Build a Business Website
If your business doesn't have an online presence already, it could really benefit you to build a business website that gives information about your business or provides a e-commerce store. This article outlines your options as you begin explore building a company website.
How Small Businesses Use the Internet
There are many things that small business owners are currently doing with the internet. For instance, many small business owners currently use the internet to provide their customers with basic information about their businesses. Other small business owners put a little more work into their websites and provide their customers with a means of making direct purchases through the internet. Still others build an online presence through social networking and social media applications.
Provided that you already have a computer and access to the internet, with a little hard work and study you can most likely build a business website for your small business and have it up and running in a few weeks. There are a number of programs that are available to consumers and small business owners that want to start their own websites. In addition, purchasing website space to host your website is now quite affordable. However, if your small business is calling you away from your computer, you can always hire a website developer to customize and build a website for you. Here are some ideas that you can use in your business website.
Build a Business Website: To Inform
If you don't plan on using your website as an e-commerce store, you will probably be using it instead to provide information to your customers and clients. Such websites are normally easier and faster to launch. Here are some options for you.
Very fast Make a blog. A blog (short for web log) is normally thought of as a journal for people to post their thoughts and ideas online. However, these days, blogs are commonly used by small business owners to convey information to their customers and clients. There are a number of websites that will enable you create a blog (such as blogger.com or typepad.com) simply by creating an account. You will then probably have to pick a template and background that will be how your blog is presented to any visitors to your blog. The main advantage of a blog is that it is very quick to establish and will normally take less than an hour. However, in order for your blog to be successful, you will have to regularly update it with interesting content.
Not so fast Build your own website. There are millions of webpages on the internet, and each one was created by a person at some point. This should give you hope that you too can build a website from scratch. You should get your hands on some easy-to-use web developing software and learn how to use it. Then, you should be able to build a great website that consists of five to ten separate pages. In order to create your website, you will need:
- A domain name. You should be able to get your domain name (your website's address) registered and hosted through a domain company. However, when choosing your domain name, you may have to be inventive if the domain that you want is already registered to another person or business.
- Website developing software. To truly build your website from the ground up, you will probably need to purchase and learn how to use a web developing program. As with many programs, there are generally learning curves that you must pass over before you'll be able to easily use the program you choose.
- A host. In order for your website to get off of your computer and onto the internet, you will need to purchase space from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or another hosting company. Typically, you will pay a monthly "rent" for your website to be hosted. Your rent will vary depending on the package and the host that you choose.
Build a Business Website: For E-Commerce
If you are wanting to sell products from you small business over the internet directly to your customers, you are probably going to have to do more than you would if you just wanted to build an information site. There are generally two ways to enter into the world of e-commerce. You can either get into a community site where you will sell through someone else's website, or you can build a business website that features its own online store.
Faster Get into a community site. Perhaps the fastest way to get your store up and running online is to get involved with a community site, like eBay. By joining such a site, you will be giving up some of your freedom to design your storefront in a way that you like, but you will gain the security and website appeal of being linked to a larger website. In addition, you will not have to set up any systems to accept payment by credit card payments. However, you will need to pay the fees and comply with any rules of the community site.
No so fast Build your own e-commerce store. There are more steps involved in creating an e-commerce store than there are in creating a simple information website. However, you will still have to register your domain name, design your website and purchase space from an internet host. However, in addition to these steps, you will need to incorporate a shopping cart feature into your website and also have the means of accepting credit card payments. Collecting credit card payments over the internet is not the same as accepting credit card payments in person it is more difficult because there are more opportunities for fraud. In general, you have two options for collecting credit card payments over the internet:
- Shopping cart and gateway. In order to collect credit card payments from a customer, you will most likely have to deal with an intermediate known as a transaction processor, or a transaction clearinghouse. These parties normally deal with the credit card transaction for your merchant bank. These intermediaries will deal with the entire credit card transaction, even checking the validity of the charge in order to lessen the chances of fraud. For the purposes of your website, the gateway is the means of connecting your website to this intermediary. You will probably need to get a company that provides a gateway service, or you can alternatively purchase your own gateway software that acts as a credit card machine on your computer.
- Paypal. You can alternatively use paypal.com, an online payment system that is owned by eBay, to act as your intermediary. One advantage of Paypal is that it gives your customers a choice between using a credit card or paying directly from a funds transfer from their own bank accounts to your Paypal account. If you are only selling a few items from your website, you may be able to avoid the hassles associated with shopping carts and gateways by using an order form linked to Paypal.
There are relatively few small business owners that opt to set up their own shopping carts and gateways. The majority of sites that enter into e-commerce normally use other providers and software for these services.
Getting a Website Developer
If you do not have the time or patience to build a business website, you always have the option of hiring a web developer to do it for you. However, you will have to pay the web developer to set up your site. You can find website developers online, through word of mouth, or in your local phonebook.
Lastly, you should always keep in mind that if you build a business website and leave it alone, it will probably go stagnant. Just like updating the look of your brick and mortar store, you should always keep thinking about how to update and improve the look and functioning of your website. The best way to do this is to have the website developer build your website and then teach you have to update it.