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3 posts

Wannabe Geek


Topic # 160592 12-Jan-2015 21:29
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Hi everyone, I am looking at setting up my own small business and want to create a website. I have never designed a website before but I am reasonably computer literate so would like to try and do it myself if possible as I can't afford to get someone else to do it. It's a consultancy business so I don't need anything too fancy in terms of the site, just a few pages and contact form at this stage.

I would really appreciate any advice you all can offer this total beginner about if, how and what would be the easiest way to create a website?

There seem to be lots of sites that can generate one for you and I am also aware of WordPress but I have no idea what the best/most user friendly option is.

Any advice or suggestions regarding web hosting would also be very much appreciated. I haven't purchased a domain name yet but the one I want is available so it's on my list to do!

Thank you all in advance smile

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1212803 12-Jan-2015 22:19
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I would say best and easiest way would be Wordpress hosted in Sydney Azure with a mysql backend. It is cheap and easy to set up and will easily handle the needs of a small business website. You could also investigate some of the other hosted solutions like Umbraco which is much more than a blog engine but more complex for a beginner. 

A simple Google of "Azure Wordpress hosting" brings up a ton of results to get you started from setting up the instance in Azure to setting up the site.
Something like this can get you started.




Try Vultr using this link and get us both some credit:

 

http://www.vultr.com/?ref=7033587-3B


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  Reply # 1212812 12-Jan-2015 22:33
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  Reply # 1212828 12-Jan-2015 22:46
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if you don't need a custom domain, Azure Websites are even free

http://www.hanselman.com/blog/PennyPinchingInTheCloudWhenDoAzureWebsitesMakeSense.aspx



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  Reply # 1212835 12-Jan-2015 22:54
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Pretty big learning curve, as there are many things to consider, and having good branding is also part of it. I would concentrate your efforts on the actual business you want to build the website for, and hire a pro to set it up, do your branding etc. You won't be doing your own accounting too will you, instead of hiring an accountant. 

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  Reply # 1212838 12-Jan-2015 22:58
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This is not quite the question you asked but I would recommend having a custom domain name if at all possible. Especially for e-mail. Nothing says 'amateur' to me when an e-mail address is from  'xtra.co.nz' or worse, 'yahoo.com'/'gmail.com', etc. That was fine in the 1990's but I believe, even for small businesses, that your own domain name is essential. The cost is minimal. I understand that, especially in the early days, cost really matters when setting up a small business but getting the right internet presence will pay for itself over and over again. 

When I went through this process myself I learned that even if hand-coding your web-site yourself, always, always validate your code! In other words use standard HMTL coding, nothing fancy, nothing 'hip'. When you can afford to get someone else to do this for you, it will so much easier/cheaper if you have standard HTML coding. 




Tinshed
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  Reply # 1212841 12-Jan-2015 23:04
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Tinshed: This is not quite the question you asked but I would recommend having a custom domain name if at all possible. Especially for e-mail. Nothing says 'amateur' to me when an e-mail address is from  'xtra.co.nz' or worse, 'yahoo.com'/'gmail.com', etc. That was fine in the 1990's but I believe, even for small businesses, that your own domain name is essential. The cost is minimal. I understand that, especially in the early days, cost really matters when setting up a small business but getting the right internet presence will pay for itself over and over again. 


Any business website these days should have a custom domain. It sounds like the OP may just be setting up a small hobby business part time, so is just trying out different things, and doing everything on a shoestring. Any serious business though should get a pro to at least go through what is needed for an online presence. Sure you can DIY it through trial and error, but you can also DIY your own teeth repair.
People have suggested wordpress, but it does require quite a bit of knowledge in terms of the best plugins, updates, and theme updates, and things on it do break after upgrades which can be very frustrating to fix. Especially if the theme developers haven't yet found the bugs. Any free hosting also doesn't include support, or you have to pay for support. But good hosting support for wordpress I have found is a must. I have been using Wordpress for over 5 years.

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  Reply # 1212862 12-Jan-2015 23:23
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mattwnz:
Tinshed: This is not quite the question you asked but I would recommend having a custom domain name if at all possible. Especially for e-mail. Nothing says 'amateur' to me when an e-mail address is from  'xtra.co.nz' or worse, 'yahoo.com'/'gmail.com', etc. That was fine in the 1990's but I believe, even for small businesses, that your own domain name is essential. The cost is minimal. I understand that, especially in the early days, cost really matters when setting up a small business but getting the right internet presence will pay for itself over and over again. 


Any business website these days should have a custom domain. It sounds like the OP may just be setting up a small hobby business part time, so is just trying out different things, and doing everything on a shoestring.


Agreed. My point is that even for the smallest of small businesses or the most obscure hobbyist, a custom domain speaks volumes. Sure it is tempting in the early days when cost pressures are felt most keenly to take short-cuts. But we live in an internet world these days and getting the right presence will pay huge dividends down the track, even if your specialist topic is "Medieval Mongolian Military History' :-)




Tinshed
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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1212968 13-Jan-2015 09:28
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mattwnz:
People have suggested wordpress, but it does require quite a bit of knowledge in terms of the best plugins, updates, and theme updates, and things on it do break after upgrades which can be very frustrating to fix. Especially if the theme developers haven't yet found the bugs. Any free hosting also doesn't include support, or you have to pay for support. But good hosting support for wordpress I have found is a must. I have been using Wordpress for over 5 years.


