These days, a business or professional of any kind that doesn’t have a website stands an excellent chance of losing out to competitors. People no longer look to traditional advertising for information on what to read, where to shop, or which products to buy. They look to their social networks for suggestions or they simply “Google it”.
Even in the event someone hears about your company via a more traditional avenue, you can bet that one of the first things they’re going to do if they’re truly interested in what you have to offer is try to check out your website. Don’t have one? They’ll probably go with someone else. Professionals that don’t have a website are often considered to be less competent, as well as less legitimate overall than those that do. That said, if you don’t have a website, it’s imperative that you get one as soon as possible. Here’s how to go about the process.
Identifying Your Goals
As is the case with any important project, it’s imperative that you know what you hope to achieve with your new website before you start. Are you looking to raise awareness or interest in a particular product or service you offer? Do you want to create a web presence that will help you get ahead of your competition? Are you hoping to build a community or blog where your customers can go to get more information on issues that are important to them?
The better you can define your goals before beginning, the more successful you will ultimately be. You’ll be able to give your designer or developer clearer directions, resulting on a higher return on your investment as well.
Choosing a Domain Name and ISP
One of the most important decisions you’ll make throughout the process involves your domain name. If you’ve already built an existing business, then the best possible choice will naturally be YourBusinessName.com. However, in the event it’s not available for purchase, make sure you choose something that is relevant to your goals and easy for people to remember.
If this is your first website, you’ll also need to select an ISP to host it. Take some time to research what each of your available options has to offer. Consider factors like reputation, maximum available space, terms of service, and accessibility.
Deciding on a Vision
The next order of business is to decide what you’d like your site to become. Think about other websites in your niche and make a list of elements that you really like. Maybe you really love the colors, design, and graphics used on one site. You might love the idea of having a blog, a forum, or an online shopping cart the way you’ve seen that other sites do.
You can also consider browsing web templates to get a basic idea of what’s possible. Many template sites contain categories specifically designed with various niches in mind. Check out what’s available in regards to your own niche and let it get you inspired.
The next order of business involves actually building your website page by page. In order to do this successfully yourself, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of design basics, HTML, CSS, and how to edit or fine tune your page using a web page editor. If you’re not well-versed in these areas, then you’ll probably want to hire a web developer or design professional to handle the building portion of your site. This will ensure that your site is effective, that it adheres to your vision, that it’s free of bugs, and that it’s capable of meeting the needs of both your visitors and your business.
Take care to select a design firm or a freelance professional with a good reputation, solid references, and plenty of experience. Share your vision for your site with them and make sure they’re capable of doing what you want before you commit to a hire.
Publishing and Promotion
Once your site’s built to your liking, it’s time to publish it to the web and begin your marketing campaign. This means optimizing it for search engine visibility and launching a social media campaign. As with the design portion of the project, this is something you can either handle yourself or outsource to professionals. Start exploring the possibilities today!