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Online Business Set-up: Website Building
 
 

Online Business Set-up: Website Building

 
Building a website is a necessity for your online business. Just as having a good location for your store in a town is an important decision, the more you can build an interactive and effective website, the more successful you will be with your online business.

Creating a website takes time, to be sure, but when you do it well, you will have a website that engages your audience, creates safe transactions, and encourages people to come back for more of what you have to offer.

Should You Create Your Own or Have a Professional Do the Work
If you are concerned about how probable (or possible) it will be for you to build your own online business website, you are not alone. This is a daunting task for anyone, especially when you are invested in its outcome.

You need to make sure that your website is able to work for your customers, while also providing them with the information they need to make the best decisions for their purchase.

Here is what you need to know about creating a website as opposed to having someone else create your website.
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Why You Should Do It Yourself

A lot of online business owners will create their own websites for the following reasons.
  • Low cost. When you want to save money, not hiring a website designer can be the best choice for you. You will not have to spend any money on labor.

  • Total control. If you are interested in having complete control over your website, you should build it yourself. This way, you know where everything is and you can change it as you wish.

  • Learning experience. Still other online business owners will create their own website because it allows them to learn how to build a website and what this will mean as their business grows. When you know how to make your own website, you can begin to make multiple websites for your business, as needed.

Certainly making your own website will also fill you with a sense of accomplishment, allowing you to know that your online presence is because of your hard work.

Why You Should Hire a Professional

At the same time, if you do not know how to build a website, it might be time to call in a professional. If you are not willing to put in the work, there are a lot of benefits to hiring a professional.

  • Quicker turnaround. Because a website designer will already know how to do what you need them to do for your site, you will find your online business website will be up and ready to take orders more quickly. If you are interested in getting online as soon as you can, and you already know what you want on your site, a professional can help.

  • More resources. A website designer has already worked on numerous websites like yours, so they already have the resources and tools to create the effects that you want them to create. You do not have to spend time or money investigating these resources.

  • Continued support. You will also find that in many cases, the website designer will be on hand to provide continued support for your site for a certain period of time. In addition, you can keep them on as a resource should you need a website redesign in the future.

Professionals know what they are doing and when; you need to be certain your site is able to do the things that you promise your customers it will do, a pro might be a good idea.

You will want to keep in mind that, depending on the extent of the project, a professional website designer can cost between $500 and $3000, approximately.

A Compromise?

If you are still not sure whether you want to create your website or you want someone else to do it, there might be a happy compromise. You may want to start the website design and then call in a website designer to finish up the details, or you can start with a website designer for the initial build and then handle the upkeep and maintenance of the site on your own.

For some online business owners, it is a good idea to always know how their website works and how they might need to adjust code when things go wrong. Turning everything over to a website designer may cause you troubles down the road since you will not know what to do if the website designer suddenly is not around anymore.

There are a number of valuable books and online video tutorials on basic web design that can help you get a general understanding of how to build a site from scratch. It cannot hurt to take some time to learn as much as possible, after all, your website is the way that customers will see you. In addition, it is the way that customers will begin to judge your effectiveness for them.


Your Domain Name

Your website name, or domain name, is the first thing that people will learn about your online store in many cases. While you might think that your website name should just be your business name, that is not always the most effective way to grab the attention of others online, or your business name may not be available.

A domain name is the unique name that you will have online, or also known as your URL. This will identify you and find you online when someone types letters into a website browser.

There are a few things you will want to do to choose the best possible domain name:

  • Stick to your business name. It is a good idea to use your carefully chosen business name whenever possible. Since this is the name you want customers to keep in mind, it is best to use that as your domain name. All you need to do when you get to a domain name registrar is to type in this name and see if it is available.

  • Keep it short. Another good piece of advice is to choose a domain name that is as short as possible. When you have too long of a domain name, people will not necessarily want to type it all in, which can reduce the number of visitors you have coming to your site.

  • Avoid anything but letters. Some website addresses will have dashes or underscores in them, but these can also be challenging for a customer to type in. Instead, make sure that you are using only letters that spell out words.

  • Use.com. When you start up your business, you might notice there are other suffixes you can add to your website address. For a business, it is best to use ".com." If you want to reserve the other suffixes as well to ensure no one else has the same address or a similar address to you, that is a good idea. However, use the ".com" address for your primary address.

  • Include keywords, if possible. If possible, it is a good idea to include a keyword in your domain name. For example, if you sell shoes, www.joesmithshoes.com is a better choice than www.joesmith.com since the name without the keyword does not tell the reader much about what you have to offer.

  • Ensure it is descriptive. Your website address should include some sort of description if you want to make sure that your customers understand what you are selling. For example, www.janedoewriter.com is going to help people understand that Jane is a writer, versus a paralegal.

  • Buy more than one domain name. Since the Internet continues to grow and more people are online than ever, it is not a bad idea to buy more than one domain name at a time. You will be able to make sure that all of your favorite names are covered, and then you can use these domains in the future, or have them 'point' to your main website.

Your domain name is something you need to think about carefully before you buy. Thankfully, domain names are relatively inexpensive to purchase and they can be bought in bulk for a discount price in many cases.

You can purchase domain names from many domain registrars. At these websites, you will find they also offer web hosting, website design, and more. You might be able to get a lot of tools for your online business, without spending a lot of money or time looking for them.

