Website Launch: Steps Two and Three

A man is working on a computer with woodworking tools.

“This is the right way to start working on my website, right?” (Don’t let this be you!)

Web Hosting and Building Come Next – Choose Wisely!

Congratulations! If you’ve been following our steps for starting and launching a business, this means that you’ve decided on a business idea, and you’ve possibly even purchased the domain name for your website. The next few steps for launching your website are just as (or perhaps even more) important, so we have some very specific recommendations at this stage. Please read this article all the way through before you move on.

The reason why, is because the decisions you make here may have a significant impact on the following:

  • Your overall website costs (including initial purchases and development, as well as ongoing monthly or yearly fees and subscriptions)
  • Your learning curve for using the tools
  • How future-proof your website will be
  • The overall value and functionality of the site
  • How your website looks and performs

In addition to the above elements, when you are at this stage, you are likely going to find that there are a MYRIAD of options, making choosing the right tools even harder. Plus, for those who are inexperienced with website tools, it may seem like any of them may suit your needs (and your budget) equally well. But we are here to tell you: There are many options out there that have the potential to lock you in (causing headaches later) and/or cost you lots of extra time and money. That’s why we’re here to help!

So our goal is to provide you with a set of recommendations that have the following targets in mind:

  1. The website tools you use should allow you to have as much flexibility as you need. They should NOT lock you in or try to keep you confined to one particular product, service (or suite of services – this is known as “vendor lock-in”).
  2. The tools should be future-proof. We don’t want you to have to switch tools or platforms later on when your business grows and/or your demands change. Or if you do need to upgrade or change, the tools should allow for this to happen with minimal disruption (and minimal price change).
  3. The tools should be budget-friendly. We don’t want you spending more money on your website than you need to. The methodology we recommend and the tools we use allow you to save money since you only need to invest or purchase the tools you need (and only if/when that need arises).

The Key Questions (And Our Answers)

So here are the questions you’ll need to answer next (and of course, we’ll have some suggested answers for you at the end).

  1. What tool will you use to build your site?
  2. Where will you host your site?
  3. Who will build the site?

At the time when you purchased your domain name from a domain name registrar, that company probably presented you with a plethora of offers for other services aimed at “helping you” host and build your site. But be warned: Most of those offers (as appealing as they may sound) are unlikely to be the right solution for your website and for your business in the long run.

At Reflective Equilibrium, we like to recommend tools and services based on the following principle: Keep your business services and tools as distinct as possible. This is not a hard-and-fast rule, but the reason we recommend this strategy is because we don’t want you to get yourself locked in with one company or tool, because this often leads to wasted money or time down the road. So even though the GoDaddys and the other domain registrars are NOT going to be happy with us saying so, we have the following advice:  Do not purchase anything else from your domain name registrar other than the name of your website!

Here’s why: What if you end up needing to change the place where you host your website or the tool that you use to build your site? If the company that you bought your domain name from is the same as the company that hosts your site, you may be faced with a challenging technical situation later on if/when you try to move away from them, for example.

For this same reason, this is one of the main reasons why we suggest that you avoid the all-in-one packages! You may have heard of some of these tools – the biggest names that you’ve probably heard are Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace – but there are many others like this. These website-building tools can help you make a decent website (or at least an e-commerce platform) very fast, but they have several issues:

  1. Limited Customization: While they offer a range of templates and design options, there’s a limit to how much you can customize. This could be a drawback for those needing very specific or unique functionalities.
  2. Hosting and Maintenance: These platforms handle hosting and maintenance, simplifying the process but also giving users less control over hosting options and server performance.
  3. Proprietary Nature: Because the technology is proprietary, you’re locked into their ecosystem. Moving your site to another platform can be challenging.
  4. Cost: They often operate on a subscription model, and you are paying for the “building and designing” tools even when your website is “complete” and you are mostly just doing maintenance. This can be more expensive in the long run compared to self-hosted solutions.
  5. Limited SEO and Advanced Features: While they offer basic SEO tools, they may lack advanced SEO capabilities. Integration with third-party tools and services can also be limited.

Deciding on a Builder

For most small businesses, and especially if you are just starting a website, our recommendation is to use WordPress to create your own business website. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Flexibility and Customization: WordPress offers extensive customization options through thousands of themes and plugins. This allows for more tailored and unique website designs and functionalities.
  2. Cost-Effective: While the WordPress software is free, costs can accrue for hosting, premium themes, plugins, and potential development assistance. However, this can be more cost-effective in the long term.
  3. SEO Advantage: WordPress, with the right plugins, offers robust SEO tools and capabilities.
  4. Open Source Community: Being open source, WordPress has a large community for support, innovation, and resources, but it also means you’re more on your own for troubleshooting and fixes.
  5. Scalability: WordPress sites can be more easily scaled in terms of size and complexity, accommodating everything from small blogs to large e-commerce sites.

In case you couldn’t tell by this list, we are not going to sugarcoat it: WordPress can have a bit of a learning curve as compared to the Shopify/Wix/Squarespace tools. But this is where the community mentioned above can help – OR having a good teacher/DIY instructor like us at Reflective Equilibrium will also make things easier!

Deciding on a Host

If you have already decided to use a web-building tool like Shopify/Wix/Squarespace, the good news is that you don’t need to worry about this issue. But if we’ve convinced you to go the WordPress route instead (we hope we did), you’ll need to arrange your own hosting. While this approach provides more control over your website, it also introduces additional considerations in terms of setup, maintenance, and security.

This is just another reason to keep our helpful team from Reflective Equilibrium on speed dial!

Not only does siteground.com make the setup and the maintenance easy, but they also help with your security and speed as well. Plus, they are very reasonable… click on the link to see for yourself!

However, if purchasing a hosting plan yourself seems like too big of a step for you right now (too technical, or perhaps due to budgetary constraints), then contact us about our custom hosting options (where we handle the hosting element for you, but you still have complete control of the rest of your website).

Deciding Who Will Build It (and How to Start)

If you made it this far, this last question will likely depend a lot on what you chose above. At Reflective Equilibrium, we like to encourage informed decisions – but then the choice will ultimately need to be made by you. But if you’ve been following along with our answers, and if you’d like to start working DIY on your WordPress site now, here are some quick steps for the person at your company who will be setting things up:

  1. Click on our link above (in GREEN) to go to the siteground site.
  2. Click on the “WooCommerce Hosting” button (this is the best option for most business sites since it includes e-commerce along with the initial installation.
  3. Click on the “Get Plan” button under the STARTUP plan (they ALWAYS have amazing discounts for the first year)
  4. When you’ve progressed to this point and begin to wonder what’s next, know that we already have even more resources ready for you – CONTACT US! We will be happy to help you with the next few steps of setting up your WordPress site!

Summary

Whether you followed along step by step, or whether you already have another type of website, or a host (or perhaps you have NO IDEA what kind of website or host your company has) – don’t worry! We can still help you no matter where you are. We have successfully helped customers improve, update, and enhance their non-WordPress sites (yes, even people who use Wix and Squarespace). The main point is, if you are feeling overwhelmed at all by the process of creating or maintaining a website for your company – WE ARE HERE TO HELP, and we want you to get back to what your company does best: Making a difference!

 

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