What Are You Telling the World With Your Website?

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So you need to get your website up, but you’re budget for it is really small, and the thought of having someone else do it for you sounds too expensive.  Sometimes, that really isn’t the case, but I understand budgetary issues – trust me, I do.

Times are hard and everyone is scrambling these days just to try to make sure the light bill is paid.

But now, you’re stepping out on your own and you know that getting your name out there on the internet is crucial.  You want to have your website name on your business cards, and flyers to promote your business, of course. But you’re not sure what’s involved.

Get on the Web – Now!

If you’re not already there then you need to make plans right now – stop what you’re doing – to get your business on the web! It’s amazing how many brick and mortar businesses still don’t have a website to represent their business online. Getting your business on to the web is absolutely essential according to this article in Entrepreneur Magazine.  There simply is no good reason for any business that’s interested in surviving these current economic times to not have a website.  None. 

There are inexpensive ways to get your business website up pretty quickly and easily, and I’ll get to those in just a minute.  But there are a lot of things to think through before you just go throwing up some website builder kit site and calling it your website.  Your website is there to establish your business’ reputation on the internet, so make sure you do it right. With a little planning your site can be inexpensive and be an asset to your business.

Do it Right

Tim Knox, author of the previously linked article goes on to say, " It’s actually better to have no website at all than to have one that makes your business look bad. Your site speaks volumes about your business. It either says, ‘Hey, look, we take our business so seriously that we have created this wonderful site for our customers!" or it screams, "Hey, look, I let my 10-year-old nephew design my site. Good luck finding anything!’"

First, determine who your target market for your product or service is.  Who do you forsee visiting your website? Why are they there?  What kind of impression do you want to leave them with?  Thinking through this step will help you work through the other parts more quickly and easily. Visitors want to get to know you.  They want to see who your staff is, they want to know what you do, and they want to know that it’s easy and beneficial to do business with you.

Secondly, plan out your content. How many pages are you going to have?  What will the content be on each page? Draw it up on paper and save yourself a lot of time in front of your computer.  Study sites that you like and take note of how they put their pages together. Write out your content for each page using Word, or Notepad.  What images are you going to use on each page?  Make sure your "about us" page has good, solid content about who you are and what you’ve done.  People want to know the people they’re doing business with.  Here is another article from Entrepreneur Magazine about planning out your content.

Third, make sure that you chose a design and layout that is conducive to what you’re trying to accomplish.  Do not use music, don’t annoy visitors with pop-ups, and don’t load your site with so many graphics that it takes forever to load.  Does your company have a set of colors that are associated with your brand and theme?  What about your logo? How do you plan on incorporating that?  Make sure that you’re integrating your company’s values, and goals throughout the site by making sure your branding and colors are consistent. 

Remember, this site is going to represent you and your business to the world through the internet.  Your site will be visible whether you’re in Tallahassee, Munich, Tokyo or London. Make sure you take the time and effort to do it in such a way that your business is perceived as reliable and professional.

One last thing – remember this is how your internet savvy customers and clients will find you.  Spend the time to do it right.  Make sure that it’s professional.  Make sure you avoid easy mistakes such as incorrect spelling, broken links, and bad page structure.  You want your visitors to see that you take your business seriously, and that it’s not only easy to do business with you, but they’ll be lucky to do so.

image by Westside Shooter