Even though the Internet has been around for a long time and many people are "educated" about the Internet, most have little knowledge about what a web site is and what can it do for their business.
A web site is anything and everything you want it to be. Let me elaborate on that.
If you have a business and want to expand your markets, you build a web site.
If you have a business and want to improve customer satisfaction, you build a web site.
If you have a business and want to take advantage of technology while remaining fairly unbiased in technology at a basic level, you build a web site.
If you want to market to customers outside of your geographical boundaries, you build a web site.
If you want your friends and family to view pictures, communicate with you, you build a web site.
If you are just starting in your business and need a way to inform potential customers about you and your business, you build a web site.
As you can see, a web site has many uses. It wasn't uncommon in the early days (6-7 years back) of the Internet to see "This is me and my dog" web sites. However, the trend has changed today and business sites have taken over.
One thing I like about the web and the Internet over traditional (print) media is the fact that changes and updates can be made (almost) instantly. Try that in print.
As well, a web site can be made truly dynamic and flexible; almost making it totally customizable to each user, giving them a unique and personal touch.
In my business, I come across tons of questions on what really is a web site and what do I need to do to build a web site for my business.
I will list below some of the key criteria you will need to get started with a web site. Remember, these are my thoughts and opinions. If you are confused, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Your domain name: Your domain name identifies you and gives you a unique identity across the Internet. Domain names come with an extension. In the earlier days .com was the most popular domain name. It largely is today as well, although many other extensions (.net, .biz, .tv) are gaining popularity as well. Shop around before you buy a domain keeping in mind that the cheapest may not necessarily be the best.
2. A web host: Your web site needs to reside on a computer (typically called the web host) that runs special programs (typically web server among other things) and is connected to the Internet. It is through this computer that your information can be seen by prospects/customers around the world.
3. A web site: This is simply a collection of pages, images and information that reflects you and your business. Creation of web sites are an entirely different subject altogether and I will address this in separate posts. If you need to know right now, email me or visit my site and view the Web Design page.
4. Web content: Can you imaging reading teh newspaper everyday with the same headlines and information? You would stop reading it, right? Well, the web is the same way. New and fresh content keeps your site alive and the search engines happy. Content that is relevant to your business always brings back visitors. In fact, if your content is really good, others may start linking to it or promoting it, giving you added links and visitors.
5. Visitors: Build It and they will come? Sadly, this isn't true with the Internet. Once a web site has been built, there are quite some other activities that need to be done in order to get your visitors to visit your site (also called hits, in a general way). This opens up the topic of Internet Marketing, another of my favorites. However, I will address this in a series of posts later on as it can be fairly exhaustive. You can visit my web site section on Internet Marketing to get a sneak peek.
6. Other useful and needed stuff: Besides the points mentioned above, you also need good sales copy (stuff that people/prospects read) to convert visitors into buyers, you need to develop a good mailing list so you can harvest that list by offering complementing and relevant products to your buyers. you also need to automate some of the backend processes so you do not waste time processing each and every transaction, query or enquiry from your visitors/buyers.
Can this be done for a small- or medium-sized company? Definitely.
Is it too expensive to get started? Certainly not.
Does it take too long to get a basic web site built? I would say approximately two to three weeks.
The web is a very interesting medium to disseminate information about you, your business and your products. People have made careers by specializing in areas like Web Design and Internet Marketing. In my opinion, the Internet has truly leveled the business playing field. My advice: don't get caught behind.
Delivering Net Results to Small Business
Author of numerous articles on Web Development and Internet Marketing
10723 159th St, Surrey, BC V4N 3J1 Canada