The dark art of getting your business on line.

On the morning of Thursday the 29th of March, I was listening to the Michael Reed show on the local radio station for Louth and Meath LMFM. Michael was speaking to Mark Fielding, the chief executive officer of business lobby group the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME). One of the points Mr Fielding made was regarding the businesses in Ireland that have yet to establish a presence online. The justification he gave for this was a lack of availability and reliability of Broadband across all parts of the country. I understand Mr Fielding’s perspective on this however I would have a different opinion. In my experience, I find that the majority of companies have access to broadband in some shape or form however they have either no idea where to start to get a website created or they have had a bad experience in the past. I think if more focus was directed at education and raising awareness of the mechanisms available in Ireland that can help businesses reach the online market the uptake would increase exponentially.

  • For a .IE website name, you will pay €45.90
  • For a .BIZ website name you will pay €13.50
  • For a .COM website name you will pay €17.90
  • For a .NET website name you will pay €9.98
  • For a .CO.UK website name you will pay €9.98

For hosting the site, you ordinarily pay annually. The cost ranges anywhere from €40 per month up as high as you want depending on the services you require. For example, if you are expecting a huge amount of traffic, you may pay more for bandwidth. Basically bandwidth is the amount of data that can be downloaded from your site. You also pay for the amount of storage you require. For example, a reasonable package would cost €49.95. This gives you 10GB space for Email accounts and website storage and 200GB a month bandwidth. This is adiquit for E-mail, simple personal sites, small business sites and portfolio sites. Jumping up a few levels, you can pay €140.95 for a much more versatile hosting package that provides a lot more disk space and much more bandwidth. This type of package could be used for E-mail, large business sites, large e-commerce sites and busy blogs. With this level you would receive 30GB space for storing Email and your website and you would have 60GB bandwidth available. In other words, you can have a larger website and a lot more visitors to your website. When I say a lot more visitors, typically you’re talking about hundreds of thousands.

All prices are excluding VAT.

When picking hosting, for your first website, don’t be afraid to start small. Almost all hosting companies will let you upsize during the term of your contract.

To get a website you basically need three things: A domain name, i.e., a website name, a hosting package and then finally the actual website that people will see. The website is the hardest thing to get but it’s within your reach if you’re willing to spend some time getting to grips with it.

The most important thing to point out at this stage is you get what you pay for. If you do the entire thing yourself and you are not a professional website developer then you can’t expect that you will have the same quality website but that’s not to say you need a professional web developer when you’re getting started. If all you need at the start is some exposure online then you may want to consider using a content management system. This is a lot easier than you might think and it can give you a really good looking website that your business can be proud of.

The first thing to do is read. Find as many businesses that have websites that are similar to yours as possible and look at what they do. This will give you inspiration and will give you some ideas to help you get started. Keep it simple though, don’t overwhelm yourself.

Two of the easiest content management systems to get up and running with are Drupal and WordPress. Take a look at these. Be prepared to do some reading to become familiar with what they do. Depending on the hosting company you have chosen, you will probably find a way of installing the latest version of WordPress or Drupal that requires a minimal amount of steps. Hosting companies usually make this process very easy.

From here, you’re not on your own. Ask questions on forums, read the manuals and be prepared to spend some time getting to know the system you are using. The more you put in the more you will get in return.

If this seems far too daunting, you might find that a web development company is the best solution for you. I have pasted a number of links at the bottom of this entry however please be aware that I have never used these companies and they were found using some random searches. They will certainly be a pointer in the right direction however.

Consider enlisting the services of an Irish freelancer or a hobbyist. This should cost you substantially less than using a web development company however you may not get the same polished result.

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