What do you need to know before investing in a website?

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When you make the decision to invest in a website you will definitely encounter some specific terminology and concepts that you may not be too familiar with. Wanting a website is a great first step, but you need to make sure that you are not inundated with surprises, confusing terms and shocks throughout the process. Your chosen web design or web development company will likely present a roadmap or a plan and aim to be as transparent as possible through your website project. However, in order to fully understand what it means to have a website and what to expect throughout the process, we have collated 8 key factors that you are likely to come across.

  1. Industry & Audience
  2. Website Type
  3. Website Domain
  4. Hosting
  5. Branding
  6. SEO
  7. CMS
  8. Maintenance

1. Industry & Audience

Once you have decided that you need a website and you have found yourself a company to design and develop it for you, one of the initial questions you may expect to be asked is about defining your industry and audience. Before any type of design and branding can begin it is crucial to have a clear audience in mind so the design can accommodate just that. Why? Well, why do you want a website? To grow your company, to spread awareness to sell products or much more. But how do you do this? By appealing to your audience.

Another common term you will common across is B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-customer), these terms are quite familiar in business already but also play a big part in designing for your audience.

The common practice for web development companies may be to provide a form that asks you to provide as much information on your audience as possible. For example, gender, age, demographic, interests, dislikes, industry, and a whole lot more. This makes sure that the website will be designed according to who is going to use it.

2. Website Type

There are different website types? Of course, there are. Do not be alarmed by a question such as this, it simply means what the objective of the website is, so what functionality it will require. For example, if the objective is to sell products to customers, then it requires e-commerce functionality. Other website types include booking engines, directories, lead generation, blogs, portfolios and a whole lot more.

3. Domains

Yes, now we are getting a bit more technical. What is a domain? Is a domain important? Are domains expensive? Why do I need a domain?

A domain is the URL of your website, it is your websites name, for example, mine is absolute-websites.com. If we pick this apart, we can see the name, absolute-websites, and the suffix .com at the end. A .com domain is also known as a Top-Level Domain (TLD), some other examples are if your name used .net, .org, .edu and a lot more.

A Domain is important because it is what users will type into their search, it should be memorable, easy to write and easy to read. Domains can also benefit your search engine optimisation (SEO) score by using a broad keyword relating to your website. For example, if you have an e-commerce which sells all types of food, food for dogs, cats, hamsters etc… A good domain would be to generalise this such as “petfood.com” or “foodforpets.co.uk”. This tells people automatically that they should expect a website that sells pet food.

Therefore, to answer your question, yes you need a domain because it will be how users will reach your website, by your domain name. But are they expensive? Domains have known to range from as little as €10 to 1000s of euros. Why? Well, if you try to buy a very sought after and popular domain, for example, if apple.com or google.com were for sale, these would be extremely expensive. However, usually, domains that are more specific to you and your business will range around the €20-€30 mark per year. Domains are renewed annually and purchased from domain suppliers.

You can search for domain availability across a variety of websites such as:

4. Hosting

Hosting is an important concept to understand as you begin your website investment. Hosting simply allows your website to be online. Think of the online world as a library and, instead of books, they are websites. Millions of websites are all hosted in the online library waiting to be found. However, you should expect to pay a small annual fee of around €60-€100 to host your website in this online library. Typically, hosting is very reasonable, and some companies may do offers where it is free for the first year or so. However, hosting prices may vary depending on the server your website will be hosted on, some servers are better than others and maybe more expensive.

So, what are you paying for? When you have your website hosted you are paying for:

  • It to be online
  • Security, companies offer SSL certificates which makes your website secure, when you see “https” on a websites name you know it has some security.
  • Business emails, with hosting you are also able to have business emails setup, such as info@yourdomain.com.
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN), some hosting providers offer a CDN which means your website will be served on a group of servers around the world, so if somebody in America is trying to visit your website, they will reach it via a server local to their region, the same as if someone from Cyprus was trying to access your website.

5. Branding

Your branding encompasses the design of your website, how it will look and feel to the user. This should reflect your company, your values and your style. Before any web design work is carried out, you may be asked if you have any branding already, perhaps a logo, colour palette or certain fonts that you like. It is important at this stage that you are very direct with the style you are looking for, in order for the designers and developers to integrate your wishes directly into your website. Some common branding terms you may come across are:

  • Logo
  • Colour palette
  • Voice
  • Writing style
  • Mood board
  • Slogan
  • Layout
  • Icon style

6. SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an extremely broad term, and you are most likely to come across it when you begin your website project. It helps to have some idea of SEO so you know what to expect and how you can help your website designer and web developer. SEO is basically a series of strategies that help people find your website via search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and more. Back to our pet food analogy, if you sell dog food and somebody search “Dog food” on Google, you would like to be the first page, of course, so you can be found, and users will buy from you. However, SEO requires a lot of work, and it can be very difficult and time-consuming to be on the first page for very broad and general terms.

Some key factors you should know about SEO to help with your website project:

  • Content: Content is important for SEO as it provides more information that is helpful and beneficial to the user. So, the better content you have, the better your SEO can be.
  • Meta Tags: These are titles and descriptions of each of your webpages that briefly tell the world what it is about. It is good to include some important keywords that you think your users will be searching for in order to find companies such as yourself.
  • Website Speed: Website speed is important because it improves your users experience (UX) and that is what search engines care about, a good user experience. Slow loading websites can be frustrating and lead people to leave your website and move on. So, it is important to have a fast loading website.

7. Content Management System (CMS)

A CMS is how a lot of websites are built, they offer a backend for yourself to see the website and control aspects of it, even to edit it if you wish. CMSs are increasingly popular due to their user-friendliness. However, without enough experience, it can lead to causing major errors to your website, so if you are going to try to edit your own website via the CMS, we advise you to consult with your web developer first.

Some popular CMSs are:

CMSs use plugins to install certain lines of code that creates the functionality you want on your website. For example, if you want to add a blog to your website, you can install a plugin, if you want to increase website speed, you can install a plugin. There are thousands of plugins you can search for, some free and some paid, however, they all require maintenance, they can cause conflicts and they can have negative effects on your website, especially if you have too many.

8. Website Maintenance

Typically, towards the latter stages of your website project, you may be asked if you want maintenance. Website maintenance is similar to maintaining a car, if you don’t do it, then your car will break. Websites need a lot of care to keep them running smoothly and to ensure your users have a great experience every time.

If you use a CMS, your website’s plugins, themes, database, and programming languages will all need to be updated on a regular basis. However, when updating plugins it can cause errors, therefore developers tend to test updates on staging websites, create backups and a series of other protocols to make sure your website runs smoothly.

Some common maintenance features are:

  • Plugin updates
  • Weekly backups
  • Database updates
  • Contact form testing
  • Theme updates
  • Broken link checks
  • PHP updates
  • Password updates

Website maintenance can range from €50pm – €150 pm and more, depending on what is required.

What to Expect When Investing in a Website?

Therefore, it is important to expect many things throughout your website investment, and by making sure you are on top of all of these factors, you can be sure to mitigate risks, asks the right questions and have yourself a great website that meets your desired objectives. Furthermore, it is important to be aware of additional costs that may not be so obvious at the start, such as annual domain fees, hosting fees and plugin costs.

Transparency is key. Ask as many questions as you can until you feel comfortable moving forward to the next stages of your website project. At Absolute Websites, we are here to help you. Whether you want to invest in a website for your business or just find out more information, we would love to talk to you. Whether by email, on the phone or in person, we can guide you through the steps of having a website developed and make sure you know exactly what to expect.

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