It is a good idea to plan your website strategy in advance and launch it at the same time you start your business. You should include your domain name, your Web address, and your email address on all of your sales material, business cards, advertising material, brochures, and letterheads. Your website will be available to provide information to your clients 24 hours a day. If it is set up properly, it can expand your sales and attract more customers.
You should consider the following issues when you set up your Web site:
Be sure your domain name conveys the image you want for your company and protect your domain name.
Shop around for a good Web hosting package.
If you are going to sell online, you should apply for a merchant account and you can shop for the best deal.
Your site must have a professional appearance and be easy to access and use
Include coupons, special offers, or news articles to attract people to your website.
Your website must be updated frequently, and it needs to be promoted heavily in all emails, letterheads, business cards, etc.
Choosing a good web design company
You need to decide who will build your website. If you have the technical know-how or the money to hire a full-time Web staff, you can develop the site yourself. For most small businesses, however, it is better to outsource the work.
You will not get much attention with a static, simplistic website. A well-designed website can raise money, attract customers, and develop your reputation. Consider the following basic steps to increase your odds of hiring a creative, technology-wise, and cost-effective design firm:
Decide whether you need your website created, implemented, and maintained. If your site will serve only as an online brochure, you can outsource the creation and implementation and handle the future maintenance yourself
Research a Web developer’s work to evaluate their potential. You may find the best developer’s through recommendations. Evaluate their online portfolios, their fees, and their design sense. If possible, hire a firm that is familiar with your particular industry.
Evaluate the developer’s full package of services. Can they help you advertise and sell your products online? Does the developer have the skills necessary to create all the web services you need including extras such as trademarking, copywriting, marketing and other services.
Find a developer that works collaboratively with you. Be sure they listen to your needs and explain issues in ways that you can understand. Be sure they understand your business and your industry and that they can project your vision on the site.
Be sure the developer will complete your site when they say they will. Be sure the design firm can adhere to deadlines, meet your requests, responds to your suggestions and questions, fixed problems promptly, and worked within your budget.
Content is still the key to an effective and successful Web site. However, the presentation of that content and the look of your site are important, because they convey your company image. Most good designers know that Web surfers want to go straight to the content, but be sure your site does not have too much animation, splash, or flashing graphics. These will drive traffic away from the site.
Be sure your site is ease to use and navigate. Your users should be able to get where they want to go in two clicks without having too many choices. A site map and a "back" button are very important.
Be sure your Web site has a place for “contact us,” feedback, comments, and questions. It is always a good idea to get feedback so that you gain insight into how your customers think and get ideas for improving your site, your product, or your service..
Look at your site very carefully and delete any unclear graphics and boring information. Bad graphics look unprofessional, and boring information turns people away. Have other people look at the colors and text you use on your site and get their feedback.
Present your products or services in several ways. Not every visitor to your site will shop by the same set of criteria, and it is easy to allow people to sort through your presentation by several methods. Visitors should be able to shop by product type, alphabetically, by size, by manufacturer, or by any other criteria that you think visitors will use.
It must be easy for customers to order. All ordering information such as order forms, toll-free number, and mailing address must be readily available to customers. There should be a clear link for ordering on every page. You may want to purchase the services of a Shopping Cart service to help you handle the processing and shipping of your orders. One example is Shoppingcart.com, but there are others.
Be sure your website designer knows how to incorporate codes and use key words so that your site has a favorable position in search engines. Search engine optimization is important, and your website designer should include this in the package of services that are sold to you.
For your first website, it is better to hire a website developer who is local. You will want to be able to drive to your developer’s office and have frequent meetings while your website is under development.
Remember that your website provides less expensive advertising than other media. You have the potential to reach everyone in the world who has a computer and an internet service provider.