Many small businesses that start out today require some form of a website. For some their whole business revolves around this website and it is likely that it will have many features such as a professional layout, no broken links, interactive forms, shopping cart, credit card payment facilities and many more. The rest will simply want a few pages describing their company, products, services and providing some contact details. Essentially an online brochure.
We will focus on this latter situation. For the bare minimum you will require an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to host your website. An ISP is a company that provides internet services such as a connection to the internet, email and websites. Hosting is when the ISP stores your website on their computers and displays it for the rest of the world to see on the internet. For a list of some ISP companies take a look at our service providers page.
If your requirements are simple, you can most likely take the cheapest option offered by these ISPs. Once you become familiar with all their techno-terms or your website requirements increase, then you can simply upgrade to a more sophisticated option offered by the same ISP.
The main technical criteria you need to consider are: (1) Disk space, 10 MB should be more than enough space for a simple website; (2) The number of email addresses or mailboxes where 1 is normally enough but often 2-5 are offered. Try and find a ISP that you know someone else has successfully used as this is the best way to find out what their backup service levels are like and how often their computers go down.
It is also suggested that you look at some type of access for yourself to the internet so that you can send and receive emails and upload your site to your ISP’s computers. The two most common formats at the moment are dial-up and ADSL connections. Dial-up requires you to make a phone call via a modem to your ISP in order to connect to the internet whilst ADSL can stay online indefinitely. It basically comes down to a cost decision and your ISP should have these options for you.