Laura is a small business owner in Nottingham whose business is really thriving. Her business is small scale with her services being for residents of Nottingham. Since she started her business 2 years ago, she has gotten most of her customers from word of mouth referrals of satisfied customers. Other customers she had were gotten via one to one marketing. Earlier this year, she attended a workshop for small business owners where she was taught about the need to have and benefits of having an online presence.
After the seminar, she decided to establish an online presence for her business and went ahead to get a website for it. For the first time since she started her business, she began to receive inquiries from people who were not from word of mouth referrals. She started noting this change about two months after she had created the website and put compelling content on it.
Laura is one of the business owners who have caught on to the benefits of having an online presence. She had previously assumed she did not need to be online since her target market was such a small size and easily accessible to her physically. It is surprising that with the evolution of technology in recent years there are business owners who do not have websites for their business. Most of them do not have websites either because they do not see the need or they do not know how to go about it. Having a website for your business in these days should be a forgone conclusion. If you are thinking of setting up a website, the rest of this article will teach you how to go about it.
1. What a website is
A website is simply a collection of documents. Of course, this is just the basic definition of a website, there are types of websites that are way more advanced than this. Your business’ website will be a collection of documents containing information about your business all grouped together in one place and made available for the public to view.
2. Where your website lives
Think of your website as the collection of all your furniture, clothes, electronics, etc. that are in your house. The house itself can then be likened to what is called a web host. A web host is the house where you store all those documents and pages that contain your business’ information. When you type your word documents and create spreadsheets, they have to be stored in a computer. It is the same with your website pages, they have to be stored on a computer, a computer much more powerful than your PC and constantly connected to the internet, called a web server
3. Getting a house for your website
For most business owners that do not have a website, they have likely had some challenges with or lack of understanding about how to get the house for their website. The system of placing your website in a house is called web hosting. As with accommodation where you rent an apartment for a year or some months, same it is with web hosting. You pay a landlord some money to use his web server for a period of time to host your website.
4. Types of houses you can get for your website
When it comes to web hosting, there are four main types which you could choose as your business needs. They are shared hosting, virtual private server, dedicated and cloud. Barry at Free Parking says that business owners should not just accept the web hosting package offered them but research and ask questions about the different hosting types so they can select the one that best suits their business needs.
- Shared hosting involves you sharing a web server with other websites. Everyone gets a piece of the server as their own.
- With dedicated hosting your website alone is hosted by one web server. You would not be sharing the space with any other website.
- Virtual private hosting involves the division of one server into a few virtual servers which are then allocated to websites. Each website has full access to one server each.
- As for cloud hosting, this is basically a cluster of a lot of servers. With this option, your website will not be on just one server but one that huge cluster of servers making up a huge pool of computing power.
5. What type of house should you rent
An individual living alone does not have the same housing needs as a family of five. The type of hosting you should get is dependent on your needs. What are the features you should be looking out for in your hosting?
- Web space: A website with just a few pages of information does not need as much space as another that has much more information such as an e-commerce website. Most hosting companies will offer you space starting from 1 gigabyte which is more than enough for the average website.
- Bandwidth: What this simply means is the amount of data your visitors can get from your website. If in a month, your users access up to 1 gigabyte of data from your site that is what your usage is. For a website with low traffic, a bandwidth of 5 gigabyte is more than enough for each month.
- Operating system: The same way your computer runs on an OS that is how it is with your web hosting package. The two main web hosting packages are Windows and Linux. You may need to install some apps on your site and it would be good for you to know which OS they would work better with.
6. Who should you rent the house from
After deciding the kind of hosting / house you want for your website, you need to decide whom exactly you want to get it from. Just like with house hunting, you keep looking till you find the landlord that can give you the house you want. There are companies called web hosts or web hosting companies that you ‘rent’ the house for your website from. When choosing a web host, here are some things to look out for to guide your choice:
- The domain names offered: A domain name is simply the address of your website e.g website.com. Perhaps you are looking for something different such as ‘website.xyz’ or ‘website.abc’, you need to check if the hosting company can offer you such a name.
- Email hosting: Usually most hosting companies provide email hosting with the package. Email hosting means you can get an email address like [email protected] or [email protected]. Confirm that the company offers this service.
- Access level: When you sign up with a web host, your account has a control panel from which you can manage your website. The same way you install apps on your phone, you may need to install extra programs or make advanced changes on your websites. Find out if the level of access they offer will enable you do this among others.
- Customer support: When your website goes down in the middle of a busy day, you need to be able to reach out to your hosting provider so they can immediately fix things. If a provider does not have readily accessible support, it could be bad for business.
- Price: Which hosting provider is offering you the hosting you need at the best price? Some hosting companies offer free hosting. If you choose that option, you must check that they can offer you all you want at that price
Creating a strong online presence for your business is an easy but detailed process. With the information above, you have knowledge that will guide you through the process and have you ending up with a great website that works just right for you.