Not everyone has the courage or the will to branch out on their own and start their own SME, so first off if you’re reading this and you have decided to do just that you have my total respect and I wish you great success with your (Ad)venture. There are many things you will need to learn on the fly in order to make your new business a success, such as business plans, accounting, and Social Media Marketing. In all of these disciplines there are special terms and phrases that you may not be familiar with, and so is the same with website building. It is often assumed that everyone knows the basic terms and processes involved in launching a website, but from my experience that isn’t the case, I meet a lot of start ups who are starting on the very first step of their journey, who have never thought about web design before and so are completely in the dark about what is required. If you fall into that bracket then this blog post, New Startup – My First Website – Know These Four Basics is just for you.
Building websites can be as easy or as complex as you need it to be, but no matter the size or the scope of the website there are four basics that every site needs in order to visible on the world wide web (www). In this post Im going to do my best to trip out the jargon and give it to you in simple layman terms, so lets get started.
The first thing every website needs is an address to go to, your Domain Name is your websites address and will become an essential part of your marketing and promotion for the entire lifespan of your business, with this in mind choose your domain name carefully. Here are two things to consider when choosing your domain name:
1. Which Domain name extension is best for you?
As of writing this post, there are 280 internet domain extensions in total, of which .COM & .NET account for 50% of all domains registered worldwide. Choosing the right domain for your business has never been more important as it has an affect on how well your site will perform in search engine results. If you are an Irish owned business and will primarily conduct business in Ireland then registering as a .ie will be far more beneficial to you than registering as a .com for example.
The availability and requirements for registering a domain extension also vary in complexity from extension to extension and not everyone can register a certain domain. Again using Ireland as an example, only officially registered Irish Businesses can receive a .ie extension as the .ie is the official country code for Ireland in the same way as .co.uk is for the UK and .be is for belgium etc.
2. What Domain Name Should I use?
By and large this choice may be somewhat out of your control as your preferred domain may already be taken by someone else. For example if your company is All Building Construction and you’re based in Ireland, you will find it very hard to get the www.abc.com or the www.abc.ie domain, so instead try searching for www.allbuildingconstruction.com or www.allbuildingconstruction.ie or other variations of the name.
In all cases keep your domain name relevant to your business name, product or service. For example All Building Construction may specialise in a certain kind of building process, say modular buildings, in this case then a good domain name might be www.abcmodular.ie or simply www.irishmodulars.ie. In these cases anyone searching for modular construction services in Ireland are more likely to come across these website than other variations of the business name. Once you have chosen and registered your domain name it needs to be pointed to a hosting server, if not then the domain is simply parked and anyone who comes across it will find a page saying either the site doesn’t exist or that the domain is registered and parked.
Your hosting server is the physical location where all of your websites files are stored and retrieved from. In the most simplistic terms here is what happens when someone clicks on your domain name, all of which happens in a matter of nanoseconds
Domain Name clicked > Browser Finds the domain registration company for your domain > Searches for domain Name servers for your domain (these point to your hosting server) > Requests Files hosted for your domain > Retrieves publicly accessible files for your domain > renders them in the browser window.
There are a multitude of hosting service options and hosting providers, the fit that is best for you will depend on what kind of site you are building and how much you are willing to spend. If you are getting a web designer to build your site for you then they should have their own hosting and will advise you on the best way forward for you. So you have your domain name and it is pointing to your hosting server, now you need to have something on your server that can be retrieved by the browser, to do this you need to build your website.
When building your website it is essential that you work with best practices in mind, and with the idea that this is your shop window to the world. Your website more than anything else will be the place that people will come to find out who you are, what you do, how well you do it, and most importantly how they can get in touch with you. For these very important reasons it is imperative that your website looks and operates to the highest standards… in short, do not self build. Hire a professional (see the benefits of working with a design solopreneur) to do this work for you, in the long run it will save you time and money and in the right hands you will end up having a partner to help develop your business into the future.
In a previous post I have written about the See Five Pages All SME Brochure Websites Should Have see that post for help on planning what pages you should include in your website. Once your website is built and turned live for the public to view NOTHING WILL HAPPEN, NO VISITORS, NO TRAFFIC, NO ROI, that is the reality of having a website that is not indexed and optimised for search engines to find. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is so important to the success of your website, without it your website will never be seen, it would be like building a massive luxurious hotel on the most beautiful island in the world, but telling no one about it.
The bare minimum SEO that every site should have is that it gets registered with the two biggest search engines, Google and Bing, and that meta content is added to each page. SEO is a whole industry unto itself, and with the parameters of what constitutes good SEO shifting all the time it is something which every website needs to keep working on in order to stay relevant in search results.