Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Website Basics for Small Business

Do You Have a Business Website?

According to various surveys, it's estimated that more than 50% of small businesses do NOT have a website! If you own a business without a website, then please keep reading...

The reasons vary widely, but they generally fall into the category of "I don't how" or "I have not had the time" to create a website for my business. 

Regardless of the reason - or excuse - in most cases it's simply not acceptable, and it's hurting your business if you don't have an online presence. 

There are two basic types of websites, Information sites (providing basic information about your business and how to contact and find you) and Commerce sites (where you sell a service or product online). Informational websites are fairly easy and inexpensive to build and maintain, while e-commerce sites are more involved and typically require a larger investment. 

For most small businesses, you simply need an information website. A site that provides basic information about your business, an overview of the products or services you offer, and how you want them to contact or visit you. 

Regardless of the type of website you deploy, the objective is always the same: to convert. That is, to convert a visitor to the website into a lead or a visit to your physical place of business. 

It's also critical to remember that in many cases your website is the first impression you make with a prospective customer for your small business. Savvy entrepreneurs understand that this first impression is critical to starting the process of converting the online visitor into a long-term customer. 

Another compelling and critical fact to understand is that the vast majority of people will find you and interact with your business online via their mobile devices. Specifically, their smart phones

To that end, your website must be what is referred to in technical terms as responsive. This means that whether I access your website on my desktop or my phone, the layout, images and buttons all adjust to the size of my device such that my user experience is as efficient as possible. 

Not having a responsive, or mobile-friendly, website will result in being penalized by Google for search results. In other words, Google search will give preference to websites that are mobile-friendly. So, if you want to be visible to potential clients on Google, having a responsive website is simply a must have.

To build your website you essentially have two options: build your own, or hire someone to create it for you. There are various platforms on the market today that allow you to build your own site with little to no technical knowledge. These include services like Wix and Squarespace. For more complex websites - like an e-commerce site - or if you simply don't have the time nor desire to build your own, then there are a multitude of businesses that offer this service. 

If you decide to hire a person or company to build your website, be sure to ask lots of questions and get a clearly defined (and written) scope of work along with a price quote. 

Want to learn more about the basics of websites for small businesses? We suggest listening to The How of Business podcast Episode 39 - Website Basics.

The How of Business show is a podcast dedicated to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Our show features topic episodes and interviews with other successful entrepreneurs. 

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