trial so you can get a feel for their platform. Once your free trail is up, pricing ranges from $29.95 per month to $249.95 per month once your website starts generating more than $1 Million annually.
BigCommerce offers only 7 free templates to choose from but they also have 76 paid premium templates if you want something unique. However, BigCommerce makes up for its lack of templates with easy integration with online advertising platforms like Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, eBay and more.
The downside to BigCommerce is, learning how to use the platform can be very overwhelming even for those who have been using the platform for some time.
Before you start a website for your business, you have a lot of difficult decision to make. Take your time and make sure you get things right from the beginning so you have a solid foundation to build on.
Above, we mentioned just some of the most popular platforms available. If we didn’t cover a platform you are considering, please leave a comment below and we will do some research and provide you with detailed information to help you make an informed decision.
Also, if you liked our post or have any questions about starting a website for your business please leave a comment below and we will respond.