Attempting to run a business in 2013 without a website is a recipe for failure. Today’s all-powerful website could be likened to the function of the business card or brochure before the digital age. Websites are how prospective buyers formulate their impression (sometimes first impression) of your businesses, gather information, and get an overall sense of your businesses’ integrity. The recent debacle with our own government’s insurance exchange website failures can be used as an example.As if there weren’t already enough skeptics, on October 1st, millions of Americans flooded Healthcare.gov, the new federal site designed to direct consumers to the appropriate Health Insurance Exchanges, only to experience issues due to server capacity and “flaws in the architecture.” These experiences fueled additional criticism of the Affordable Care Act and its healthcare reform efforts. Business owners can learn a valuable lesson from all this: as you embark on the project of developing a website for your business, be mindful of all aspects of its functionality, capacity, design, and purpose. We put together a checklist for business owners who are either starting or re-structuring their presence on the World Wide Web.
Assuming you are not starting off as a master web-developer here are some things to consider and questions to ask when choosing your developer and investing in your business’ website:
- What is the best domain name for your business site? If the name of your business is already taken how you can be creative without straying too far from the business name. Don’t use hyphens, make it easy to type, easy to remember and do your best to stick with a .com site as opposed to .org or.net. If you are using a .org or.net at least purchase the.com version of your domain so it doesn’t get scooped up by someone else.
- Where is the site going to be hosted? Are you making an educated decision about where to host your site considering traffic capacity, speed and access to technical support? Pay attention to what features the hosts are offering you, what kinds of packages they have, how secure their servers are and reviews of their services online.
- Have you considered your company’s branding in the web design? Are you using the color schemes logos and fonts that work cohesively with all of your other business materials ie: brochures, business cards and promotional materials. Be sure to include links to social media accounts, customer testimonials and other badges, certifications and awards that will show customers how credible you are.
- What Content Management System (CMS) will you use? A CMS is the software you will be using to change the text and images on your website. There are hundreds to choose from, with many different features. To make sure you are able to have maximum flexibility with your website do your homework on this. And remember, you get what you pay for.
- Who will manage the content on your site? Many business owners are mistaken when they think the website is done, it’s done. It’s never done, information will need to be changed and updated. Promotions and offers will need to be posted and products updated if you are selling items on your site.
- Will you be selling products or accepting payments on your site; if so what virtual shopping cart program or payment processing company will you choose? When it comes to technology these are important questions to ask from the get go. It’s possible that the company you choose to host your site and even the content management system you choose could pigeonhole you in to using a particular shopping cart or processor with high fees and poor customer service. Ask these questions from the start so you don’t get stuck in an undesirable situation or unable to accept certain kinds of payments.
I could go on forever and ever… Putting together and maintaining a website is a huge undertaking, but the rewards are there (when done correctly) and to not have a presence on the web in 2013 is absurd. It may also be helpful to network with other business owners who have been through this same process from start to finish. Experience is always the best teacher.
About the Author
Rachida Essadiq, Director of Marketing at NTC Texas is a successful five year marketing veteran, running events and campaigns for large to small enterprises and non-profits. She specializes in blogging, social media, branding/ identity and search engine optimization, striving to provide NTC Texas customers and fans with entertaining and valuable educational resources to find success in all areas of their businesses.