Website development has become somewhat easier thanks to a number of tools that help both create and host your website.
Services like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace and others really do make building a website easy but there are still a number of things to consider.
In a bid to help businesses build the best website possible for their needs, vice president for GoDaddy in the Europe, Middle East and African markets, Stefano Maruzzi, has some advice for folks building out a website.
“The good news is that launching a great-looking website doesn’t need to cost thousands of rand or soak up dozens of hours of your precious time. With the right tools and some basic tips, a time- and cash-strapped small business owner can set up an affordable, professional-looking website in a short amount of time,” says Maruzzi.
The VP has four areas that website builders should focus on which follow on below.
What do you want your website to do?
While a website can seem like a magic tool for some businesses the fact of the matter is that a website can only accomplish so much.
Maruzzi outlines some of the things a website can facilitate including: lead generation, selling and shipping products, showcasing services, creating a sense of community among customers, establishing authority within your industry and help your business with visibility.
Once you’ve determined what your website will offer to visitors you need to decide on what you want those visitors to do on your website.
Some of the actions that can be taken by visitors on a website include:
- Browse through your products and services
- Read a blog post
- Call the phone number
- Request a quote or estimate
- Leave a comment
- Buy a product
“Answering these questions can help you build the right website for your needs. You will be able to plan what your website will look like, what sort of content you need to include, the features and functionality you want to add, and how you will promote it to your customers,” says Maruzzi.
What’s in a name?
Once you’ve determined what your website is going to do you need to consider the domain name.
“Your domain name is the part of your website address that comes after the www. Your domain is your business’s nameplate on the web, so take care to choose a domain name that represents your business and is easy to remember,” says the GoDaddy VP.
Maruzzi also offered up a few tips for business owners when choosing a domain name.
- Keep it short. Would you remember it if you saw it on the side of a bus?
- Make it easy to type. Avoid hyphens and unusual spellings.
- Include keywords. Try to use words people might enter when searching for your type of business.
- Target your area. Use your city or province in your domain name to help appeal to local customers.
- Pick the right extension. Industry- or geo-specific domain endings might be a better fit for your business than a more generic .com.
On that last point, for local businesses we highly recommend getting yourself a .africa domain.
Now that you know what you want your website to accomplish and what you’re going to call it, the time has come to actually build out your website. The big question, however, is how do you do that?
There are a number of options. Website builders offer an affordable and easy way to create a website but you’re only going to get a very basic site.
For something a bit more complex you can check out a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress. In respect of WordPress you are able to choose templates implement immediately or adapt to your needs.
Platforms such as WordPress also offer plugins that can add functionality to your website with a few clicks.
Those looking for a highly complex website with bespoke systems are going to have to employ a professional website developer and designer. The key with this is collaboration. Work closely with the developer to insure that the final product matches up with your vision.
Web development can get quite pricey but often the results are well worth it.
Once your website is ready to go live you need to put it online for folks to visit. You could do this yourself but the complications associated with web hosting mean you’re likely better making use of an existing hosting service in most cases.
When selecting a hosting service Maruzzi advises firms consider the following:
- Reliability: What’s the hosting provider’s uptime guarantee?
- Storage: How much space does the provider offer with their hosting options? You determine what you will need for your website’s files. Hint: Large e-commerce sites and websites with lots of images need more storage capability.
- Bandwidth: Make sure your hosting plan includes adequate bandwidth to be able to handle heavy website traffic.
- Scalability: If traffic spikes, will your hosting provider scale your hosting services to account for the increase? If not, your site could crash.
- Security: Pay close attention to the security features included in a hosting plan, including 24/7 monitoring and protection against DDoS attacks.
- Support: What kind of technical support can you expect, and is it available 24/7?
We highly recommend going for a reputable hosting service. The fact of the matter is that you get what you pay for and while spending R20 a month to host a website sounds like a bargain, that saving might haunt you when your website’s traffic surges or worse, goes down.