Taking your business online
Should you have a website, I hear you say, my business is doing ok without one…well the answer is YES, YES, YES!
Every business, no matter how small should be out there promoting themselves online. And of course that is exactly what a website does it promotes your business, your products or services and is a way of communicating with your customers when you cannot be there face to face. So many Businesses still don’t have an online presence and if you are one of those then perhaps this post will help you to reconsider.
Some reasons why business owners don’t want a website:
- It’s too expensive
- Not enough time to set up a website
- Not enough time to manage it
- I am a tradesman, so why would I bother
- I prefer to communicate with my customers by phone
- My competition doesn’t have one so why should I?
There are many more reasons why business owners don’t think they need a website, but basically it is a fear of stepping into the unknown. Which is understandable if you have no understanding about how the Internet or a website works.
What is the Internet? ‘The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite(TCP/IP) to link several billion devices worldwide’ (Wikipedia).
In other words a platform that uses servers and dedicated routers to connect one computer to another anywhere in the world.
What is a website? ‘ A website, also written as web site, or simply site, is a set of related web pages typically served from a single web domain. A website is hosted on at least one web server, accessible via a network such as the Internet or a private local area network through an Internet address known as a Uniform resource locator. All publicly accessible websites collectively constitute the World Wide Web‘ (Wikipedia).
Therefore a collection of web pages (what document (page) comes up when you type a query into your browser), videos, images, and other media formats that is hosted on one or several web server(s).
What main things encompass a website?
Your Domain Name: this is the URL of the site, usually starting with www and proceeds with 1 to 3 words that describe your business or what your site is a bout. Click here to see if your idea for a domain name is available.
Your web host: this is the service that provides the space on the Internet for your website. You use your host to upload (publish) your website so the public can view it.
Your content: The main page or home page and numerous pages attached (linked) to that page, which are filled with information about your business/service and the industry itself.
So what are the reasons I need a website for my business?
- People are moving away from hard copy classifieds and Yellow/White pages (who are online also) to search for services/businesses.
- People are using their smart phones and other technology to search for services and products because it’s quicker, easier and more convenient for today’s busy lifestyles.
- It will cost you less than you think, a lot less then advertising in a magazine or newspaper. A domain name is approx. $8-$10 per year + web hosting approx. $80-$300 year, remembering that the hosting companies offering $1 month are not always the best option.
- It’s a great opportunity to promote your business and how you are different to your competitors, what makes you stand out from the rest? let them navigate through your website to find out.
- It is easier than you think to set up. You can use a platform like WordPress or Joomla to build your own site and design it exactly how you want to. These opensource formats are free and easy to learn without any need for coding or programming skills. And if you just don’t have the confidence then find someone who can teach you, so many people build their own sites these days you probably already know someone who can help you with the basics. If you set it up how you want it then you can manage the content updates yourself even from your smartphone.
- You can promote special offers to your online customers at the click of a mouse.
- You can set up online payment options for your customers meaning you will get paid quicker and it is more convenient for everybody.
- You can gain feedback from your clients about what they want and how you can improve your services/products.
- Your business will appear more professional and bigger than it actually is.
- A website is cheaper than renting a shop front or office space and you will reach a broader area and demographic.
So there are many positive reasons to why you need a website for your business, and without being a massive layout it is definitely a worthwhile investment.
Lastly here are some simple tips for creating a good website….
- Keep it simple and easy to navigate
- You need a clear and strong message about who you are and what you do
- Key menus are usually: Home (landing page), About (you and why you set up this business, makes it personal), Contact Page (including Google map), Price for services, Terms and Conditions, FAQ page
- Keep it up to date with latest information related to your business
- Lots of content, make it interesting to entice customers
- Break up the text with some interesting images or diagrams (not to large so your pages will still load quickly)
- Have a good contact page so customers have a number of options of how to touch base with you
- Use correct spelling and grammar
- Check continually that all functionality is working. You can put your site in test mode before it goes live, but even once it does even making sure that all your links are working is important
- Make sure you follow these Search Engine Optimization (SEO) guidelines so that the internet can find your site easily
- If you are finding all this too hard then pay someone to help you with the basics, it will be worth it
For other tips on building a good website and the options you have, follow the below links: