This is one of the most frequently asked questions by small
business owners. They are feeling the pressure from their
customers and competitors, yet for many business people it is a
daunting task, as they don't understand the whole process.
In fact, many people are even asking the question whether they
should have a website. Whether you are a consultant, florist,
designer, builder, architect or a doctor, consider the many
advantages a website provides:
<b>1. Make money</b> Set up an on-line store or get paid for
advertising from other companies
<b>2. Save money on advertising</b> Instead of paying for
large ads, simply advertise your website
<b>3. Be flexible in your message</b> Change the content as
your business changes. No need to re-print expensive brochures.
<b>4. Exposure to new customers</b> You will reach more local
clients as well as interstate and global markets
<b>5. Having more professional image</b> Keep up with the
times and your competitors
<b>6. Save time</b> Dont spend hours on the phone, direct
customers to your website
<b>7. Keep your business open 24/7</b> Provide customers
information when THEY need it. If you dont, someone else will.
So what does it really take to get your website set up?
<b>Step 1 - Register your domain name OR not.</b>
The big question is whether you need to register a domain name
or not. The simple answer is NO, but a better answer is YES it
is a good idea.
What is a domain name?
The purpose of a domain name is similar to that of a street
address or telephone number. The domain name directs customers
to you on the Internet. The domain by itself is not your email
or web address. The domain does form the base from which these
addresses are derived.
For example: Company Name: QikPhone Domain Name: qikphone.com.au
Web Address:www.qikphone.com.au Email Address:email@example.com
Do I need to register a domain name to have a website?
NO, you don't need to have your own domain name. Your website
can be created and hosted without it. Your website address will
look something like this: www.web4business.com.au/JBCleaning OR
The only advantage of not registering a domain name is that you
will save yourself A$70 per year (it costs approx A$140 for 2
years to register a '.com.au' domain name).
The disadvantages of NOT having your domain name include:
1. If you decide to change your Webhosting company or if that
company goes out of business, you will lose your website
address. Your website can be transferred to a new company, but
your address will change. And that means re-printing stationery
and re-doing all your advertising, notifying all your customers
2. Website addresses that contain information other than your
company name are long and hard to remember and do not appear as
professional. Compare these two and see which one you are more
likely to remember: www.ozemail.com.au/~JBCleaning OR
So it is a good idea to register a domain name, even if it is
just to protect yourself for the future. Say for example, your
business name is JB Cleaning and you decide not to register your
domain name for now. Along comes Joe Bloggs who opens his own
cleaning business and registers JBCleaning.com.au domain name.
After a year you decide you want to have your own domain name,
but since Joe Bloggs already owns it, you won't be able to
register it. Not to mention your customers who know your
business as JB Cleaning may visit his website, thinking it's
your web address and instead hire Joe Bloggs Cleaning.
<b>Step 2 - Plan your website.</b>
Planning your website is a two part process:
(a) Decide on the website design (colour schemes, buttons,
special effects etc). This is your website designer's job.
However, you may have a preference for a certain colour or look.
To help you choose a design, you may wish to check out other
people's websites or work with your web designer's pre-set
(b) The content. There are many items you may wish to include on
your website. The most common ones include:
1Product/Service Details 2.Contact Information 3.Pricing
4.Testimonials 5.Frequently Asked Questions 6.Response Form,
such as "Join Mailing List" 7.On-line Magazine or Newsletter
8.Resources & Articles 9.Guarantee 10.Survey 11.Events Calender
15.About Us Information 16.Site Map 17.Copyright information
18.Useful Links 19.Media Information 20.On-line store 21.News
22.Directions to Your Bricks & Mortar Premises
<b>Step 3 - Choose a Web Hosting Company. </b>
What is a Web hosting Company?
A Web host is a company that provides server space for your
website. You can think of a web host as a commercial building.
The web host provides space for your website just as a
commercial building provides space for your shop or office. You
can build your own building and you can host your own website,
but because of the cost and expertise required it is easier to
rent the space.
Which Company Should I Choose?
