I Need a Website! - Where Do I Start?
So you have a great idea, or you’re about to turn your hobby into a business… you’ve brainstormed to your idea with your family and friends, and now you need a website!
Well…wait a minute…first things first...
Do Your Research
I’ve seen so many heartbreaks… you come up with a great idea, grab a cool domain name, only to find the businessname not available when you try to register it with ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission)...but somebody already has it in Australia!… or the other way around… Business name done - tick - domain name not available [crying emoji]. Check both before taking any action! Also check trademarks and registered company names.
You might also want to register more than one domain name so that you're covered when some other business starts up with the similar or same name as you down the track…or heaven forbid somebody tries to copy you…so that’s generally the .com, .net, .com.au, .net.au extensions and maybe some other TLD’s (top level domains).
My favourite TLD that I own is DesignDiva.agency! And yes sadly I don't own designdiva.com… but I’ve had my company name since
2006…way before it was important for me to have a website by that name… so I have no intention of changing the name. I also decided that my business was primarily based in Australia so the potential confusion between the .com and .com.au will be minimal.
Importantly, I also checked who owns the .com and there’s nothing dodgy about that her…please don’t secure a domain name if you risk being confused with dodgy businesses who have the same or similar domain names that could be mis-identified as you! If you have a business that is potentially International…then it is highly recommended that you secure a .com. The .com.au domain names are important if you do business in Australia.
Check Out Your Competition
Competition is good, believe it or not! Just because there's a bunch of other people doing the same thing you want to do doesn't mean that you can't have an incredibly successful business doing the same thing. It’s actually a sign that you’re on the right track with your chosen market/product/service!
Have a look at what your competition is doing and how they are doing it, their business name, and other terminology they use to market their business. This will give you ideas on how to position yourself in the market and stand uniquely above your competition.
This is not to say that if there is no competition and you have that ‘million dollar idea’ that you're on the wrong track…but be careful…test your idea in the market before you invest heavily in getting your product service up and running.
Plan Your Brand
Once you’ve got a clear picture of your competition that you'll be hanging out with, hopefully you'll be inspired to come up with outstanding ideas for creating and marketing your brand.
Branding is not just your logo and your company colours…they are just a few elements of your brand. Your brand is who you are and what it is about your and/or your company that sets you apart from everyone else in the marketplace. It’s your story, your personality and uniqueness, your company culture, your ‘why’…why you do what you do and what it is about your company that makes you the best choice in a crowded marketplace.
So how well are you presented in your marketplace?
What is your story?
How do you want your potential customers to ‘feel’ about you?
What You Need
- A consistent message…the look and feel of your online and offline marketing.
- A relevant story that you can share on an ongoing basis.
- An online presence where your customers are - choose the necessary platforms and be visually consistent across platforms.
- Consistent imagery and content for fresh and ongoing story and marketing messages.
- Be clear on your purpose and be ‘On Purpose’ - it's more powerful than a mission statement.
- Decide how you want your market to ‘think’ and ’feel’ about your brand and make sure everything you publish emphasises it.
- Don’t be so domestic - be you - the best version of you - be amazing!
Now you can begin to look at building your digital presence!
What is Domain Registration?
Your domain name is your website name/URL. According to Wikipedia, "A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet".
Anyone can register a domain name. Ideally, your domain name is exactly - or related to - your business name. You'll need to find a domain name registrar such as Godaddy, Google Domains, etc. Here is a great list. I have personally had terrible experiences with Netrigistry and Melbourne IT. I recommend staying away from registrars with high prices and bad customer support!
There are soooo many registrars to choose from, but don't get your domain registration bundled with web hosting unless you've done your hosting research too. Domain registration and web hosting are two different things. That said...some excellent web hosting companies will give you free domain registration with your hosting plan, and it is nice to have everything in one place. So research both before investing.
Find out if your chosen domain is available. If it is, great! If not, try other TLDs (other than .com or .com.au) so that you don’t have to let go of your favourite name completely.
For expanded info, Neil Patel also has a great article here: https://neilpatel.com/blog/best-domain-registrar/
What is Website Hosting?
Your website needs to live somewhere...hosting companies provide that service. If your website was your house, hosting would be the plot of land it sits on, and your domain name is your address.
Websites are hosted (stored) on super computers all around the world. A web browser is the tool needed to access your site...simple really...
