Well, I did. I leaped forward and tested the waters. I spent years doing it wrong, and I think I finally got it right. But of course, who am I? Who is anyone really? In this rapidly growing field, who really determines the value of a website? Could anyone have predicted the major success some dot com’s have had, while hugely popular websites simply faded into cyber “space?”
Audiences shift. What worked in ’06 doesn’t even get clicks today. Marketing channels go where the popular vote is. And old fashioned “big business” might soon be extinct. Who thought MySpace would ever replace YahooChat, and then, Facebook would just squash both of them? And what is the big deal about Twitter?!
So where do you fit in? Where does your company, product, service, ability, or skill set “fit?” What kind of site would best serve you? Would it be highly animated or full of video clips? And if so, couldn’t you just post some videos on YouTube with a phone number on them? Why waste money on a website if you don’t have to? Why lose money because you DON’T have a website? Hmmm…
Well, fear not. There is a way, and a light that does shine brightly at the end of this tunnel! The answer is simple. YOU NEED A WEBSITE. You can no longer be in business and have no online presence. It’s a business card, a product catalog, a calendar, and a secretary all in one (and this secretary won’t call in sick.) I would even recommend enlisting your company in several online directories and social media sites (while they are still in style.) And use search engines. You can learn so much from your competition! Take a look at where they advertise, and what keywords they emphasize. Don’t worry, I know you might not know what a keyword is, that is why I’m here.
So, here it is.
Step 1. Stay in your budget. Don’t let anyone, or any company, tell you what you need to spend and what you get for your dollars. I don’t think they can guarantee results anyhow. Your website may actually be the smallest expense in your marketing budget.
Step 2. Create an outline. You need to organize your website long before you ever build it. Set up bullet points for each page. Home, Services, Contact Us, etc. Each page should have useful and unique information that will attract visitors to your site.
Step 3. Sketch a layout of what the site will look like. The layout of the content on your site is very important. Although you will not need a marketing or media degree to have an effective site, it is a good idea to read up on different ways of presenting information and the benefits of each.
Step 4. Spend some money. When you have finally decided the way you’d like your site to look and what will be on the pages, you are then ready to purchase a domain name and hosting account. You domain is a unique address your clients will type in to access your internet site (such as EzineArticles.com). This is a very important name because it must be purchased for a year or more, or might already be in use. A hosting account is what allows you access to your site for making changes, and uploading to the web. These services are offered together by many companies for very little.
Step 5. Hire a designer. I do my own design. Using notepad and complimentary color layouts, I am able to design attractive and useful websites for all my clients. Graphic and logo designs cost extra, but taking your own photographs will cost you nothing. Find a simple web design book and you could be online by tomorrow!
Step 6. Generate traffic. Traffic is the single most important statistic of a web site. Using proper keywords and descriptors on your pages is priceless. Graphics, while attractive, are not searchable by text crawlers and search engines. And don’t forget, manual word of mouth promotion is always the most effective. Get into discussion groups about your industry, make comments, and post non-intrusive links back to your website. If you truly solve a need, your site viewers will come back.
Step 7. This step is up to you. What is the end goal of your site? Is it only to make money, sell your products/services, or to share information. Placing ads on your site to other sites can lead to a profitable website if you can generate a sizable amount of traffic. Look into it once you have established your online office.
So, basically that’s it. Finding a designer to do specifically and only what you need is vital if you are unable to design your own site. Several companies out there have web builder templates that you can use and paste in your particular content.