You plan to build a website for your own business, but not sure where to start? This post will explain the basic things to get you started and we will focus on free (open source) platform to minimize the cost. Before we start, make sure you know the reason you build the website, as different specification and requirement will affect the choice of platform you will use.
Let’s say you want to sell your products online, you would want to opt for open source e-commerce platform such as PrestaShop, WooCommerce and OpenCart. Take a look into our article for comparison and details between commonly used open source e-commerce platform in Malaysia. For business profile website, you can opt for WordPress and Joomla or build it by using web templates.
Please note that even you can do it on your own using these platform, it’s recommended to have some technical skills if you wish to customize more than the platform can initially provide.
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What do you need to start a website?
#1 – Domain Name
Domain name is your identity on the internet where people type it into their browser to reach your website. It is important to select simple and easily recognizable name, as you wouldn’t want people to type or remember – example.com instead of example16245.com. All domain name is maintained by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number (ICANN).
You will need to check the availability of your selected domain name, since domain name must be unique and not owned by anyone else. To check, you can visit some of these website: Namecheap.com, GoDaddy.com, or mynic.com (include .my domain). All of them are linked to the same database, where if you search for example.com at Namecheap, if it’s not available, then it won’t be available on any domain purchase site. Do note that each website has different price rates and control interface for your domain.
As for top level domain (TLD) such as .com, .net, .org, .my and many others choice, it is depending on your company profile and targeting. If you wish to target your business to Malaysia (local) only, you can use .com.my or .my for your domain. If you are unsure about the future of the business or rather go for commonly use TLD, then you can choose .com, however most of the time, domain name availability is limited due to the saturated amount of people purchase .com domain.
Do note that your website is not limited to one domain only. You can have 1 website linked with a lot of domain name. Example, I can have example.com, example.org, example.com.my land on the same website. Thus, this allows you to purchase multiple relevant domain – just to reserve it or link it. Real life example should be facebook.com and fb.com link to the same website.
#2 – Hosting Server
You will need a place to store all your website files and database (if any) – which is essential for every website. This is where hosting service comes in, where hosting provider provide you with the server for you to place all the necessary files and tools to publish your website.
If you wish to seek some hosting service providers, do visit: Hostgator.com, GoDaddy.com, Softlayer.com. There are many selections out there, with very affordable price per year. It’s advisable to start from cheap package hosting service and upgrade as you go if you think that your website traffic and usage is going up later on.
Usually when you go with cheap hosting package, your website will be deployed in a shared environment. Meaning that your website will be deployed on a web server that host a lot other websites. The pro for this is they are cheap and mostly cover what you already need. However, do note that con for this option is reliability and scalability, since you may be one of few thousand websites hosted on one server, if the provider fail to monitor each of the website properly, it will affect the rest of the websites inside the server. Also note that if your website do scale to a certain stage, shared environment hosting will no longer be a good option for you since shared hosting have limited resources.
#3 – Install
Once you have subscribed for your domain and hosting, you are ready to deploy your website. If you are provided with Control Panel access, you can go into it and install open source platform or upload your website files (if you do not wish to use available the open source platform). After setting up and upload all the necessary files, you can visit your purchased domain to preview the deployed website. Do note that if you buy your domain and hosting separately, you need to make sure the nameserver setting of your domain is configured to your server name (provided when you subscribe). Otherwise the domain will point to wrong location or just won’t load at all.
These 3 steps are necessary elements involved in publishing website. More sophisticated website may have different infrastructure, more tools and controls to support the entire system operation.