You have a new idea, a new business, something you’re passionate about. You may have been scheming it for years or it just hit you yesterday… so you need a website. Before your site is up and running, there are 4 things you will need to decide on:
- Domain name
- Web hosting
- Website platform
- Website design and development
This is the easy (and funnest) one to decide.
This is your own URL like yourbusinessname.com or yourname.com.au or ilovemysocks.com . My domain name is evane.com.au. You can search if a domain name is available from many domain providers such as CrazyDomains or NetRegistry
For an Australian commercial website (.com.au domain), you will require a registered business name (or your own name if you’re a sole trader) and ABN. The .com.au URL must be the same or similar to your business name.
You may wish to purchase multiple domain names and redirect them to your primary domain. This helps people to hit your site even if they type in a different domain.
e.g. google.com redirects to google.com.au
A .com domain costs approx AU$15/yr
A .com.au domain costs approx AU$20/yr
The web host is the provider who hosts and serves the website files & database. Think of it as the folder structure for your website on a computer that is always on. The web hosting comes with lots of other features which may include email addresses, SSL encryption certificate, backups, extra security, online software installers and more.
There are many factors to consider in choosing a webhost including:
- amount of space you require (files, email, database)
- amount of bandwidth anticipated by users
- speed of server
- location of server
- level of support
- included features
e.g. email, website builder, cPanel, backups, one click install, may include a free domain
- other inclusions
e.g. may include a free domain
For a basic site, you can expect to pay anywhere from AU$5-$30/month, although dedicated hosting, support and additional features can put a bigger hole in your back pocket.
A website can be developed from scratch but is much quicker to develop using an existing website platform such as WordPress, Wix and SquareSpace.
If the website is hosted on your web host then you won’t have anymore ongoing costs.
However, websites such as Wix and SquareSpace are hosted on their servers. These platforms come bundled with web hosting which means you pay for the privilege to use their platform, but you don’t require purchasing additional web hosting space. Some other considerations for web platforms include:
- Site function – what will be the purpose of your website? are you selling online (e-commerce), informative, building an online community, do you just want a web presence, etc?
- Simplicity and ease of use – is the platform easy to use? is additional coding required? is the platform already installed?
- Functionality and design limitations – can additional functionality be extended? can the design be altered or is it fixed?
- Ongoing maintenance – does the site require manual updates or is it always up to date?
- Support – is there plenty of documentation, an active user community, forums, etc? is the platform well supported?
- Cost – if the platform is hosted on their server, how is the pricing model? what additional costs are there?
Generally speaking, hosted sites such as Wix and SquareSpace are easy to use and look good but don’t have the flexibility to customise and cost more.
WordPress is self-hosted, cheaper to setup and manage (no additional costs unless you install paid themes or plugins), is highly supported and has thousands of handy plugins and themes, is completely customisable but may require some coding for design customisation (depending on theme options available).
Website design and development
Your last choice before you put together your website is who will build your website.
There are many components to consider; installation, structure and sitemap, design layout, theming and branding, functionality and integration, content development, user management, testing, etc.
Anyone can build a website, but there is always a learning curve which equals time required before you get off the ground. If you are familiar with online systems it probably won’t take too long to figure out the basics. To get things rolling a lot quicker, prepare and invest in a designer and/or developer who knows what they are doing and can get the job done in a fraction of the time.
The cost of website design and development is based on these factors and many more. If the purpose of your website is to have a web presence, then that will cost a lot less that a full-blown website with all the bells and whistles.
Are you happy to use a pre-existing theme? $0 (free) – $100
How much design customisation is required?
Do you have a logo/branding/style guide?
What functionality is required? $0 (free) – $200 per plugin
What integration do you require with other systems?
How many pages does your website require?
Will you develop and maintain your own content?
Do you have your own images or royalty-free images? $0 – $10 per image
Designer / developer: $100-$100,000
OK, now what?
So there’s a fair bit to decide on as you prepare to build your website (sorry if I blew your mind!). It basically boils down to:
- the purpose of your site
- the size of your site
- the ability and confidence you have with online systems
- the amount of money you’re prepared to invest
- the amount of time you’re prepared to invest
- when you need the site to be launched
A combination of all these factors will contribute to deciding your domain name, web host, web platform and process for design and development.
As you get your website off the ground, you will probably require a compromise between:
- the perfect website
- the fastest built website
- the cheapest website
Consider the term, Minimum Viable Product. What this means in web-speak is to at least get your product (website) off the ground and operational quickly so you can start to get some traffic, get user feedback and have a foundation to build further, add cooler features, tweak your pages and design and build confidence in your own skill and understanding of website development.
Got more questions or want to run some ideas past someone? Speak to Evan who can help push start your ideas in the right direction.