Everything you need to build a website

(for a startup or small business)

This guide is for startups and small businesses who are considering building their first website. It will help you understand the process and the costs involved in building and running a website, so you can make the right choices for your business. Regardless of whether you decide to build the website yourself or hire a web developer, you will need: domain name, website hosting and website content.

1. DOMAIN NAME

Domain name is your website name, for example, yourcompanyname.com. A domain name can be purchased from domain registrars (companies selling only domain names) or hosting services (companies selling domain names and website hosting) for about £10 a year.

To find out if the domain name you want to purchase is available, you can do a search on any of the domain registrars´ or hosting services´ websites. Once you purchase a domain name, it will be yours for as long as you renew it. These companies provide “free parking” for domain names so you don´t have to purchase a website hosting until you´re ready to start building your website.

When purchasing a domain name, bear this in mind:

  • It should match the name of your business (e.g., YourCompanyName.com)
  • Shorter domain names rank better in search engines and are easier to remember
  • Use a generic domain name extension (.com) if you target international visitors
  • Use a local domain name extension (.co.uk, .de, .fr) if you target country-specific visitors
  • If you want to keep your contact details private, make sure to include Whois privacy (for .com, .co.uk and a number of other extensions). Some countries by default restrict access to or don´t publish the domain owners´ data (e.g., .de, .fr, .nl).

There are many domain registrars and hosting companies that sell domain names. For example, NameSilo and NameCheap offer great value for money.

NameSilo.com (for .com extensions):

  • competitive prices (1st year $6.99, on renewal $8.99)
  • reliable
  • free Whois privacy

NameCheap.com (for .com and country-specific extensions):

  • competitive prices (for .co.uk 1st year $6.88, on renewal $8.58)
  • reliable
  • free Whois privacy
  • recommended for domain names only, not for hosting

2. WORDPRESS OR WEBSITE BUILDER

After you´ve purchased a domain name, the first decision you´ll have to make is whether to build your website using a website builder (e.g., Wix) or WordPress. There are more options for building a website, but in this guide, we don´t want to confuse you with too much information, because 99% of startups and small businesses choose one of these two.

To make the right choice for your business, first, make a list of website features you need (easy customisation, payment gateway, blog, desktop/mobile version, newsletter, integrations, etc.), and then, compare different providers. Below, we provide a basic comparison between website builders and WordPress for small business websites and online stores, but you should research them further based on your specific requirements.

Small Business Website

WordPress is your best choice if you can afford the initial web development fees. It´s reliable, flexible and easy to customise. Hosting fees are usually lower than monthly fees charged by website builders and include unlimited email accounts. Website builders such as Wix can be a good choice for your first website if you want to test the market before investing in a custom website and don´t mind being limited to templates.

WordPress

  • free but you must purchase hosting (see below)
  • you own the website and can move it to a different hosting server
  • endless customisation options
  • more SEO options
  • free branded email addresses
  • accept PayPal and card payments
  • you´ll probably have to hire a web developer

Website builder (e.g., Wix, Squarespace):

  • monthly fee but it includes hosting
  • you rent the website and cannot move it to a different platform
  • limited to templates (some not available for mobile phones)
  • platform controls most of SEO
  • must purchase email addresses via G Suite
  • accept PayPal and card payments
  • most people can create a website using their templates
  • different price plans and free trial

Online Store

Shopify is your best choice if you´re launching a new ecommerce store. It makes it very easy to set up, manage and scale your store, which comes with every ecommerce feature you could possibly need and 24/7 customer support. However, Shopify doesn´t support blogs very well, so if you plan on pursuing an SEO or content marketing strategy for your store, you will have to install WordPress on a subdomain (e.g., blog.yourstorename.com). You can build an ecommerce store using WordPress, but it would require a plug-in for each ecommerce functionality, and you may need to hire a part-time web developer to maintain the store.

