Does the thought of creating a website make you break out into a sweat? Maybe you have operated a successful business for years, but your foot traffic has slowed down considerably lately. You have not raised your prices and you are still providing the same great service, so why is your business sinking? Could it be that your competition has a website, but you don’t? Maybe you already know that you desperately need one, but do not even know where to begin. Well, believe it or not, building an attractive, professional, and user-friendly site that will benefit your business is not as difficult as you think.
Why You Need a Website
Years ago, a business really did not need a website to stay competitive. If you have been in business several decades then you know that having a website was not even an option back then, yet you managed to do just fine. A successful business owner needs to be adaptable. You have to understand that times have changed and you either change with them or you get left behind. If you are just starting your business and trying to decide if you really even need a site, you do. Regardless what type or size of business you have you will need a website.
Some are under the impression that a website is only needed if products are being sold online. This is absolutely not true. Consumers do not want to spend time driving around to see what store has a product they are looking for, and unless they can send a text they probably will not use their phone to call and gather the necessary information either. They turn to the internet. Even if they just need to see what your hours are, your website would service a valuable purpose by providing this information. Below are a few of the many reasons why you need a site.
- Communicate with customers and vendors anywhere in the country (or world), and pay no long distance fees.
- Provide support for your customers without hiring additional staff or being glued to a phone.
- Open for business 24/7, if you sell your products or schedule services online.
- Reach a larger audience.
- Become accessible to customers on the move by making your site mobile-friendly.
- Very inexpensive to maintain.
- Offer promotions without paying for advertising.
- Introduce yourself in your “About” section. Customers like to feel connected.
- Test new services and products before investing too much time and money into them.
- Reward customers with loyalty programs.
- Welcome feedback to see where you can improve.
- Cross-selling is easy.
- Giving customers more control increases loyalty.
- Competition is forcing you to, so stop fighting it!
Where to Begin
If the thought of creating a site makes you cringe then your mind will really be overwhelmed when you are faced with words such as hosting, data, FTP access, file size limitations, PHP, bandwidth allotment, and many other confusing terms. Don’t worry; you really do not have to know anything about these confusing terms and you certainly do not need to know how to read or write programming language to build a website. There are many platforms you can use that make building a site a piece of cake, however there are three that are constantly recommended the most.
- 1&1 – You do not even need to know how to check your email or attach files to be successful with this easy option. This is a favorite platform of business owners because it makes it a breeze to bring your vision to life. 1&1 MyWebsite offers a huge selection of prefabricated design layouts that can be personally tweaked for over 120 business sectors. You can easily make it look like a professionally built site by adding ecommerce solutions, social media widgets, and even Google Maps with the click of a mouse. You can take the readymade templates and adjust them with your own words, photos, and videos, and integrate a Guestbook or RSS feed so visitors to your site can easily communicate with you.
- WordPress – It is easy to fall in love with WordPress, but it can take a little while to find your way around. With 1&1 you can obtain hosting (so your site is live on the Internet) right on the website. With WordPress, you need to choose a hosting provider, buy a domain name, and integrate your site with the host. That being said, WordPress is free (you have to pay for hosting), and offers thousands of themes and plugins. Prepare to be overwhelmed because there are a ton of options. You should know that not all plugins are compatible with every template and not all plugins are even compatible with one another. It takes a lot of trial and error, but once you get the hang of it, this is a really fun and versatile platform to use. If you don’t have a weekend to spend exploring all the features then this option may not be the best one for you.
- Blogger – This is a reliable web service owned by Google. You can create a basic website or blog without paying for the site or hosting. Blogger does offer easily customized templates, but it is definitely limited when compared to the previous two options. Also, your site URL will have the word “BlogSpot” in it unless you pay for a private domain name. You definitely will want to pay for the domain name, because “BlogSpot” just does not look professional in a site address.
Don’t wait another day, week, or month to create a site. Every minute that you are without one you are losing potential customers to your competition. Even if you are reading this at midnight and can’t sleep you can build a site right now.