What you need to know when considering a website for your business

By Michael Chernin

Many small business owners are faced with tough questions when considering building a business website for the first time. These questions often prevent them from achieving their goal, resulting in either an unfinished or an overpriced site—detrimental to the originally intended purpose. Sometimes the process of building a site becomes so tedious and time-consuming, the owner decides to scrap the idea altogether.

Building Web presence can be a hassle-free and enjoyable task when there’s a clear understanding of what the business owner is trying to accomplish, and an easy process is made available that will guide them through what they need to supply to bring the site to fruition.

A good Web development supplier will help by tackling a number of common myths that address these questions and concerns:

Myth 1: I can design and develop the site myself.
Even though the Internet is inundated with do-it-yourself solutions that promise an amazing-looking site for a fraction of the cost, this approach is rife with pitfalls. People with little or no technical background will find themselves in trouble while trying to build the site, and end up with incomplete and unattractive results. Even if you feel that you are fairly computer-savvy, lack of time will make it difficult to maintain the site, since running your business is your first priority. Achieving that “professional look” takes the work of up to three specialists: a Web developer, responsible for coding; a designer, responsible for graphics; and a copywriter, responsible for content.

Myth 2: A fancy-looking website will attract more clients.
People assume that the more elaborate their site looks, the more clients it will attract. In reality, extravagant sites attract the same amount of potential clients. Moreover, if a site with all the aesthetic bells and whistles offers a poorly designed layout, clients will be turned off. Heavy graphics or flash pages with sound serve to slow loading time, are inaccessible through mobile devices, and are simply irritating to most users. This choice is also more expensive, since more development time is required. Fancy promo sites are a good option for large corporations with established brand names and big budgets, but completely impractical for small business owners with a main goal of showcasing their products or services and providing clear and concise information about their business.

Myth 3: My site will start bringing in new customers the moment I get it out there.
Prepare to be disappointed if you believe that the new site will yield a healthy marketing outcome without systematic efforts such as regular content updates and URL promotion. Imagine a shop window display that has been neglected, or is completely outdated—why would you want to enter that store?

Myth 4: I absolutely have to be first in line on Google.
Being first in line on Google is nice; however, the definition itself is incorrect. You have to ask yourself, “When do I want my business to come up on a first page or link in Google?” The answer depends on your business niche; for example, if you are in the business of making bagels and your bakery is located in Vaughan, Ontario, you would want it to appear on Google’s first page if someone were to type, “bagels in Vaughan,” or if a customer looking for your bakery typed in the actual name, as opposed to just “bagels,” where there’s little, if no, chance of being first in line, no matter what you do. Also, you are probably not interested in people from another city or province or country being able to find your website. Knowing the exact demographic you want to attract, and whether the products or services you are selling is tied to a specific geographic location, will help you create better content for your site. In turn, this will result in a higher probability that your site will be first in line on Google when someone searches for products or services relevant to your business niche and location.

Myth 5: I don’t get a lot of traffic, so my site is useless.
Even after the site has been deployed, many business owners wonder why the site is not getting enough traffic. In order to determine the site’s effectiveness, you must let it sit for at least a couple of months while monitoring visitor statistics. It is also very important to understand that sometimes having 30 visitors per month is better than having 1,000 visitors a month. Why? Because if out of the 30 visitors, 90% are potential clients, then you have a new potential client every day, as opposed to 1,000 visitors with a relevancy of 2%. You also have to consider your business capacity—if hundreds of clients start calling, are you prepared to handle the volume?

Myth 6: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the answer to all my troubles.
SEO is often perceived as the ultimate answer to site promotion, sure to result in increased traffic and more customers. It is true that accurately established SEO will eventually drive more people to your site, but many people forget the time and money factor involved. Most SEO techniques will provide a business growth effect that’s minor in comparison to the time and money invested. Proper SEO could easily cost thousands of dollars, so before you explore this route, it’s better to create solid site content with keywords that your customers will use search engines to seek out, and allow your site to grow organically. Invest money in solid advertising and marketing strategies that will promote your site: reprint your business cards to display your new site address, make sure your Web address is highlighted in any advertisements or flyers you are distributing, and spread the word to all of your clients when you meet with them.

To recap... Make your business Web presence an easy and enjoyable experience by keeping these factors in mind:

Put yourself in the shoes of your customers; present your audience with simple and concise information that they will find when they look for your business online.

A fancy look and feel is secondary to properly organized and professionally written content.

Complex and expensive does not necessarily mean better.

When developing site content, think about your potential customers, as well as your existing ones.

Hire experienced professionals to design, implement and maintain your site.

Keep your site up-to-date and monitor visitor statistics.

Promote your site by highlighting your URL in all of your marketing materials.

And remember, if you can’t build it within five business days, then ask yourself this: “Do I clearly understand my website needs?”

Michael Chernin is a business development manager at OnThe.Net (www.onthe.net), which helps small businesses establish competent, hassle-free and extremely affordable Web presence solutions. OnThe.Net understands the needs and struggles of small business owners when it comes to establishing and, most importantly, maintaining their Web presence, and delivers results quickly without compromising quality. If you are looking for an alternative, fresh approach to establishing Web presence for your business, please visit our site at www.onthe.net.

By Adam

July 04, 2011