Let’s face it. This is the technology age and few businesses are going to get anywhere if they don’t take the time to learn to build a web site.
Fortunately, there are a lot of tools available, such as Dreamweaver and Site Build It that can help any beginner build and market a website. However, before doing anything you will need to answer questions such as:
- Why do you want a website?
- Will it be to sell products and attract new customers or will it just be a brochure for your company?
- Will the website publish a newsletter?
- How much are you prepared to pay to build and maintain the site, and will it be something you do yourself or outsource?
These questions are important because they help you to determine the purpose of your website and a site must have a purpose, otherwise it can do your business more harm than good.
Once you have a good understanding of your website’s purpose, you are going to need to decide where you will host the site and its domain name. When choosing a web hosting company, don’t go for the cheapest or the one with the most features. Go for what you need at the time, and always go for a provider that will allow you to upgrade your package seamlessly. Most providers bundle basic web hosting with a variety of web services like email, newsletters, databases and combine them into packages or hosting plans.
Choose your domain name very carefully. It’s your company’s identity on the web so make it relevant to your company, product, or project. Keep the name short and simple, and if possible keep to about five characters. Also include keywords; keywords are what people enter when searching the net. The Internet is global so choose a name that has positive connotations in all languages.
As a business, it’s best to have your own domain name, which you will have to pay for. Most ISP connection packages along with web hosting space, offer free personal websites. The problem is, your domain name shares their name. For example, you have probably seen websites with an address like, mysite.yahoo.com . This kind of domain name is common for personal or hobby sites, but not ideal for a business.
The credibility that having your own domain name, such as mysite.com, brings to your site is worth the extra cost.
Now you have your domain name and where your site will be hosted. The next step is designing and building the site. A complicated, hard to navigate design will only turn visitors away. Here is where the less is more concept works well.
Watch your choice of background colors. Make sure your background/text color combination is readable. You don’t want readers to squint to see the words on the page, and use black text, or very dark colored text on a white or very light colored background. Save the white on black backgrounds for pages that don’t have a lot of text on them.
Another thing to consider is setting the tone of your website by using mood colors.
It’s believed that certain colors invoke a certain mood so take advantage of that. For example, green is usually referred to as a “concentration” color. You can use color to make your visitors feel energized, relaxed and focused. Here again remember, simplicity is the best.
Ok, now your website is designed and up, it’s time to start promoting it. This is where answering the questions about the purpose of your website comes in handy.
If the purpose of your website is to serve as a brochure, then your best bet is to advertise offline and just refer your clients to the website for more details instead of sending them a brochure
However, if the purpose of the website is to bring in new clients and sell more products, then you need to actively promote your website. At the very least, submit your website to the three major search engines – Google, Yahoo and MSN. These are free.
Other promotional options include banner advertising, feeder sites – using other sites that you own and link them to your website – and RSS feeds — “Really Simple Syndication.” It is a new way for content publishers to distribute content.
The idea behind promoting your website is to monetize, which means using the site to make money.
Contextual advertising, such as Yahoo! Publisher Network is by far the easiest way to monetize a website. It’s because you just need to paste code provided by Yahoo! into your web page.
Contextual advertising, not only generates revenue, but provides valuable resources for the website visitor, as the adverts are target adverts that relate to the web page content.
Another option is affiliate programs. It can be very lucrative, but they are not the easiest method to use for beginners. Affiliate programs are an arrangement in which a company pays you a percentage of the sale for every online customer they get through a link from your website to theirs.
With all these tools set up and working, you just need to maintain and monitor your site from now on.