Enter the characters you see below Sorry, we just need to make sure you’re not a robot. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. Small Internet Business Ideas website is a necessity for entrepreneurs, small businesses, home-based businesses, and anybody selling products or services. Regardless of your other marketing methods, enabling potential customers to either find you through a Google search or learn more about you after they’ve seen your other marketing material is key to creating and developing new customers. If you’re selling online services or products, having a website is obvious.
But even if you don’t sell anything directly online, the website can serve as an extension of your business card, with information about you, your business, and services offered. Most important, your website should detail your background, experience, and other credentials to give you credibility and give potential customers more confidence when deciding whether or not to deal with you. Creating a website for your small business can be easier than you think. You can do it yourself if you are so inclined or need to keep costs down, you can get a friend to help, or you can hire a Web developer to do it for you at a modest cost if you use available content management software instead of having a website custom developed for you. The first step is to decide what your website is going to do for you. Or, you may want to use it for information about your company and provide articles or information you’ve written to provide useful information to clients and potential clients. Knowing what you plan on doing with your website is an important first step because it will guide you on how to develop it going forward.
Keep in mind, it’s not a static thing and even if you start off without online sales, for instance, it can be relatively easy to add that at a later date. Whether you write a blog initially or not, you should consider how you will eventually use your website. Based on what you want to do with your website, you have several choices in software. You would probably be surprised at how many websites you visit use one of these solutions, either stock or customized. If your primary purpose is e-commerce, particularly for products, you should select software which is specifically designed for e-commerce. However, if e-commerce is only a small part of your website’s purpose, you can get free or low-cost add-ons that work with the most popular free content management software discussed below, Joomla! In addition to templates, there are thousands of add-ons which give you a great deal of functionality for your website with no programming and very little effort.
In some cases the free version doesn’t have as many features as the paid version, so be sure to carefully review the features available. As a content management system, the idea of Joomla is to avoid needing to code a website from scratch. It also enables very easy changes and updates going forward, something even you could do yourself, with a little assistance on occasion from a Web developer. While it is possible and relatively easy to install and set up Joomla yourself, it will be time consuming, particularly if this is the first time you’ve done it. It also uses templates to give it different looks and add-ins to provide you with additional functionality. That includes e-commerce, social media, picture galleries, memberships, podcasts, videos, newsletters, and much more. As with Joomla, you may want to consider hiring a Web developer to do the initial setup for you at a minimum. Once you decided on your software, you need to choose a Web host, the remote location where your website and related software will be held and made available to visitors.
Your choice of website host will depend in part on the software you choose but also on the speed and number of visits you expect to receive. With some companies, you can start off with less expensive but less powerful shared hosting services and, if required, you can step up to faster and more powerful dedicated hosting. Another consideration, particularly if you are setting up your website yourself, is whether your host provides for automatic installation of your chosen content management software. Most of the popular hosting services will enable you to do this with the click of a button. And in most cases you can use the same host from more than one website. If you are doing it yourself, the host’s support services should be an important consideration. Once you’ve chosen your software and decided on a host, you have to start thinking about other features.
The first one is the template. For instance, if you are a real estate agent, you would look for a template that is geared towards selling real estate. This would include a template that might have a relevant background and features that enable you to showcase your listings. Whether you are a consultant, dog groomer, or roofer, you should be able to find a template that meets your requirements. While free templates are readily available, don’t be shy to spend a small amount for a premium template that most closely matches your needs. Regardless, it’s a cheap way to get a great template. For an idea of what is available, visit these template sites below.
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Beyond templates, you may require additional add-ons to provide functionality for your website that makes it easier to use. Like templates, there are many free ones but sometimes the ones you pay are much better, and are also quite reasonably priced. Keep in mind that some of the paid versions are listed on their sites. Whether you want to add some easy e-commerce, provide social networking share buttons, incorporate videos, start a podcast, require people to sign up to receive free material or downloads, create a portfolio of your photographs, and even run surveys, polls, or a newsletter, just about anything you can think of is available as an add-on. At this stage, you need to start thinking about what your website will look like and how it will be used. This includes your logo and other visuals, the menu selections you want to make available, and the kind of information you want to put on each of those pages. With most e-commerce sites, you’ll have choices within the software itself to set up your storefront with different formats and styles.
Templates for these content management systems use a structured approach that enables you to add traditional content and also add-ons with specific information and content that you can position on the page, based on the structure of your your particular template. In many cases, you can even change the visual appearance of the different information so you can highlight certain things. The starting point is certainly your menu. There is always a home selection, but you get to choose what the main menu selections are and chose submenus off each of those main menu selections. It’s important to think carefully about how you want to organize and structure the information on your website to give you the maximum flexibility.
Content can sometimes be the hardest part of your website. It needs to be compelling to visitors and convey the right kind of information at the right level so visitors actually read it instead of moving on to the next website. When you write text, think about it from an advertising perspective. In addition to text, you also need images. Since you should have chosen a template with visual elements or background images that match your particular business, other images and graphics are generally used to supplement the text content or sometimes even replace it.
Making the pages professional looking is particularly important as visual impact and appeal are a key part of any website. The WYSIWYG editor allows you to cut and paste your text from a Word document and upload images from your computer. It also give you full control over text size, color, font, and other features as well as the sizing and placement of images. Of course, if you prefer, you can easily hire a Web developer to do these things on your behalf. Since little if any custom work is required, your costs should be relatively modest. I am an author, speaker, and consultant focusing on topics relevant to Managers and aspiring Managers in businesses of all sizes who want to get results, get attention, and get ahead.
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