Ask the question, how should I design a website for my small business? and you will get dramatically different answers if you ask a technical web designer and a successful small business owner who uses internet marketing.
One will likely focus on technical whiz-bangs and the latest systems breakthroughs; the other will focus on what makes customers click and input their credit cards. Is it hard to figure out who will have which focus?
I am not qualified to comment on the technical requirements of getting your website up and running, but I can tell you how to do it quickly and inexpensively-information that is far more relevant to you as a small business owner. Once you figure that out, then simply tell the technical designer what to do.
The first step is to decide upon a purpose. What do you want this website to do for you? Are you a creative freelancer who needs to upload samples of your work, or a local retailer who needs to let the community know of your presence? Are you hiring to make money on your website, or just use it as an extension of your business card?
Your answers to these questions will determine step two: decide upon the content. If you are prone to procrastination, this is the step you must diligently push through. As a creative freelancer, content is easy, you just have to upload your work, but as almost every other kind of small business owner, you will need verbiage for your website that explains who you are, what you do and how it helps your prospect customers.
This step may be easy for you; If you already have a great deal of literature, you can simply use the information in your already existing brochures, leaflets, flyers etc. If you are in the very beginning stages of your small business, then now is the perfect time to think about how you plan to communicate the customer value in your products or services.
A tip here: stay away from long lectures that bore your website visits with all of the information that you find interesting about your company. Be sure that your language focuses on customer benefits and lets visitors know what you can do for them.
The third step is the technical step of uploading your website. There are three parts to this step: Purchase a domain name, get a hosting account and create and upload your web pages.
1) You will need to purchase a domain name. That's the "www-dot-something-dot-com" you will use to send people to your website. Just type the words "register a domain name" (quotation marks included) into an internet search engine (eg Google) and you will instantly get more choices than you can handle. Research and choose one.
2) You will need a hosting provider for your website. That's the commercial computer on which your website information will be and be managed. Repeat the Google exercise by typing in the words: "internet hosting accounts." Again you will find hundreds of options varying in cost from about $ 12.99 per month and upward.
3) Next, get your site online. There are two options to get your website up and running. You can do the technical work yourself or hire someone with technical skills.
- a. Do it yourself: You can purchase software (or use free software online) however, if you are not at all technical, this will cause the project to take more time.
- b. Hire a Web Developer: There are very inexpensive ways to hire a website developer provided you do not want to create a dynamic website with all of the bells and whistles. Repeat the Google exercise and type in "freelance coders." You will find a number of websites that allow you to hire a coder from anywhere in the world.
My favorite source for web site projects is http://www.rentacoder.com . This is a bricks and mortar company out of Tampa, Florida that acts as a go between for customers like you and me and programmers in every corner of the world. At present, they have over 200,000 programmers bidding for jobs posted on their website. As you can imagine, with this many coders, you have a lot of options and can usually find a very competitive price.
In order to be a successful small business operator, it is necessary to take advantage of the resources readily available to you, especially those that are very affordable or free. I have one available for free at the website in my resource box below. It is not related to websites, but it provides another critical skill you will need as a small business operator.