There are several tasks that have to be done to get a site up:
A Domain Name has to be selected and registered.
A Domain Name (the XYZ in www.XYZ.com) is your address on the Internet. Domain Names are acquired through Registrars who keep track of the names they have sold and exchange information with all the other registrars so that only one person has each name. A domain name can be almost anything so long as it is only letters, numbers and the “-” and “_” characters. Your domain name should coincide with your business name as closely as possible.
The first step in getting a domain name is determining which of the possible names you might like to have is available (not already registered by someone else). The most desirable names for businesses in the US are the .com names, but .us, .net and others are also used. The best way to find a good name is to go to one of the registrar’s web site (mydomain.com, godaddy.com, etc.) and search for some of the names you would like. If the name is not available, the web site will suggest alternatives you might like.
Costs vary widely (more than 10 fold) depending on the registrar used, but there is very little, if any, difference in the service. I can research and register the name for you. In fact I recommend that you not register the name yourself if someone else is going to build and maintain the site for you.
THe concept and purpose of the site has to be determined.
A site can be for information, customer service, or direct sales.
Informational sites can be fairly static (providing mostly background information that does not change often) or dynamic (displaying current schedules or other information that changes frequently). Many small business sites are mostly static with some dynamic elements to spotlight important upcoming events.
A site can also provide customer service or status information, along with general information about the business. This can be as simple as giving availability (potential service or ship dates) or a more complex system that gives detailed information about a customer’s order or job.
Direct sales sites are often complex and expensive to create and operate. There are many companies who specialize in providing there “storefronts’ as a part of large communities. In order to be successful these sites require a considerable investment in promotion and advertising.
The web site has to be designed and built.
Design involves selecting the overall style of the site, the color scheme, deciding exactly what information will be on the site and so on. How the information will be divided into web pages and how viewers will move or navigate between the pages is also part of the design. Existing businesses usually already have promotional materials (brochures, business cards, etc) that can form the basis of the web design.
Once the design is decided, the technical work to actually create the site has to be done. In the ‘old days’ (the 1990s) programmers generated the web site code (HTML) by hand. Today most sites are created using software (authoring tool) specifically designed to create the files that will be placed on the web server.
The last task is hosting and maintaining the site.
Every web site needs a place to ‘live’ on the Internet: a host. The files created by the authoring tool must be physically moved onto the server. This gets the site on the Internet. Once the site is online someone has to manage the day to day operation of the site (including E-mail account management), and make corrections or changes to the content (e.g. updating addresses, names of associates and current event information).
How long does it typically take to set up a basic web site?
If you have a good idea what you want and have the graphics, photos and text for the site, you would be online within a couple of weeks. If all that has to be created and edited, it can take considerably longer. I usually have a very basic site that demonstrates the overall design up within a couple of days.