Having a website can hold massive value to business owners. According to Google’s 2016 report shows that 68% of consumers who conduct local searches on their smartphone go to a store within 24 hours, and nearly 50% make a purchase within just one day. Furthermore, ExpressoDigital shows that 91% of customers have visited a store because of an online experience, and 37% use the Internet to find a store at least once per month. More so, of all the small businesses that have websites the top 69% have annual sales of $1,000,000 – $2,490,000. So, it understood why you are contemplating a website. However, I also understand that the process to purchase a website is very tricky.
What criteria do I need to consider when building a website? The essential criteria you need to consider when getting a website is:
- Domain Name
- Business Email Address
- Website Building Software
- Website Hosting
- SSL certificate
- Website Template Design
- Logo Design
- High-Quality Images for Website
In this article, I will take you through all the criteria, and the questions you need to ask when enquiring about your first website.
1. Domain Name
A domain name is the first thing you need when setting up your website. A domain name is essentially a digital address that you use to get access to a website. For example, www.google.com is the domain name for Google.
It is very important because it is the very first impression for visitors, and so it needs to be professional.
Choosing the right domain
A good domain name can make a positive and long lasting impression. As well as it can help your SEO ranking. In addition, the right domain name will increase your brand recognition and make your business stand out in crowded spaces online such as Google search results. Below, I will demonstrate some points when choosing your first domain.
- Your Domain Name needs to be Memorable
- Your Domain Name Needs to Represent Your Business
- Your Domain Name Needs to Be Less than 15 characters in length
- Your Domain Name Should Not Include hyphens or Special characters
I also have to stress the importance of not using free domain names and avoid the types of domains website builders such as Wix provide. These typically have a series of random letters and use, not relevant, longer than expected and do not represent your business.
Where to purchase your domain
Nowadays, there are many domain name registrars with various functions and prices.
If you want a free domain for a year, you can start with Bluehost.
Another popular domain name providers are:
- 1&1 IONOS
You can check if the name you want is available and how much it will cost, which is usually around 10 pounds per year.
Domain Name Extensions
Domain name extensions are the last part of a domain name. They are the letters that come after the dot to the right of any domain name.
For example, most URL addresses end with .com.
When choosing your domain name there are several extensions you can choose from.
You might be thinking which domain name extensions is the most suitable for your business?
When deciding your domain you need to consider who your target audience is, and what top level domains are they already familiar with. This is important because top level domains can seem quite random and as a consumer, you will question visiting a domain with an extension of something you have never seen before (such as a .de or .jp).
According to research form Domain State, the top domain to have “.com” as these are the most recognised by most people across the world. “.com” domain extensions are usually used in business websites, which want to make money online, personal websites and blogs. “.com” are very convenient as they are the most recognisable as they helps the users remember your business a lot easier.
Thanks to the popularity of .com domain users, they are also easier to brand, promote and help your business grow. In addition, it gives your website a familiar address and make your website look more professional. However, purchasing a .com domain can either be very expensive or is not available so you will need to find another option.
In the united kingdom, the type of domain extension we use is the .co.uk, .
Second is “.net” and third is “.org”.
On the other hand, “.net” domain extension is suitable for internet, email, and networking service providers, database hosting, or similar services.
You should consider deeply and choose the domain extension, which is the most suitable option for your business.
2. Business Email Addresses
Business email addresses will the bridge between the customer and your business. People naturally email to have questions, problems, or just want to help. Therefore, the professional email address is very important to have a good customer service as well as to help your business grow.
I am a believer of business email address for anyone who is serious about building a business. There is nothing more effective in crushing your website’s or your business’ credibility by promoting other businesses in your email such as “firstname.lastname@example.org” or “email@example.com”.
In fact, 75% of customers say that professional business email addresses are key to building loyalty with a small business. It is not easy to build trust and gain credibility on the internet. When I see businesses using free email accounts for their business website, it really makes me question how robust and trustworthy is the business.
What is a professional business domain name look like?
Always use your website domain
Custom domains are a mark of professionalism. It shows that you have the real online business that people can trust and link to your website to find out more information about your products as well as your business. This way can be an effective way of branding and help your business grow.
Standard Email Format
One of the rule to make a professional business email is to keep it simple, especially easy to remember. You can base on brand and create email address for different functions and services in your business, such as: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are still many ways and tips to set up a professional email address. One of the best ways is to check out and learn from the emails of competitors as well as the successful brand’s website in the market.
3. High Performing Low Cost Content Management System
Content Management systems (CMS) are used to help build and manage your websites functionality and content without the requirement odd specialized technical knowledge.
A CMS is what you use to build your website without knowing how to code or needing to write all the code from scratch. So CMS is a powerful tool for anyone who wants to start a website or small business by themselves.
Some of the more popular web builders that you might have heard of are:
- WordPress (recommended)
I have spent over 10 years using content management system and I find WordPress is by far better than Wix and Squarespace but Shopify is a close second. WordPress is no doubt the most flexible and power website builder on the list. WordPress maintains over a 60.8% market share on websites though there are more and more CMS in existence.
If you’re a beginner and on a budget I would definitely advise to avoid WIX and square space as these get expensive fast. But, local website agencies are the best. One thing I really do not like about WIX and Squarespace is that they promise to be a free website builder. Until, you want to leverage your website then they demand money, it is not cheap, and the results are not great either.
