Q: What do I need to set up a website?

Getting a website set up can be quite easy but at a minimum, there are three things you’ll need:

1. The domain name

This is makes up the website address and requires registration and yearly renewals. It’s like the online equivalent of registering your company. For a web hyperlink, the domain is to the right of the ‘http://www’ and before the first backslash; for an email address, it’s after the ‘@’ symbol.

In all of the following cases, the domain name is example.com:

If you are a client, just send me the domain you’d like to register and we’ll take care of the details for you.

To register a domain name yourself, find a registrar and follow their registration procedure. There are lots of companies that offer registration services and a web search should bring up a list of popular providers. Make sure that the registration is under your name as some try to lock you in to their service by registering the domain under their own company name.

Some registrars offer extras, like privacy protection, at a price whereas the extras might be included free by other providers. Many also offer email and web hosting which is often automatically included during their registration process. We will provide you with hosting under a maintenance agreement so pay close attention to the purchase itemisation if you only need to register the domain.

Note that you might have to get creative with the name. If the one you want is already registered, you may have to think up different variations until you find something that’s available. Purchasing a domain from an existing owner tends to be quite expensive.

Once you’ve registered your domain, just send me the login details so that I can do the rest of the setup.

2. The website itself

This is the actual design and text visitors see when they visit your site. In the past, developers used to code each page manually. Every time you wanted to change the text on a page, you’d need to ask the developer to recode it.

These days, adding and updating websites are much simpler through the use of Content Management System (CMS) software. The CMS runs on the server and allows you to make day-to-day changes, like updating text and photos, without having to hire a web developer. Your website can be easily managed by a non-technical office administrator or secretary.

For simple sites, I usually suggest that we use the WordPress as this will make it easy for you to add and edit content. Drupal can be used for sites requiring more complex functionality.

Settling on a design is the trickiest part of setting up a website and normally takes a long time.¬†For those who want to get the site up and running soon, it’s best to use a pre-made template. These can be downloaded online for free or quite cheap (about USD30-USD70).

Some people don’t like using a template because it’s not original or unique. While I think this is the best route when starting up a new venture that has limited budget, we’ll be very happy to work on a custom design from the very start. If you’re interested in this, please contact me for more information.

3. Hosting

Websites need to run on powerful computers, called servers, that are permanently connected to the internet. It’s quite expensive to run a business-grade server yourself so hosting companies offer a service where you ‘rent’ space on their computers. They take care of the management so all you need do is provide the website files. (This is similar in concept to renting space in a serviced office.)

We provide hosting free of charge for clients on a maintenance agreement with us.