Before you take step one toward designing your business website, before you start looking for a web designer and maybe even before you name your company, you need to plan your digital presence. Certain tech fundamentals should be in place before you put a digital face on your business and these four steps will help you get there:
1. Choose Your Domain Name
Your domain name is your “address” on the Internet. The ideal domain name is YourBusinessName.com, but it might already be taken, in which case you have to get creative. You might even consider naming your business based on what domain names are still available, just to make sure you get the right combination.
Finding out whether a domain name is already taken is easy. Domain registrars have a search feature that shows the availability of a domain name as well as suggestions of other, similar names if the one you want is taken. But if you want to skip the ads and hard sell, you can perform a simple WHOIS search at InterNIC for the domain you want and find out if someone has already registered it.
2. Register Your Domain Name
After you’ve found the perfect domain name, you need to register it. Any number of domain name registrars will do it for you. Many of them will offer to bundle your domain name registration with all sorts of other services, which can be great if you need the other services they’re offering, and if your registrar is also going to be your web host.
Don’t be too hasty about grabbing what looks like a good deal from your registrar. They can pile in all the “free” extras they want, but if your site doesn’t need them, and if they’re offered at the expense of what you do need, it isn’t really a deal for you.
3. Choose a Web Host
A web host holds all your website files and serves them out to Internet users, and they can offer many other services besides. Finding the right web hosting service is very important because it will be responsible for keeping your website up and running.
Before you start looking for a web host, think first about what your business website will need. Will you sell things through your website? How about a company blog? Will customers need to transmit private information to you through the website? Will your site be mostly text, or will it use a lot of pictures (which requires more storage space)?
With this information in hand, look for recommendations of good web hosts and then hone the choices down to the hosting package that gives you everything your site needs.
4. Set Up Email
Most web hosting services offer an email server, too, and can walk you through setting them up. Give this a little thought, though: If email will be the primary way customers contact you, and if they need to be able to get in touch with you quickly, you might not want to leave your email in the hands of a third party. Setting up your own email server isn’t terribly difficult, and doing so gives you more control over it.
Now You’re Ready to Build Out Your Website
With this groundwork in place, you’ll have a firm foundation on which to construct your small business website and start connecting with your customers.