Going online can be a good way to expand the reach of your business. It can also be a huge financial burden. There’s more to it than most people suspect.
Your first move should be to check your finances. There’s a lot of money that goes into not only getting a website up but also making sure it stays up and functional. While you’re not going to need financial advice – if you do, you can see more at the link – it would be good to check your statements.
There’s the cost of registering the name. There are the servers that house the site and its data. There’s the need to upgrade computer infrastructure. You need to find someone who can design the site. There are also the myriad of back-end details you need to handle.
If you decide you do have the money, you begin with the domain name.
The domain name is the company’s online handle. It’s how people find it. For those of us who are not tech savvy, the domain name is the bit that begins with www. Make sure your domain is easy to remember or is the name of the business.
Why is this important? Well, a domain name is analogous to a street address. Without it, people won’t know how to find you. This is true even if you intend to do most of your online work via social media. You still need a website to link to, and the website needs a domain name.
After that, look into hosting services.
Someone has to play the home of your website. You could set up servers and such yourself, but that’s a lot of money and tech expertise. For most small businesses, it’s easier to pay a hosting company. Our business, along with firms like GoDaddy, is a viable option.
From there, you want to look and feel professional.
The first step to that is to have a company-branded e-mail address. This is what you’ll use as the source of all company communications with your clients and customers. There are a lot of free options, but it feels more “official” if you have a company brand as your e-mail address.
A company e-mail also helps you stand out from your competitors.
You’ll always want to hire a professional to build your website, too. A site that looks bad is not going to generate business. A site that’s hard to navigate isn’t going to do you any good, either. You want a professional on the job to avoid these two pitfalls.
A professional goes beyond just design. You also need someone to code the back end, so things like orders and databases are processed correctly. The design is just the interface. The important stuff happens in code that the customer doesn’t see.
After all of that, you need to test things. Make sure nothing is wrong and that everything works as it should. This may be a long process or a short one, depending on how much you need to be tested.
From there, it’s just a matter of promoting the website. That’s an entirely different animal, though.