We live in an increasingly tech savvy world. The rapid advancement of technology has prompted a mass migration to the Internet for virtually all industries. The recent surge in the popularity, usability and affordability of Internet-enabled smart phones has only increased the benefits of moving aspects of your business online. And unless something drastic happens, we can probably assume these changes are more than just a temporary trend so “waiting out the storm” probably isn’t a good idea. If you’ve yet to jump on board with a website for your business (whatever that business may be) then here are a few things for you to think through.
Many people hesitate to invest (in terms of both time and money) in a website because they don’t feel it will be especially useful for their particular business. It is true that some business related aspects work better in person but probably not as many as you think. 20 years ago many would have been skeptical of the idea of online shopping—How do I know if it fits? What if it doesn’t look good on me? How can I tell if the shirt will match my shoes?—but those concerns have been satisfied to the point that millions of people now spend millions of dollars shopping for clothing online. Plus, you don’t have to move all of your operations online to justify the creation of a website. Having a quality, professional-looking website enhances credibility and visibility (and in a time when nearly every industry is over-saturated with competitors you can’t put a price on credibility and visibility). Even if your website simply provides an overview of your company’s services, products, aims, back-story, location and contact information, it will be worth the minimal effort it now takes to have a website.
Not all websites are created equal so not all websites cost the same to build and operate. Some are far more complicated than others so, logically, they will cost more. But website creation has never been more affordable, regardless of the type of website you are looking to create. Many blog services are absolutely free and are extremely easy to start even for someone who has no previous experience. A blog lacks the professional look and feel of a paid website but it is probably a better option than your business having no web presence at all. At the other end of the spectrum is paying a web designer to create and run your website for you. This will allow the most detailed customization but will also be the most expensive. Most businesses choose to go somewhere in between those two extremes and instead use web creation services that allow professional quality websites that can be designed using templates and are manageable for someone that doesn’t have experience writing code.
If you fall into the last category and decide to use a website builder then you will find that most do a great job of providing step-by-step instructions. You should be able to manage the process if you have just the most basic of computer skills. Simply getting a site up and running shouldn’t be too big of a hurdle but making it look appealing to your target audience isn’t always so intuitive. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when designing your website:
- Choose the Right Template
The first and most basic decision you will face when creating your website is the design theme for your site. Some are flashier than others but you’ll want to pick the one that best suits your business. A website for a nightclub should look different than a website for an insurance agency. Keep in mind which demographic you are focusing on and try to cater to their interests. Remember that one of the big motivators in creating a website is enhancing the visibility of your company. Be very particular about the image you are sending.
- Keep it Simple
A cluttered website is off-putting and gives a bad initial impression. Keep the organization clean and simple so that customers can navigate the site easily. Don’t overload your primary menu—provide them with only a handful of general navigation options that will funnel them gradually to more detailed content. This will also enable you to steer your site traffic in the direction you want.
- Consistency in Color Scheme
Most web design services allow you to choose a color template along with your design. Follow the two suggestions above when it comes to picking colors (appropriate to your business and simple). And don’t try to vary the color scheme from page to page. A consistent feel from page to page will allow your customers to quickly feel at home on your site.
After you have put time and money into creating a quality site you will want to ensure that your efforts haven’t been wasted. The World Wide Web is a big place so leaving your site to fend for itself is not going to get you the results that you probably want. There are some good services out there that can help you with things like search engine optimization (SEO), viral marketing and reputation management for affordable prices and with strategies tailored to your specific needs. You can also do some simple things on your own to enhance traffic volume on your site. For example, take advantage of the plethora of free social networking tools available: create a Facebook page, Twitter account and/or Pinterest profile. These social networking sites have millions of users so tap into that potential by regularly offering new deals or making announcements regarding your company through these channels. You will also want to monitor your site analytics to better understand what is driving traffic to your site and what customers are doing while they are on your site. Analytics services vary widely but there are free options out there that will help you keep track of the basics.
So…What Are You Waiting For?
If you haven’t already decided to create a website for your business you should make that decision right now. In fact, you probably should have made the decision a while ago. The lack of a web presence is quickly becoming inexcusable for any company wishing to compete in their respective industry. True, it will require some investment. But when you consider the wide range of significant benefits, it seems that you can’t afford to be without a website in today’s social economy.
About the Author: Jeremy Henderson is a freelance writer for 97th Floor. 97th Floor specializes in Pinterest Marketing, SEO and infographics.