Getting Your Business Online

Thursday, July 29th, 2021

Every business should have a digital presence, if you’re not on the web your competitors surely are! Getting your business online is usually the first piece of the complex digital world. Having a website is an essential digital channel to generate more leads, enquiries and increase brand awareness.

Starting a Website

Planning Your First Website

Having a responsive website design (meaning the layout changes depending on the viewers screen size) has been a necessity for a while now, but more recently Google has added mobile optimisation and page speed to it’s ever-changing ranking algorithms.

As most ‘early research’ search requests on the internet are conducted on a mobile device, before continuing the later stages of the buying process on a laptop or home computer, so cater to these mobile users first.

8 Questions for your Web Design Specialist

Common Types of Websites

What’s the sole purpose of the website? is it to act as a simple online brochure website to showcase your products or services, or do you need shopping cart functionality to process online orders?

Brochure Websites

Suitable for sole traders such as plumbers and electricians, a simple ‘themed’ website with contact details and an about us page.

Small Business Websites (Corporate)

Usually custom built if it’s within your budget, or based on an existing WordPress theme. The best option for the small business owner who needs more than just a basic website.

Commerce Websites

If you want to sell goods online there are a few options available. We recommend a combination of WordPress and WooCommerce, integrated with Stripe digital payment gateways and Wave digital invoicing.

Portfolio Websites

Suitable for freelance designers and photographers but can stretch to any industry with the sole purpose of displaying images and lightboxes.

Blogging Websites

If you’re a blogger then you’ll want one of these!

Website Style & Functions

Your website follows the style of your company brand, see the first part for more information. Collect some visual inspiration on Pinterest, and have a think about the kind of feature’s and functions you may need on your website. Make sure to include an opt-in offer to start collecting email addresses for future digital marketing. Check the websites of your competitors to see what works and what doesn’t.

Once you know the kind of website your business needs, and have an idea of the style and functionality you require we can move on to the next step.

Ongoing Costs to Run a Website

Before we get on to the actual creation of the site, there are other things that need to be taken care of first. The domain name and hosting are mandatory fees but the ongoing updates are optional. If you’re confident in updating the website yourself, or more importantly if you have the time – this would save you at least £420 per year in maintenance fees.

Unfortunately, even if you’re creating the website yourself there are still costs involved in the ongoing hosting and domain renewal fees. These are outlined below based on a 3-year ownership. The first year includes the one-off cost of a premium theme, if a free theme is okay for your business then deduct £80 from the below costs.

First Year Cost = £210 (Includes the one-off cost of a WordPress theme, priced at £80)
Total Cost After 3 Years = £470

If you do decide to hire a web designer or web developer to create the website for you, then be aware of ‘website designers’ who offer all-singing, all-dancing websites for £199! They sound amazing but as demonstrated below, this wouldn’t cover the cost of a basic theme, domain name, and hosting – leaving little to no time spent on the actual website. Some even claim the websites to be ‘SEO Optimised’, it’s not humanly possible to offer this service, at this price, so please save your money!

What is a domain name?

A domain name is simply your website address, or URL (eg. www.yourdomain.co.uk). Choose one which is relevant to your online business and try and get both .co.uk and .com versions if possible, it also helps to prevent cybersquatting. Domains are relatively cheap and come in lots of different flavours! New TLDs (Top-Level Domains) are also available which enable you to have a different extension such as .guru, .digital as opposed to the usual .co.uk, .com, .org etc.

What is web hosting?

Every website needs a place to live in cyberspace, a place to ‘host’ your website. Web hosting usually comes with an enticing first year offer but then sting you for the renewal, be sure to read the small print. If you go for a website built on the WordPress CMS platform look for website hosting which enables a ‘one-click’ installation of WordPress, and has Litespeed Cache enabled – more on that later. We use Guru as our webhost.

WordPress core and security updates need to be taken care of and installed promptly. Any themes or plugins which are used on your website also need to be updated accordingly to ensure a smooth, secure operation of your site. Optional maintenance fees are worth considering at this stage depending on how confident you are in dealing with this yourself

Installing the WordPress CMS Platform

The ‘real’ WordPress is the way forward in our book, it’s a free self-hosted installation but it requires web hosting (see below). This great article highlights the differences between the 2 WordPress versions. But in a nutshell, WordPress.org is ‘the real WordPress’, it’s the powerful CMS (Content Management System) that you’ve all heard about and powers nearly 40% of all websites. You also have access to 55,000 plugins to enable just about any function you can imagine. All you need is a domain name and web hosting and you’re ready to roll. It’s also referred to as self-hosted WordPress.

WordPress.com is a hosting service created by the co-founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg. Because of the same founder, users often confuse WordPress.com with the popular WordPress.org software.

WordPress runs on ‘themes’, whether they are custom built by a web developer or pre-made and ‘packaged’ for sale or distribution – a popular website for WordPress themes is Theme Forest. Some pre-made themes are free and some cost anything up to around £80 for a decent one. The main issue with using a pre-made theme is that any website functions are restricted to the limitations of the theme itself, so choosing the right one to use is a must! 

Installing WordPress.org onto your ‘webhost’

WordPress.org Powerful CMS Platform

A lot of web hosting companies offer a simple ‘one-click’ install of many popular applications, check to see if WordPress is included on yours. This information is found in the cPanel of your web hosting environment. If it does then great, just click on the WordPress icon and follow the steps to install it.

If it’s not included then you will need to install it yourself.

After WordPress has been installed and you have the downloaded your theme, you’re ready to install it onto your WordPress installation. Head over to the side menu and click Appearance > Themes. Click the ‘Add new’ button and upload the theme ‘zip’ file you’ve just downloaded. After a few minutes, the theme should be installed, click Activate and preview your new theme.