Small Businesses – Creating a website

As a small business, you may have only been working locally, using social networking or selling websites to promote and sell your product. If you are keen to expand your business and to attract more revenue by reaching a wider audience, you will need to create your own website. The following tips will guide you through the minefield that is successful website building, and increase your chances of attracting visitors, and therefore, customers to your site.

Choose and register your domain name

As simple as this may seem, there are two vital factors to consider when selecting the domain name for your site. Firstly, does your chosen name reflect your business satisfactorily? Secondly, is the domain name you have chosen like one that already exists? The name of your business is potentially the element that will draw to your site, for example, if you are a crafts business, consider making this clear by inserting the word crafts into the title. Perhaps even more important is ensuring your domain name is not too similar to one that is already registered. The difference could be as simple as one domain ending in co.uk and another in .com. A domain name is a way that the customer can easily access your site, and by typing it into the search bar they will reach your site, but if crafts.com already exists and you have named your site crafts.co.uk, you can see how you may lose customers to a rival site. Capital Wired News gives a good example of how domain name selection can be trickier than you think in their report about a Californian resident who lost the domain name France.com to the French government.

Choose the right platform and host

A web platform and host are not the same thing. A host will store all your files including code, text and images, and a platform has all the elements you will require to begin your website – essentially the content management system. As a small business you may not even need to purchase a host and can do well using a platform such as WordPress which allows you to present a professional, well-managed website to attract potential customers. Should you want a host to take care of the technical side of things, there are several hosts that offer hosting plans specifically designed for WordPress. The key is to shop around for the right platform for you as there are several different content management systems (CMS) out there that suit different requirement. If you would rather leave website building and maintenance to somebody else, do bear in mind that this gives you less day-to-day autonomy over your own site, and can also be expensive.

Plan your website

Before you enter any information onto the CMS, think about what image you want to portray, what pages you need and what images you want to upload. Planning ahead ensures you won’t need to make too many changes in the future. The key is to keep things simple with easy to follow information and tabs that will lead your customers to exactly what they want to know. Make sure your images are professional (you can even do these yourself as modern mobile phone cameras as so good), and that you include keywords that your customers will be searching for when looking for a company like yours. In planning your website, think about whether you will be including a blog, what stock or service you want to push, and the main images you think will best represent your business. Content is king as they say, and so if you aren’t confident in your own writing skills, consider paying a professional to do this for you and you.

Design a Logo

This seemingly small element of your business is crucial to the design of your website and the marketing of your business in its entirety. A logo should reflect your business accurately, and will be what your customers will use to identify you among all other businesses. A good designer can be worth their weight in gold and it is worth splashing a little cash to get your logo right, especially as this should be the logo that will remain throughout the length of your business. You can, of course, attempt to design a logo yourself, and if you have the skills then why not? However, ego has no place when it comes to attracting customers to your business, and if you don’t have the know-how or an eye for design, leave it to a professional. The other alternative is to use a free logo producer, such as logojoy.com.

Once you have created your website and got to grips with keywords, content, and images, you will have a place to direct customers, be it via businesses cards containing your web address and logo, or through independent web searches that lead customers to your site.

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