December 11, 2011

How to get your business online by Peter Simmons

This article is for all those who have asked "how do I get
my business online?" or have just plain been putting it off
because you dont know where to start or who can help or how
much it will cost.
Why should I put my business online? Well, there are several
reasons why you should.
Firstly, its a great 'connection point' between you and your
customers or partners. They can visit your website at
anytime that suits them to find out more about you, your
products, ordering, or just get more information. Previously
they would have had to physically visit you or use the
telephone and actually speak to you. They can contact you
with questions, complaints, recommendations or just to gauge
how helpful/efficient you are at anytime without speaking to
you or being face-to-face with you. Its another way to deal,
communicate and interact with you. It puts the emphasis on
the customer and their needs and removes the pushy salesman
from the process. This level of anonymity encourages the
customer to get what they want more than ever before or go
somewhere else where they will get it.
Secondly, the Internet enables the customer to shop around
much more easily and cheaply than ever before. It is as easy
to research and buy a product that is sold in another
country as it is to do it for one in your own country and
all for the cost of a local call. Timezones are largely
irrelevant on the Internet.
Thirdly, a website is entirely flexible and can be designed
from scratch specifically for your business and customers,
regardless of the industry you are in and the size of your
business.
Fourth, it is low cost. You can build a website to meet your
budget.
What do you need to do?
Get a web address - often called a domain name/URL. When
someone types in your web address i.e. http://www.youraddress.com
into their Internet enabled computer, they see your website.
Get a name that is easily remembered by your customers.
You'll need to renew it regularly to keep the name.
Get some webspace - often called hosting. A company (the
host) will rent you space on its computer. You store your
website in that space. Your web address will point here so
that when the web address is typed in by the customer, they
will be directed to your website automatically. Make sure
you get a fast and reliable host and therefore your website
is always available and quickly. Read host reviews or ask
people you know to recommend a host.
Research - before doing anything else do some research. Look
at other websites, styles, navigation, content, functions,
etc. What do you like? What dont you like? What do your
customers want? What dont they want? What are your
competitors doing? What arent they doing? Set some clear
objectives for your site. Write them down in order of
priority and work towards them throughout the project.
Content - The most important of all. Whether its text,
images, functions, data or anything else, spend some time
getting it right. It must of course, all meet your clear
objectives.
Design and build your website - you can do this yourself but
I dont recommend it unless you are confident you can do it
well and have enough time to do it. Hire someone to do it
all for you. Make sure you are happy to deal with them and
that they dont just want to design a pretty website for
their portfolio. They should make all the right noises about
how the website will fit into your business and how your
customers will benefit from it. Again, remember your clear
objectives.
Evaluation - check your website meets all your objectives.
Check everything works as it should and is easy to
understand and use by your customers. Do you need to make
any improvements/changes?
Publish - put your new website into your webspace.
Congratulations your business is online!
Finally, review your website initially and regularly
thereafter to make sure it is still meeting your customers
requirements and to see if it can be improved or developed
further.
Good luck and dont forget to let me know how you get on.

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