Building your own website

Whether or not you trade online, your business website is the digital equivalent of a shop window where potential customers look to find out more about you. Find out how to build your own online store that provides a positive user experience and creates a solid online presence, which leads customers to buy or book from your business online.


Four steps to setting up

These days the website building process can be done quickly and cheaply online yourself without incurring expensive development or set up fees. Follow this step-by-step guide to create a website.

Step1. Create and register a domain name

The first step is to stake a claim on your own space online by getting a web address. This is also called a domain name or URL. Your own custom domain name can become your biggest brand asset in the years to come. So think long-term and check if your chosen name is available on social media sites. It's easiest if customers can find you under the same names across all online platforms.

Domain name tips

  • Domain names should be easy to say, spell and remember, so the shorter, the better. If possible, you should also avoid numbers, hyphens and other special characters in custom domains as they're challenging to type.
  • If your first choice is taken, choose another one different enough to avoid confusion with similar businesses. It's best to avoid names that have trademarks associated with them; it'll save potential legal issues and costs down the track.
  • Lastly, consider the domain's extension. The most common are .com or But what if your business must be associated with a particular country or topic? Or if your first choice is taken? Other extensions like .nz, .kiwi, or .tech are available - however, .com is the most well-known and carries the greatest strength in global authority.

Step2. Select a host and platform

A web host connects your site to the wider internet, sets you up on a server and offers web hosting services like email. Important things to consider are reliability so that your website remains available and flexibility, so you can make changes to your website design or web content quickly and easily. Try adding ‘best website hosting NZ' to Google or other search engines for a list.

Most hosting providers offer numerous service plans, depending on the size of your website and the number of website visitors it's likely to receive.

Some hosting companies will offer you a deal if you register a domain and host a website with them.

Step3. Build your website with your customers in mind

Websites aren't rocket science (unless, of course, your business specialises in rocket science), and even a simple website usually includes standard pages: homepage, products/services, online ordering/booking, about us and a contact form or information.

Tips for building websites

  • Consider spending a few hours with a website builder if your business doesn't need a technical or highly bespoke website. Then, create a professional web presence with an inexpensive Wix, Squarespace or WordPress site, for example. In addition, most sites should include helpful plug-ins such as Google Analytics.
  • The best website builders are perfect for helping small business owners get a site up and running in just a few hours. They require little technical knowledge, and thanks to their user-friendly themes and templates, you can do a lot by dragging and dropping the layouts you like to support the content and imagery you have. In addition, they often have image libraries for you to use and ensure they're viewable on mobile devices.
  • Do you have something to say, some news to share or maybe previous work to promote? Create multiple pages devoted to different aspects of your business. Include blog posts featuring relevant keywords to attract website traffic and improve your search engine rankings.
  • Ensure that you also include a search bar, a contact page and call to action buttons.

You'll also want your website's visitors to instantly understand your business, find pricing, know how to buy and pay online, and ask questions, so make sure the language is clear and easy to find.

Step4. Keep your customer's information safe

Don't forget: the safekeeping of customer information is critical to your success in the digital world. A data breach can severely impact your reputation and even have financial implications.

Some best practices to avoid a data breach are:

  • Make sure your site is secured with SSL encryption by checking if your URL begins with HTTPS or a padlock symbol. These security measures guarantee that any information sent and received is encrypted or scrambled, such as credit card details.
  • Ensure that customer card information stored, processed and transmitted by you or your service providers is encrypted and compliant per the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Find out more about how ASB protects card information here or visit the official PCI Security Standards Council website here.
  • Ensure that any personal (non-card related) customer information you store is only accessible to people authorised to manage or view that data.
  • Ensure that you have the latest version of third-party applications, browsers and shopping carts and you are up to date with security patches.
  • Monitor your website for unfamiliar activity, content or links - this could indicate that your site has been compromised.

Next steps:

  • Visit a domain registrar such as DomainzGoDaddyCrazydomains etc. Ask another business owner for a referral. It's best to register your name (it's relatively inexpensive) early to avoid it being taken by someone else. Then, you can ‘park' your own domain name until you're ready.
  • Identify which website builder product you'd like to use. You'll find many content management system options, such as WixSquarespace, and WordPress. Others, such as Shopify, help you connect your online payments. Again, a referral from someone who has built their online shop using a website builder may be helpful, and they could help you with the website creation.
  • If you're unsure about building your own site or how search engine optimisation works, you'll find thousands of agencies that will do this for you. Search online for 'small business websites' or similar, and choose a provider that suits you best.

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