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These days, everything is on the web. And although the average user spends just 15 seconds on any single website, this brief moment can make or break your business. Setting up your own successful website can seem a little overwhelming though, especially if you are not tech-savvy. Luckily, there are a plethora of companies available to help you with whatever type of online assistance you need.
The list below includes some of the most reputable and popular website service providers in Canada; click on any of their names to learn more about them. And keep reading to understand the basics of this growing industry.
‘Website services’ is a broad term that encompasses a variety of resources and providers that build, develop, or assist with functions related to a business’s website. If that sounds vague - it is! Website services include everything from building a website from the ground up, to helping you design functionality on that site, to deploying chabots to engage with customers.
The need for website services is clear; over 90% of Canadians use the web, most every day, and online shopping attracted 1.79 billion people last year. But despite the prevalence of use, many people do not understand what goes into a successful, functional website.
If you’re unsure whether you need to bother with a website service, it’s salient to understand the consequences of a poorly functioning or unprofessional website:
Although the list of different services available for websites is long (and ever-growing), there are a few major types of website service that account for the majority of this industry. These are:
Website builders are the most commonly used website service, and include such giants as Wix, GoDaddy and Shopify. These companies, and their competitors, allow users to build their own website from scratch, without the need for technical understanding of how it works. They utilize either templates or a simple drag-and-drop approach and rely on a simple, flexible approach that means almost any user can create what they need.
Many of these services work on a monthly fee basis, and also combine domain purchasing, domain hosting, and other website tools, to provide a foolproof one-stop-shop for all your website needs. There are free website building tools available as well, but they typically offer less functionality and come with their own embedded ads.
A domain is a handy address for your website - what you type in to find it - and as anyone who has tried to purchase a domain knows, there is fierce competition for popular addresses. A domain consists of the primary domain name (usually the business name), and the top-level domain code (.com, .net, or a country code such as .ca).
Over 350 million new domains are registered each year; you can purchase a domain through a domain vendor for a fee that depends on the name’s popularity and availability. This fee is usually annual. Domain vendors include providers offering website building services (like GoDaddy or Bluehost), specialized vendors (such as domain.com), and even sometimes private sellers. If you purchase a domain from a service that does not include website building, you can link your domain name to your website builder very easily.
But as well as buying the rights to a specific website address, you need someone to host this address on their server. Domain hosting is a service that essentially stores your website’s files for you, and is a requirement for all websites. Again, this is often included with your website builder, but if not it is a vital step that you must pay a separate company to do for you.
As we saw above, design is a critical element of any website; but as most of us aren’t designers, many website service providers offer custom design for an additional fee. Professional designers can design elements of (or your entire) website on what is known as “Do It For Me” basis, which is often competitively priced versus freelance design work. This helps to ensure professional content and visuals, user friendliness, and search engine optimization. These services can be paid for on a per-project or annual basis.
Web marketing services utilize your website to optimize your marketing strategy; they do this by studying the branding and message on your site and helping to ensure it is as good as it can be; they also analyze the traffic on your site, suggest improvements to increase users and sales, help with search engine optimization, and hone content. Some of these functions can be provided by multi-functional website service providers - for example, site traffic analysis is often available with website builders - but many of the custom functions come at an additional cost. For ongoing analysis and help, monthly fees are required.
Choosing the right web service for you will depend on a few factors related to your business, as well as your goals. Answer the following questions to help narrow down your options:
Once you know the answers to the above, you will have a much clearer idea of what functions you need, how much help you can afford, and what a successful outcome looks like for you. On average, a website costs around $200 to set up, and $50 a month to run - although these numbers can vary widely depending on your usage.
‘Website services’ is a broad term that encompasses a variety of providers that build, develop, or assist with functions related to a business’s online presence. This includes everything from building a website from the ground up, to helping you design functionality on that site, to deploying chabots to engage with customers.
Unless you are a coder, designer and marketer, and own a home server, you will need some aspect of website services to help you with your online presence. A robust, well-designed and functional website is crucial for any business, and web services can offer varying levels of help with a range of tasks to ensure your website is successful.
A domain name is the address for your website - typically made up of your company name and a top-level domain code, such as .com or .ca. Domain names make it easy for people to navigate to your website.
Choosing a website builder starts with understanding your needs and budget. There are free options available, but they have limited functionality. Of the paid versions, you should compare functionality, support levels, cost, and additional services to understand which option is right for you.
If you are using a simple website builder, as is available with companies like GoDaddy, Wix and Squarespace, then you do not need to be able to code to build your own website. These simple builders use templates and drag-and-drop tools that hide all the tricky coding from you.
Website builders are useful for many reasons: they are extremely convenient, they remove the need for any technical know-how, they incorporate useful templates and design elements for you, and they make running a website time-efficient and cost-effective.
Website builders typically cost anywhere between a few dollars a month, to hundreds a month, depending on the level of service you need. The average cost is $50 a month, with a $200 upfront cost to set everything up.
The cost of your domain depends on the popularity of the name and its availability; domain names that have not been taken yet usually cost $10-$15 a year, while purchasing an existing domain name means negotiating with the current owner to find a mutually agreeable price.