If you own a business, there’s no excuse for not having a website. It’s the first place prospective customers or clients will look for information about you. It’s also a wise idea to start a professional blog. If you manufacture or create goods, you should have a portfolio of images online. Entrepreneur.com says it best.

“I don’t care if you’re a one-man show or a 10,000-employee corporate giant; if you don’t have a website, you’re losing business to other companies that do.”

But if you plan on tackling this yourself, you’re going to need to know some tech talk. Let’s dive in.

Choose a hosting provider

A hosting provider charges a fee to store your website on their servers. It’s possible to host your own website, but unless you’re really tech savvy, it’s easier (and potentially cheaper) to just let the experts handle it. There are a few things to look for when choosing a web host.

Server Downtime/Uptime– Many hosting providers will advertise their “Uptime” such as 99.9%. Make sure to choose a provider that promotes the reliability of their equipment and service.

Storage– It’s common now for hosts to provide “unlimited storage”. For instance, if you’re putting a lot of videos on your website, you’ll need more storage space than just a simple website with 4 or 5 pages.

Bandwidth– Every time someone visits you online, they have to load the images and files that make up your website on their computer. Your web host will send the files to the visitor’s computer. This is called bandwidth. As a visitor clicks through your site, even though the pages load in the blink of an eye, the amount of bandwidth used adds up over the month, especially as more people visit your site. Just like storage space, it’s common to find unlimited bandwidth.

Tech Support– Be sure to choose a provider that has good tech support, research the provider and read reviews before deciding.

Dashboard/Control Panel– This is the “brain” of your website. Once you log into your hosting provider, you’ll be taken to the control panel or “dashboard’ of your web hosting. Look for features like 1-click script installs, analytics reporting (statistics about your visitors), and an easy to use interface.

E-mail– Once you purchase your website domain (www.yourcompany.com) you’ll want a hosting service that will offer e-mail services, so you can set up yourname@yourcompany.com.

Buy a domain

Now that you’ve chosen a provider, you need to buy a domain. The easiest way is to buy the domain through your web hosting provider. Many companies will offer free or discounted domain names if you sign up for web hosting with them. Now you’ll have to make some choices.

Domain Name– What will it be? Be prepared for your ideal domain name not to be available. As the internet has gained popularity, the amount of available domain names has decreased. Try to keep your domain name short if possible, and avoid numbers and hyphens. If your name isn’t available, get creative. Try making it into a phrase like “www.eat[pizza restaurant].com” or “www.get

.com”.

Domain Level– .com, .net, and .org are all “Top Level Domains” (TLD). Generally most companies will want to stick with “.com”, but if you’re a non-profit, “.org” may be more fitting. However, your choices no longer end there. Over 300 new “Generic Top Level Domains” (gTLD) will roll out this year and over 1,300 during the next several years. Many of the new domains are industry specific which will open up multiple options for most businesses, for example, www.yourcompany.insurance, or www.yourcompany.plumbing. Check out the whole list of new gTLD’s.

Registration Length– When you purchase a domain, you are “leasing” it from the registrar. The length of your registration can be 1-10 years. The domain cost is usually billed yearly, not monthly.

The nuances of getting your website up and running is a topic for another article. But unless you have experience with coding and design, it may be best to leave the actual design work up to the professionals. Did you know that TKO Graphix offers web design services? Contact us, we’d love to help you get online.

TKO Tech Talk is a column written by Eric Benge, who has over 10 years experience in the design and print industries. Technology changes rapidly, the advice or information included in these articles is considered accurate and helpful as of the date they are posted online. If you have any questions, technology related or otherwise, please contact us.