So you are considering starting a business. If so, you need a website. But where to start ? Let’s try to point you in the right direction.
First, you need to secure your name on the internet. In fact, I recommend doing a name search simultaneously on the Oregon Secretary of State website and the website registration company, aka “registrar,” of your choice. There are tons of them, but in no particular order, some options include namecheap.com, Google Domains, and domain.com. The goal here is to find a name available in Oregon and on the internet as well. Once you have chosen a name and determined that it is available in Oregon and on the Internet, you must register it. Registering a domain name is simple, inexpensive, and puts your stake in the ground.
Now that you have a domain name, what do you do with it? You are now ready to look for a place to put your website. Generally, it is called “the host”. Some hosting companies are SiteGround, HostGator, BlueHost, DreamHost, and the list goes on. Some hosts offer tools to build your site. Others require you to have some knowledge of the website. Here too, the choices are not lacking and must be evaluated according to your needs.
There are over a dozen DIY site builders/hosts like Squarespace, HubSpot, Gator (HostGator), Weebly, and Wix that offer tool suites to get you started quickly. Most of them offer drag-and-drop tools that don’t require any knowledge of code, but as with all new releases, it will take some effort to get to know their systems.
If you’re going to have an e-commerce site selling things, whether physical, digital, or even a service, you’ll have additional considerations. Packaged solutions such as Shopify are very popular. Then there’s WordPress, the largest website platform that powers around 40% of all sites on the internet. Both Shopify and WordPress are self-managing but have somewhat steeper learning curves.
Cost is a factor when evaluating these options. Some things are “free” but come with restrictions or advertising on the site. Others are inexpensive and offer many features. Shop around and find the combination that meets your needs.
Just getting to this point in the article might make you feel a bit overwhelmed. If so, you’re going to want to find a developer to help you out. Knowing what you can do yourself and what you need to outsource is super important. If you just don’t have the energy for this kind of work, find a partner. Just be aware that you will be paying for their expertise and it can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 to install and an additional $200 to $500 per month for maintenance. Every situation is unique, so use that as a starting point. Factor these expenses into your business plan and budget. You have a business plan and a budget, right? Alternatively, come see us at SBDC and we can help you too.
Jim Parks is a Business Advisor at the Chemeketa Small Business Development Center. The Small Business Adviser column is produced by the Center. Questions can be submitted to [email protected] or call (503) 399-5088.