If you want to start a business website for your Kenyan business but have no idea where to start, this article is written for you. Developing a website for your business is one of the best investments you could make.
The process is often exhausting, especially for newbies who don’t understand the technology or terminology. However this doesn’t have to be the case, if you follow the right steps and work with the right web developer, the process can be fast, easy, and gives you an ROI on your investment.
1. Determine the type of website your business needs
The very first step is to understand the type of website suitable for your business. For example, a service-based business such as landscaping requires a completely different kind of website from a business that wants to sell thousands of products on its site.
The first landscaping company requires a simple website with a few pages. This kind of website is often referred to as a business website or a lead generation website. On the other hand, the second company a major retailer needs an eCommerce store where they can sell thousands of their products.
There are 12 types of popular websites
- eCommerce Website
- Business Website
- Blog Website
- Portfolio Website
- Event Website
- Personal Website
- Web Portal
- Membership Websites
- Media Websites
- Educational Websites
- Non-profit Websites
- Social Media Websites
- Custom web applications
2. Register A Domain Name
After you’ve picked the type of website which is similar to your business model online, you are ready to register your domain. It’s important you don’t skip the first step as that can have an impact on the kind of domain name you should register.
A media website such as a news website can choose to register the following domain names .media, .news e.t.c. while a law firm that needs a business website can go with .law .legal, e.t.c.
If you are a professional you need a personal website to showcase your education and experience. Such a personal website can have yourname.me as a domain name.
Choose a domain extension that best describes your firm. If you want to start small and grow as big as possible it is best to go with popular domain names such as .co .com e.t.c. to ensure your domain does not limit your business growth.
We have many different types of domain names available for different businesses. Check them out here.
3. Buy Web Hosting
Web hosting is where the files of your website and email live. In simple terms, web hosting is web server space you rent from a web hosting company like skyhost. These web servers are always powered on and connected to the internet 24/7 ensuring your website can be found online at all times.
You need both a domain name and web hosting in order to have a website or emails, this often confuses some beginners. But remember a domain is just an address that points to a server, without both a domain and web hosting you cant create a website or host emails.
The type of website you choose in the first step will also influence your choice of web hosting. If your plan is to launch an eCommerce store with hundreds of thousands of products and thousands of clients on the website at the same time then you need a server with more computing resources such as processing power, RAM, Hard Disk, Bandwidth e.t.c. when compared to a simple blog.
Web hosting can be divided into several categories
Shared Hosting is whereby Hundreds of websites are hosted on one server. This is best illustrated with the diagram below.
Shared hosting is beneficial to beginners that want to start out online without a huge budget. That’s why shared hosting is often so cheap as the server’s physical resources are shared among thousands of tenants.
Because shared hosting has many users on the same server, issues with security and other users using more resources than allocated to them are common. However, with skyhost web hosting each shared hosting account is separated with cloudlinux cageFS.
This technology creates a boundary between each shared account ensuring they are secure and each client only uses resources allocated to their accounts. That said you will still enjoy better security and better performance from a VPS or Dedicated server.
While this is fine for starting out, if you are serious about succeeding online you need to consider other types of web hosting on this list.
For most clients, their next upgrade after shared hosting is often VPS hosting also commonly known as VPS servers.
This type of hosting has fewer clients on the physical server. Instead of clients sharing the server’s physical resources, a couple of virtualized machines (VMs) share the server’s physical resources.
Each VM works as a completely different machine with its own virtual CPU, virtual Ram, and virtual storage. A VM is also known as a virtual private server. It’s a virtual server created by virtualizing a physical server but is completely caged off from other VMs and therefore completely private.
VPS hosting allows you to completely customize your hosting environment. You can install custom scripts and customize just about anything. Other advantages over shared hosting include better performance, You can send bulk emails, and can host unlimited websites among many others.
Dedicated hosting is the next best option after VPS servers. Also commonly referred to as dedicated servers, they work exactly as the name suggests. One physical server plus all its physical resources such as CPU, RAM, and Storage are completely dedicated to hosting your website.
There is no other client or VM sharing the dedicated servers’ physical resources. This means superior performance and security. In fact, a dedicated server is the ultimate form of web hosting that every serious business needs.
