If you’re starting a business you’ll need a website. But before you dive in with the web development, there’s a few components you’ll need to sort out.
Here’s everything you need to start a website — the minimum requirements.
The Three Things You Need To Launch A Website
There’s only really a few things required to make a start on your business website. It’s pretty straightforward.
1. Domain Name
This is the the registered URL of your website (e.g. www.NicheCarve.com).
You can usually buy a domain along with your hosting service (which is highly recommended). Alternatively, buy a domain on its own and link it to a host later on.
2. Hosting Service
The “host” is where your website files are stored. It’s essentially a remote computer (a server) that enables other people to access your website.
You can rent a host on a monthly or yearly basis. Alternatively, you have the option to host the website yourself — but that requires expensive hardware and sound knowledge of computing (not recommended).
Hosting services come in different shapes and sizes, to suit the requirements of customers. An expensive hosting service usually provides more features — such as unlimited storage space, additional email addresses, content management systems (e.g. WordPress) and, importantly, more speed.
Speed is a crucial. As your website traffic increases, you’ll need to upgrade your host to prevent your site from slowing down, or crashing.
3. Website Files
Your website itself consists of a related set of files that make up its page layout, structure, and features. Most modern sites are linked to a database in the “backend”, that enables sites to store and process data.
Once your website has been developed, it’s stored on the host machine (the server). Just like any other file on a computer, your website requires a program to interface with it. That program is a web browser — such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.
That’s basically it: domain, host, website.
Other essentials — such as email accounts, content management systems (CMS), database functionality, and all other supporting technologies — are usually bundled in with your hosting service.
Unless you require very specific, high-end features, I wouldn’t concern yourself with breaking down each of your technologies into its individual parts. At least not to start with. It costs more, it’s harder to manage, and it requires additional integration. I recommend using a hosting service that provides everything you need from the outset.
Bluehost is a great starting point.
Get Everything You Need In One Place
Bluehost is my go-to place to go for setting up a professional business website, blog, online shop — or any other type of site for that matter. It’s got everything you need all in one place.
Their hosting is optimised for the WordPress software, and its where I launched and grew each of my most successful sites, including Punter2Pro. I’ll explain why I choose the Bluehost + WordPress combination.
Why You Should Invest in a WordPress-Powered Site
WordPress makes it incredibly cheap to create a feature-rich, stable website. It provides thousands of (free and paid) out-of-the-box solutions known as “plugins”, for bolting on features such as:
- Contact forms
- Slide shows/galleries
- Newsletter signup forms
- Page redirects
- Page themes
- Shopping carts
- Comments sections
- Events calendars
- Social networks
- Booking systems
- Examination systems
… and a lot more.
It’s a whole lot easier, more efficient, and cost-effective to use WordPress than to attempt developing your own website features from scratch.
Where to Host Your WordPress Website
To launch a WordPress-powered site, you have the option to sign up for a free WordPress.com account to create and host it. However, it only allows you a .wordpress.com domain — which isn’t very fast, scaleable, or professional. So you’ll need something more suitable.
Bluehost offers notoriously great value. Take a look at their pricing:
Note: by recommending Bluehost to my site visitors, I’ll receive commission for any signups made through my tracking links (featured above and throughout this post).
If you don’t anticipate a mass of website traffic and activity, I recommend one of the cost-effective ‘shared hosting’ options above. They’re most suited to static “information” sites, without a lot of database activity.
In case you’re wondering, ‘shared’ just means that Bluehost will host your files alongside various other sites (i.e. it’s not a dedicated server). You still maintain compete privacy and separation from other users, of course.
Note that all shared hosting price plans come with a free domain and a minimum of 5 email accounts (on the cheapest package). So after signing up, you’re ready to go.
To learn more about WordPress hosting, including how I recommend upgrading your package once you have more momentum, check out my review: The Top WordPress Hosting Companies
How to Set Up & Customise Your Low Cost WordPress Website
Regardless whether you’re planning to create the site yourself, or hire someone to do so, follow the steps I’ve provided in my Step-by-step guide to setting up a WordPress site.
My guide will help you to develop a professional business website with thousands of free features at your disposal. It’ll heavily reduce your development costs.
If you’re planning on starting an ambitious online business for the first time, then I also recommend familiarising yourself with the common mistakes in web development & programming. It could save you thousands of hours — and pounds!