Web hosting companies are not created equal so you need to take
a number of things into account when selecting one. A proven
track record, experience and reliability form the foundation of
any successful business partnership.
Some of the issues you should consider when choosing a
webhosting company include:
1. Support - Does it provide comprehensive Technical Support -
24 hours a day, seven days a week?
2. Reliability - Does it have multiple large-scale links to the
internet to provide a fail-safe path to your customers from
anywhere in the world?
3. Security - Does it have a robust security system that
minimises risk of web site intrusion?
4. State-of-the-art - Does the company utilises leading edge
technology and is supported by a large-scale uninterruptible
power supply (UPS) system.
5. Scalability - Does the product range and services offered
allow your business to grow without impediment by making it easy
to upgrade and add components to existing product levels.
<b>Step 4 - Getting people to your site. </b>
The marketing of your website is important if you want to draw
visitors to your site. If you don't promote your website no-one
will ever see it. There are a number of different ways of
advertising your website. The best strategy is one, which
integrates your existing promotion methods with your website.
1. Office Stationery - Including your web address and email
address on your stationery is probably the easiest way to draw
attention to your site. It's cost effective and gets your
Internet presence out there in the market place.
2. Business Cards - When printing business cards you should
include the individual's email address and main address of your
3. Radio Advertising Radio Advertising should include your web
address. Don't include the http://, try "Visit us on the
internet at w-w-w-dot-qikphone-dot-com-dot-au". If your budget
is limited, you may wish to consider community radios.
4. Email and Mail-Outs Let your current customers know the
details of your website. You can either send them an email or a
letter/postcard. Keep your website's content up-to-date and they
will keep coming back!
5. Print Media Print advertising should include a generic email
address for the company and include your website address.
Normally positioned at the bottom right or bottom centre of your
6. Search Engines & Directories People looking for your website
who don't know the URL are most likely to use an on-line search
engine to look for your organisation or the kind of products and
services you offer. There are over 300 major search engines and
directories, but you should concentrate on the larger, more
commonly used ones. These include: Google, Yahoo, Altavista,
Anzwers, Inktomi, Infoseek, Lycos, Excite, HotBot, MSN, Dogpile,
7. Links from other websites A good way to attract visitors to
your site is through the use of hyperlinks placed on other
sites. If you know of another site which has a list of links and
you think your website would be a good addition, let the website
owner know. You might also offer to provide a link from your
site back to the other site. This will encourage the webmaster
to include your site. You should also seek out partners for
trading links including vendors, suppliers and providers of
8. Link Exchange Another way to getting a link is through a
system called Link Exchange, a free public service designed to
help websites advertise each other. With Link Exchange, you
agree to display advertising banners for other Link Exchange
members and they agree to display banners for you. The System is
automatic, you simply add a piece of HTML code to your web page
and Link Exchange will display an advertisement for another
website. The disadvantage with Link Exchange is that you don't
get any control as to where your banner ad appears or the type
of banner ads that will appear on your website. It is not
possible to guarantee that a competitor of yours may have their
banner ad displayed on your site.
9. Paid Banner Advertising/Affiliate Marketing Programs Various
sites give you the opportunity to purchase banner advertising on
their site. Some sites will charge you a flat monthly fee while
other sites will charge you based on the number of people who
see your ad.
<b>Step 5 - Monitor your site's statistics</b>
Your website's statistics should show who visits your website,
where in the world they come from, how they are finding your
site and what pages are being viewed. Knowing your customers is
the first step in effective marketing. Most webhosting companies
will provide access to this information free of charge.
<b>Step 6 - Maintaining your website</b>
It is important to update your website regularly to keep your
customers interested. One of the great advantages of having a
website is that you can change its content virtually overnight
at minimal cost (unlike re-printing brochures and flyers).
This is just a brief overview of the process involved in getting
your website up and running. In future articles we will cover
each step in more detail.
About the author:
Ivana Katz is the owner of Websites 4 Small Business, a company
specialising in the design and promotion of small and home-based
business websites. She believes that every business deserves to
have a successful website, no matter what its budget is. For
more information visit www.web4business.com.au or email