WordPress (with WooCommerce plugin):

  • free but you must purchase hosting (see step 3)
  • you own the website and can move it to a different hosting server
  • endless customisation options but you require a number of plug-ins
  • more SEO options, including blogging
  • free branded email addresses
  • accept PayPal and card payments
  • you´ll probably have to hire a web developer

Ecommerce platform (Shopify, BigCommerce, etc.):

  • monthly fee but it includes hosting
  • you rent the website and cannot move it to a different platform
  • limited to templates
  • platform controls most of SEO, not suitable for blogging
  • must use G Suite or other providers for email
  • accept PayPal and card payments
  • most people can create a website using their templates
  • different price plans and free trial

3. WEBSITE HOSTING

If you decide to build a WordPress website, you´ll have to purchase website hosting. A website hosting company will host your website on their secure server and make sure it´s always up and running. When choosing a web hosting provider, make sure it offers the following features:

  • free SSL (for security)
  • one-click-install for WordPress
  • free email accounts
  • unlimited or unmetered bandwidth (traffic)
  • 24/7 customer support

As a startup or small business, you probably don´t need more than a shared hosting plan that costs from £7 – £35 a month. Most providers offer 50% discount for the first year. Below we compare a premium and a budget hosting provider.

SiteGround is known for the best performance and customer support and we recommend it to anyone who can afford it. It offers:

  • the best performance (speed and uptime)
  • advanced features (e.g., staging)
  • excellent customer support
  • good backup options
  • own caching system
  • 4 server locations (US, Europe, Asia)
  • 10GB – 40GB of storage
  • price plans £12 – £35 / month (50% discount for the 1st year)

Although, they don´t offer unlimited storage, 10GB – 40GB is plenty of space for your website (5,000 – 20,000 average web pages). However, if you plan to have many media files (e.g., videos) on your websites, you should choose a provider that offers unlimited storage.

Bluehost is a good budget option that provides a solid performance. It´s recommended by WordPress and offers:

  • average performance (speed and uptime)
  • average customer support
  • 1 server location (US)
  • domain names (.com), but no country-specific domains
  • unlimited storage
  • price plans from £7 – £21 /month (50% discount for the 1st year)

You can move your website to a different hosting provider any time but you may have to pay a transfer fee.

4. WEBSITE CONTENT

The minimum content you need to start building a website is:

  • your logo
  • a few photos
  • description of your business (team, mission)
  • descriptions of your products or services
  • contact address/phone/email
  • privacy and cookie policy

Ideally, you should also have work samples, case studies, blog articles, etc. The more quality content you have on your website, the higher it will rank in search engines. If you need help with writing the content, you can hire a copywriter.

Apart from quality content, you need a memorable logo. If you can´t afford to hire a graphic designer or don´t want to invest in branding because you´re still testing your business idea, there are many online logo makers you can use for a small fee such as Wix logo maker, Hatchful by Shopify or Looka.

Most logo makers allow you to create a logo for free and you pay only if you want to download it. You need a transparent PNG file for the website and a vector file for printed materials. Make sure to read their terms and conditions because you may not be able to trademark the logo or stop others from using the same graphic elements.

You also need a privacy and cookie policy because the data protection laws in most countries require that you explain to your website visitors how you collect and use their data. This can be provided as one document or two separate documents. You can create a basic policy for free on Rocketlawyer.com and hire a legal advisor to review it and tailor it to your business.

5. WEBSITE MAINTENANCE

After you´ve built a website, you have to manage it to ensure good user experience. Your responsibilities depend on whether your website was built using WordPress or a website builder.

WordPress website: 

  • Your website hosting provider is responsible for keeping your website up and running so make sure to choose a good one.
  • Updating content is easy but you may have to hire a web developer if you want to add new pages to your website or change a page layout.
  • Some hosting providers offer malware scanning service for an extra fee but it´s your responsibility to remove any identified malware on your website.

Website builder / ecommerce platform:

  • It´s the responsibility of the platform to ensure your website is fully functional but beware that their customer service can be slow. Always read the reviews by other users before committing to any platform.
  • Some platforms allow you to change the template you used to build your website but sometimes you have to create a new website instead.

DISCLAIMER: We are not affiliated, authorised, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the companies mentioned above.

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