What You Need to Get Your Business Online:
The basic ingredients for making a website

The following 7 items are necessary for an online business website:

  1. Domain name
  2. Email
  3. Hosting
  4. Website design
  5. Content
  6. Shopping Cart
  7. Payment Options (ex. Merchant Account & Payment Gateway or PayPal)

Knowing more about each one will help you understand how a website works and how to make good decisions while building your own.


1. Domain Name

Your domain name, also known as a URL or Web address, is what you type into the browser (ex. Internet Explorer) to get to your website.

www.whois.com - a logical name for a domain name search site

 

Your domain name is more than just your website address. A well picked domain name can tell your company's story, or at least its name.

The cost for a domain name can vary depending on where you purchase it. You can purchase from either a domain registry or a hosting company and pricing can range anywhere between $8.95 to $40.00.


2. Email

Electronic mail, or email, is a way to send information (text, images, etc.), person to person, using the Internet and an email address.  An email address usually consists of an individual identity, the '@' symbol, and the domain name.

john@mybusiness.com

Although you can use a Web-based email provider like Hotmail or Gmail, you'll most likely want your business email addresses to include your own domain name. This will give your business added credibility and professionalism.

If you have a large company, you may want an address for each employee.  A small company may want to use several email addresses to give the impression of being larger.

info@mybusiness.com
sales@mybusiness.com
support@mybusiness.com

While setting up your website, consider how many email addresses you may need and what email services and price options your hosting service offers.


3. Hosting

When you look at a website from your web browser, the information you see on your screen is actually held, or ‘hosted', on another type of computer called a ‘server'.  Your computer gets the information from the server and then displays it through your browser.

Hosting prices may range between $6.00 to $40.00 per month. But don't necessarily go with the cheapest option. When considering a host, there are two important things to consider.

Security. You want to make sure that important information, such as credit card numbers, will be safe. Check that your hosting company meets Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards.

Reliability. A reliable server is operational most of the time. If your server isn't reliable, it will often be ‘down' or unavailable. This means that your website will also be unavailable.


4. Website Design

Good website design will build a strong brand identity for your online business and will allow visitors to easily find what they're looking for.

You can obtain your website design 3 ways:

Hire a designer  $$$ Expertise is expensive. You may get exactly what you want, but the price is high, it may take a long time, and you'll be dependent on the designer for changes in the future.
Make it yourself using code $$ Cheaper than a designer, but not cheap since you have to buy the software necessary to create the site. Then you have to put in the time learning the software and creating the site.
Use a website builder  A website builder makes it easy for you to create your own website with customizable pre-designed templates and tools. Many builders also offer more affordable design services if you want the look tailored to your business.


6. Shopping Cart

A shopping cart is software that makes it possible for you to sell your products online. It allows your customers to select, review, and modify their selections. It then leads them to the checkout, where payment is processed.


A Shopping Cart lets a shopper know what they're going to purchase

 

Depending on your business, you may need the following functions: calculators, shipping and tax options, sales reporting software, etc.. Make sure the shopping cart you choose will do what you need it to.


7. Payment Options

Payment options are how you receive payment for items you sell online.

Merchant Account and Payment Gateway
A Payment Gateway can be considered the electronic equivalent of a credit card processor. A Merchant Account is a special account that lets you receive electronic credit card payments. These payments are then transferred to your regular business account. 

An advantage of having a Merchant Account is that it can add credibility and professionalism to your business, encouraging visitors that you are trustworthy and safe to do business with.

The cost of a merchant account and payment gateway can include any of the following fees: set-up, transaction, and monthly.

PayPal
PayPal is one of the simplest ways to make and accept payment over the Internet. All that is needed is a credit/debit card or a bank account and an email address. Merchants are charged a transaction fee for every payment received.

Cost

Merchant Account and Payment Gateway prices range greatly, while PayPal prices stay pretty much the same.

 

Set-Up Fees

Transaction Fees

Monthly Fees

Merchant Account

 $0 - 250

up to 2.75% of selling price or $0 - 0.30  

$9.95 - 39.95

Payment Gateway 

 $0 - 250

 -  

$9.95 - 39.95

PayPal

-

1.9-2.9% of selling price + $.30

-

 *All fees in US Dollars
  
If you're only selling a few items online, PayPal can be a great option. But, for high volume sales, the transaction fees can build up. Merchant account and payment gateway fees are more flexible and can be more appropriate for high volume transactions, such as no transaction fees with a higher monthly fee.

Example of how fees vary depending on sales volume:

 # of Sales of
item costing $6.95

Transaction Fees  (0.30 + %2.9) 

Monthly Fees
($40.00/month) 

Fees Per Sale

PayPal

10 

5.02

-

0.50

PayPal

1000 

502.00 

-

0.50

Merchant Account & Payment Gateway

10

-

$40.00

4.00

Merchant Account & Payment Gateway

1000

-

$40.00 

0.04

 If you decide to go with a Merchant Account and Payment Gateway, you may want to offer PayPal as well. Many people are now comfortable with PayPal and may be more inclined to purchase using it.


Understanding these elements of a business website should help you make decisions when you're creating your online presence.  A well-made website will be easy to use, boost customer confidence, and generate sales.

TIP!
A website builder can make the process of building your website a one-stop-shop. Some packages include domain name purchase, hosting, email, website design, and a shopping cart all for a set price. On top of that, they make tasks like setting up a merchant account and payment gateway easier than you could ever do it by yourself.

Who We Are
Senior Writer
Rodney Scott
Senior Writer
Senior Writer
Eric Rancic
Chief Researcher

We are a team of five website creation professionals. We believe that the website builder is a wonderful tool that puts website creation in reach of any person or business.

Our interest in creating Website Builder Magazine is to promote the growth and development of website builder technology so it continually reflects the wide variety of needs that business owners have.

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