“Hay neighbor, got any ASP, SEO or PHP in the cupboard today?”
Acronyms, lingo, terminology; these terms that are thrown about by many web savvy people like a cup of flour or sugar to yesterday's housewives are enough to put any web newbie off. It can take days of research just to figure out what the neighborhood techy said to you at the cocktail party last night, never mind figuring out what it all actually means to you and the website you thought you could develop for yourself so easily on publisher!
Shopping for a unique and expressive URL on “Go Daddy” or “Network Solutions” seems so fun; surely the whole process will be just as effortless, won't it? Of course now that you are reading this you might be wondering if you chose the right URL? They are relatively inexpensive, so if you are not 100% in love with yours buy more of them and be creative with it.
For the average do it yourselfer creating a website sounds like a nice rainy Sunday afternoon project, until they realize that there are just so many tough choices to make. Many business owners quickly get frustrated just trying to decide between a “static” site, a “dynamic” site or a “wholesale” site; then we get into flash, credit card options, newsletters, search engine optimization (seo), content management systems (cms), coding and blogging just to name a few decisions. The Domain Name is purchased and then it sits there waiting for the decisions to be made and or a web designer / web development service to be hired to assist in making solid educated decisions. It all looks so simple while you are browsing online at competitive web sites. The cost of making bad decisions when it comes to your web presence can be high, after all this is frequently the first impression you will make on the very consumer you are trying to reach and capture, we have all heard all our lives how important first impressions are to our future relationships.
To avoid the pitfalls start by looking online at websites for products and services that are related to your business or service. Every site usually has a creator listed in the footer. Make a note of what you like and don’t like in the appearance, content, features and usability of these competitive sites. Get 3-6 cost estimates with full feature and benefits comparison and then get to work developing a website that will drive new business to you, help you keep existing business and be an overall asset to your future.
Once your site is up and running; utilizes the following disciplines to stay up to date:
1) Utilize a service or template so you don’t get lost in cyber land trying to learn how to write in code.
2) Return to those competitive site frequently, know your competition and keep an eye on new features they are developing.
3) Every week invest a minimum amount of time to finding and maintaining appropriate links.
4) Ask your customers for feedback on your site and your service.
5) Regularly post customer testimonials.
6) Keep it simple; don’t let your site get overly complicated.
7) Add new content on a regular basis either via a service, by changing a page or blogging.
8) Have the customer inquiries routed to your daily e-mail so you can respond promptly with little effort.
9) Buy several appropriate URL’s and have them feed into your main site for broader client lead generation.
10) Subscribe to at least 1 related e-newsletter so you get weekly input without having to search for it.
Remember that your website is likely the first impression your new customers will have of your business so make it a statement of who you are, what your business offers and the quality of service you are going to give the customer once they entrust you with their precious time and money. You should know your business better than anyone else, so make sure your website accurately portrays the message you want to deliver to the consumers you are trying to reach. That said, you also want to keep that first impression fresh and timely with regular maintenance. The savings in lead generation you will gain from a great website verses print media will make the effort well worth your while.
By Teresa Dietrich
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