You have decided your business
needs a web site. Considering the
Internet has reached a pivotal stage where users can find distinct,
definable areas, now is a great time to go online. In NetSmart's recent
report, "What Makes People Click," 63% of those surveyed report visiting the Internet to seek specific information about goods and services. Eighty-one percent report using the Net to research major purchase decisions. Thirty-seven percent purchased products online; 46% bought at retail stores.
While an Internet presence can cost you time and
money, it can also
make you money. Before you put your business online, consider:
1.The objectives of your Internet presence should
organization's overall objectives. Who are your audiences and what
is your message to each? Will your site's design and content help
you reach your goals?
2.Locate your web site where your customers and prospects are.
3.Consider image and return on investment when you choose your
site's location. Is it important to you to be located in a well-marketed
space that allows you to keep up with the latest web marketing
techniques and technological advances?
4.Define ways to measure the success of your site before you go
online. Will the Internet allow you to service and sell to existing
customers more effectively? Can you avoid time-consuming, "false"
leads by publishing detailed information about your company online?
Next, you must make some decisions about your
web site. How important
is it that your company have its own domain name (for example,
http://www.yournamehere.com)? Is the benefit worthy of the long-term
costs? Then, you'll need to register your domain name, or your Internet
address. The registration fee to InterNIC is $70 for two years, with a $35
maintenance charge each year thereafter. If you contract out your web
site construction, ask the web developer to take care of registering your
domain name for you.
Next, decide whether to build your own site or
contract out the design and
construction. If your web site will be simple, perhaps a single home page
with some text and your logo, you could probably handle the design and
programming yourself with web authoring software -- provided you have
the patience and interest to learn. You must also decide whether you will
host your own site or contract with a web hosting company.
For more complex sites, including databases, audio
or video, you should
consider outsourcing construction. Visit sites the firm has created, get
references and stick with a company that understands your industry. Don't
assume that your web designer can handle all aspects of building your
site. You may need to assemble your own team, including an Internet
marketing expert, a designer and a programmer.
Finally, you must let people know you're online
by getting your site's name
listed in online directories. An easy way to put your site's name on a variety
of directories is to fill out the proper forms at
http://submit-it.permalink.com/submit-it/. You should also promote your
site to existing and potential customers through conventional marketing
Building Your Own Web Site
Most online services offer easy ways to create
your own home page with
software that makes it simple for even a novice to use HTML, the
programming language of the Internet. Make sure you can take your
home page with you if you want to use your site in another location.
There are several off-the-shelf HTML authoring
software packages on the
market. Some popular packages include: Adobe PageMill ($99),
Macromedia Backstage ($399) and Microsoft FrontPage ($149 list, $109
for Microsoft Office 95 users, $99 street price).
Hiring Others to Build Your Site
When you contract out your site's development,
you provide the strategy
and content; the web developer builds the site. HTML programmers
typically charge $30 per hour. CGI/JAVA programmers, who specialize in
programming graphics, bill an average $80 per hour, as do graphic
designers. Web developers can create your site for about $300 to $1,500
Hosting Your Site
In cyberspace, your business' location is just
important as it is in real life.
You'll need to consider viewership, costs and more when you choose your
location on the web.
To host your own site, you'll need a web server
(about $15 monthly), a high
speed modem connection and one full-time employee to manage the site.
If you contract out your site's hosting to either an Internet Service Provider
(ISP) or a property (such as a mall, directory or online magazine), you will
likely be charged for a set-up fee, rent, space and traffic. Plan on
spending around $200 or more per year for hosting. Space is usually
limited to a fixed amount with extra costs for additional space. Traffic can
be limited to a certain number of "hits" or visits, depending upon the
number of files downloaded from your site. Graphically rich sites require
more files. There can be fees to update content as well.
To find a hosting service, look for sites on the
web that appeal to you and
could attract your customers and prospects. Determine which services will
market your business well and which draw significant numbers of users to
the property and its businesses.
Whether you have your own web site or simply surf
the Internet, you
should invest in an anti-virus software package that will scan your
computer for any viruses that could threaten or destroy your files. Also,
consider purchasing a back-up system that creates a separate, storable
copy of your computer's contents, in case your system breaks down.
Creating your web site takes time, but it is only
part of the job. The rest
involves developing a strategy, working with the right mix of talent and
promotion, choosing a good location and responding to online inquiries.
I hope this information helps you in your business endeaver.You may copy and print this article. For more information read Reynold Jay's book How To Think Small Business For Big Profits and Born To Be Rich for business motivation. (CLICK for more information.)