In my previous article, we identified some questions that would help us understand what we hoped to accomplish with our website, our strategic goals if you will. This week we will jump right into some of the nuts and bolts: getting a website name and hosting.
Getting a Domain Name
If you are starting from scratch you will need a domain name. For our business, www.moonsoar.com is our domain name. It reflects our business name, MoonSoar Services, it’s a top level domain (this one ends in .com other TLDs include .net, .ca etc) and it was not registered to anyone else.
Which domain name you should choose is a subject of extensive debate. The most frequently offered advice has a business owner selecting a domain which reflects their business name or reflects their industry. Something short and memorable can have its advantages, but there are over 250 million domain names registered to date, so don’t feel let down if your first choice is registered to someone else.
After selecting a domain and reaching for your credit card, similar to countless other industries there are some additional services that will be offered at this time. Much like electronics retailers asking if you would like the extended warranty or the bank offering you an account package or credit card with extra frills for an increased monthly fee. For your standard top level .com domain name with none of the cross-sell, upsell you can expect to pay in the range of $10-$15 per year. Be aware you need to renew your domain after each year, as you most definitely don’t want it to expire and returned to the registrar where anyone could register it for themselves.
Other options do exist, such as free web addresses through WordPress or Wix, but for a business it runs the risk of looking on the unprofessional side and imposes restrictions on what your site can do.
Bottom Line: $15 per year for a top level domain. Keep it close to your business name and/or industry.
In addition to your domain name, you will need space to host your website. Since domain names and hosting are frequently bundled together it is understandable people can confuse the two. They are not, however, the same thing.
Hosting is the actual disk space you lease and the amount of data traffic included. When you use a cell phone, your actual phone number is separate from your rate plan and data usage. A web hosting plan provides the required server disk space, computer processing and transfer limits. In our small business website example, we would use a shared server, where other people who have sites similar to our example would also host their sites. The cost of operating your own server is high and require a lot of technical expertise. That’s why the majority of small and medium businesses elect to use shared hosting much like they rent shared office space, rather than buying and operating their own building.
For our small business, we need to make a decision on how much traffic we can expect to have, and how much disk space we require.
Let’s say we want a picture gallery, some pdfs, and 10,000 visits per month. We also want to store our email on the server and use our own freshly registered domain. We also want a little bit of extra space on the server for some breathing room.
Good news for us is with the declining cost of hosting, those requirements puts us in the entry level side of things.
Bottom line: $50-$100/year, depending on how long you sign up for.