Recent events have meant that a lot of us have needed to reinvent or make significant changes to how we do business. If you’ve traditionally done most of your business face-to-face, you might be feeling like you need to do more online, but you’re nervous – and the flood of information out there is both confusing and overwhelming.
It seems like a lot to deal with, and you might be getting a lot of conflicting information about what solution to choose – do you go with Wix, Squarespace, WordPress or Shopify? What about email and hosting? Or should I just stick with a Facebook or Instagram page?
It can also seem like everything costs a lot – and then maybe a technician is charging you to put it all together. Even a cheap $20/mo plan from Wix can quickly add up, and ends up being not so cheap after all.
Firstly, take a breath. We’re here to both simplify everything for you, and make your website a lot more affordable.
Here are the four main things you need to know about getting started with a website, domain, hosting and email for your business (and get it a whole lot cheaper!).
1 – Write down your goals
Close the laptop, grab a pen and paper, and list your goals. We’re not talking about visiting Machu Picchu or learning the kazoo – we mean what do you want the website to do for your business?
Pick out some key reasons why you believe you need a website and what it should do for your business. This will help you figure out what you need (or need to ask about) and, more importantly, what you don’t. We suggest keeping your plans modest – you can always upgrade later. If it helps, review some basic website concepts to help educate yourself. When dealing with website providers don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you like – it’s their job to explain everything, why it’s needed and how much it will cost.
2 – Get a domain name
Getting your own domain name is like getting an internet address for your business. It’s your very own flag on planet WWW.
No matter what solution you end up going with – Wix, Shopify, WordPress etc. – you’ll need to register a domain name and you’ll be happy to know we have the cheapest domain registration prices in New Zealand (includes tips on how to choose a good domain name).
3 – Subscribe or buy?
With all the options out there it can be confusing, but essentially they’re all websites, and it comes down to whether you prefer to have higher ongoing monthly payments with a subscription service (like Shopify, Wix etc.) or you’d rather just pay a one-off amount (similar to renting or buying a house).
While paying a small amount upfront (or getting a free trial) can seem tempting, it might prove to be a lot more costly over time. Sit down and do some quick calculations – you might find that getting us to build you a WordPress website will pay itself off in less than a year, and you won’t be stuck with expensive monthly fees. You also won’t be restricted to a hosting provider, giving you the freedom to switch if you want.
Be wary of solutions that “lock” you in, making it very difficult, or expensive, to add features, or change to a different provider in the future.
By the way, if you need to be able to sell online, all of the options we’ve mentioned above support e-commerce.
4 – Choose an email & hosting service
The last thing you need is hosting (to put your new website on the internet) and an email service (yes, you could continue using an existing gmail or hotmail address but it looks more professional to have an email like firstname.lastname@example.org).
Your website provider (like us) may offer a full end-to-end service that can cover your website, email and hosting (we also do domain names). It’s easier if you only need to deal with one website design agency, particularly if there are any problems.
The cheaper option for email is the standard POP account, included with your hosting package, however you may feel you need something with more flexibility, storage and extra functionality that a cloud-based third-party service like Google Mail or Office 365 can offer. We can connect your domain to either of these services.
Hopefully, these four steps help simplify the process of deciding what website services you need for your business, and what action you need to take to make it happen. We’re here to answer any questions you might have, so feel free to get in touch!