Getting your business online can be full of pitfalls and blind alleys. Having a guiding light can make all the difference during setup and enable your online presence to be a force to be reckoned with.
First some terminology
There are a whole slew of words that get thrown around here and some places you visit make the whole process sound confusing so we’ll lay it all out as simply as possible. As you read through, bear in mind that this post is aimed at dispelling the myths and gobblewash that website builders throw at you. If you don’t want to know or your eyes glaze over, just skip down a bit.
To have a website on the internet, you need a domain name and a host. Think of the host as the physical address of your store. It’s the place where everyone goes to see your store and in our analogy, that store sits on a computer. The address of a building may be 123 Happy Street … the address of a store may be 184.108.40.2064 *. The address has all your products and is ready to sell and you could give out fliers tomorrow with just your address. But what happens if you move premises (or hosts)? Everyone keeps going to the address they have but you are gone. This is where a business name and a domain name can help. Just as your business name stays constant even when you move shops, your domain name remains constant when you change hosts. Businesses package these two items with a sprinkling of addons and upgrades but it all boils down to these two items. A host and a domain name.
* eagle eyed readers will have noticed that the IP address above is invalid, you are absolutely correct.
So you know you need a host and a domain, what next?
Next, you need to ask yourself a few questions:
- What is my site for (education, to prompt an action, to sell a product)?
- Do I need to have transactions (money changing hands)
- Do I need to be able to update the information on my website regularly (information, products)?
- Do I need to get information from people (for newsletters, reviews)
- What budget have you got in mind?
Now you know what kind of a website you need, you can start shopping around all the website providers and see which one fits your specific needs. There are plenty to choose from and you’ll notice very quickly that the offerings differ wildly in price.
Let us break this down. Generally the cheaper a product, the less flexibility and help you get. This usually means you are left to work it all out yourself and there is not a lot of room to make your online site look that much different from anybody else. For some of you reading this … it sounds perfect and this offering may see you right for your entire online lifetime. The other end of the scale is the bespoke store, custom built to your specifications. You control how everything is laid out and your developer will make it happen. The opportunities to create exciting and unique experiences are near endless.
Choosing a provider
Here’s the tough bit. Picking a provider. It all comes down to the answers you gave above. If you have a small budget, you may need to forgo the creativity and flexibility to just get your information and/or products out into the world. If you have a larger budget, you may still be prudent to forgo the creativity and flexibility and just get your information and/or products out there.
Need someone to talk to? You are in luck. The Regional Business Partner Network (part of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise) offer help in areas such as this. We (Coded) provide a service to help those that are new to selling online or those that are currently online but feel out of their depth.
Management Capability Development Voucher Fund
Small businesses may qualify for vouchers to help pay for services such as training workshops, courses and coaching that build the management capabilities of their owners, operators and key managers.
Management Capability Development Vouchers are only available through the Regional Business Partner Network (RBP) Growth Advisors.
Vouchers may be provided to a business where the Growth Advisors have identified a need for management training as part of an action plan to support the business owner to grow and innovate their business.
For more information on the Management Capability Development Voucher Fund or to find your local Growth Advisor go to www.regionalbusinesspartners.co.nz
Picking a provider
If you have read through this article expecting we hand you the answer on a silver platter, unfortunately there isn’t one, but to give you a starting point…
If you are looking for a unique online experience:
For the creativity and flexibility of a unique site but the “do-it-yourself” kiwi attitude of a cheaper option (along with some handholding):
Try our new offering: diy.coded.co.nz
Coded is a New Zealand based web development business. Our goal is to provide guidance and support to all who want to sell online.