It is now universally accepted that a professional business should have an effective presence on the World Wide Web. But what that presence entails and how expensive it is to set up and maintain depends on a number of factors. Running a business can be time-consuming enough without the extra hassle of learning the ins and outs of Web technology (and its associated jargon) and that is why TDL Web Developments has always offered an all in one solution to help local businesses maintain an effective Internet presence.
In this article I will attempt to dispel one or two myths and focus on the main points to consider when planning a new small business Website.
Selling Products Online
If you sell actual physical products from a shop and you want to broaden your customer base, or even if you intend to set up a standalone mail order business by selling online then you will need an eCommerce store, otherwise known as an online shop. This will allow you to manage your products and stock levels, process online orders and payments, and even manage a customer database.
I will be writing more about the features and benefits of an online shop in later articles, but for now it is enough to know that there are some excellent ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions for selling on the Web that don’t have to cost a fortune – in fact; by utilising an accepted and safe payment processing service such as Paypal an effective eCommerce Website will almost certainly cost hundreds rather than thousands to set up.
Selling A Service
If your business is service oriented; for example, car valeting, financial advice, pet grooming, etc then your online presence will be more focused on the promotion of your service – with an online ‘brochure’ format featuring appropriate text and photographs usually being the best solution.
Some practical considerations are whether you need to update the content regularly; perhaps managing a news section and online gallery – or maybe your content will be more static and you would prefer your Web developer to update the site on your behalf once or twice a year. A ‘Content Management System’ can be a little more expensive to set up initially but will save extra costs when updating and editing.
Many Different Styles
Regardless of whether an eCommerce or a brochure type Website there are many different styles, with some being more appropriate than others depending on the professional image you wish to convey – and on the Web it is always very easy to find both good and bad examples!
You might be concerned about how many pages your Website should have, what should the text say, appropriate photographs, etc. My advice would be to search for competitors offering the same, or a similar, service in your area and then have a look at their Websites. It is worth spending a little time at this stage just to get a feel for what is out there and what looks effective or not.
Some things to consider:
• What words did you search for to find your competitors?
• How many pages are there on your competitors’ sites and what do they contain?
• Does the Website inspire confidence and make you want to do business with them?
• Is it easy to find contact information?
• How could your Website be better?
Having a good idea of what you want your Small Business Website to include and how you expect it to look before contacting a Web Designer will not only save time and money at the creation stage, but will also help to ensure that the finished site does justice to your business – inspiring confidence and customers eager to use your service or buy your products.