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Social Media Commerce: Host Your Business Website

When building a business website, one of the first things you’ll have to decide is where to host your site. An online search for web hosting will net you hundreds, perhaps thousands, of results. Carefully consider which company should host your site. If all goes well, you’ll be married to this company for a long time.

For beginners, look for a web host that includes a web design tool and templates. A few good examples are Network Solutions, Web.com, and GoDaddy.com. The learning curve is usually gentle, and the best companies have quality tech support.

Think about the features you may want from your web host. Decide whether you will need the following:

  • Upgradability: You will probably start with a beginner plan, so be sure your web host offers an upgrade. Your site may develop and become more popular than you can fathom (for now).

  • FTP: File Transfer Protocol (FTP) enables you to upload and download files and images from your website hosting account. FTP is not compatible with many of the do-it-yourself web publishing tools.

  • HTML5: Whether you know what HTML5 is now, know that you’ll want to be able to use this tool in the future. Make sure that your host will be able to accommodate HTML5 (now or in the near future).

  • E-mail addresses: You may want to have business e-mails that include your domain name, such as mcollier@coolebaytools.com. You may also want to have e-mail addresses for your billing or customer service departments. Not all web hosts offer custom e-mail boxes.

  • Disk space: If you want to upload audio or video files for visitors to use (rather than linking to them on, say, YouTube), you’ll need a lot of disk space.

  • Bandwidth: Bandwidth (similar to a smartphone data plan) is the amount of traffic your website receives. If you have many visitors to your site, you’ll use more bandwidth. Additional bandwidth is often included as a site upgrade, and many sites offer unlimited bandwidth.

Pricing isn’t the only thing to look at when selecting a web host. Customer service is pivotal whether you are a beginner or an advanced user. When checking out the company’s customer service, make sure they are available 24/7 because you may want to work on your site during off hours.

Hosting is important, but design is the face of your business. Templates can make the initial design easy. When you want to expand, however, you should forego the do-it-yourself route. Find someone whose aesthetics fit your style — and whose price fits your budget — to work with you to design the site.

Whether or not you hire someone, make sure there is an easy way for you to update the site yourself. Updating a website can be as easy as using a word-processing program. Calling a web designer every time you want to make a minor change can become burdensome — and expensive.

Some people prefer to hire a company that dives in and manages everything in one big package: website, e-commerce, and social media outreach. The results are generally less than inspiring, even if you pay big bucks. No one knows your business like you do.

Make sure that the person handling your web outreach understands your business and core values, or find someone on your staff to oversee and approve what appears on the web under your name. Your website is a reflection of you and your business.

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