The Beginner’s Guide to Buying and Setting Up a Website

June 4th, 2012No Comments »

If there’s one thing that has become a necessity in today’s business world, it’s having a company website to serve as a virtual front for your business. If you aren’t familiar with the process of creating a website it can seem like a daunting task, but the technology we have, makes it easier than ever to build a crisp, professional business website, even on a limited budget. Just like setting up a physical business, the first step is finding the right location.

Web Hosting

Your hosting service is what allows your website to remain online. The most important features of a quality web hosting service are their storage capacity, bandwidth, uptime, pricing, and customer support. Let’s run through each of those individually.

Storage capacity – When you host your website, all the coding and content needs to be stored somewhere. Web hosts provide a limited amount of storage for all the “guts” of your website. Usually the amount of storage will be determined by the monthly price you have to pay.

Bandwidth – In a basic sense, bandwidth determines the number of visitors that can be on your site at the same time. Each viewer is taking up a small portion of your bandwidth, which can eventually add up as more people learn about your site. Web hosts offer degrees of bandwidth allowances, which again is usually determined by your monthly fee.

Uptime – You hear this a lot from webmasters, and it’s extremely important. Uptime is the amount of time your website is live, based on a monthly rating. The best web hosts offer 99% uptime in a month. It’s important because any time your website is not live, you can’t make sales.

Pricing – All of the above factors work together to determine your pricing. Web hosting typically charges by month, and can range from $4/month for basic services up to $50/month or more for high profile websites with millions of visitors. Most services allow you to scale your allowances as you require, so it’s best to start with something basic and move up.

Customer support – More than anything else, the support staff of a web host can make or break the deal. You want support that’s helpful, responds quickly, and ideally is available 24/7. That way when you run into a problem you get it sorted out as soon as possible.

Domain Name

Either before or after you sign up with a web host, you need to decide on a domain name ( and purchase it. Many web hosts allow you to purchase a domain through their site, so usually you can combine these steps.

What makes a good domain name? It should be short, catchy, and simple. That way it’s easy to remember. Avoid hyphens or underscores as they usually just make it overly complicated. The name of your company will usually work well, but if you want to get more complicated you can use keywords to help with SEO.

Domain names typically cost anywhere from $9 to $20, depending on where you purchase from, and stay registered for a year, after which you can renew for the same price.

Web Designer

Now that the screws and bolts are in place, the next step is to work on the design of the website. Design is about much more than the way the site looks – it determines the way the site feels. It should be easy to navigate, intuitive, and simple enough to enhance the user experience, rather than distract from it.

There’s always the option, to either A) design it yourself or B) use a free template, but nothing beats the services of a good website designer. Templates are fantastic for personal use, but as a business you want to set yourself apart from the other guys and really make an impact. That’s hard to get with a template, and even harder if you attempt your own design with minimal experience.

Remember that the website is usually the first thing your customers will see, and first impressions go a long way in the business world. A poorly designed or clunky website will lose you customers- guaranteed. Go with a professional and leave the best impact you can on your prospective customers.


If the design is the chrome finish, the coding is the engine that makes the whole thing hum. HTML is the basic coding language, but recently Java and Flash have made an entrance in the business arena, mostly due to the fact that Google and other search engines now have a limited ability to read Flash for search engine optimization. There’s a whole world of opportunity in regards to what a website can become

Good programmers spend years in university and even more time building up experience. While the design is simply the two dimensional image, coding makes it interactive. Hiring a top notch programmer to build your site is an absolute must if you want to make that first positive impact on your viewers.


A lot of business owners have mixed opinions on how important copywriters are for a website. Some are content with simply outsourcing the work to the first available writer, while others take great pains to make sure their website content is pristine and polished down to the last semicolon.

In our opinion, your copywriter is one of the most important tools for your website. As good as the design and programming is; it’s the content that really makes it sell. When your copy is engaging, energetic, and, most importantly, honest, you develop a level of trust with your viewers right off the bat that’s hard to achieve otherwise.

A high quality copywriter will be able to adapt to a tone and style that fits your business and your goals. He or she should also be able to seamlessly implement SEO into your site content, which is something we’ll discuss in a second. You can pull a copywriter from many places – there are plenty of websites created solely for that purpose – but the best writers always come from a recommendation.


Okay, we’ve mentioned SEO a few times already, but what is it exactly? SEO stands for search engine optimization. This term used for optimizing a website to appear in the first few pages of search engines (such as Google or Yahoo). Much of SEO revolves around keywords – words or phrases that target exactly what your audience is searching for. If 200,000 people search for the phrase “lawn and garden,” you’ll have a better chance of appearing in the results if your website uses that phrase in its content.

A strong SEO strategy can be the difference between a popular website and one that isn’t so successful. Keywords are just one part of it, but finding a few popular keywords with which to optimize your site is the best place to get started.


One thing that stumps a lot of people who are new to websites is how to manage it all. On the URL it looks great, but what can I personally do from the back end? A decade ago you had to be able to edit and manipulate HTML in order to make changes to a website, but these days we do it through a CMS, or content management system.

A CMS is a user-friendly interface that allows you to adjust and change any element on your website without muddling around in the code. There are a lot of CMS’s out there, but we personally recommend WordPress to our users, mostly because it’s powerful and user-friendly at the same time, a winning combination.

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