A window to your business - setting up a website


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For an entrepreneur or small business owner, a website is an easy, cost-effective and efficient platform to communicate with a mass audience. Here is an easy action guide for your business to achieve online success.



Before you set up the website, decide what its purpose will be. Generally, company websites are a platform to share the company's story - giving visitors a general overview of the products and services, generating interest and leads for new business. If you are selling products (even services), it could also generate online sales, through an e-commerce gateway for direct purchase.



Decide your domain name



Since this is the gateway for a lot of your visitors, it needs to be catchy and easy to remember or find. Keep it short, concise and free of complicated abbreviations. Though most people still go with '.com', it is now quite common to have other endings lime ".net" among others. Do some careful research and planning - invest some time in coming up with a suitable domain for your business. It is also worth consulting an IT or an SEO expert at this stage to ensure that you aren't using a domain name that has already been copyrighted by someone else. A swift online search would make this easy to spot.



Select your web host



After you've decided on your domain name, you will need to choose a web host. There are several platforms that offer this service, and some make it simple with follow up options of not only being able to host but make it easy to set up too.



You can start off with something less expensive but less powerful shared hosting services and, if required, you can step up to faster and more powerful dedicated hosting. Check and do some research around this, take recommendations from others and find out which one is reasonable to start off with and easy to scale as you grow.



Another consideration, particularly if you are setting up your website yourself, is whether your host provides for automatic installation of your chosen content management software. Most of the popular hosting services will enable you to do this with the click of a button. And in most cases, you can use the same host to share more than one website. If you are doing it yourself, the host's support services should be an important consideration. While few, if any, will support the software, the hosting application and related issues can be complicated.



Choose a content management system



A web content management system is a software that allows you to create and manage your website content, without the need to have detailed programming knowledge. A basic software would allow you to upload information, edit content and manage participation. The primary advantages of using a web content management system are that it is accessible at a low cost and is fairly easy to use. There are several options available today - varying based on your need including popular ones like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, among others.



Select a premade design template.



A simple way to get a ready template would be to purchase it online. Always consider a visitor's point of view when selecting a template. Select one theme and stick with that throughout the website. Your website should be simple, consistent and easy to navigate. If there's too much going on, it could be a distraction to visitors. The navigation should be intuitive and not too complex. Having a lot of unnecessary images and links can turn off visitors. Lastly, don't make frequent design changes on your website: let users build familiarity with your web portal, remember it and revisit it in the future.



Update the content.



What you're saying to your audience is of paramount significance as this directly impacts their interest in your page. Ensure that the information you are sharing on your page is relevant to your audience and more importantly a good indication of your brand value. Have a content strategy in mind and decide how often it needs to be updated. Focus on content that relevant not just to you but to your target audience, your brand positioning and how can you reinforce this with your website. Assign someone to manage this content.



Set up a payment system.



While this step won't apply to all websites, companies that want to offer the option to pay online will need to integrate payment systems into their websites. The easiest way to do this is through e-commerce software or third-party payment processors. Some web hosts offer an in-house option for e-commerce integration, but not all do. So, if you have to choose one on your own, be sure to do your research. There are a lot of options out there.



The website is a window for your customers into your world. Make it count.