This statistic might surprise you: according to a recent study by Telstra, half of Australian small business don't have a website.
According to Qantas Business Rewards partner, Digital Pacific, some of the greatest deterrents in setting up a website are the perceptions that it will be complicated, daunting and expensive. But it doesn't have to be.
Digital Pacific works with companies of all sizes to create cost-effective web hosting solutions. Creating your first website from scratch will help legitimise your business, grow your customer base and enhance your reach and potentially save you time and money.
Building a website can be extremely rewarding. You can outsource your project to a web designer but this can be costly. Make the most of easy-to-use tools (also known as ‘content management systems', or ‘CMS's) available online that allow you to create a website on your own for a fraction of the price. The development process can take time but it's worth investing the effort as a well-designed and easy to use website could mean the difference between success and failure.
Once you've chosen a content management system to use, or web designer to work with, you will need a domain name. This is the "street address" of your website, or the URL. Your domain name should be relevant to your business, easy to remember, easy to distinguish from other existing domain names (both phonetically and in spelling) and short.
If potential customers can't find you easily, then they'll just go elsewhere. If someone else is already using your desired domain name, you'll have to come up with an alternative.
If a domain name is the street address of your website, then hosting is where your domain physically lives, like an apartment block. You're renting out a spot on a server, or the entire server (apartment) for your website to live, so customers can view your site anywhere in the world. There are different levels of website hosting depending on how much traffic your site may have.
If you're just starting out, you'll probably only need a relatively low-cost hosting plan, such as shared hosting – this is when your site shares a server with other sites, which also means you're sharing server resources like memory, processors and RAM.
The next step up after shared hosting, the set-up for private servers is similar to shared hosting but your site will live in a virtually sectioned off part of the server, with its own resources to be used exclusively by you.
The advantage VPS has over shared hosting is resource allocation: if one website on a shared plan unexpectedly gets 10 million hits within an hour, this one website will draw the resources of the entire server, leaving very little resource power for other sites that live on the same server, which can lead to outages. With a VPS plan, each sectioned off part of the server has exclusive use of part of the server's resources, so other sites on the server will not affect it.
Dedicated servers are the most premium hosting services available. They are used by businesses managing multiple websites, or by businesses that have a several high-volume websites. If shared and VPS plans are apartments in a block, a dedicated server is the entire block, and all the space and services within it.
The great thing with website hosting is that it's easily scalable. If your site is successful and starts getting thousands of visits a day, then you can easily upgrade to a more heavy-duty hosting plan to manage this increase.
Attendance at Wings over Illawarra – The Sydney Airshow, has grown from 6000 to 35,000 in recent years. Mark Bright, owner and event coordinator for Bright Events, hosts of the airshow, attributes much of this success to his website launch in 2014.
When we first developed the site, it was hosted on a server in the US for the simple reason that prices were a quarter of what they were in Australia. About 18 months ago, our server needed an update. I discovered Digital Pacific's prices are not only cheaper now than those offered in the US but that the hardware they're offing to host our site is more advanced.
We have a dedicated server. The event we run means our site gets very busy for a couple of months of the year and we didn't want to risk having the server crash over that period because of someone else's site issues.
It was very smooth transferring our web content across from the US to Digital Pacific. It happened overnight – I woke up to an email telling me it was all done. There was not a single error.
The peace of mind that comes with knowing you have someone looking over the server 24/7 so if something happens they can rectify it immediately. I'm not aware of any outages we've had, which is exactly what you want. And if there are issues, I can call up and they will be resolved within 30 minutes.
It's very important to have specific goals for what you want to get out of your website. We wanted to give out fundamental information about our event but also wanted to allow for online ticketing and shopping via an online store.
I have coding and HTML experience but I didn't want to go down that road – I didn't want to be the only person in the office who could use the site. We went with a content management system that is simple to use. We have staff here who have never had anything to do with a website before who can now update the site and add new pages.
What web experts can do in an hour would take me four. Developers keep up to date with the latest in software and development tools, can make your site load faster and are better at coding. They're also on top of industry changes, which happen on a daily basis. They're up to date on the latest SEO algorithms and know all the tweaks they can put into websites to make them bigger and better.
They're also able to create sites that are resolution-dependent, which means they will work and look good regardless of the device they're accessed on, whether it's a laptop, mobile phone or tablet.
Having a website has been fundamental to the growth of our business. Without it we wouldn't be where we are. It's a huge marketing platform and has streamlined ticket sales as well, with proceeds going directly to our account. We need that cash flow throughout the year. Plus, it has improved our customer service, as information is now available around the clock at the click of a button.
~ Savings are available exclusively to Qantas Business Rewards Members on selected fares only and do not apply to taxes, fees and carrier charges. Availability is limited. Other conditions may apply. Savings are subject to and defined in the terms and conditions of Qantas Business Rewards as Member Savings.
* Discounted Qantas Club membership is available to Qantas Frequent Flyer members who are Qantas Business Rewards Flyers of the Qantas Business Rewards Member. The discount applies to the Qantas Club individual membership rates on new and subsequent memberships and is managed under the Qantas Club individually managed corporate scheme. Qantas Club membership is subject to the Qantas Club terms and conditions.
+ You must be a Qantas Frequent Flyer member to earn Qantas Points. A joining fee may apply. Membership and Qantas Points are subject to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program terms and conditions. Qantas Points and Status Credits (where applicable) are earned on eligible flights with a Qantas or applicable oneworld® Alliance Airline or Airline Partner flight number on your ticket. Qantas Points and Status Credits may not be earned on some fare types and booking classes. See terms and conditions and the Airline Earning Tables for details on the conditions for the applicable airline.
^ A business must be a Qantas Business Rewards Member to earn Qantas Points for the business. A one-off join fee of $89.50 applies. Fees are inclusive of any applicable GST and may be varied by Qantas from time to time, without notice, in its absolute discretion. Qantas Points are offered under the applicable partner's terms and conditions and earning thresholds may apply. Membership of Qantas Business Rewards and the earning of Qantas Points as a business are subject to the Qantas Business Rewards terms and conditions.
We acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work, live and fly.
We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.