Create Your Own Website Introduction

The Create Your Own Website workshop empowers participants to create, control and manage their own digital footprint, with a focus on ethical best practice and legal compliance.

Gippsland businesses have had great success through using digital technology to communicate and reach their target markets. Thinking in terms of a traditional sales funnel (also known as a revenue funnel, purchase funnel or a sales process), your website is at the core of your digital sales funnel, often it is the first impression someone gets from your business and is an integral part of building credibility and trust for your business.

City Gardens Motel is a small Traralgon based accommodation provider using platforms like Google Travel, Booking.com and TripAdvisor.com that extend their marketing reach to increase motel bookings and gain guest testimonials to build their brand. Their website is the centre of that sales funnel and uses a platform that allows people to book with the directly (avoiding third party fees) and to explore the property and the business before choosing to stay.

Frankie’s Cafe in Warragul also use TripAdvisor and Facebook and they have leveraged smartphone app technology on both iPhone and Android to build a digital loyalty program and allow people to order directly from their smartphone on the go and book functions. These examples of third party apps or platforms that extend a businesses reach all have the website as the central point.

Our workshop covered:

  1. Getting a domain name

  2. Custom email address

  3. Website tools

  4. Building a website with Squarespace

  5. Website legals

  6. Google My Business

1. Getting a Domain Name

If you think of your online presence like a tree, your domain name is the seed that grows the trunk (your website) and all of the fruit bearing branches: shopping cart sales, subscribers, events, bookings, custom email addresses, social media platforms, apps and many more branches or possibilities.

Your domain name is the first place a search engine looks when people are searching for your business and it can form a vital part of your Intellectual Property (IP). Registering a domain secures the web URL only. To protect and own the exclusive rights to that name you need to file for a registered trade mark with IP Australia.

Your domain name is unique to you and helps promote your business and can add real credibility and style to your brand and can increase the traffic to your website organically.

The Top Level Domain (TLD) is the root zone or highest level in the domain address hierarchy, for example: .com, .org, .net and there are also options like .shop, .app, .online, .melbourne, .news ... there is over 1,500 TLDs that you can explore.

A country-code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) usually consists of 2 letters to represent established countries or territories. For example the ccTLD for Australia is .au, for New Zealand it’s .nz and for the United Kingdom it’s .uk. For most ccTLDs the registrants (or owner) must be a citizen, resident, or registered organisation of that country, or a foreign entity with a legal presence in that country. It is generally assumed that you are located in the country relative to the ccTLD you are using.

When picking a website domain for your business it's best to go with a name that:

  1. represents your business or brand

  2. is easy to remember, pronounce and spell

  3. is short and unique

  4. is going to add credibility and style to your brand

There are a few steps you should take before registering your domain name. Domain names are issued by authorised internet companies or resellers and in Australia, the ccTLD .au domain is overseen and registered by the .au Domain Administration.

Check with ASIC (asic.gov.au) that your chosen business name is not registered already and check with IP Australia (ipaustralia.gov.au) that it isn't already registered as a trademark. In Australia, if you want to buy a .com.au or .net.au web address you will need to be a commercial entity and have either an Australian Company Number (ACN) or Australian Business Number (ABN). Look up more information about the kinds of .au domains and what they mean here.  The Australia Government have a one-stop form to select your registrations prior to registering your domain.

One of the most important things to understand is that the “Registrant” should ALWAYS be your trading entity, in fact, you will need an ABN if you want to register a .com.au or a .net.au domain name.

Registrant Contact Email should always be YOUR email address as this is the recovery address for the domain key. The key allows you to manage and transfer the domain name and should not be directed to your digital service provider’s email address unless you have a written contract with them, and even then, you should be really sure what you are getting and why.

In the example below, our workmyownway.com.au domain is owned by Gippstech and the registrant’s email is one that Gippstech own and have full access to info@gipps.tech

You can check who owns a .au domain via the  Whois Lookup Tool .

You can check who owns a .au domain via the Whois Lookup Tool.