There are different types of website hosting:
Shared Hosting: We recommend Dreamhost, Siteground, and Bluehost if you only require simple shared hosting. Shared hosting means that your website is sharing a computer server and it's resources with other websites. It also means your website will generally be slower to load, and be slightly less secure as you don't know who else is on the server with you, and what they are doing online...but the benefit is price.
Dedicated Hosting: Private servers are much more expensive but the benefit is security, speed and full control. Basically you are renting the whole server for yourself so you also need more technical experience to manage it too. VPS (Virtual Private Servers) is a middle ground option between Dedicated and Shared hosting, offering private space on a shared server for more control at a reasonable price.
Cloud Hosting: Basically many computers running apps and working together, combining resources.
Managed Hosting: A packaged service including hosting and all of the day to day maintenance tasks that you would otherwise have to look after yourself. These products are often optimised for WordPress websites. This is the set and forget option when you are serious about your business and you need to spend your time doing what you do best...running your business....not maintaining your website. Yes it is more expensive, but managed hosting is fast, secure, and cost effective if you take into account the cost of getting a web developer to fix things when they break, and the cost of your time spent managing and maintaining everything.
What is a Website Builder?
Website builders are structured tools or programs that help you build and design your website without having to worry about knowing how to write code. There are a lot of website builders available in the market today, including Wix, GoDaddy, Weebly, Squarespace, Shopify, etc. When you sign up for one of these services, you are paying for access to the platform and their hosting. You cannot choose your own hosting for these products, but the benefit is that you never have to worry about security or maintenance.
Although they all generally utilise simple 'drag and drop' elements to build out your pages, there can still be a steep learning curve in working out how to get your website up and running in the way you want it. They all have great help docs to get you going and get you unstuck, but it is incredibly time consuming. You'll also find that although they are cheap to use, the 'addons' required to get your site doing what it needs to do, will often make them the more expensive option in the long run.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is and open-source content management system that powers almost 40% of the internet. Yup...it's the biggest..and for good reason. When considering WordPress you have two options - hosted and self hosted. The hosted option - found at www.wordpress.com - is popular with bloggers and allows you to get up and running for free on their servers (if you're not fussed about the odd web address they'll give you), and for a small recurring fee you can attach your own domain name. WordPress.com hosted sites are relatively restrictive with their options compared with their self hosted option and for that reason, self hosted WordPress sites are by far the more popular option.
When people mention WordPress generally they are talking about the self hosted option, which means you need to choose your own hosting provider and upload WordPress to it. This is the only way to truely own your WordPress site. Being open-source, it is totally free and you can create absolutely anything using the core software. Your costs will be in hosting, and any premium addons (plugins and themes) that you may choose to use.
You'll find it's a steeper learning curve than a Website Builder in the beginning, but if your business grows as it should, often in the long run you'll have to upgrade to WordPress anyway...so it's worth considering whether to start in the right place from day one.
What is the cost of DIY websites?
Costs vary depending on the services and extras you purchase. Registering domains usually cost between AUD$10-$20 annually, depending on your chosen domain. Other than that, you will also have to invest in either hosting services so you can upload your site, or to a website builder with hosting included...either way you'll be billed either annually or monthly. Page Builder Addons that may blow your budget are custom shopping carts, membership portals, booking systems etc. Often it's quite hard to work out what bits and pieces you need to bolt on and how much it's going to end up costing in the long run.
Self hosted WordPress also has a plethora of premium plugins available at a cost, but you also have access to over 54,000 free plugins so it's extremely likely that you can have everything you need for just the cost of your hosting and domain name registration.
What are the benefits of working with an agency?
There are many benefits of building your website through a digital agency. Foremost, you will know that it is built properly, and built to last. Agencies are reliable…they're experienced with industry tools, trends and tribulations, and will guide you through these unchartered waters. They are focussed on your growth and success and they see the bigger picture...your website is just part of it!
Think of an agency as your newly appointed marketing department. It might seem costly, but in the long run, what is the cost of not having your digital presence running smoothly?
Thinking of an agency to help you out? Design Diva offers web design, graphic design, photography, branding and web content, and digital and social media marketing. If you are interested, send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, give us a call at 0403 055 330 for a chat, or get serious and book a free strategy call!
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