By: Maggie Wall
Things to know before you get your first business website
So you've decided to get your business a website. Good for you!
Here are some steps to take to get the most out of your new web site.
1. Decide what you want your site to do
...why are you making one? To sell something, to maintain better connections with your customers? To simply have the most basic site online so people can find your hours of operation and phone number using their cell phones?
While I'd argue that you need a website, you don't need a fancy, expensive one. A good starter site is fine. Especially if it is a WordPress site since you can easily update and add to a WP site. That means your basic beginner site will grow with your business.
2. Who is your target customer, who will be using your site?
Develop a "persona" of that person thinking in terms of what they would be looking for when they use your site, is that person young or old? This will give you important information for what to include on your site.
3. Think of a good URL. That's the "dot com" that goes with your site
. Catchy is fine, but remember that it needs to be simple and memorable or people will have trouble typing it in or finding it.
Your business name is usually a good choice, but don't be afraid to consider other possibilities.
Also consider adding "Kodiak" to the name as that will make it local friendly.
4. You'll need a "host" for your site. Basically, that's the place "out there" where your site is parked. I use Blue Host for all my sites and recommend it for the sites I build for others.
Be real careful about those inexpensive hosting plans you hear promoted on TV and see in ads on the Internet. For the most part I don't recommend dealing with any of those businesses. Too risky for a lot of reasons.
5. Decide what you want to include in your website.
Make a list. Draw pictures. Look at sites for similar businesses online.
6. What do you want your site to look like? WordPress sites work on a system of "themes," which are designs that you pick and then tailor and tweak to look and do just what you want them to.
You can Google website themes and get lots of samples. More than you can imagine. This will give you an idea of what you like, color combinations that fit your business, and ideas about what's possible for a website.
I have to warn you, though, about using "freebie" themes or free site building systems like Wix.com. Some free themes contain bad links that hijack your business and your sales. Most free sites are not updated and can cause problems as time goes on.
Wix and similar sites can build really cool websites, but you do not own them. You will be bound to their rules and will likely have trouble getting access to your photos and materials when you decide to move your site to a different service.
7. Ask a friend or another local business about their website. Who built it? How does it work? What would they recommend?
8. Now that you've done your homework, you can contact someone to build a site for you.
Or if you're gutsy and good with computers, you can build your own site. One of the reasons I recommend WordPress sites is that if you can handle Word or Xcel, you can handle the basics of WordPress and maintain your own site.
Even if you set up your own site, I recommend you have someone who knows websites and Internet marketing to give it a once over. They will likely offer you a lot of good ideas for making your site better and will point out obvious problems with your site.
Deciding to get your first business website can be exciting and scary, but with a bit of research, some thought on your part your site can become one of your best business assets.
You're always welcome to ask me questions. No charge; but I'm likely to talk your ear off since I'm so jazzed about helping businesses get online.