Building a website for business
In 2013 a Colmar Brunton NZ business survey found that only 50% of businesses had a website, while close to 70% of New Zealanders use the web
or social media to find or research a business. Can building a website for a business be easy? If you’re a small business owner, you are no doubt well aware of the importance of an online presence. At the bare minimum, you’ll need a static website for your business, and better still, you’ll need a dynamic website like a blog. To the uninitiated, this can seem a daunting task, and understandably so with all of the strange coding languages, unfamiliar terminology and similar-sounding products. Fortunately, it’s not as hard as it seems. Since websites are in high demand, so too is the need for a simple process, and there are many companies who offer just that. All you need to do to get started is make a few, simple choices: Website or Blog? A simple business website is a static site with information about your business, sort of like a brochure. It will say who you are, what you do, where you’re located, and what your prices are. Unless you decide to regularly change the look and layout, it will likely stay the same with little to no new information. A blog, on the other hand, is a website that is regularly updated with new information. It’s where you’d post links to articles that pertain to your business or give updates about the company, including any changes in products, services or any other information you’d consider permanent. These days, many business use both, but you could easily start off with a website and add a blog as you felt more comfortable with the process. Where to Register a Domain name? A domain name is the actual website address that people use to navigate to your page. It’s usually the name of your business, but can be anything you want. There are many different domain companies, called Registrars, that you can buy a domain name through. You’ll want to do your homework and compare some of the top-rated registrar services to see which one suits you best. Which Web Host to use? The domain only determines where your site is located among the Internet ether, the Web Host is how you design that part that people actually see. Think of it like the domain is your address and the Web Host is your actual building. There are many Web Hosting companies to choose from, and like the registrars, they all offer various incentives. Depending on what type of service you offer, you might be concerned with bandwidth (dependent on site traffic and interactive elements), digital storage space, domain email addresses, design templates, etc. Most Web Hosting companies offer pre-made website designs which you can choose from. They are often customisable, but at its simplest, you’d only need to plug in your business information to an existing template, upload some images and videos if you have any, and you’d have a professional site ready to go. One Website or Two? There are other Web Hosting companies that specialise in blogging sites, perhaps the most popular being Wordpress and Blogger. Wordpress is open source, which means it’s optimal for those who like total control over their customisation. To fully take advantage of this, you’ll need some coding experience. Blogger is straightforward, simple and extremely user-friendly, and though it has less room to personalise, it might be the perfect place to get your feet wet in the blogging world. Much like the traditional web hosts, these blogging sites offer a personalised site template, and most will help you register a specific domain for your blog (sometimes included in their pricing packages). These blogging options also often include online stores, total customer interaction, are built to operate seamlessly with social media and, depending on your circumstances, can serve as a fully-functioning website for your company while also meeting your blogging needs. Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you can’t run with the best of your industry: take a look at the New York Times, Forbes, Best Buy and others: they are all powered by Wordpress, as is this website www.tandemstudios.co.nz. How Much Can You Spend? As with most aspects of your business, branching out costs money. While some blogging sites offer free packages, this is often at the expense of personalisation, including a custom domain name which is essential for linking your blog to your business. Generally speaking, your most economic pricing starts at around $10.00/year for a domain name, $5/month for web hosting, and $8/month for the least-expensive pay level for a blog. As mentioned before, many blogs are free but offer more customisation for a fee. There is something of a learning curve when taking on the task of website building for the first time, but with the steps mentioned above, you can see that much of the work is already done for you. If you need a more complex site or design beyond the basic templates offered, you may want to look into hiring a web developer, though these can be expensive. If you’re the self-starter type, you might be interested in Code Academy, a website that teaches you how to use all the common coding languages using simple, easy-to-understand tutorials. Best of all, it’s totally free! After a little while, you’ll be able to design and code your own webpages by yourself. Camille McClane is a tech enthusiast and social media writer and researcher and is our new guest blogger for Tandem Studios. She hopes you enjoy this article, and will continue to check out all of the great content on the blog from Tandem Studios!