Without question, the Internet has been an amazing phenomenon. Latest figures from research company Nielsen On-line show well over nine million on-line searches in one month in the US alone. In the US, nearly 75% of people use the Internet, an increase of over 130% in eight years. In Australia it’s 60%, an increase of 172%.
A lot of those people are searching for products and services. As money gets tighter, people naturally look to getting the best deal. The Internet is simply perfect for finding bargains and comparing products from competing companies. Basic research can be done in minutes from the comfort of their home, and distance is no longer a boundary meaning as a business your competition is potentially greater.
Bottom line: if you have a small business, you need a web site.
But it can seem just too difficult. Most small business owners know nothing about web sites, have no real interest in one, and no time to devote to finding out how to get one. The larger companies are still charging tens of thousands of dollars to create business web sites. That sort of money just isn’t available right now.
Here are some truths about small business web site design:
- A small business needs a web site
- The web site does NOT have to be a fancy, pretty, complex design
- It does NOT have to cost tens of thousands of dollars
- It does NOT have to take 6 weeks to produce
- It does NOT have to take up many hours of a small-business owner’s precious time
Fortunately, as the popularity of the Internet has increased, easy-to-use tools have become available allowing web pages to be designed in literally minutes. It’s possible to set up a basic site containing the essential information about a business, such as contact details and products or services, and have it hosted and visible on the web in a few short hours.
A small business can take advantage of it immediately by sending prospects there for more detailed information about their business; pictures of their products or past work performed; copies of testimonials; and so on.
In the meantime, the site will be indexed by the search engines, and the business will get visitors and sales they wouldn’t have received otherwise.
Search engines can only index sites based on the words on the page, not pictures. Therefore really complex sites with pretty pages full of pictures, graphics and flash images aren’t all that useful where search engine traffic is concerned. Simpler sites that load quickly and are optimized for search terms specific to the business and its products and services are much more likely to do well. These are the small business web site designs that are most effective for new sites. And the least expensive – always a plus!
Time is always of huge concern to small business owners. They usually work 10 and 12 hours days as it is, and taking time out for web site design just isn’t on the cards. The newer web design software allows sites to be extended with minimal cost and complexity. Start with the basics, get indexed, then expand as needed. Got a new product? Add a page. A new glowing testimonial? Add it. A more recent photo? Change it. This can be outsourced to your web design company, of course, but whereas in the past changes were always expensive, they should now cost only a few tens of dollars. Or make the changes yourself. The new software is easy to learn and use.
Having an effective company web site should be part of your business development strategy.
Fortunately, it’s now possible to do so quickly and inexpensively, especially important in these difficult economic times. Incidentally, if you already have an existing web site that’s not performing well or is too expensive to maintain, it might be worthwhile looking into the new design methodologies too.
The author advises businesses on how best to harness the power of the Internet to their advantage. Designing state-of-the art small business web sites is just one of his interests.
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