4. Website Hosting
A website hosting is the storage unit where your website content lives online. You can imagine the website hosting as a house, but instead of storing your bed and kitchen etc… You store digital files (HTML, documents, images, videos, etc) on a server.
Whenever someone enters your domain name in a web browser, the browser will fetch your website content from your website host that connect your visitor to the server your website is on.
The type of hosting you choose depends on how many visitors you have coming to your website and the cost of your hosting will increase when more people visit your website as you will need to upgrade from basic to advanced hosting.
There are 4 General Types of Website Hosting:
- Shared Hosting: You are sharing a server with other websites. Imagine you are renting a small dorm room back in college. You get your own room, but you are sharing the common areas like the kitchen, living room and etc. The price is not more than $10 on signup. You can get shared hosting services through: A2 Hosting, Hostinger, InMotion Hosting…
- VPS Hosting: You are still sharing a server with other websites, but you get more capacity to handle more visitors. Imagine that you upgraded to an apartment in a residential building. You are still sharing the building, but you now have the entire apartment all to yourself, separated from other people. The price is from $20 to $60 per month depending on extra service or type of software. You can get it through: InMotion Hosting, Interserver, SiteGround…
- Dedicated Hosting: You have a server all to yourself and don’t need to share. Now you are renting an entire building. This is often used by very large, enterprise level websites. For the rest of us, you will most likely never need dedicated hosting. The price is about $80/mo based on the type off server specifications and services. You can get it through: AltusHost, TMD Hosting…
- Free Hosting: This is provided for all fully managed drag & drop website builder we mentioned above. The price is about $30 and above. You can get free hosting through: Hostgator, Digital Ocean…
Which Hosting is Best for my Business?
The type of hosting your choose is based on the amount of traffic your website receives and how fast you want the server to load your website. The key factors to choose the good website hosting are server performance, price, features, customer supports, and server physical locations.
If this is your first website it is hard to know how much traffic you will have and it will be hardly anything so I recommend that you start with Shared Hosting as it’s cheaper. This is a great option for small businesses and start-ups. Once your traffic starts to grow then you can consider upgrading to VPS hosting. This hosting system performs extremely well.
If you are using a fully managed website builder like Wix, Squarespace or Weebly, you do not have to worry about hosting. They manage the entire hosting aspect for you however there hosting is limited and the performance of your website will be quite low. For example, I just recently migrated a website from Shopify to WordPress as Shopify system was just too limited.
5. Choose a Website Design
When coming to choose the design style of your website, most of website builders usually offer you a variety of design options for you to choose. However, you can also feel overwhelmed because of that and sometimes feel nervous to decide what design works best for your business.
There are some tips you can consider before choosing your website design:
- Look at your competitor’s design –by looking at your competitor designs you can what works for them as it will also probably work for you. You can get a sense of what type of designs might attract the customers in your industry and how people brand and position themselves through their website.
- Choose up-to-date and relevant designs – website designs change overtime in a trend from the latest market research. Not only do these trends affect the aesthetics of a design they will also be better suited to capturing traffic conversions. You can get advice from industry experts or website designers if you are not sure what designs suit your business best. You will need to share your website needs and requirements with them before getting their recommendations. We offer a free website consulting service that you might find useful here… or contact us: email@example.com
- Start-ups outsource – It is more cost-effective to outsource an agency or a company to design a website for you, rather than hire an in-house website designer, if you are a start-up or small business.
6. Logo Design
A Logo is a graphical representation of your business. There are 2 option available to create your own business logo:
- Option 1: Hire a graphic designer: 99 Designs and fiver gives you access to 950,000+ designers. You can post a logo design project and just wait for graphic designers all over the world to apply for your project.
- Option 2: Use a logo generator to create your own logo in 1 minute: Logo generators allow you to create professional logos without any graphic design skills. It is a great option. Some logo generators you can consider to use: Designmantic; Logo Maker & Logo Creator; Looka; Creative Market; Tailor Brands; Withoomph…
7. High-Quality Images for Website
There is a secret to creating a professional-looking website without hiring a website designer. Professional Images are a powerful to project your message across in a professional and appeal way.
When you see a website that has fuzzy images of fake stock models, doesn’t that impact your perception or confidence in the website or the business it represents?
No need to panic, though…. Here are some awesome sources where you can find beautiful images to boost the professionalism of your website:
- Unsplash.com (Free): this provides the inspirational image header and background images with high – quality images taken by talented photographers.
- 500px.com (Free &Paid): This provides a wide variety of free image resources and best paid resource for national professional images.
- GettyImages.com (Paid): this provides the best image resources for all kinds of business.
- Rawpixel (Free): This is an excellent place to find beautiful and free images that can be used in a variety of business website.
Each resource has its own strength and weakness. Therefore, it’s hard to just choose one place to find all the images you need. You can check them out and choose the image from several resources to make your website fantastic to the customers.
With a set of criteria I mention and analyse above, I hope that you can have an overview of building the first website as well as get tool to develop the professional website for your business. You can apply Design Thinking during the time of building website. This tool can help you empathise with the customer and make a circle of improvement through testing many versions before you have the best version of your website. I hope that you can enjoy this journey and explore more interesting things of building a successful website.