What do I need to start a website?
Domain names serve as the "address" of your website, like "google.com" or "facebook.com". Domain names can be purchased from hosting companies, not just domain name companies. It's best to buy the domain through your hosting company because it can save you money and make things easier to manage.
If you can't get the domain name you want with a ".com," try getting a ".net" or other versions.
Hosting means storing your website on a computer called a server. The server is what makes your website available on the internet. Hosting companies, like BlueHost, charge a monthly fee for storing websites on their servers.
There are countless options when it comes to website design. Before searching for a web designer, decide what features you'd like on your website. This will make it easier to communicate with different web firms, and also quicker to decide which company can best fill your needs.
Here are some of the options you might consider for your website:
- CMS - A CMS is a Content Management System. Having a CMS allows you to edit your website online, without any web design experience. Without a CMS, you either need to learn HTML programming or rely on your webmaster to make updates to the website.
- SSL - SSL stands for secure socket layer. Having an SSL allows your customers to use your website over a secure connection. This helps protect sensitive information like credit card numbers. If your website accepts payments, an SSL is a must.
- Forum - Forums give you the chance to interact with your customers, and customers to interact with each other. Forums require a lot of maintenance to prevent hacking and spamming. If you don't absolutely need one, you'll be happier without one.
- Blog - Blogs can help you keep your customers up to date on your company's latest news. If you frequently have changes you need to announce, a blog is a great solution. Wordpress blogs are known for they're ease of use, flexibility, and useful features.
- Photo Gallery - Photo galleries can be used for more than just photos. They also make great portfolios to show off other projects, e.g. artwork, architecture, products, etc.
- Shopping Cart - if you have more than 20 products, a shopping cart will be very handy. To accept payments, you will need a merchant account. Paypal is one of the most widely known merchant accounts. Make sure the shopping cart software is compatible with your merchant account.
- Contact Forms - Contact forms are much more convenient than listing an email address. You'll want to ensure your contact form is protected against spammers.