Yes, given the regular security vulnerabilities of both Wordpress and the plugins keeping the platform up to date is an absolute necessity. That's probably something that's beyond the capabilities of someone just starting out with web design and deployment.

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Ultimate Geek
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Internet by Design

  Reply # 1213013 13-Jan-2015 10:15
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Wordpress is a pretty good platform, it's what I suggest to anyone wanting to get started.

However wsnz is right in that you do need to know what you're doing, or get good support. One outdated plugin could result in your site being compromised.

Have a look at places like Elegant Themes and Themify for themes, it's a great starting point and their documentation will see you most of the rest of the way.



<spam>My company does do Wordpress hosting, and Wordpress support. As you're just starting out we could possibly help you out with greatly reduced rates to get you off the ground in the right direction! Even if you don't want to host with us I'd be happy to provide advice if you do go down the Wordpress path. We include the themes from the sites above as well.</spam>




Ask me about Wordpress and Web Servers

 

 

 

Internet by Design


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1213014 13-Jan-2015 10:16
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Tinshed:
mattwnz:
Tinshed: This is not quite the question you asked but I would recommend having a custom domain name if at all possible. Especially for e-mail. Nothing says 'amateur' to me when an e-mail address is from  'xtra.co.nz' or worse, 'yahoo.com'/'gmail.com', etc. That was fine in the 1990's but I believe, even for small businesses, that your own domain name is essential. The cost is minimal. I understand that, especially in the early days, cost really matters when setting up a small business but getting the right internet presence will pay for itself over and over again. 


Any business website these days should have a custom domain. It sounds like the OP may just be setting up a small hobby business part time, so is just trying out different things, and doing everything on a shoestring.


Agreed. My point is that even for the smallest of small businesses or the most obscure hobbyist, a custom domain speaks volumes. Sure it is tempting in the early days when cost pressures are felt most keenly to take short-cuts. But we live in an internet world these days and getting the right presence will pay huge dividends down the track, even if your specialist topic is "Medieval Mongolian Military History' :-)


Personally I will not work with a company if they have an ISP or free email address. For $20-$30/year it's a no brainer




Ask me about Wordpress and Web Servers

 

 

 

Internet by Design




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Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 1213041 13-Jan-2015 10:29
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Thanks for your advice everyone. I am definitely intending to purchase a custom domain name/email address. I get the feeling that designing my own website might be a bit too complicated (which in this internet age seems crazy).  Any suggestion for good web hosting companies...there are quite a few and some like Freeparking.co.nz offer free packages where you can design a site.

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  Reply # 1231548 5-Feb-2015 10:02
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The usual story with  is the more customisation you want the more work you do.

WordPress is a good option about in the middle. Weebly, http://www.weebly.com/ , is another you might consider, simpler but with less customisation available. If you want the Adobe suit then Dreamweaver is at the top end of the Lots of Work, Lots of Customisation. 

As far as hosting goes it is much the same. I think AWS might offer something which is free. For my money I would go for a recognised brand with hosting if your website will be important for the business. Also $10 a year is as close to free as makes no difference right?

As to whether to do it yourself or hire a pro it is up to you. Plenty of people no longer hire accountants but use Xero instead.  

I'm learning HTML through Code Academy. 




Didn't anybody tell you I was a hacker?

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1231660 5-Feb-2015 12:06
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Ozznz: Thanks for your advice everyone. I am definitely intending to purchase a custom domain name/email address. I get the feeling that designing my own website might be a bit too complicated (which in this internet age seems crazy).  Any suggestion for good web hosting companies...there are quite a few and some like Freeparking.co.nz offer free packages where you can design a site.


There are lots of good hosts, I would tend to go in NZ with sitehost.co.nz (they are great), but if cheap is very important the US has some great value propositions.

I run a host myself for my business clients and I'd be happy to set you up an account to try for a month (with the option of continuing if you so choose). It might help to give you a better idea of what you are after.

When it comes to a simple website, SilverStripe is great. It is NZ made and has a great, simple to use interface - much easier than Wordpress! I can happily set this up for you to have a play for free (if you would like me to).

If you are interested give me a PM.

Edit: the same goes for advice, if you would like to give me a call feel free, just send me a PM and I will pass on my contact number.

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  Reply # 1231725 5-Feb-2015 13:32
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+1 for weebly/squarespace/other hosting platform.

Templates make sure your site starts out looking decent.

WYSIWYG makes editing easy.

Your first sites will look TERRIBLE, I look back at old work and cringe. As a customer if I go to a business' website and it looks amateurish there is a 90% chance I bounce.

Being able to create a website and being able to create a good-looking, usable one are two very different things.





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  Reply # 1231784 5-Feb-2015 15:47
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wix is another popular option, about $18 a month when a friend did one there, plus your domain costs.

Dont self host anything php based in a vps or shared server. It will have holes, it will get owned, and cleanup is a prick to do. Unless you have a full time team monitoring for and applying updates it will get owned while you sleep after some prick starts crawling all of the sites running whatever in the short time from a security update being published, and you waking up and deciding to do maintanance.

You dont go printing your own brochures from word if you want to look professional, so you dont want to go knocking up your own website because that will also end up looking like some kids school project.




Richard rich.ms

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