Dedicated hosting has many other advantages such as dedicated Static Public IP, like the VPS you can customize anything. With skyhost dedicated cloud servers, you can add CPU, RAM, or storage on the go when they are needed without any downtime making scaling super easy
As the name suggests this is Web hosting optimized for WordPress. It’s a type of shared hosting that is designed specifically for WordPress websites to get a better performance out of the CMS.
I recommend this web hosting for bloggers or small websites only. While eCommerce websites are often developed with WordPress, such a server intense website needs something more powerful like the VPS or dedicated server.
The difference between cloud hosting and traditional hosting is best demonstrated with the illustration below. Basically in cloud hosting instead of your website being hosted on one physical server that can break down resulting in downtime.
Cloud hosting hosts your website across a cluster of servers. So even if there is an issue with one server your website is available on the other servers on the cluster meaning no downtime.
All our web hosting at skyhost is cloud powered from our shared hosting packages, VPS, reseller, and dedicated servers.
4. Design your business logo
Before your website can be designed, the web developer needs your logo. A logo is a representation of your company and its mission. It also contains your brand colors which are needed before any design can start.
5. Develop the website
There are two routes you can take when it comes to developing your website. You can either choose to hire a professional web developer or use website builder tools. What is best for you depends on your budget and system requirements.
A good example is a web portal type of website i.e staff portal, student portal, or web application such as a microfinance lending system. Such a complex website cant be developed with website builder tools. For such a custom project you have no option but to engage an experienced developer.
While you can cheaply or even for free develop your own expert I highly recommend you hire a pro developer.
Of course, if you want the professionals to handle it you will always get better results. This is the case as web developers do nothing all day but develop websites and after a while, they become so good they can make them in their sleep.
The web developer will guide you on the best type of website for your business and the technology they will be using to achieve the set project milestones. Some projects can easily be done with CMS such as WordPress while others might require custom code to be written.
6. Register your business
A website is a different distribution channel offered by the internet, you however still need to ensure your business is legally registered with the government. You also need to obtain a trading license from the county government.
I personally recommend you only do business with a separate legal entity such as a company and stay away from sole proprietorship and general partnerships. However I am not an attorney and you should talk to your lawyer for legal advice.
Its advisable to wait until your website and domain are secured. This is the case as apart from registering your business you might need to copyright your business name, trademark, content, or even website.
You might also register a company name only to find the domain name is already taken.
7. Digital Marketing
After your website has been set up and your business registered, you are now ready to start accepting customers. Like traditional businesses, a website requires you to drive traffic to it in order to generate sales.
Online we drive traffic to websites thru digital marketing. Digital marketing is often referred to as online marketing and encompasses several marketing strategies. Some include; social media marketing, Search Engine Optimization, PPC advertising, video advertising e.t.c
Online marketing is often significantly cheaper when compared to traditional forms of marketing such as tv. You also have analytics tracking software on your website which allows you to measure and track a lot of metrics. This data is vital for improving marketing campaigns resulting in reduced marketing costs while at the same time increasing conversions.
8. Conversion Rate Optimization
A conversion is when a user takes an action desired by the webmaster. This could be buying a product, filling out a form, downloading a file, or making a call.
For example, if you send one hundred people to your dental website, how many of these clients actually show up and pay for dental services? If only two clients out of the one hundred buy, the conversion rate is 2%.
Of course, the goal of any marketing campaign is to make more in revenue than what is spent on marketing. In fact, your ability to dial this in could mean the difference between huge profit margins or meager sums.
One of the greatest advantages of a website is that it makes it easy to test different variables on your website such as color scheme, product placement, price e.t.c. Changing a single variable such as a color scheme might double or tipple your conversions.
This is called split testing and is where you constantly test different variables of your website to increase your conversion rate.
9. Maintenance & Update
The final stage is to maintain the website to keep it up and running. Ensure you stay up to date with your invoices and renew both your domain name and web hosting at the end of the billing period.
If you are using a CMS such as WordPress, updating the plugins and themes is vital to ensuring your website has no vulnerabilities malicious code or hackers can manipulate.
You might also want from time to time to update the website content or change the design. That’s why you should also split test different variables, if you find a setting that works better, you then have to update your website.