I am fed up and seriously disturbed!! Why? Because I regularly see clients who come to me for mentoring in social media and digital marketing or join my courses only to discover that they have an empty shell of a website. They are scammed by unscrupulous website developers as they themselves have very little understanding of website domains, hosting, and other critical considerations when developing their website. As a result, the developer produces an ineffective, substandard website that I politely call a “Postcard or a Brochure on the Internet” that does very little in growing their business.

So I have decided to write this blog to help you and other business owners, marketing & IT professionals not to fall into the same trap and be scammed of your hard-earned money when deciding to go digital and invest in creating a website for your business, hobby or passion.

You can check out here why it is important to have a website but it’s time to learn some of the very important and practical things when you are developing or revamping your website or paying someone to develop a website for you.

I know it might be tempting to just pay someone and leave it all up to them to develop your website but in this 3 part blog, I want to tell you about the important things that YOU still need to know when embarking on developing your website.

In part 1, we will focus on the website domain and hosting.

1.    Choosing Your Domain Name

Your domain name is your home address on the internet. For example, mine is https://nikolinakobali.com and www.nkdigital.co.zw.

When choosing a domain name it’s important to pick something that both represents you if you are a consultant or a service provider or your business and it is also easy to remember. Avoid using domain names that are too long, easy to misspell, have hyphens, or are hard to remember.

Imagine if GOOGLE stuck with www.GeneralOrganismOptimizedForGratificationAndLogicalExploration.com!

So if your business name is too long then using an acronym might be a good alternative.

Where can you find the right domain for you and your business that is not already taken? For local domains (.co.zw) you can use WebDev or https://www.name.co.zw/. For .com domain names, that are useful to have if you wish to take your business globally or regionally, you can use sites like GoDaddy that are now also present in South Africa and NameCheap if you’re working on a budget.

NOTE: The best is to have the same domain name for your company registered as a local domain (co.zw) AND as a .com domain. Why? Well, in that case, you are preventing your competitors from taking the .com address and build their business on the back of your hard work. But having two domain names does not mean you have to have two websites. You get two domains that “point” to one website – simple!

Also, do not let someone else buy your domain name for you if possible. You as a business owner or a marketing /IT manager should do this yourself and keep all the login details and passwords in a safe and secure place under a “lock & key” as these are the assets of your company and should not be shared to whomever as they can sabotage your website if they have that information.

2.    Understanding Your Hosting

Hosting is one of the most important parts of a website. Hosting enables you to be visible to the internet and determines how your site appears to the rest of the world. Hosting is basically storing (hosting) your site on a computer that is set up so that the rest of the world can see it (usually called a server).

Before you get hosting, hosting sites require you to have your own domain name. Again if you wish to use local hosting services, head off to WebDev or Utande hosting service. But if you have or aim to have clients outside Zimbabwe borders, you should definitely consider using international hosting providers such as LiquidWeb or SiteGround that are very reliable, more secure, and have excellent customer support.

Things to remember when choosing your hosting.

Price of Hosting

Cheap is not always best in the hosting world, but keep an eye out for excessive renewal costs, overage charges, or signup fees, all may be signs of a poor host.

Limits

Most cheap hosts have severe limits on size/space or bandwidth, CPU usage, or other resources that you will be sharing with others (be wary of “shared hosting” on cheap servers).

Scalability

You may start with a small site, but what happens next year when you add e-commerce or a customer portal?

Security

This is the most public issue recently with local hosting. Lack of free or affordable SSL certificates, insecure and poorly maintained servers with back doors open to anyone who would like to deface or damage your site.

Reliability

A poor, insecure, or unstable server or company will mean your site goes offline. This leads to low rankings on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, and means your visitors will be met by an error message, not your best sales pitch!

Backups

Nothing goes perfectly 100% of the time, a website is no different. Make sure your host provides the tools for you to create and restore backups of your account data and settings.

Customer Service

Always look at how effective and speedy is the company in providing support for technical problems. Look for hosts that offer live support to their clients, 24/7/365. Chat support & social media access as opposed to (usually slower) email and support tickets. Check that they have an in-house customer support department with more than 1 person at the desk on weekends.

REMEMBER – The visibility and usability of your website on the Internet depend on the quality, security, and reliability of the hosting provider and their servers.

So in Part 1 of the “Developing a Website” blog series we outlined in some detail the things to consider when choosing website domains and hosting. In Part 2, we will talk about WordPress and Wix as two major Content Management Systems (CMS) used worldwide.

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