There are three major pieces to a website:
The website itself — Your website is comprised of content (text, files, graphics, video, and/or audio.) It’s usually a result of the work that a web developer did for you or you purchased a DIY book or software and just went for it.
Website Hosting — All of your website content needs to be on a computer somewhere that is connected to the internet. This computer is typically called a "web server." There are public companies that own web servers and rent the space you need to deliver your website to the public. There can be several thousand other websites on this web server. Or, you may own a web server in-house and allow it to deliver your website (not recommended.)
Domain Name — Separate from your website content, and separate from the web server, is your domain name. Domain names are 'leased' for specific periods of time from "Registrars." These Registrars - several hundred around the world at last count - are bound by rules and guidelines established by a not-for-profit entity called ICANN.
Good question with a myriad of answers. Here's the drilled down version:
In addition to a visually appealing design, your website should communicate your unique image and/or business position to the general public or potential customers. E-commerce is big business. You may want your website to include a shopping cart that fits the needs of your business and serves your customers. Keep in mind that e-commerce websites require diligent management of the products and services you offer - is your business equipped with the staff to handle an e-commerce website?
In its simplest form, a website is the best and most efficient selling and brand-building tool at your disposal. A website should be a dynamic extension to all your business activities, not just a static add-on or after-thought to your company.
We create websites and applications where architecture, graphics, and content are properly balanced to produce a product that not only looks good, but most importantly, works. You can probably tell by looking at our website, we believe in the principle of "less is more."
A lot happens below the surface of a website that isn’t immediately obvious to a website visitor. No matter how good the colors, layout, and design of your website is, if you fail to properly develop your website (things such as anti-spam contact forms, accurate mapping, and functioning shopping carts) your website visitors will become frustrated very quickly and possibly leave your website. And they will most likely tell others about their experience.
Although it’s ultimately the content that your website visitors come for, one sure way to engage people and keep them interested is through good design. Blending visually appealing design with functionality is critical to enhancing your online reputation and brand.
It’s essential to know who you want to visit your website, what their needs and trends are, and why you can provide them with the answers to the questions they are asking or the products and services they are seeking.
Once you have done your research and established these who, what, and why's don't just build a website and then "cross-your-fingers" that everyone will find it. The Yellow Pages aren't completely out of the picture - most have invested in some online databases that will continue to serve up your name, phone, and location - but advertising in just the yellow-pages doesn’t cut it anymore. More than 80% of website visits are made from search engine referrals. If your customers - and potential customers - can’t find you in search engines, you have just plain missed the boat. Get this aspect of your website right. Even if your website is 10 years old, it's never too late to work on marketing - on and offline.