If you’re trying to take advantage of the lucrative business opportunities afforded by the Internet, you want to make sure your business has a terrific website. Whether you’re trying to establish a successful online store or make it easier for your customers to contact you for service, representing yourself online is becoming increasingly important. In fact, between 70 and 80 percent of US consumers research a company over the Internet before visiting them or buying anything—which means you could be missing out on a lot of money by not having an online presence. Don’t be too hasty when setting up your website, though. If you want to make the most of your site, you’ll need to follow some basic rules and avoid a few rookie mistakes.
A lot of people don’t realize how many ways there are to set up a website, but if you need proof, just spend a few minutes surfing the web. From designs to hosting services to the names of the pages themselves, each step in the creation of a website requires that you make choices, some of which have consequences. That’s not to say you should be intimidated by the prospect of starting a website for your business—in fact; you should be jumping at the opportunity. We’re just suggesting that you look at some of the essentials before you leap.
Choose Your Hosting Platform
One of the first and most important decisions on your path towards a new website is what hosting platform to choose. Every website has a hosting platform, and every online store or company page needs to be on a website. Unless you want to represent yourself exclusively on Etsy or Amazon, this means you need to choose a hosting platform for your page too.
If you’re on your first website, you’ll probably want to use a hosting service that makes it easy for you. Some of the most user-friendly platforms make the process as simple as buying your domain name (normally a relevant phrase), choosing a type of service, and considering some options like e-commerce software, which is useful if you’re going to use your site to sell products.
Domain Name Dos and Don’ts
Be careful when buying your domain name—it will determine the URL of your site, and it’s permanent. Because your domain name will appear in your URL, you want to make sure that it’s something short and memorable. Brevity is the soul of wit when it comes to domain names; you don’t want anything too long or complicated to remember, and you certainly don’t want anything so obscure that no one associates it with your brand. Company names are good if you can use them. Otherwise, try the name of your best-selling product or most popular service.
Web Design Essentials
Now we get into what many consider the most interesting part of putting together a website: the design. The design of your website will completely affect the way people experience it. Everything from the way the information is laid out to the sounds and graphics used is part of the design, which allows for a lot of options. Be careful, though—you don’t want to get so carried away with making a creative page that you lose sight of its most important elements. Remember, your customers aren’t just searching for a cool website; they’ve come to you to learn more about your company. Your website needs to display information about your company, products, and services clearly—before it does anything else.
Limit the number of high-resolution images you use, make your page easy to read, and don’t include so much information that the important details get lost. Think of a good website as you would a good flyer—it should get your customer’s attention, but it should also tell them everything they need to know about you quickly and concisely.
Creating a website can be tricky, and it’s useful to gather as much information as you can before you start. Follow these basic principles though, and you’ll avoid many of the pitfalls first-time online businesses often encounter. The best thing you can do at the beginning is avoid complexity. Take care of the simple things as best you can, and you’ll find that they yield major results.