3 Things You Must Have

1. A Domain Name

The domain name is the name you enter at the top of your web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer or Firefox) to access a website.

You purchase domain names from a “registrar” for around $5-$50 per year but they typically cost around $10-12 per year. You can find some by doing a search for “registrar” on google.

Helpful Tip

Be careful with very cheap registrars because they do not make money from the domain name and need to make money by selling extra services, sometimes by tricking you into getting services you don’t need.

Our favorite registrar right now is name.com ($9.99/year) because they are easy to use and they do not try and make you buy services you don’t want or need (note: we have no affiliation with name.com other than we like them).

If you hire a designer, your designer can purchase your domain name for you but we recommend purchasing the domain name yourself. Although not common, if the designer controls your domain name, they can hold your website hostage.

2. A Website: Website Files & Hosting

A website is what appears in your web browser (like Internet Explorer or Firefox):

Normally, you do not create the files for your website unless you are a web designer or a web developer. These files include computer code, images and sometimes other files for things like videos.

Normally, you hire a web designer/developer which costs between $500 and $5,000 (and up to hundreds of thousands of dollars) but typically cost a few thousand.

Helpful Tip

When choosing a web designer you will want to do know ahead of time what you want on your website as this will help you price and compare them fairly. Some things you will need to find out are: How many and what pages do you want in your website, do you want to be able to edit the content yourself and do you want any videos or photo galleries on your site.

There are also website builders that will build the website files for you. You choose a design for your website, customize it or have it customized to fit your business, then provide the text and images for the pages.

Website builders cost between $5 and $699 per month but are typically between $10 and $99 per month. Different website builders specialize in different markets and offer a wide variety of features and price points.

Helpful Tip

When choosing a website builder for a business, make sure that they include business features. Adding them later can cost more than the website builder service itself.

Web Hosting

Website hosting is a service that lets people access the website files through the Internet.

Web hosting costs from free to $50/month (up to thousands for high traffic websites and something called dedicated hosting) but typically cost between $4 and $9/month for a business website.

Helpful Tip

Be careful when choosing free or extremely low cost hosting. They are likely to be less responsive when things go wrong then more premium services. This is your business and good hosting is a small cost.

If you hire a web designer, many will have their own hosting services or will recommend a preferred hosting service that they have a relationship with. These usually cost more than the ones you find on Google but the benefit is that the designer takes care of things when your site goes down.

Most website builders include the cost of hosting in their service.

3. Email Account With Your Domain Name

Email Address Considerations

You probably already have an email address and know what it is. Typically, you will either have an email address from wherever you get your Internet service from, your company or a service like Gmail or Hotmail.

When you put your business on the Internet, you will also need to get an email address for the same domain name that your website is on.

A third approach is to use a website builder. A website builder allows you to select from a number of pre-made designs, customize them, and then add your content, like text and images to it. A website builder can give you the same look and feel you get from a designer but at a lower cost. The trade off is that it usually takes a few days to put together the content for the website yourself.

The main things you want to look for in a website builder is (a) do they have professional looking designs, (b) can you customize those designs to make it unique to your business and (c) is it easy enough that you can use it including is there enough help and support. For a business, you will save money if it includes features like a mailing list, feedback form and a shopping cart. Some of these features individually can cost as much as the website builder itself if they are not included.