Ask Yourself What Does Your Business Really Need
Most businesses need something online for customers to find. From freelancers to retail stores there is very few business that wouldn't benefit from some type of website. However, their needs vary widely! A freelancer on is not going to need a 50 page e-commerce page with customer carts and account management.
Thank about what you need for your business! Do you need a simple one page site, a blog, a shopping cart?
So What Do you Really Need for a Website?
An Address Otherwise Known as a URL or Domain Name
Your know what these are! www.google.com is a domain name. This is the URL for google. You need one for your business as well. Think of something that is easy to spell/type and remember.
I once had a website that was www.vfxsmith.com. Telling people that over the phone (or in person) was extremely difficult "V" and "B" sound the same when speaking, unless you are being exceptionally clear.
Tips for Good Domain Names
An Affordable Scalable Website Host or Webserver
A website host is where your website will live! This is an always on computer that is contacted to other servers so when people want to visit your site it is available to them. There are 3 or 4 main types of hosting for your website. Here the word Server and Host can be used mostly interchangeably.
A shared server is the cheapest way to get your site hosted. I would recommend against this type of hosting for small businesses.
Shared Hosting means you are sharing a server with others. If their site causes issues with the server it can and will effect your site.
This is the most expensive option for your small business website hosting. There are two ways to accomplish dedicated server hosting.
- You have the physical server and run it yourself
- You pay a service for an entire server and they run it for you
Option 1 requires onsite maintenance and technical expertise few small business can afford. With option 2 you won't have onsite maintenance, but you will have a high cost.
Virtual Private Server
VPS or Virtual Private Servers are the best of both worlds (in my opinion) and are much more affordable than dedicated servers. VPSs are also able to be more secure and perform far better than shared servers.
A Framework to Create and Display your Content
Sometimes called a content management system (CMS) is a software that makes it easy to create and display content on the internet without have to code every single item. The most popular of these I am sure you have heard of is WordPress! But, there are many others out their that may meet your needs better. Here is an abbreviated list of some of the CMS you can use as a small business.
All of the CMS platforms have their own positives and negatives. There are other options... You can eve code your own website. If you only need a single page that wont change often, this can be a real option for you.
Clear User Friendly Design
You need a website that is designed with the user in mind. It doesn't matter if your website is designed in Kansas City or Portland, your users need to be able to understand and use your site at first glance.
Website design and development services are available to help you with this if you are building your own site as there can be a lot that goes into this. The key to this is understanding your customers and how they are going to use your website.
Be interesting and Memorable
As long as your interface and layout are clear you have freedom to be interesting and memorable. Use beautiful graphics in your website design. Every small business needs to research its target audience to see what they want from your website-then deliver it to them.
Most people expect similar things from a small business website. Such as: a Home Page, an About Us, Contact Page, and Products. Yes you can have more or less but this is a general idea.
SEO and On Going Maintenance of Your Small Business Website
SEO or search engine optimization. If you Google this you will be flooded with thousands... yes thousands of people and companies all claiming they can get your site as #1 on Google. You will also be flooded with ads for the same thing.
What SEO is, is making your website optimized for searches on Google, Bing, or other engines such as www.duckduckgo.com (my personal favorite).
There is a lot that goes into SEO. Keyword research is knowing what your customers are searching for and providing content to that search. Your website needs to perform, aka be fast. This is another reason I don't like shared hosting. For SEO and other reasons your site needs to be secure and have an SSL certificate, be mobile friendly and so much more.
Maintenance and Regular content
So get or stay in the top of the searches your business needs to publish content on a regular basis. There are tricks to this to cut down on the amount you have to publish. One such "trick" is user generated content such as comments can work for this.
Lastly, maintenance on a regular basis is needed. Every website needs to be updated to ensure it is secure from hackers, links need to be updated when they break, change design as design fads come and go.
There is a lot that goes into a website. Far more than the discount shared host providers let on. Think about what your small business needs in website design and hosting, make the best educated decision you can. Your business can have an excellent website and compete online with the best of them.
Have a Great Day!