Does your business really need an online presence? Answer: yes.
The days where businesses – large or small – relied on a completely offline existence are numbered. Competing in today’s era of digital transformation makes it essential for every business to have an online presence. But why is this so important, and how do you set up a website?
Here’s six reasons an online presence is essential:
- Accessibility. With the internet offering 24/7 access to information, your business can’t afford not to claim its space on the web.
- Gain credibility. Have you ever searched for a service/business online and when you want to find out more there is no website to look at? It makes you think twice about how serious this business is.
- Cost-effective. Having a website means you can market your business online without needing to pay huge sums for newspaper/magazine advertising.
- Real-time customer interaction. Many websites have their own blog so you can inform your customers of the latest products, services, and give them tips and advice.
- Online sales. expand your website to reach an international audience with the possibility of buying your products straight from your online shop.
- Portfolio. A neat and accessible way to show your potential customers all you have to offer.
Now we know why a business needs a website, but how do you set one up?
Below are three quick, easy and essential steps to getting your business website online:
- Choose the right domain name.
The domain name is more important than you probably think. It needs to be easy to spell, easy to remember and should reflect your business name and perhaps even the type of business. For example, if you are running a flower shop called Blossom based in South Carolina, think about which search terms you would like your business to be found with in search engines.
The domain name: www.blossom.com would be great from a brand perspective if people are aware your brand name exists, but is also more likely to have been snapped up already. If, however, you are hoping to be discovered online, a name such as: www.blossomsouthcarolina.co.uk or www.blossomflorists.com is more likely to be found by local searches for a florist (in South Carolina).
- Choose a website builder package.
If you are a complete novice to the online world you can sign up to a free, fully hosted service for your website. Basically, this process is almost like opening a Facebook account – all you do is sign up, associate your account with your domain name, and either use their website builder or purchase a one-off fee template for a professional look. With a bit of knowhow you could have your website up and running within a day. One note: never underestimate the importance of a professional looking website. If you have a friend or can hire a designer for a day you should; looks do matter when it comes to first impressions. In the online world your website is your calling card – prospective clients don’t see anything else. Here’s a list of some of the platforms to consider:
- Select a web hosting package.
The ideal way to create a website with scalability and full control for your business is to host the website yourself. This means you buy your own share of web hosting, your own domain name (as explained above), and then you can choose how to start your website up.
When looking to buy web hosting, take some time and shop around. Think about the scale of your business and your plans to grow it. Where are your customers based and do you need the speed of cloud hosting? Where does the company have their servers located? Is it international? One thing to bear in mind: page load time is essential, especially if your website is full of images. For this kind of power you should be considering a dedicated server hosting solution, or a virtual private server.
Once you have your web hosting set up, you can either install a platform such as WordPress or hire a web developer to design a custom website just for you. Installing wordpress.org means you can still completely customize your website, however it will be built using established, tested code. This also means that many developers will know how it works and can fix problems more easily. If you decide on a pure custom made website, you will become dependent on your developer to make any changes or fix any problems. In either case, always ask for your developer to make the back end (from which you can access the website and make changes, add products, etc) as detailed as you need it. Be sure to make a comprehensive list of all of the elements you want to be able to access and edit.
Get started with your online business with online services from WestHost: from domain names to dedicated servers!