Even with the growing ubiquity of social networking, you really cannot understate the value of a well-designed and properly utilized website. If you own and manage your own business, chances are you already have a website but you may have been spending so much time on ‘Twitter’ and ‘Facebook’ recently that you’ve been neglecting your own .com address.
It’s true that social networking is fantastic for spreading the word, but in essence, there’s very little flexibility with a social networking page and the options for promotion are limited at best. With your own bespoke site though the potential is practically limitless and whilst getting your site up to scruff yourself might not be free or easy, it’ll almost certainly be worthwhile.
Below we’ll examine a few things you might want to consider if you’re looking to expand your websites reach and in kind expand your businesses potential user base.
If you’re going to be expecting a large amount of traffic on your site, you are going to require your own server. Servers are essentially systems with one job, to process and store information remotely for all users who are accessing your site regardless of their location.
Servers can either be software or hardware based and can technically be used to process any amount or type of information, here though we’re of course referring specifically to web servers. Whilst many internet hosts will allow users a certain amount of space on their own servers, if you are hoping to attract a significant amount of traffic, your sites users will suffer.
Setting up your own web server is a complicated process that is not recommended for anyone who believes they are not completely comfortable with computers so hiring a professional is almost certainly recommended. Depending on the size of your business you might not need a particularly powerful machine to run a server. In fact, if you’re using a second machine to power the server it might not need to be particularly powerful at all as all of the systems power will be diverted towards running the server and nothing else.
When you are making initial designs (or redesigns) for your website the primary factors which will need to be taken into consideration are its functionality and its initial impact on the user. Functionality is particularly important. You could have the most impressive website imaginable, but if nobody can work out how to navigate it, it’s essentially little more than an expensive screensaver.
Standing out from the herd can be difficult without a decent amount of funding and if you’re designing the website yourself without outsider help from a professional, more elaborate ‘bells and whistles’ such as ‘flash’ and ‘video’ functionality might be beyond your reach. Sometimes simple elegance trumps needless ‘pizazz’ though and if you’re using HD video and flash animations on your site, those with lower bandwidths and slow broadband connections might not be able to access your site anyway.
There’s also the possibility that if they’re too dazzled by the site itself, they could overlook the actual information within. Your site should ultimately offer a middle ground between entertainment and education. Your home page will prove vital in establishing this tone. Design your home page so that it accurately reflects your businesses ethos. For example, where a holiday company should make sure the page is bright, bold and full of pictures, a more business orientated site should include more factual information.
If your website uses a content management system such as WordPress you should be able to change the layout, functionality and appearance of your site without having to completely rewrite everything else, especially useful for businesses that are constantly evolving. With WordPress themes for example, users are able to swap out template and picture files that will alter the ‘skin’ of your site, as well as changing how it functions.
The versatility of WordPress themes are of course the USP of the system and whilst other content management systems might include theme functionality, only WordPress is able to support them natively. A good way to find the best themes are to find companies that design and supply them such as such as i3dthemes.com.
Domain name and SEO
Though the space offered for free by services such as WordPress and Wix might be fine or personal sites, if you’re running a business you’re going to want a decent domain name. Chances are that unless your business has a pretty unique name, your ‘.com’ domain name will have already been taken. You could swallow your pride and buy the name from whoever owns it, but consider the alternatives.
Domain names can be incredibly expensive commodities and are becoming less important due to the way the internet is used by most consumers. The majority of users will discover your site through google and your google ranking can be boosted organically with the help of an SEO (search engine optimization) campaign.
There is however, still some kind of ‘authority’ associated with owning your own ‘.com’ website domain and it is admittedly, far easier for the web illiterate to remember.
About the author:
A freelance copywriter from the UK, Ben Grant designed the website for his father’s coach sales business last year and ever since, the companies’ profits have increased almost two fold! He uses WordPress and custom themes.