2. Custom Email Address

Using a gmail, hotmail, bigpond or yahoo address is great for personal email. For business, it’s best to have a custom email address as it looks more professional, adds credibility to your brand, is easier to assign and manage additional email accounts and assert your intellectual property rights over.

Think about this, when you hand over a business card, are you adding another touch point to your brand or to Bigpond’s? A custom email uses your chosen business domain name, for example our business custom email address is hello@workmyownway.com.au.

Companies like Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 are the main email hosting account services and can help you to organise a custom email address and offer many other benefits, including cloud services and application, or you can talk to a local reseller for a personalised service.



3. Website Tools

One of the common issues people come across when wanting to build a website is trying to decide which tools to use and, in turn, trying to answer that question when you don’t have a high technical background (if you did, you’d be building websites for a living).

You can literally write a website from scratch using HTML code and then there are a number of coding platforms like Joomla.org, WordPress.com and Drupal.org (also known as a Content Management System or CMS) that offer themes, plugins and templates to reduce the custom coding required.

Rather than writing code from scratch or using a coding platform, people who have low coding or technical skills may look to a website builder (also known as a CMS, but with less bespoke coding options). Examples of these would be Squarespace.com, Wix.com, Jimdo.com and Weebly.com.

Information sites like Top10bestwebsitebuilders.com and websitebuilderexpert.com list their opinions of the top website building platforms but understand that, although there are some common best practice tips, people have different opinions for different reasons and the choice you make should be based on what will work best for you.

Some of the minimum best practice features of a website builder include:

  • Responsive design or mobile friendly, so that your site can be viewed on smartphones, tablets and computers

  • Security: an SSL certificate for https:// so that data entered on your website protected and secure while in transit

  • Integration of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and keyword placement best practices for being found in Google, including <H1> and <H2> tags and other meta tags, optimizing images and helping you increase your site speed.

  • Customisable style, design and colour scheme to keep your branding consistent

  • Tools that allow you to create strong calls to action so that people can easily  follow the path you want them to take on your website. Among many options, that could be to call you directly, fill in a contact form, make an appointment or buy your product or service.

  • Access to third party tools or integrations, for example Acuity Scheduler allows you to book appointments directly into your personal calendar and Zapier.com that allows you to connect different software applications to each other as well as social media.

  • Be affordable and easy to use.



4. Building a website with Squarespace

Squarespace.com is an example of a content management system and website builder which allows users to ‘drag and drop’ content blocks and easily create a best practice website without the need to write code. Some of the benefits of this platform are the 24/7 help and webinars, the beautifully designed ‘out of the box’ templates and the complex best practice features that are ‘under the hood’ that you don’t need to worry about. There is also a basic logo maker and integrated marketing tools (for built-in SEO, email campaigns, social media tools, banners and promotions and Analytics to help you understand your audience).

If you need assistance using the platform you can use an Authorised Squarespace Trainer who can guide you through the setup and even save you 20% off your first subscription payment (up to AU$120 - conditions apply)

There is also a robust Squarespace user community and there are some star contributors to the community like Kerstin Martin who wrote a blog article comparing Squarespace and WordPress.




5. Legal Requirements

Compliance under Australian Consumer Law requires accurate legal notices on your website. Legal notices not only mean that that that you are compliant they reduce your liability and risk as well. If you have a contact form on your website then you are collecting personal information, email addresses and your website will also need to have a privacy policy.

If you publish information or advice on your website then it is possible that people could rely incorrectly on your information therefore your website needs to have a website disclaimer.

If you're planning on selling goods or services through your website then your website must state that you comply with Australian consumer law and give warranty and shipping information in your terms and conditions.

On the business.gov.au website you can research more about the legal essentials for business or your can get customised legals from services like Legal123.com full-service Australian owned and run law firm specialising in online business.


6. Google My Business

Once you have completed your website and you're ready to go live call the last thing you need to do is submit your site to Google through the Google Search Console and then complete your Google listing on Google My Business. Listing your business means it will be found in searches for your products and services. This provides a vital part of managing a business in today's world where Google have over 97 percent of the search engine market. Listing yourself in Google is free.


This content was supplied by Online is Easy a Gippsland based web deisgn and training business.

Anthony Mayer