If you know you need a website but have absolutely no clue about how websites work then you might feel a little intimidated about the whole process. You worry that you’ll pickup the phone to ask about buying a website for your business and get bamboozled with jargon that just makes you feel stupid. You’ll be afraid to question anything, just accept what they say (because obviously they know best) and end up feeling like you got a raw deal.

Sound familiar?

It’s not uncommon and it’s possibly contributing to large numbers of business owners paying way more than they should for web services. Your best defence against getting ripped off is educate yourself, even if it’s just learning the basics.

We’ll cover a few of the key concepts that are worth knowing, along with what you might expect to pay for each of these services.

3 Parts to a Website

If you ring up asking for a website, it might be confusing when they start talking about hosting or domain registration. You just want a website, why are they trying to sell you other stuff?

A website is actually made up of three main parts – you need all three to have a working website.

1 – Domain name – Domain registration is basically where you secure a unique name – such as myamazingbusiness.co.nz – that no one else has, and when someone types that into their browser the internet knows to send them to your website. You can register a domain name with a registrar like Crazy Domains for less than $20 a year (you don’t need any of the upgrades they try to sell you!).

Here are some suggestions when choosing a domain name for your business:

  • Go for a simple name, easy to spell and related to your business (it doesn’t always need to be your business name, however that is the most common choice)
  • For a business you’ll generally stick with .co.nz. A non-profit might choose .org.nz. If you marketing to a global market aim for .com
  • Avoid symbols like hyphens and don’t make it too long
  • If possible, try to avoid a name that might get easily confused with an existing name e.g. if someone already has bestboots.co.nz then don’t get bestboots.net.nz
  • You can have more than one domain – and point them all to a single website (but make sure you have a good reason for buying them in the first place!)

You can check what’s available by heading along to a domain registrar and plugging in a few names. Don’t stress too much about finding the “perfect” domain name – your website and how you promote it is more important.

After you’ve registered a domain name, and you want us to start building your website then we’ll just need a temporary login so we can update some settings (or we can tell you the settings that need to be updated).

It’s very important that you renew your domain name before it expires – the domain registrar will email you reminders or you can choose to just set it up to auto-renew every year.

2 – Hosting – Think of hosting as the piece of land you’ll be building your house (website) on. You’ve just bought a letterbox (your domain name) and now you need a section.

The one thing to remember with hosting is that you can pay way too much. For most small business websites, cheaper hosting around $10/mo is normally fine. For larger sites or online stores that generally expect more visitors, you might pay a little more.

Aside from being overcharged for hosting there are also a few misconceptions about website hosting (such as needing local NZ-based hosting) so it pays to double check and ask around.

If you do organise your own hosting then it might be worth running it past your website developer to make sure it will have all the features they need to build your website.

In most cases, our clients opt for our hosting service as it simplifies the process for them, includes a bunch of extra features, means they only need one point of contact if there are any problems and eliminates any additional costs related to the website build. If you prefer, we can build on a hosting service of your choice – we would just need to review the setup to make sure it meets our requirements.

3 – Website – This is the bit you’re probably most interested in – the actual set of pages that make up your website, whether it’s the home page, the contact page or any other page that is part of the website that your customers will see.

It’s the collection of files that are all needed to make your website work: text, images, the design files, a database and any other bits and pieces that modern websites need to function correctly in all sorts of different browsers and screen sizes, like mobile phones.

While it is possible to build a website offline, the preferred option is to build it live on the hosting service. It can reduce costs and it makes it easier for you to view your new website. If the public visit the site during this time, all they see is a ‘coming soon’ page, which can feature your contact details or a launch date.

The diagram below shows the connection between the registrar (domain registrar) and the hosting service (where your website is stored).

A website doesn’t have to cost $10k – you might find out $299 website perfect for what you need.

Got website questions? Ask away!

Hopefully this helps to explain a little more about what you need to launch a new website, but don’t stop there. If there’s anything you want to learn more about, just ask.

Some good questions to ask a potential website provider are:

  • Portable – Is my website portable, what’s involved (including costs) in taking my website to another host or website developer?
  • Backups – Are my website files backed up?
  • Costs – Ask for a breakdown of all costs, as well as ongoing costs and costs for making changes to your website after it’s built.
  • Content management – Will I be able to make changes to the website myself? How easy is it? Can I add extra pages?
  • Support – What support is available and what are response times like?
  • Email – Are custom email addresses included? How many and how do I access it?

And if you do approach a website provider that either makes you feel stupid for asking questions, or refuses to answer your questions, then just go somewhere else, there are plenty of other providers around!

As you’ve probably guessed by now, we welcome questions, so if you have any not covered here, just get in touch!

Help! I don’t know anything about websites.