Investigate each of these sites to see what works best for you and then see what domain names are available.

You can also often buy website domains names when you use a template website service, so that is another option to consider.

Web Hosts


 
If your domain name is your home on the Internet, the web host is the key that unlocks the front door for customers to enter. You will need to have a web host in order for your website to be seen online. Here are the two most common website hosts:
  • Dedicated Server (or cloud-based virtual machine). This type of web host is one that will not be shared with other websites. Ideally, this is the type of web host you want since this will not suffer from problems if another website on the server is experiencing high traffic. Your site gets its own server space, which will increase the chances of your customers being able to see you when they need you.

  • Shared. If you want to save money, you might want to use a shared web host. This will allow you to share space with other sites, which might become problematic, if another site is busier than you. Ideally, this is not the web hosting solution for an online store.

As you can see, having a dedicated, or managed, web host is the best way for you to be sure that your customers can see you when they go online and that your site is always ready to take the next order.

From these types of web hosts, there are a variety different features that they all can include. To make sure you are getting the right web host for your needs, you need to make sure you are considering all of your options.

Here is a list of things to look for in a web host.

  • Reliability. Your customers need to be able to find you online all of the time. If your website is unavailable for just a day, that can hurt your credibility with customers. Look for web hosts that guarantee a 99% or more uptime rate.

  • Security. You need to know that your website will be secure online as well. Make sure that the servers that the web host uses to support your site are in a secure facility, away from possible issues with natural disasters, theft, and more.

  • Effectiveness. The web host needs to be able to support high traffic counts (which your online business is certain to have), so the technology of the web host needs to be able to support ups and downs in the stream of customers.

  • Affordability. Yes, price is always a consideration when you are trying to start an online business. While you might want to start out with a shared web host, moving your website to a managed host might be a complicated process. Whenever possible, try to buy as much web hosting as you can afford.

  • Transferability. As mentioned above, you will want to make sure that you can easily transfer your site to another web host, should you begin to have problems. While this is hopefully not the case, sometimes, you might need to switch away and the web host should make this as simple as possible.

  • High consumer rating. A high consumer rating is another good way to judge a web host. Try to find out what other customers are saying and then decide whether you like what you are hearing. You can find reviews online and through the web hosts themselves.

  • Excellent customer service. A good way to see if a web host is someone you want to work with is to call them on the phone and see how friendly they are. When they are friendly, you can be certain that they are going to help you when you need to call them with a problem.

The more time you take finding a good web host, the better it will be for your online business.

Again, when you work on a website with a template, you might be able to take advantage of their hosting service. However, it is a good idea to investigate their web hosting services to make sure that they are a good fit for you.

Your Web Page Layout

Your web page layout should be something that can make or break your site. If you look at many modern day websites, you will notice that their structures are cleaner and more interactive than the web pages of the page. Instead of overloading sites with information, you should give your website visitors all of the information that they need to make the best decision possible.

Here is a basic website layout that you should incorporate.

  • Home page or landing page. The home page is something that will ensure that your customers know who you are and what you have to offer them. Think of this as seven seconds that you have to keep a customer on your site. You need to present a short piece of text that will help to inform your customers and encourage them to find out more about the other pages on your site. Be warm and friendly, and make sure that you give your customers the sense that they are welcome and that they are respected by you.

  • About Us. It is a good idea to include some sort of About Us or About Me page that will give you a more personal touch. Introduce who you are, what you do, and why you do what you do. It is a good idea to also include some sort of story as to why you got into the business you are in, allowing your site visitors to be clear about why they should have come to you before anyone else. Nevertheless, most importantly, be yourself. When you are yourself, you will be able to engage the customers more than if you just made a site with only the products and prices listed.

  • Products Page. Of course, you will have to have some sort of products page that allows your customers to see what you have to offer. You should have high quality pictures and you should have descriptions that allow customers to feel as though they are able to see and to touch the products in real life. You need to include all of the details that a person might need to make the best decision for their purchase, as well as make the descriptions exciting to read.

  • FAQ. Since you cannot read all of your emails all the time and you cannot be available 24/7, you can use the frequently asked questions page to step in when you cannot be around. Think about all of the most often asked questions and then make sure that you answer them clearly on your site. Customers will feel at ease and they will begin to feel as though you are right alongside them as they are shopping online.

  • Contact Page. You also will need to have a contact page where a person might find your business number and email address. It can help to have more than one email address (for instance, contact@yoursite.com, info@yoursite.com, and complaints@yoursite.com). If a customer feels they can contact you, they will be more likely to try to do so.

While this is a basic layout, it is one that website viewers recognize and enjoy. The fewer the page options a person has at the start, the less likely they are to become overwhelmed when they get on your site.

Focus on these basic pages and you will give your readers all the information that they need to learn about you, your company, and your products. And when you do that, you will be able to engage your customers and they will feel as though you are inviting them to be on your page, not just hoping that they will buy something.

Templates versus Building Your Own Site

You have already learned what it takes to build your own website or to have a professional do the work. What can make your website even easier to build are website template services. These are services that have templates from which you can choose, allowing you to create a site in a manner of minutes, even including shopping cart features and other necessary parts for a business site.

These sites can then be customized to a greater extent as you begin to learn more about website building and how to work within the coding format. These services can also provide you with access to website designers, should you need additional help, all for one low price, or you may need to pay separate fees.

 
 
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